Date of this Version
Miller, K.A., ed. 2020. Building Honors Contracts: Insights and Oversights. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series. pp 55-80.
Although culturally mandated as a gateway to professional opportunities and wealth, college degrees are the prerogative of only half of the United States population, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (Musu-Gilette et al. v). Even those who attend college do not always acquire the training they need to achieve their goals: the lack of written communication or analytical skills directly impacts retention and completion, particularly of students underprepared for college. The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) website features a “Diversity and Inclusion Statement” under its “Definition of Honors Education,” and the organization has placed equity and inclusion at the heart of its current strategic plan. In this chapter, I argue that honors contracts offer honors educators a way to “promote the inclusion and success of academically motivated and high-potential learners from all communities, understanding that each of us holds varied, intersectional identities” (“Diversity and Inclusion Statement”). The work of the University Honors Program (UHP) at the University of Kansas (KU) shows that honors contracts act as far more than stopgaps to address honors course shortages: they can facilitate access to honors, increase completion, democratize key aspects of the honors experience, provide students with structured avenues for building relationships with faculty members, and empower students to own their educational experiences.
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