A new honors program


Here’s what the new program means for students

Logan Moore / For The Post

The new honors program that will pilot this fall is making “new and dynamic learning approaches” available to approximately 47 incoming honors students.

The Honors Task Force, originally announced in October, has been working to develop honors curricular and cocurricular experiences that will be available to all students starting in the fall of 2020.


Blake Nissen | PHOTO EDTOR

Duane Nellis speaks before the 2017 Interfaith Walk in front of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on University Terrace.

Honors students will complete a total of 14 experiences throughout their undergraduate career. The experiences will be completed by taking three to four honors (both academic and cocurricular) courses a year.

Margaux Cowden, director of the Cutler Scholars Program and the new honors program, said the task force is working with faculty from different colleges within the university. They are attempting to build a robust selection of courses by the fall of 2020.

“This asks students to do additional work or complete work that is more advanced or typical for that course,” Cowden said. “Honors students will receive honors experience credit in that course, sort of akin to a dual listed course.”

Cowden said that while the honors students will be doing slightly different work, they will receive honors credit toward their diploma. Students will not be given a letter grade, but rather evaluated holistically by the instructor’s’ standards.

“This is really exciting for students who wish to take risks because they will no longer be relying on a single product and whether or not that product is a success or failure,” Cowden said.

The other half of the program includes cocurricular opportunities that emphasize the public value of scholarship, Cowden said. Those activities can include internships and public engagement through community service.

“If you’re doing an internship, for example, this provides an opportunity for you to connect that internship to your learning,” Cowden said. “Not just in your major, but broadly across your interdisciplinary education experience.”

There are a multiple ways to satisfy that cocurricular credit. It will count if you do an independent study, attend graduate seminars or participate in semester-long community engagement activities.

Other service opportunities are offered in separate honors programs across the university. The honors college of business is one example with the most common being community and public service engagement. Those students participate in one event per semester, which includes walkathons.

“I think it’s great to do service,” Austin Anderson, a junior studying marketing and entrepreneurship and an honors business student, said. “You get to see a little more of the community and be more involved, while interacting with students and faculty outside of the classroom.”

For the honors program piloting in the fall, students will create a portfolio based on their cocurricular experiences by the end of their senior year. The Honors Task Force hopes that the portfolio will be a valuable tool shared with employers during future job searches.

“This portfolio shows employers that ‘not only do I know what I’ve been working on, but I have the core knowledge for my field. I know how to put it to work,’ ” Cowden said. “That is critical thinking. Recognizing abstract ideas and putting them to work in a dynamic setting.”

The task force hopes to increase academic attraction to OU by further increasing enrollment rates.

Development by: Megan Knapp / Digital Production Editor

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