National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Chapter 17 in Honors Colleges in the 21st Century; Richard Badenhausen, editor

Pages 423–438

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


The authors contend that the most significant comparative advantage of honors colleges is the combination of gifted and motivated students from every academic discipline and interdisciplinary curricula that train students to integrate diverse perspectives. The authors discuss how to harness this advantage to provide a truly transdisciplinary education through collaborative, project-based learning, both on campus and beyond. They assert that honors colleges are in a unique position to circumvent the siloed structures of academia by convening multidisciplinary groups of students guided by faculty from a wide range of disciplines. Doing so can help reimagine undergraduate education to address urgent and complex matters of national security, national competitiveness, and social well-being in the context of contemporary global challenges. Drawing on examples from a radically revised curricular structure in the Virginia Tech Honors College, the authors discuss how collaborative problem-solving skills can be developed through studio-based pedagogy and well-designed and effective experiential learning opportunities. In this way, students learn how to work effectively with others who may have fundamentally different ways of approaching, talking about, and responding to professional and public issues: capabilities that are increasingly understood to be essential by university administrators and increasingly in demand by employers.