National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice 12 (2016), pp 95-107


© Copyright 2016 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Honors programs at two-year colleges vary substantially in scope, size, and structure depending on an individual college’s mission, campus culture, and budget. One common curricular feature, however, is the honors seminar. Scholarly resources for creating honors seminars at two-year colleges include Luke Vassiliou’s 2008 essay “Learning by Leading and Leading by Teaching,” which provides an excellent discussion of constructing a two-seminar sequence in which the first seminar prepares the students to run a completely student-led second seminar (111). Directors wishing to develop seminars can also turn to the brief discussion of introductory interdisciplinary classes in two-year-college honors programs in Theresa A. James’s A Handbook for Honors Programs at Two-Year Colleges (28–29). Additionally, they can adapt information from considerations of four-year college honors seminars such as Anne Marie Merline’s discussion of guidelines for communication skills (81) and Samuel Schuman’s description of courses that are often interdisciplinary, sometimes team-taught, and “frequently . . . conducted on some variant of the graduate seminar model” (33–34). Overall, however, little information is available on creating honors seminars at two-year schools. Our essay responds to this deficit by considering two seminar formats: the three-credit interdisciplinary courses offered at Mt. San Jacinto College and the four-credit, team-taught interdisciplinary seminars at Lane Community College. These formats address needs specific to the two-year-college honors population, which largely comprises returning students, veterans, parents, and economically disadvantaged members of the community who often are considering transfer to a four-year school and in many cases plan to attend graduate school. The seminar formats presented here were designed to support the students’ success at transfer institutions by addressing several obstacles they face, including unfamiliarity with academic research, limited exposure to university campuses and resources, lack of confidence, and a limited sense of themselves as scholars.