Collaborations in Honors

Collaborating Beyond College Borders

As a College that has always shared students and faculty with the rest of the University, The Honors College has excelled at collaboration—working with departments and colleges across campus to connect students with the best the University has to offer. Recently, The Honors College has expanded this collaboration across campus and into the community. Through newly established minors and programs, students have more opportunities than ever to explore multiple areas of interest through their affiliation with Honors.

Center for Creative Work

While the Center for Creative Work (CCW) started some of its programs over the past two years, this fall the CCW launched both its minor and its foundation course, Poetics and Performance. This course, which is filled to capacity for fall 2010, bridges art, film, literature, theatre, and music with studies of culture, history, language, business, and society. Beyond the classroom, Dr. John Harvey, director of the Center for Creative Work, is planning more trips to the Museum of Fine Arts for exhibits and films, more concerts at the Moores School of Music, and more readings sponsored by Inprint, which brings world-class writers to Houston. “We will continue our collaborations with nationally-recognized arts organizations such as Inprint and Spacetaker Gallery,” Dr. Harvey said, “and we will offer an even more dynamic and spellbinding Dionysia in the spring.”

Dionysia 2010, coordinated by Harvey and Dr. Richard Armstrong, included an elaborate pre-show agora featuring student work and a procession to the Wortham Theatre for a performance of Sophocles’ Electra. Through funding from the Martha Gano Houston Endowment in the Department of English, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Harvey and Armstrong also hosted a one day scholars’ conference on the translation of Greek drama with Mary Kay Gamel from UC Santa Cruz, Tom Jenkins from Trinity University, and Casey Dué Hackney from the University of Houston Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Building on these successes, Harvey and Armstrong are already in the throes of coordinating Dionysia 2011, which will feature Misha Penton, the artistic director of Divergence Vocal Theater and a singer with the Houston Grand Opera, as Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon.

Global Studies Certificate

The Global Studies Certificate program is an exciting new collaboration between The Honors College and the C. T. Bauer College of Business. “This is a timely program because we are now living in a global village,” said Dr. Robert Zaretsky, professor of French history at The Honors College. “All of our colleges at the University are responding to the shrinking of our world—a shrinking that is financial, economic, cultural, and linguistic.” The Global Studies program, which will be directed by Dr. Tyler Priest of the Bauer College of Business, examines such changes taking place in Houston and around the world. Finding a natural home in The Honors College because of its interdisciplinary focus, the program incorporates fields as diverse as history, economics, sociology, literature, and business. “We have an exceptionally diverse campus and a number of students who travel abroad already,” Zaretsky said. “This is an excellent program for students who are seeking minors that have an international dimension.”

Honors Engineering Program

The Cullen College of Engineering has teamed up with The Honors College to offer engineering students an Honors Engineering Program (HEP). This program helps recruit high-achieving students to the University and improves the academic experience for Honors engineering undergraduates. Dr. Dave Shattuck, associate dean for undergraduate studies, has been appointed director of the HEP. “Developing an Honors program was a way to help us recruit more top students that are looking for challenging and rewarding honors opportunities in engineering,” said Shattuck. “This is in addition to building a sense of community where students form lasting relationships with others in their major.” In addition to offering challenging, collaborative courses to engineering students, the program will offer community-building and enrichment activities such as visits to NASA, trips to Cougar, Astros, and Dynamo games, mixers with industrial partners and alumni, and special social functions on campus. An eight-member faculty committee has already been established to provide academic and administrative support and guidance, and the next step is to create an Industrial Advisory Committee, which will provide leadership, counsel, and support to the program.

Medicine & Society

This year the Medicine & Society program has expanded its number of student internships offered within the Texas Medical Center. Medicine & Society students are currently working with doctors and health professionals at the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, the VA Hospital, and the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. The program has now also added the University of Houston–Victoria’s School of Nursing to its list of partnerships. For the upcoming year, the program intends to expand student opportunities by creating internships within the College of Optometry and the College of Pharmacy, and also to host first aid classes for interested prehealth professions students. Medicine & Society students will also enjoy Introduction to The Health Care Professions, a new class being taught this fall by Drs. Helen Valier and Kathryn Peek in Honors. “The course aims to introduce our prospective health professions students to a wide range of practicing health professionals from the Houston area,” Dr. Valier said.

“Our goal is to create a class that will help students find a career that best suits their interests and abilities. By working closely with practitioners, we are confident that this class will help our students develop a better understanding of what it takes to build a successful career in the health professions.”

In other health-program news, Dr. Daniel Price, Honors Research Assistant Professor, is currently collaborating with members of the American Lung Association and the Clean Air Network in advancing educational programs on health effects of ozone.

Spanish Program in Honors

This fall the Department of Hispanic Studies launched a brand new program especially designed for Honors Students: Spanish Honors Language Program. The collaborative project provides an accelerated alternative to Honors College students who would like to pursue a course of study in Spanish language. Working in conjunction with The Honors College, the program will allow students to complete the equivalent of two semesters of Intermediate Spanish in a single semester of intensive instruction. Those engaged in this new program will simultaneously gain proficiency in the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures.

Phronesis: A Program in Politics and Ethics

The Phronesis Politics and Ethics program is thriving and has already graduated eight students: some pursuing law careers, others headed to graduate school, and still others to enter government and public service. The program has over 30 students who are active in the minor, and in fall 2009, a new colleague from Notre Dame, Dr. Jeff Church, joined the program, teaching well-received courses in Democratic Theory, Liberalism and its Critics, and Introduction to Political Theory.

Phronesis has also been active in bringing visiting scholars from around the country and around the campus to Honors. Recent visitors include William Ian Miller, Thomas G. Long, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, Robert C. Bartlett, Arthur Blank/NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor at Emory University, Robert Kane, University Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, and UH’s very own Francesca Behr, Professor of Classics and Italian Studies.

In addition, James Ceaser, Professor of Politics and Foreign Policy at the University of Virginia, will present an “Academic Tailgate” during Homecoming Week. On the evening of November 11th, Ceaser will give a public lecture on the midterm elections. In the spring, thanks to several grants that Phronesis has recently won, the program will also help support the Ross M. Lence Master Teacher Residency, which will host Michael Zuckert, a well-known political theorist and Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor at the University of Notre Dame. These growing programs join the well-established Bauer Business Honors program and Office of Undergraduate Research as examples of how the Honors College reaches out to the entire campus community— and beyond—for students’ enrichment.