National Collegiate Honors Council


Teaching and Learning in the Fourth Space: Preparing Scholars to Engage in Solving Community Problems

Heidi Appel, University of Toledo
Rebecca C. Bott-Knutson, South Dakota State University
Paul Knox, Virginia Tech
Andrea Radasanu, Northern Illinois University
Leigh E. Fine, California Lutheran University
Timothy J. Nichols, University of Montana
Daniel Roberts, Virginia State University
Keith Garbutt, Oklahoma State University
William Ziegler, Binghamton University--SUNY
Jonathan Kotinek, Texas A & M University
Kathy Cooke, University of South Alabama
Ralph Keen, University of Illinois at Chicago
Mark Andersen, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Jyotsna Kapur, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Copyright 2023, National Collegiate Honors Council. Used by permission


Honors education has a rich history of preparing students to be good communicators, to think deeply and broadly, to collaborate effectively, and to be ethical citizens engaged in communities. The challenges of contemporary society, however, call for something more. To engage effectively with complex societal issues, students must identify and collaborate effectively with a broad range of stakeholders in the community, understand and employ systems thinking, value highly diverse perspectives, and develop communication skills for conflict management. To develop these additional skills and perspectives, the authors invoke the concept of fourth space as the deep engagement of honors students in their communities. To embed this as a formal part of honors education, they discuss collaborative and systems-based approaches to active learning pedagogies and provide one model for this work. A fourth space also provides opportunities for a kind of curricular and co-curricular learning that can enhance retention and recruitment of students. There are clear benefits to students and their honors programs and colleges from institutional collaboration in preparing them to have profound and far-reaching impacts on our world.