Moving forward: UNO honors fall 2019 program

Moving forward: UNO honors fall 2019 program

Vinicio Hernandez, News Editor

The UNO Honors Program has, since its establishment 36 years ago, served as a paragon of high achievement for current and incoming students, inviting them to pursue their individual passions and enhance the intellectual atmosphere of the university. Offering opportunities for student scholarships, specialized sections of courses, discussions and guest lectures on a wide array of topics per semester, along with cross-departmental social events, the Honors Program’s influence seems to stretch the length of the entire campus. 


Despite the program’s notable accomplishments for the university’s high-achievers, Assistant Director and professor of Philosophy Dr. Crawford Crews ([email protected]) considers its potential unfulfilled. Though pleased with its progress over the past year (Crews says, participation in the program has “roughly tripled”), he believes it can serve as “more than a designation on a transcript.” There is room to grow. 


Crews, recipient of the Honors Program’s student award for “Best Teacher” last spring, foresees the program expanding its horizons in four domains for the upcoming semester.


First: to offer more Honors-only sections in general education courses for undergraduates. Courses such as these, with their smaller class size, enable instructors to more closely focus on their students’ success. But their increased focus and rigor need not come across like a general section with an added pile of classwork to fulfill Honors designation. Crews emphasized that instead, these courses can utilize their “dramatically different [learning] environment” to some great effect; for instance in directing students into an alternative, if more intensive, path through an understood course of study. An example of such a course would be Dr. Verner’s Honors section of ENGL 1158, offered most fall semesters, which focuses on an intensive reading of Classical literature to fortify composition skills as opposed to the commonplace, routine style in which English Composition is taught in most other sections.


Second: to enhance engagement and collaboration among the students by moving beyond social banquets. This furthered interconnectedness would help Honors students, who participate outside the classroom, to locate other Honors students and students in Honors colleges they may not have considered working with previously, such a student in a STEM-oriented Honors college working with an Honors student in the humanities. These collaborations would invite student comments on the program itself as it is amended for the future.


Third: to invite more outside speakers, though a schedule of prospective speakers has not yet been released, for lecture series and public discussion events held at the Earl K. Long Library. Crews noted an increase in desired speakers such as community leaders and educational advocates, for instance, to “enhance the intellectual atmosphere on campus.” 


Lastly: to facilitate interdepartmental collaborations among faculty to introduce courses with a cross-disciplinary approach. These courses would fulfill general education requirements and encourage “surprising collaborations” among the varied majors offered here at UNO, included but not limited to: Engineering and Urban Studies, Philosophy and Urban Studies, and collaborations between Education and STEM-related majors.


Since its establishment, the Honors Program has been continually revised to ensure it may best serve those at UNO who welcome the earnest pursuit of knowledge for its intrinsic good. For more information on the program, concerning opportunities, it offers students, or graduating with honors, email [email protected] or visit their office in room 301 of the Earl K. Long Library, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.