Some non-Honors students claim they avoid the Honors College because of "all the extra work." But how many "extra" classes, exactly, does an Honors degree entail? The graphic below explains.
By Liz Young
By Noah Patterson
Before students returned home for Fall Break, Student Honors Council (SHC) held the first ever Curriculum Crash Course Thursday evening in the DeHority Exhibition Hall. Students were invited to talk to professors of various Honors courses in 189, 199 and the colloquiums in order to get a better idea for scheduling in Spring 2016.
Many students present wanted to learn more about the colloquiums, which included numerous courses with trips abroad.
“I’m interested in the colloqs and getting experience out of class. I thought I would shop around, and I’m excited by what I’m finding,” Jake Peterson, a sophomore business administration major and political science minor said.
The professors present were just as excited as the students.
“I’ve been teaching Honors 199 for 30 years, and I believe this is the first time we’ve had an event like this. Students don’t usually get a chance like this, and word of mouth is important in getting information about classes out” Dr. Bruce Gaelhood, showcasing his Honors 199 class, said.
“Students can put a face with the course, meet the professor and see the books and a syllabus. Its to both of our advantages,” said Dr. Adrienne Bliss, who will be teaching “Honors 390: Prison Literature and its Role in American Society: Perception, Spectacle and Voyeurism.”
“I wanted to show students my colloquium because I feel people don’t spend enough time thinking about prison. Our generation has to fix this. I believe that Honors students are the best audience to get this information out there, and make some real reforms in our prison system,” Bliss said.
SHC was positive about the turnout, with students coming and going throughout the event.
“I think the night is going well. Students are really interested in putting a face with the course,” Maren Orchard, a sophomore public history major and SHC officer, said.
Orchard organized the layout of the event and contacted many of the professors for the event.
“I’m enjoying seeing the passions of the students and professors,” Emily Miller, a freshman in the College of Architecture and Planning’s first year program said. “It’s especially interesting to see what professors are passionate teaching about.”
By Kristin Wietecha
On Monday, Oct. 5, DeHority Complex's Academic Peer Mentor and Resident Assistants organized a program to provide information to students about four-year planning, midterms, and Honors courses while treating them with s'mores. Thirty-four students attended the information sessions that lasted from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in DeHority's Exhibition Hall.
MaryBeth Sergeant, a senior Resident Assistant, said that she enjoyed teaching freshmen how to construct 4-year plans, schedule and use DegreeWorks. Katelyn Warner, a junior and DeHority's Academic Peer Mentor said, "A lot people had questions on what to study, how to study, and when exactly midterms were." Warner understood that midterms during the first semester of college can be stressful. "I was in some tough classes my freshman year, and I didn't really know what to study."
Some freshmen said that all of the presenters were willing to answer questions and provided useful information. However, some said they became more overwhelmed and stressed due to what needed to be done for 4-year planning. scheduling, and studying for midterms. One anonymous student said, "The RAs and stuff were helpful, but I just became more stressed out from other things that I found out that I have to do."
DeHority staff's next event will be an open mic night on Thursday, Oct. 22 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Exhibition Hall.
By Noah Patterson
This Thursday, Student Honors Council (SHC) will be hosting the Curriculum Crash Course in the DeHority Exhibition Hall from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
This marks the first year of the Curriculum Crash Course’s existence at the Honors College, an event allowing students to meet with professors of the vast majority of Honors courses and colloquiums being offered in Spring 2016. Students will be able to review syllabi and understand the courses in person.
“We hope more students will be able to know the Honors professors and recommend these courses by word of mouth. The only Honors professors I know are the ones I’ve taken, so I think it will be a unique experience,” said Joe Hannon, vice president of SHC.
Valerie Weingart, president of SHC, came up with the idea after taking a colloquium with a professor she had previously taken in the Honors College.
“Based on the PDF, I wouldn’t have read the course description and immediately thought, ‘Yeah, I want to take this!’ I took it because I loved the professor,” Weingart said.
When she asked friends and faculty if there would be any interest in having an event like this, Weingart said she was met with warm reception, especially from the professors.
“The course is more than the paragraph, it’s the person behind it. The students can meet the professor firsthand and be inspired, and professors can have students who want to be there. Everyone benefits,” Weingart said.
All Honors students must take the humanities sequence (HONRS 201, 201, & 203). This experience, however, may be completely different for each student who goes through the sequence, as there are several different professors who teach the course. Dr. Paul Ranieri, a professor in the English Department, has taught the entire sequence 15 times since 1985. News & Notes interviewed Ranieri on his approach to teaching the course. Here is what students can expect if they decide to take the humanities sequence with him.
As told to Mary Cox
News & Notes: What’s your favorite part of getting to teach the sequence?
Ranieri: I get to take advantage of my liberal arts/liberal education background. I also love seeing how ideas merge together and evolve over long stretches in history. I really enjoy intellectual history, or the history of ideas.
N&N: Has how you teach the course changed over the years? In what way?
R: It hasn’t changed in a general sense; my experience has just allowed me to integrate more deeply ideas and examples. I have always taken the approach that this is a history of ideas sequence, a way to see how ideas we work with today have evolved over the last 2500 years or so. Sometimes we fall into what Thoreau says are intellectual ruts that become “automatic” for us—they seem “normal,” the way humans should always view reality. Hopefully seeing how ideas have been conceived in the past helps us recognize how to get out of our “ruts” today, to think creatively and constructively. Of course, the other side of the teaching equation is the students. On that side I have always expected students to decide how these ideas relate to them. That is why my major assignments are all writing assignments—even the exams. On each of my honors syllabi is the quote, “Relating the self to the social and natural worlds, actively or reflectively, does seem to be the central aim of most traditions of liberal education. . . . “ (Sheldon Rothblatt, The Living Arts: Comparative and Historical Reflections on Liberal Education) So, in the end, that is the goal of every honors class I teach and why I give honors students choices about what to write about—choices in ideas and in texts to address.
N&N: How do you decide what material to cover and which authors to read for each section?
R: When I first started teaching, most sequence classes were taught by English faculty using only literature texts. We use literature, history texts, political texts, some history of science texts, and non-fiction essays. This is all tied to my interdisciplinary tendencies. I supplement with contemporary readings for Blackboard discussions or for class discussions in order to bring up-to-date the ideas we are dealing with, especially to show the relevance of ideas from past times and cultures to today.
N&N: How do you prepare for each class period?
R: First, I always read the material—every time—with very few exceptions in a semester. Then I go over pages of past notes and supporting articles looking for “entry points” to a reading that can start discussion or tease out critical ideas needed to understand this reading in context of past or future readings. I also note what aspects of the readings have to be mentioned in class because they are key to this text, or because they look back or forward to other material we have or will cover. Then, I look at my past URL’s and at the history book to see if there are artifacts that could be used to tie to the ideas or provide an entry point to the discussions. Then I go into class and launch with my starting points, trying to let the students guide the discussion on where it should and will go. After class I go over my notes to see if anything crucial was missed that needs to be “cleaned up” or mentioned at the start of the next class.
N&N: What is your goal for each class period?
R: Four things:
N&N: How is your teaching approach/style different for honors courses vs. non-honors courses, if at all?
R: It is more reflective, more focused on the advancing level of developmental thought.
N&N: What is the main thing that you want students to take away with them at the end of the sequence?
R: That the focus of learning at this level is on each of them. The heart of liberal education is that no learning takes place unless each student integrates ideas in to his/her own ways of thinking and then into his/her own actions. For the Greeks they sought a clarity between Thought→Words→Actions. That effort to clarify the first two (“logos”) and the integrate “logos” into actions defines each person’s ethos and arête (excellence). What that means is that no learning takes place that I as instructor can “force” on students. That is why all my major assignments are writing and why I need discussion in the classroom. I cannot force discussion or force intellectual integration of Thought→Words→Actions. I can foster an environment for that to occur and I can model that myself, but no learning takes place unless it is voluntarily done by each student. As a faculty member that is both “freeing” and “constraining.”
N&N: Anything else you’d like to add?
R: Since ancient times, learning has relied on modeling. I try to exhibit the same respect for language and expression that I require from students (including their right to express themselves, but also the need in a democracy to listen and respond to others in a civil manner). The highest level of advanced thinking is speculation. Advanced students have few opportunities to sustain speculative thought in today’s higher educational system. I give Honors students that chance and most of them thrive on it. ... We are all “texts” for a class. In this light it is both amusing and frustrating that students often treat the humanities sequence as less important than their disciplinary courses. In fact, those courses only take on their real meaning in context of what learning occurs in the honors humanities sequence.
Last semester, 15 students learned about wildlife conservation by examining the extinction of the passenger pigeon 100 years ago. Their efforts culminated in a project that added to a museum exhibit, which was on display at Minnetrista for four months.
Six days remain for visitors to see the exhibit Ball State students helped design, on display now through Sunday at Minnetrista.
“Gone But Not Forgotten: What We’ve Learned from the Passenger Pigeon’s Extinction,” was an Honors College Colloquium last semester in which 15 students, under the guidance of professors Barb Stedman and Kamal Islam, added to a traveling museum exhibit initially developed at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.
It teaches about passenger pigeons, a species that became extinct in 1914. The course was actually developed in recognition of the 100-year-anniverary of their extinction.
“It was amazing to see how there were so many of them – billions, actually – and then they ended up extinct,” Sarah Klemm, a senior music education major who took the colloquium as her last Honors class, said.
Klemm said that when she signed up for the class, she, like many who have accompanied her to see the exhibit she helped create, thought passenger pigeons were carrier pigeons, the type famous for delivering messages. In actuality, passenger pigeons are most often noted for their sheer numbers; historical sources state they used to travel in flocks so large they blocked out the sun.
Largely due to overhunting, the species eventually became extinct. Colloquium students added details to the exhibit to help visitors feel the impact. For example, upon entering the gallery, visitors are invited to take an origami pigeon from a basket. Later, they realize their simple action contributes to the eventual depopulation of the entire basket.
“It was a very poetic way of impressing upon visitors that each individual can make an impact on the bigger picture,” biology professor and course co-instructor, Kamal Islam, said. “It was something that just floored me: the ideas students came up with to enhance the exhibit.”
Other student enhancements include a large hanging mobile, a station for visitors to draw and color images to celebrate the passenger pigeons and a flute piece dedicated to the pigeons, composed by Klemm.
“I wanted to write something that reminded me of the birds,” she said. “The sections where it’s choppy are supposed to represent the birds trying to fly away from enemies and people trying to get at them.”
The exhibit was unveiled in November, along with a presentation by Joel Greenberg, the author of A Feathered River Across the Sky, the main text studied by students in the colloquium. It is located in Gallery 2, on the second floor of the main Minnetrista building. Admission is $5.
Story and photos by Victoria Ison
A construction management major put his carpentry skills to use in a senior thesis meant to give back to the Honors College and explore what it means to be an artisan.
Honors students with a case of spring fever will have a reprieve from now on. One student’s senior thesis is making it easier to hold class outside, professors permitting.
“Zen and the Art of Woodworking,” Mark Manship’s senior thesis, involved a creative project component: eight benches that fold into four picnic tables, a gift for the Honors House patio.
“I wanted to leave something with the Honors College,” Manship said. “This falls within things that I’ve studied and the career path I’ve had in the past.”
Manship spent a total of 64 hours cutting lumber, sawing, sanding and painting the furniture, which he installed Jan. 2 with the help of his oldest son.
“They’re solid,” professor Timothy Berg, Manship’s thesis advisor, said. “I’m really looking forward to [taking] my classes outside more now that there is seating.”
Berg said the Honors House’s back patio has “suffered” from a lack of seating, in part because of security reasons. Manship’s white benches, which offer a seating capacity of 24, are sturdy, deterring theft.
“I want students to go out there and utilize them,” Manship said. “I hope we get years and years of use out of them.”
Manship, a 35-year-old construction management major and father of three, works full-time as a project engineer for Automated Logic Inc. in Muncie. (For more on Manship and another video about his life experience, follow this link. See a previous News & Notes story about Manship as a nontraditional student here.)
The title of his thesis is derived from the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and compares two styles of thinking as applied to carpentry: individual artistry work vs. mass-production. The written portion, which is still in progress, will include an interview with representatives from Sauder Woodworking Company, a leader in the ready-to-assemble furniture industry.
Manship admits he’s partial to the artisan style. His home is full of his own work: the dining room table, entertainment center, even a dresser for his son’s bedroom.
“That’s where my passion lies,” Manship said. “If you put in one door or a hundred doors, it’s always the same motion and the only benefit is if you get faster or more efficient. But when you’re making an artisan piece, there’s just a lot more personal attachment to the work.”
Manship holds a similar attitude toward education, something that Berg said he immediately noticed.
“Sometimes, when people return to college later in life and they have a family and a job and are trying to better their careers, taking the time to focus on the humanities and other courses we offer in the Honors College can seem like an unnecessary luxury,” Berg said. “We focus on big ideas, on what makes us human, on how we should live. Mark saw the value in that. … I really appreciate his commitment to giving back.”
Editor's note: News & Notes would like to collect photos of students and faculty using the benches. Submit yours in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story, photos and video by Victoria Ison
Additional photos by Casey Picillio and Mark Manship
By Kristin Wietecha
James Ruebel, the Dean of the Honors College, and other Ball State faculty members, held a seminar on Oct. 22 to explain the sometimes-daunting process of the Honors thesis. The audience of the seminar was mostly upperclassmen, but a few freshmen attended as well.
The Honors thesis can be a creative project (performance of a play, poetry, etc.) with a descriptive author’s statement or a formal research paper. The project does not have to be related to one’s major. The topic can be just about anything.
“The rules for your Honors thesis are very strict – it has to be legal and you have to have a faculty adviser…Beyond that you can pretty much do anything that involves academic content,” Ruebel jokingly said during the presentation.
Many Honors College students attend a thesis appointment with an official at the Honors College when they are juniors. The student must submit a thesis proposal that includes the topic of the thesis and identifies the sponsoring academic adviser.
After the Honors thesis is complete, the writers can choose whether they want Bracken Library to digitize their work for the public to see. Examples of previously published Honors theses can be found by visiting www.cardinalscholar.bsu.edu and clicking “Ball State University Dissertations” and “Undergraduate Honors Theses.”
In regards to how to find resources for a thesis, information services librarian Brenda Yates Habich demonstrated the WorldCat and Web of Science search engines to help find information. Yates Habich emphasized the usefulness of this dynamic duo and said she hopes that people will find them useful for their project.
The last portion of the meeting was a presentation by history professor Dr. Michael Doyle. He is facilitating an oral history course that addresses the African American community that went to BSU from the 1960s-1990s. This course will focus on African Americans featured in old historical records of Ball State. Members of the Ball State Black Alumni Constituent Society will be interviewed in this course. This course (HNRS 390C) will be offered in the spring on Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 and can be used to write one’s Honors thesis or serve as an Honors College colloquium.
“[This project will show] the full picture of the range of students that have been here, not just well-privileged students or students with white backgrounds,” Dr. Doyle said.
More information on the Honors thesis can be found in the senior Honors thesis packet, available at the front desk of the Honors House.
Events, trends, and happenings in the Honors community and beyond.