National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 1. Copyright 2005 National Collegiate Honors Council.


The purpose of this article is to share a successful model for incorporating community building and academic achievement into an honors program by creating a public forum for honors students to display their work. According to what Roger McCain has described as a fundamental humanistic view of a university honors education, each student possesses a hierarchy of needs, which includes the need for individual value to be “recognized and confirmed, so that the individual [student] develops a sense of his or her own unique identity” (2). I suggest that honors writing courses, in particular, can foster what McCain contends is the “central objective” of an honors program: “the academic challenge needed by students of excellent academic ability and motivation, and concurrently the recognition of their success in meeting that challenge” (McCain, my emphasis). Creating an academically challenging curriculum to meet the needs of university honors students is the charge of honors programs, but beyond good grades assigned to student work and the honors designation conferred upon graduation, how do we acknowledge student success in those programs? The following briefly outlines the symposia that our Honors Writing Program, which includes a core faculty of seven and a student population of approximately 150 first-year students, developed to recognize just such student success beyond the classroom. These symposia serve not only to expand our concept of the “writing process” but simultaneously redefine our Honors Program community and meet the specific humanistic needs of our honors students.