Message From the Director: New Senior Capstone

21 Mar

Dear University Honors Program Students,

A month or so ago I met with a small group of UHP students for one of our semi-regular “lunch with the director” gatherings. Those students were excited when I told them about a new curricular direction for the program, and I hope you all are too. Over the past year the UHP faculty, staff, and I have decided to revamp the capstone course designed for seniors. While we recognize the value of the senior thesis or project as one key component of a capstone experience, we felt for a variety of reasons – some philosophical, some logistical — that our capstone course could and should take a new form and direction.

The new capstone course will continue the ideal of bringing UHP students together during their senior year to reflect on what they learned during their four years at GWU and what direction their future lives and careers might take. Rather than develop a single course on a single, if broad, theme, we will now offer a series of very short courses – month long mini-seminars. You need only register for one such “mini seminar” during your senior year. These mini-seminars will tackle a big theme – an “enduring question” – from whatever disciplinary perspective a faculty member might represent, or from a variety of perspectives that interest seminar participants. One goal is for you to be able to study again with a faculty member who taught you earlier in the program. Another goal is for you to have a more relaxed academic experience –to engage in intellectual discussion without the “carrot or the stick” of grading. The new capstone course will not have any written requirements or tests associated with it. While it will carry one credit, the only expectation will be that you read material assigned and come prepared for a lively, but informal, conversation with each other and with the faculty member. We are choosing themes that are broad enough to interest all of us. This fall the theme will be love; next spring it will be time. This fall, Professors Winstead, Ralkowski, and myself will offer mini-seminars; next spring, Professors Creppell and Christov will offer mini-seminars, and Professors Kung and Aviv will team-teach one. Each will meet only 4 times over the course of a month.

When registration for Fall 2013 courses appear, you will see descriptions for this fall’s offerings, and next fall the descriptions will be available for the spring offerings. We hope you find the new format enticing and that you will look forward to this component of the senior capstone experience with as much enthusiasm as we feel about it. We have a ways to go in developing our ideas between now and next fall, but with Registration Season upon us, we wanted to let you know right away of the coming change.

-Maria Frawley, Director, University Honors Program

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