National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 8.


Copyright © 2012 National Collegiate Honors Council


The book that swam into my ken was Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It was fall of 2008, and I had been appointed director of the newly created Mount Ida College Honor Scholars Program (HSP). The mission of the HSP is to promote creative thinking, interdisciplinary study, and close mentoring relationships with faculty. Program requirements include a first-year honors seminar (for academic credit) and three honors “contracts” (independent studies completed in addition to degree requirements, for honors credit but not academic credit) supervised by faculty mentors. Honor Scholars are required to present at least one completed contract to the college community at an annual reception and poster session. Students also upload the contracts, along with accompanying reflection papers, faculty assessments, and other student achievements, to a customized honors e-portfolio that can be shown to graduate schools or future employers. Honor Scholars can also live in an honors living/learning community that creates opportunities for student mentoring, honors co-curricular programming, and social activities.

My appointment included teaching the honors section of the required firstyear seminar. Previous first-year seminars had focused primarily on research and study skills, “college knowledge,” and critical thinking. Reading Pink’s introduction, I realized that, using the book as an anchor (or rocket booster), the first-year honors seminar could create something different: a focus on whole-brain thinking, academic curiosity and playfulness, interdisciplinary connections and—especially important for first-year college students—the search for identity and meaning. The book could also serve as a gateway into the HSP and the honors contract process by connecting students to their work, showing them how to value process as well as product and to design honors contracts that were interesting and meaningful to them.