In This Issue...
As we prepare to discuss strategic planning around "inclusive excellence" at next week's NCHC board meeting in Savannah, I would like to recommend to y'all a helpful book, Cia Verschelden's Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism and Social Marginalization (Stylus, 2017). The thesis of Dr. Verschelden's engaging and compelling monograph, is that many students from marginalized groups (low SSE, students of color, LGBTQ, veterans, students with mental illness) struggle in college not because of lower ability or poor preparation, but because they have to address situations that deplete cognitive resources that are needed for learning. The book offers concrete, asset-based strategies that can be implement to replenish students' cognitive resources and help them to thrive. Dr. Verschelden rejects a deficits-based perspective, focused on what students lack, and offers strengths- and evidence-based interventions and strategies that contribute to student success, mitigating against sociopsychological underminers such as stereotype threat, microaggressions, belongingness uncertainty, and disidentification with the academic self. Many of these strategies are easily implemented at the classroom level, supporting all students, regardless of background.
In (thoroughly) reading this book, I was struck both by how many of these interventions are already woven into the fabric of honors, and also how simply exiting strategies can be tweaked to ensure a wider reach. For example, in emphasizing the importance of creating community (a core value for most of us in honors), Dr. Verschelden provides specific strategies to make sure no one is lost. Noting that it is not enough for each student to feel connected to the professor, she recommends creating consciously diverse triads in each class, who are required to check in with each other in case of absence or about points of confusion. She also recommends offering everyone a two-day grace period for late assignments, after which a student is required to meet with the professor to discuss strategies for moving forward.
Given the high levels of anxiety among students in my own program, I am working with colleagues to design a study to examine the outcomes of such a simple, and kind, intervention. If you would like to participate, or have other "bandwidth enhancing" strategies to recommend, please let me know!
From the Executive Director: Value Added Planning
I can count quite a few things in my life as valuable, as, I'm sure, can you: health, family, education, music, home, friends, travel, a good book, a fine wine. But I prioritize them differently depending on my situation.
If there were unlimited resources, if I were ten years younger, or if the future was certain I'm sure my list of priorities would reflect those circumstances.
Setting goals for an organization has some of the same process steps. The NCHC Board will be meeting in Savannah, GA February 22-23, with plans to incorporate diversity and inclusion into the organizational strategic plan. And while a strategic plan is a living document, the anticipation is that there will be deliverables to report back to you, the membership, at the conclusion of this meeting.
It's a daunting and ambitious undertaking: understanding the barriers, working through the practicalities and policies, and then setting operational expectations to better serve marginalized demographics. It's a complicated discussion as individuals representing almost 900 institutions come to the table to determine what approach NCHC can take that will impact not just individual students, but the expanse of all who experience honors in any capacity.
Because this conversation is not just about students or immigration or DACA. It's about honors programs and colleges rising to the challenge to address cultural boundaries and rights and privileges. It's about honors leadership facing adversity on campuses. It's about honors communities struggling locally—and needing the resources of the broader NCHC community to stand shoulder to shoulder providing strength in numbers, both human and data.
This conversation could get messy. Because what NCHC can do is different than what your campus can do. And what your administration does may not reflect your own convictions.
Each one of the board members is facing a different local perspective, amid the national landscape of constant turmoil, and recognizing that the collective membership has a lot to gain if the conversation addresses the priorities: NCHC priorities that also include advocacy, research and professional development.
The rationale for the conversation at the board meeting is to set outcomes for our organization, to know with some assurance that honors is addressing equity and access across each honors community.
The anticipation is that the membership is stronger for having had the courage to study how these priorities intersect and strengthen each person of honor.
Looking forward to this conversation with you all over the course of this phase of our network,
From the Conference Chair
As many of you know, one of our Boston conference plenaries will feature a conversation with bell hooks, the legendary writer, feminist, teacher, and cultural critic. The author of over thirty books—all of which are still in print—hooks' work continues to be relevant.
The problem of male violence that has been discussed recently in light of the #MeToo movement is an issue that has been explored by hooks in her work for decades, as she pointed out in a recent discussion with The New Yorker's David Remnick.
I've been delighted to hear from colleagues that they are planning to use hooks' seminal study of liberatory learning, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom—the inspiration for our conference theme—in a wide variety of ways. Some faculty will incorporate the book into professional development workshops in preparation for the conference; others are assigning it as a departmental common read; while others are including it in fall honors syllabi before bringing students to the conference.
Those who attend the conference will also have a change to share thoughts about the text in a common read discussion.
Having taught Teaching to Transgress in a first-year seminar, I can say that honors students find it incredibly inspiring and enlightening. I have found that honors students, in particular, enjoy reflecting on their own learning and hooks' work prompts such thinking.
Remember that conference submissions close soon! The deadline to submit is March 1 at this online portal.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
Sincerely, Richard Badenhausen
NCHC 2018 Conference Chair
Proposals Close March 1...
Boundaries and Borders
Ted Martinez, Northern Arizona University Honors College
The idea of public lands may conjure images of National Parks and Monuments. Thoughts of the Grand Canyon or the geyser of Old Faithful may materialize. Activities such as mining, grazing, hunting, and logging, may not be the first things that come to mind, but these activities also occur on public lands. Public lands have a number of management goals including protection and preservation, maintaining productive and healthy ecosystems, and the continued access and use of public lands. Two experiential learning programs, both sponsored by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), will explore issues of conservation, culture, and place in America's public lands. One program, the Grand Canyon Semester, is an Honors Semester program for undergraduate students being offered fall 2018. The other is a faculty institute entitled "Yellowstone Border Towns: Intersections of the Public and Private," being offered summer 2018. Public lands are by no means static. They are in constant flux due to changing policies and administrations. New threats emerge from development, technology, and even recreation. Both NCHC programs will examine the idea of boundaries and borders, as well as the realities that play out on the landscape. Boundaries denote separation as well as connection. Boundaries are "touch points." Boundaries are both real and perceived, but exploration of these important topics is limitless. More information can be found at the NCHC website (nchchonors.org) under the Events tab.
Note: The deadline for Grand Canyon Semester applications has been extended to March 1st, 2018
2018 Faculty Development
Check out these great new offerings from NCHC in 2018, now posted on the NCHC Website!
Partners in the Parks Directors & Faculty Retreat at Highland Cove Lake, NC
Negotiating Belonging: Crossroads and Communities in Barcelona (deadline March 1!)
Yellowstone Border Towns: Intersections of the Public and Private (deadline April 25)
NCHC Grants & Faculty Awards Now Open!
Applications are now being accepted for several recognition and financial grant opportunities from NCHC. Nominate a deserving colleague, propose an innovative classroom idea, or submit your unique research project... NCHC wants to support you as a part of the growing honors community!
Portz Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship
Portz Fellowships support innovative cross-disciplinary research endeavors from individuals or interdisciplinary teams of two. Receive funding for up to 18 months of research with this prestigious award! Deadline: March 15, 2018
For Faculty & Directors:
NCHC Consultant Grants
If you are interested in a program review and campus consultation visit from an NCHC-recommended program reviewer, apply for a grant to offset your admin costs! New honors programs & colleges, as well as those with new leadership changes, are especially encouraged to apply. Deadline: March 31, 2018
NCHC Spring Portz Grants
Working on an innovative classroom project in your honors curriculum? NCHC has financial support available to assist in your creative endeavors. Apply today! Deadline: March 15, 2018
NCHC Fellows Nomination
NCHC Fellows are distinguished individuals who have given substantial time and energy to furthering the cause of honors education. Nominate a colleague or mentor for their outstanding service to honors and to NCHC! Deadline: March 1, 2018
Ron Brandolini Award for Excellence at a 2-Year Institution
Sam Schuman Award for Excellence at a 4-Year Institution
These two faculty awards were created to recognize excellence in teaching at both two-year and four-year institutions. Nominate an outstanding director or faculty member today! Winners will receive $500 to their honors program and recognition at the NCHC's Annual Conference. Deadline: June 15, 2018
Calls For Publications
UReCA is now accepting Student Submissions and Editor Applications for 2018!
The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, UReCA, is nationally recognized and sponsored by the NCHC. The only student-led and peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates, UReCA showcases competitive multi-disciplinary works produced by honors students from across the U.S.
DIRECTORS: Download This Flyer and share with your students - print and post on your bulletin boards as well!
- - - -
Call for Papers: JNCHC
The next issue of JNCHC (deadline: March 1, 2018) invites research essays on any topic of interest to the honors community.
The issue will also include a Forum focused on the theme "Honors and Social Justice." We invite essays of roughly 1000-2000 words that consider this theme in a practical and/or theoretical context.
The lead essay for the Forum, available here, is by Naomi Yavneh Klos of Loyola University New Orleans. In her essay, "Thinking Critically, Acting Justly," Yavneh Klos asks readers to consider two questions: "first, how to engage our highest-ability and most motivated students in questions of justice; and second, how honors can be a place of access, equity, and excellence in higher education." She describes the ways her program has wedded traditional and experiential educational goals with justice education to fulfill the Jesuit honors mission to "embrace diversity; foster reflection and discernment; promote social justice and preferential care for the poor and the vulnerable; and bring 'intellectual talents into service of the world's great needs.'" Rejecting the notion that a student's qualification for honors can easily be identified by test scores and high school GPA, she suggests ways that admissions policies and curriculum decisions can achieve equitable and inclusive excellence for the public good.
Contributions to the Forum may—but need not—respond to Yavneh Klos's essay. Prospective authors are also encouraged to consider the issues raised by the NCHC monograph Occupy Honors Education, which is forthcoming in early November 2017.
Questions that Forum contributors might consider include: What kinds of honors admissions policies best serve the cause of inclusive excellence? Is the notion of "inclusive excellence" an oxymoron? Can virtue and social justice really be taught at all? How might honors faculty and administrators address the notion that they should teach practical skills and "book learning," leaving matters of morality and justice to parents and religious groups? Is social justice a partisan issue, part of a left-wing agenda? While diversity in an honors humanities curriculum is common practice, how might the sciences or engineering or computer science achieve a goal of inclusivity?
Forum essays should focus on ideas, concepts, and/or opinions related to "Honors and Social Justice."
Information about JNCHC, including the editorial policy and submission guidelines, is available here on the NCHC website.
Please send all submissions to Ada Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCHC journals and monographs are included in the following electronic databases: ERIC, EBSCO, Gale Cengage, and UNL Digital Commons. Both journals are listed in Cabell International's Directory of Publishing Opportunities.