The Honors Program at Saint Michael’s College provides additional challenges and opportunities to outstanding students, with the aim of enhancing the liberal education offered by the College through engagement in small group discussion, research, and extraordinary curricular and extracurricular opportunities.
The Honors Program is guided by the mission of the College: “to contribute through higher education to the enhancement of the human person and to the advancement of human culture in the light of the Catholic faith.” It is the mission of the Honors Program to enhance the college experience of each Honors Program student; to promote intellectual growth of every student at St. Michael’s College; to encourage active involvement in service to the community.
As a group, Honors students distinguish themselves by their commitment to this mission and its concomitant approach to education; as individuals, they demand more of themselves, of each other and their instructors, and of their respective disciplines.
The components of the Honors Program, all serving these ends, are the Honors Core Courses, the Honors Colloquium and the Senior Honors Project in the Major.
Honors Program Core Courses
During the first two years, every student in the Honors Program takes honors sections of two or three of the Honors Core Courses, listed below. In these courses, students sharpen their skills at close and critical textual engagement and at articulation of questions and ideas, both in writing and in speaking. Enrollment in these courses is limited to seventeen students, and they all fulfill college Liberal Studies requirements.
Five courses are required to graduate in the Honors Program. Four of these courses must be worth at least three credits each. One of the five required courses is the Honors Colloquium.
The Honors Program suggests that three courses be chosen from the following five “Honors Core Courses” regularly offered:
1. First Year Seminar
2. Humanities 101: Ancient and Medieval Civilization
3. Humanities 102: Modern Civilization
4. Philosophy 103: Introduction to Philosophical Problems
5. Philosophy 201: The Philosophy of Human Nature
Additional Honors classes can be chosen from the designated Honors course offerings, which vary from semester to semester. In addition, Honors students may, with the approval of the instructor and the Honors Program Coordinator, take one “regular” course in the student’s major as an Honors Course, with enhanced content.
A Senior Capstone Project is developed and completed by graduating Honors Program students.
The capstone project is done in the student’s major and usually in the context of a senior seminar. If the senior seminar is at least a three credit course, it can be counted as one of the five required courses. If the departmental capstone project is done outside course work or in a one-credit course, the senior Honors student will consult with his/her thesis advisor and the Coordinator of the Honors Program to develop an appropriate capstone project. These students must take four Honors-program courses as well as the Honors Colloquium. Double Majors are required to complete only one capstone project.
The Honors Colloquium is designed to challenge students in the Honors Program to move beyond the classroom by making use of the full variety of academic, cultural and artistic opportunities available to the wider community. These include lectures, demonstrations, presentations, and performances. In keeping with the goals of a liberal arts education, the Colloquium provides a forum in which students will explore, analyze, and discuss topics in a variety of disciplines.
The Honors Colloquium is the only course required exclusively of students in the Honors Program.
The purpose of the Colloquium is not to produce mastery of any particular branch of knowledge. It seeks instead to develop broader cultural, social, and political awareness, and to expand the capacity of students to express their ideas and to interact with individuals who hold differing views.
To graduate within the Honors Program, students must complete one semester of the Honors Colloquium after their freshman year. The course syllabus will list the academic, cultural, and artistic events (e.g. guest speakers, presentations, performances, etc.) that are scheduled on campus for the semester, possible off-campus events, as well as a book (on any topic of general interest) chosen by the instructor. The Colloquium will then consist of several elements:
- Students will attend a specified number of on-campus and off-campus academic, cultural, and artistic events during the semester. The number of events will be determined by the instructor. Students will attend some events jointly as a class and others individually, based on their own interests and choices. The events will be generally representative of the range of disciplines in the college’s arts and sciences curriculum.
- Students will read essays or other texts, selected by the instructor, that are related to the academic, cultural, and artistic events in preparation for the relevant discussions.
- Students will write brief reaction papers on the academic, cultural, and artistic events that they attend.
- Students will attend and participate in a weekly two-hour discussion session moderated by the instructor in which they will engage with and explore further the ideas suggested by the academic, cultural, and artistic events. Each enrolled student will serve as a discussion leader or co-leader at least once during the semester. The instructor may also occasionally invite faculty and staff experts to address the group in order to follow up on topics introduced by the events that students attend. Students in the Honors Program but not registered in the Colloquium in a given semester are welcome to attend.
- Students will read an assigned book during the semester and there will be scheduled discussions of the book. They will also write a brief reaction paper about the book.
- Students will write a final essay developing a larger theme that draws together and analyzes content from several of the presentations and readings. The topic of the final essay will be worked out in consultation with the instructor.
Senior Honors Project in the Major
All students at Saint Michael’s College complete a “capstone” project in their majors during the senior year, either a thesis, a research project or some other appropriate task, usually completed within the context of a senior seminar.
Students in the Honors Program undertake projects of greater substance and academic significance, developed with and approved by a faculty mentor. Honors Program members may apply for research funds to help with expenses incurred in the pursuit of their Senior Honors projects.
The Honors Program at Saint Michael’s College provides additional challenges and opportunities to outstanding students through group discussion, research and extracurricular activities. Students in the Honors Program may decide to live within the Honors Housing.
Honors Housing develops a strong sense of academic community among its participants by integrating topics from students’ coursework. In addition, Honors Housing provides additional out-of-class opportunities for students to interact with faculty members. Honors Housing provides a community living experience that is supportive of students’ academic success and interests. Finally, Honors Housing promotes students’ academic and co-curricular leadership.
For First Year Honors Housing - priority is given to those incoming first year students who have been invited to join the Honors Program by the Faculty Honors Program Committee. Additional space within Honors Housing in the first-year areas will be filled by those students who have/are predicted to have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Designated floors and/or wings are reserved within the first-year buildings for incoming first-year students.
Honors Housing for upperclass students are comprised of suite style, single rooms located in Pontigny Hall and single and double rooms within Founders Hall. Students must have a 3.5 or higher GPA or be approved by the Faculty Honors Program Committee in order to live in Honors Housing.
Some students are invited to join the Honors Program at the beginning of their freshmen year on the basis of a promising high school record. Students who earn a grade point average of 3.5 or above in their first semester or by the end of their first year become eligible and enter at the beginning of their sophomore year.
To remain in the Honors Program, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Those who complete the requirements receive special recognition at graduation. For more information, contact: Nick Clary, Honors Program Coordinator, Saint Edmund’s Hall 343, Phone: 802.654.2390, Box 353, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.