Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 12, No.1 (Spring/Summer 2011). ISSN 1559-0151
Educational institutions are fertile environments for shaping, cultivating, and solidifying human development. They are wellsprings for diverse cultures, behaviors, beliefs, and practices. Yet, they face the daunting challenge of fostering the intellectual growth, social enhancement, and professional development of students. Clearly, the tenets of the collegiate environment can directly influence—either facilitate or debilitate—the achievement of its students. This arena is also ripe with shifting paradigms and strategic priorities that often lead to revisioning, redefining, and reassessing. As a result, the educational institution simultaneously becomes a site of struggle and resistance, empowerment and encroachment. Although institutions change, priorities change, and curricula change, students remain the university’s most valuable resource and asset.
So colleges and universities must face the difficult questions of how to address the academic, social, and cultural concerns of students; what ought to be the nature and character of the collegiate experience to which students have access; and, more specifically, what can be done to address the needs and unique challenges facing honors students. Successful efforts, whether institution-wide or at the department level, place a strong emphasis on cultivating academically engaging, socially relevant, and culturally inclusive learning environments for honors students. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in particular are increasingly sensitive to the strategic importance of having quality programs for honors students in the context of their current struggle for equity and equality. Even more than Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), HBCUs are confronted with educational issues that are historically and culturally deep.