Belmont proposes new Honors Program curriculum

Belmont proposes new Honors Program curriculum

Belmont’s Honors Program has proposed a new curriculum for honors students in the upcoming year, including different courses, the elimination of tracks and a new required study abroad program.

Dr. Mimi Barnard, associate provost of interdisciplinary studies and global education, sent the proposed curriculum out to honors students and all Belmont faculty, inviting them to provide input on the proposal.

The restructuring process first began when Provost Dr. Thomas Burns asked for a new program which more closely mirrors the new BELL Core curriculum, according to the document Bernard sent out to honors students.

In addition to getting rid of many of the current honors courses, the new curriculum adds requirements for oral communication, wellness and fine arts courses, which didn’t used to be required for honors students.

The proposal also eliminates the tracks which honors students typically begin in the spring of their sophomore year. Those tracks — Artist’s Studio, Project Lead and the Scholarship Track — will be replaced by a thesis project culminating in the senior honors seminar course.

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Before the new honors curriculum proposal was completed, students were encouraged to write their own proposals, take surveys and voice their opinions about what they thought should be changed about the current program, if anything should be changed at all.

“We ended up taking surveys about how we liked the current honors curriculum. The results were overall very positive. Which is interesting because the decision was still made to change the curriculum. I think that confused some people,” said Madison Manns, a sophomore in the Honors Program.

Now that a cohesive plan has been put together, students have the opportunity to offer feedback one last time before the new curriculum is finalized.

An informational session was held on March 2 where students were invited to discuss the proposal. There will be a second session on March 16, as well as a session for faculty on March 14.

Some honors students have concerns about the proposal, and they brought up those concerns at the first informational meeting.

Manns expressed concern for the loss of a class required for incoming freshmen.

“I am sad about the loss of a class most freshman honors students take their fall semester. It’s called World Traditions of Faith and Reason. This class has been replaced with an Understanding the Bible class,” Manns said. “It really changed my perspective on things. It helped me understand other people better and was a source of personal growth for me.”

Manns also worries about the study abroad program requirement for every honors student.

“Personally think it’s great to study abroad. I think there are a few things to consider. It would be really hard for some students to pay. And students that have anxiety and get homesick would have some issues,” said Manns.

Along with these concerns, honors students are wondering if what they found special about their program will disappear. Katie Wynn, an honors student, worries the notable aspects of the Honors Program are being phased out.

“I did the International Baccalaureate program in high school, so my entire high school career was based around seeing the same people everyday and developing relationships and specializing in something I wanted to do. I had an idea of what I wanted college to be like and it isn’t that idea anymore,” said Wynn.

Students had already been frustrated in the fall, when Belmont removed honors students’ priority status for course registration.

“Taking away priority registration in honors means there is no incentive anymore other than the tight knit community created by honors,” said Wynn.

When asked for a comment about the new curriculum, Barnard referred the Vision to the proposal.

After students and faculty offer feedback on the new curriculum, it will be reviewed and the administration will move forward with the honors program’s restructuring.

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This article written by Caroline Cathey


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