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In the pages that follow we will describe an exciting collaboration between our university’s College of Education and Honors Program. In the twenty-two-year history of the Honors Program at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), we have averaged only one education major per year completing an Honors Capstone Project. This statistic stands in stark contrast to the fact that Education regularly has the third or fourth highest number of pre-majors beginning an honors minor. Some efforts have been made in recent years to mesh requirements for the two programs and to improve student advising. However, the number of honors minor/education major students completing requirements in both programs has remained low. The Honors International Teaching Fellows (HITF) is changing this situation for the better.
The College of Education has had one of the lowest rates of international travel at NKU. However, the new dean of the College of Education brought with her both direct experience in international education and a charge from the university to make major changes to increase awareness of global perspectives and improve the frequency of international study among education students. This same dean also changed the atmosphere in the College of Education to invite more experimentation with ways of providing course offerings for preparing teachers. The Honors Program, with its history of successful international study and unusual interdisciplinary courses, provides a good match on these issues.
Many education majors at NKU have voiced their disappointment at not being able to gain admission to the College of Education until the end of their sophomore year despite trends in the field toward earlier career exploration and involvement in schools. The proposal to launch the Honors International Teaching Fellows in 2005 was designed to orient students to the profession immediately—in their first semester in college—as well as to address the concerns mentioned above relating to completion of honors requirements and an increase in international study and global awareness.