National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2008


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 9:1, Spring/Summer 2008. Copyright © 2008 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


What is it that we talk or write about when we talk or write about the culture of honors? Almost always we begin with the second term in the phrase, i.e., honors, the enterprise embodied in programs and colleges in which virtually all of the readers of this journal are engaged. If we think at all about the first term, culture, it is almost certainly for no more than a few minutes, if at all, and then move forward to the really important work. As I write this piece, I am at the moment creating a syllabus for a class in the history of culture, to be taught as an honors seminar in the upcoming spring term, and I have been at some pains to define the word “culture” in terms of content and the methods appropriate to its study. I am confident that the task of definition plays an important role in how we think about and discuss the culture of honors, and so this essay begins with some preliminary considerations of the concept of culture.