National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 10:2, Fall/Winter 2009.


Copyright 2009 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


For more than a decade, the two of us, an historian and a literature professor, have co-taught a 12-credit European Civilization sequence for firstyear honors students. Last year Grand Valley inaugurated an impressive new living and learning center, which includes two innovative classrooms dubbed “Learn Labs,” Steelcase’s effort to bring twenty-first century design to traditional classrooms that may have met the needs of the nineteenth century but have lingered long beyond their usefulness. In the Learn Lab, five conference tables, arranged in a star shape, supplant regimented rows of desks. At the head of each table, pillars provide electrical and projector connections. Three large screens placed around the room can project a monitor from anyone’s laptop or from the instructor’s station tucked in a corner. We can walk around the room and still operate the interactive “Walk and Talk” board. Document cameras allow us to save the day’s work by recording marker-board scribblings or individual documents.