National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Chapter 16 in Honors Colleges in the 21st Century; Richard Badenhausen, editor

Pages 403–422

ISBN: 978-1-945001-21-5

National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series; Jeffrey A. Portnoy, series editor

Published by the National Collegiate Honors Council, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States


Copyright 2023, National Collegiate Honors Council. Used by permission


We argue that honors colleges can deploy the power of the liberal arts to emphasize diversity, equity, global citizenship, ethical leadership, and empowerment by combining liberal arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and medicine) fields in interdisciplinary approaches to global challenges, from climate change to the pandemic to forced displacement. As the honors colleges at Texas Tech and Boston University work to be at the forefront of pedagogical and curricular innovation, the twenty-first century has presented us with a student and faculty community becoming increasingly aware of historical, racial, gendered, and socioeconomic disparities, which were further exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. In response to these issues, we have changed how we approach the liberal arts, shifting from a traditional “Great Books” curriculum to an interdisciplinary focus that immerses students in an environment that fully integrates STEM with the humanities. With this approach, students learn how STEM and the humanities are linked, are mutually dependent, and continually affect our world and society. Our pedagogical innovation includes experiential learning, team-taught courses, first-year and summit experiences, non-traditional coursework, study abroad opportunities, and co-curricular programs. The overall effect has been the production of reflective and empowered students and graduates willing and ready to use the new liberal arts to attack the grand challenges of our society.