Date of this Version
HONORS PROGRAMS AT SMALLER COLLEGES, 3rd edition, by Samuel Schuman (2011). NCHC Monograph Series, Lincoln, NE.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION The first edition of this monograph appeared in 1988, a year which, depending upon one’s perspective, was either just yesterday or eons ago. At the end of the ‘80s, I could still suggest, with a straight face, that a fully equipped honors office space should have “a computer or a typewriter,” a suggestion that today sounds more appropriate for a museum of antique office machinery than an up-to-date academic office. The handbook was revised in 1998, and that second edition has now had a lifetime of well over a decade. It, too, has come to need revision: the first decade of the new millennium has seen significant developments in honors education and in higher learning generally. Honors colleges were still relatively rare at the end of the twentieth century, but they have subsequently become ubiquitous. New curricular foci, such as sustainability studies, have developed, and old ones have evolved. For example, international education has shifted from an emphasis on Western Europe to such rapidly emerging nations as China, India, or Brazil. At the same time, some of the questions and issues that were originally engaged in Honors Programs at Smaller Colleges continue to have timely relevance today. Matters of access and elitism, which troubled honors folk in the 1980s, remain contemporary concerns. This revision, like most, preserves what continues to be useful, eliminates the antique, and adds discussions of issues that have moved to the forefront in recent years. Some of those new issues include curricular developments such as those noted above. Others include shifts in pedagogy, including the increased emphasis on experiential-teaching styles such as service learning. The demographics of undergraduate student populations continue to shift, expanding rapidly in both ethnicity and age. The technologies of instruction have changed dramatically since the turn of the century. And, of course, the funding levels and perceived social standing of American higher education have not remained stable, often moving in directions that have been the cause more of lamentation than celebration. As an additional feature, the handbook concludes with two appendices. Appendix A is a group of brief descriptions of small college honors programs that have generously allowed themselves to be pictured as samples. Although these descriptions are of real honors programs, the reader should be cautioned that honors programs evolve rapidly, and the institutional programs described will almost certainly shift their particular structures before the handbook is otherwise out of date. The programs described are meant to be helpful not as specific institutional references, but as samples of various types of small college honors enterprises. The profiles include a wide range of institutional types and, more importantly, a wide range of honors offerings, from the most rudimentary to the most elaborate. Appendix B is a statement by the national honors organization, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), describing a cluster of features that tend to characterize “fully developed honors programs.”