What is the Great Conversations Honors Program?
From its inception, thousands of years ago in Ancient Athens, a liberal education has been a holistic education focused on autonomy and engagement. It is meant to develop the person as a whole - mind, body, and spirit. It is ongoing and interconnected: learning is meant to be life-long and necessitates interaction with others of disparate beliefs, ideas, and backgrounds. Unlike other Honors programs that focus exclusively on academics, Mansfield University’s Great Conversations Honors Program looks at students holistically and offers leadership opportunities for them to develop personally, academically, socially, and as citizens of the world.
Students in the Great Conversations Honors Program will engage in classes and activities that are specifically designed to help them develop the following real-world leadership skills and dispositions: accountability, professionalism, effective communication, confidence, empathy, compassion, team-building, and creative problem-solving.
The Great Conversations Honors Program was built on the following three presumptions:
A liberal arts education is one that exposes students to a broad range of disciplines and perspectives, seeking to develop the student as a whole person not merely a disciple of the academy.
The purpose of education is to push students beyond where they were when they entered into their learning experience.
Meaningful learning can only happen in a relational manner.
The Great Conversations courses are designed to be academically rigorous, meaningful, inquiry-based learning opportunities that are focused on perennial questions of humanity. They are small seminar-style classes in which the students and faculty together embark on a journey of inquiry that leads them out of their comfort zones by examining the world through the lenses of multiple disciplines. The courses are inherently interdisciplinary and are designed to provoke discussions that carry over to the students’ lives once the class period ends.
Meaningful learning can only occur in a relational manner. Great Conversations may begin in the classroom, but they may also begin outside of the classroom via the lecture and workshop series that helps to make up the co-curricular requirement of the program. The co-curricular piece of the program is designed to give Honors students a multitude of opportunities to experience each of the four parts of the Mansfield Creed: Character, Scholarship, Culture, and Service. The Honors co-curricular points system is designed to promote active participation and involvement of Honors students in the areas of extracurricular life that will contribute the most to their overall development as scholars, citizens, and leaders. More information about the opportunities within the various themes of Character, Scholarship, Culture, and Service can be found at the Great Conversations Honors Program webpage.
Who Can Join?
Mansfield University students enter the Honors program in a variety of ways.
A limited number of students who demonstrate superior academic achievement in high school, as reflected by way of their GPA, SAT and/or ACT score(s), and class rank are invited to accept early admission into the Great Conversations Honors Program.
Current Mansfield students who exhibit strong character, curiosity, and engagement are invited to enter the Great Conversations Honors Program based upon their successful application to the Director, which will include sponsorship on the part of a faculty or current Honors student.
What are the program requirements and benefits?
Honors students must maintain a 3.0 in their Honors courses QPA and overall QPA as well as make continual progress in fulfilling Honors requirements. A student whose grades fall below 3.0 in either their Honors QPA or overall QPA is placed on Honors Probation. The student is given one semester to improve their QPA, should the QPA (overall or Honors) not be raised to a minimum of 3.0 by the following semester, the student may be given a second opportunity if there are extenuating circumstances. Dismissal from the Honors Program has no impact upon student enrollment at the University.
Graduating Honors students are formally recognized at Commencement. Upon graduation from the University, each Honors Program student completing their MU Degree Program with a minimum 3.00 total QPA will have featured on his/her transcript: “this student has successfully completed the University Honors Program with Honors”. Each student with a minimum 3.50 total QPA in their Honors courses and a minimum 3.25 total QPA will have noted: “This student has completed the University Honors Program with Distinction.”
Honors students are eligible for a number of fantastic travel opportunities, many of which are funded in part by Mansfield University and our Student Government Association. These include
- The PASSHE Summer Honors trip (previous programs include Russia, South Africa, Ecuador, Costa Rica, France, Scotland, Canada, Norway, Austria, Italy, and Egypt);
- The History Club Spring Break Trips (previous trips include England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Greece, Morocco, France, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy.
- Honors Association and other SGA-sponsored weekend or day trips to Washington DC, Seneca Falls, New York City, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, and Baltimore.
- Alternative Spring Break Service trips to Maryland and Cuba.
- NCHC, COPLAC, and PASSHE-sponsored conference and workshops.
Great Conversations Honors students have their own study area, which is available 24/7 and includes access to computers and printers.
Great Conversations Honors students have increased opportunities to attend and present their academic research at regional conferences. As part of their co-curricular development, they are given opportunities to engage in a variety of levels with Mansfield University’s faculty and student research symposiums, lecture and speaker series, and great Conversations forums and workshops. All Great Conversations Honors student will have the opportunity to participate in the StrengthsQuest program, which is designed to focus students on their natural talents and interests in order to turn them into strengths and personal areas of excellence.
For any additional information regarding the Honors Program, contact the Honors Program Director: Dr. Adrianne McEvoy at (570) 662-4742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission: The purpose of education is to push students beyond where they were when they entered into the learning experience. The Great Conversations Honors Program offers learning experiences that will challenge our students in ways that are appropriate to their needs as individuals and as citizens of a global community.
Vision: Through their course-work and engagement in service, Honors students will develop strong foundations in intellectual empathy. This greater understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them will lead them to embrace and drive positive change.
Values: The hallmark traits of Honors students are their intellectual ability, open-minds, curiosity, and desire to drive positive change.
Goals and Program Objectives:
- Through The Honors Classroom experiences, Mansfield University will provide Honors students meaningful opportunities to engage in rigorous, unique classroom explorations that are designed to promote their ability to be conversant in a variety of disciplinary approaches.
- Students will develop a critical understanding of basic concepts, theories, and methods of inquiry underlying multiple disciplines’ bodies of knowledge.
- Students will investigate the interconnectedness among disparate fields of study, calling into question traditional boundaries between disciplines.
- Through The Honors Great Conversations experiences, which will happen inside and outside of the classroom, Mansfield University will provide Honors students meaningful opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills from their classroom experiences to contemporary issues and problems.
- Students will link knowledge and skills gained in class to their own life experiences as well as current world events.
- Students will experience the interconnectedness of disparate fields of study as they relate the fields’ systems of inquiry and knowledge to current world events.
- Through The Honors Leadership experiences, Mansfield University will provide Honors students opportunities to develop real-world leadership skills and dispositions that will foster development of their integrity, humility, empathy, and curiosity.
- Students will make clear connections between the knowledge and skills gained in academic settings and the character-building necessary for them to become a citizen of the world.
- Students will engage in rigorous, independent research that is appropriate to their field or interest.
- Students will connect meaningfully with others of disparate beliefs and backgrounds, sharing stories and experiences from within multiple cultural frameworks.
- Students will engage in activities and services that are designed to address issues of social justice and foster human interconnectedness.
Program Desired Learning Outcomes
Students who have completed all requirements for the Great Conversations Honors Program will have demonstrated a level of high proficiency in each of the following desired student learning outcomes:
- Written Communication - Given a specific issue, question or problem, Honors students will be able to express themselves clearly and eloquently through written works. Their effective use of language will allow them to communicate their solutions to given prompts, appropriately referencing relevant information from primary and secondary sources to support their conclusions.
- Oral Communication - Within a community or organization, Honors students will use effective verbal communication in order to facilitate discussion, mediate disagreements, achieve consensus and solve problems. Effective verbal communication includes the ability to listen and consider the views of others while working together to formulate solutions.
- Synthesis and Information Literacy - When presented with an interdisciplinary issue or concern, Honors students will be able to analyze and synthesize a broad range of materials, including primary sources, in order to identify an effective solution. This process necessarily includes a familiarity with problem-solving techniques from a broad range of disciplines, and a thorough understanding of information technology by which relevant facts and ideas can be identified and utilized.
- Critical Thinking - Honors students will demonstrate the ability to use logic and critical thinking when confronted with a problem or question. Effective critical thinking includes identification of relevant questions, an understanding of current views on the relevant topics, an authentic and sincere engagement with contrary views, and the creation of a synthesis that is the result of logic and analysis.
- Application and Engagement - Honors students will apply their expertise and analyses of important issues to the larger community through engagement with real-world problem solving. Students will go beyond academic problem solving to identify analogous external situations that will benefit from their work, and then describe and execute an application of their studies to that situation.