How to Propose a Course or Sequence

Revised Honors Curriculum

The proposal process described here refers to the revised curriculum the Frederik Meijer Honors College will implement in Fall 2020. We are now accepting proposals for courses in the revised curriculum. If you currently teach an HNR course or an Honors-designated course, here is a summary of changes you can expect in 2020-21.

Guidelines for Honors Courses

We are looking for proposals for team-taught first-year sequences, project-based learning (PBL) courses, and integrative seminars. Faculty are encouraged to view the syllabus of record (SOR) for each of our courses here. The best first step in the proposal process is to contact the director and/or the chair of the Honors faculty with a brief "prospectus" or description of the course you have in mind. Generally speaking, we like to run new course ideas by the membership of the Honors Curriculum and Development Committee (HCDC) before asking faculty to put in the time and effort to produce a full proposal. Individual members of the HCDC are available to work with faculty who are developing new proposals.

Finished course proposals (see below) should be submitted to the faculty chair of the Meijer Honors College. They will be reviewed by the HCDC. If the committee has questions about the proposal, a representative will contact you and/or invite you to come to a committee meeting to discuss your proposal. Courses are scheduled based on the needs of the Honors College for the upcoming academic year. Typically, new courses run at least twice. Many enter the rotation long-term, with possibilities for revisions along the way.

Meijer Honors College Mission

The Mission of the Meijer Honors College is to inspire and empower motivated students to be intellectually-curious lifelong learners who make positive contributions to their local and global communities, and serve as capable leaders and active global citizens.

Expectations for Honors Courses

Honors courses should be constructed and facilitated with the goal of helping make connections across disciplines and pursue the mission of the Honors College. Honors courses may involve more extensive reading, deeper analysis, and/or greater research, but students should always know why they are being challenged—courses should not simply add work for work’s sake. As you design your course, you can and should expect Honors students to perform at a high level, but the grading expectations should not be significantly different from a non-Honors course. Honors courses should be challenging and engaging, and students who rise to the challenge and engage earnestly with course material should do well.

Distinguishing Features of Honors Courses 

All honors courses should feature:

  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Personal learning dynamics created through practices of personal engagement with the faculty, high participation, and involvement
  • Multiple writing and research opportunities
  • Strong focus on oral communication—discussion, presentations, etc. 
  • Significant practice in critical thinking and thinking across disciplinary boundaries 
  • “Deep learning”—getting students to break through received paradigms and construct new ones 
  • Encouragement of self-reflection. Students should become aware of their own intellectual growth and of how what they are learning changes the way they think and engage with the world around them.
  • Encouragement of students to present at Student Scholars Day or local/regional honors conferences, or other relevant venues 

In addition, here are some required course-specific features:

First-year sequences (HNR 151, 152, 153, 154):

  • Team-teaching with faculty from different disciplines. For the purposes of teaching load and grading, teachers are assigned their own three-credit section each semester, but they are expected to collaborate fully on course preparation and to attend all six hours of class each week.
  • Fulfillment of WRT 150 goals in the fall semester and SWS goals in the winter semester
  • The values of the I’s—Inclusion, Integrity, Inquiry, Interdisciplinarity, Innovation, and Internationalization—in ways appropriate to the topic and faculty members’ academic training and orientation
  • Discussions of how different types of inequalities and power structures, both at local and global scales, occur and are reflected in or revealed by the content of the course
  • Discussions of contributions, histories, and narratives made by members of marginalized communities in relation to the focus and content of the course
  • Co-curricular activities outside the classroom, such as field trips, campus events, and shared meals

Project-Based Learning courses (HNR 250, HNR 251):

  • Project-based learning as a significant part of the course. Here are seven "essentials" of PBL. Courses should aim for as many of these as possible.
  • Quantitative modes of inquiry (HNR 251 only)

Integrative seminars (HNR 350, 351)

  • The values of the I’s—Inclusion, Integrity, Inquiry, Interdisciplinarity, Innovation, and Internationalization—in ways appropriate to the topic and faculty members’ academic training and orientation
  • Quantitative modes of inquiry (HNR 351 only)

Developing a Proposal 

A full course proposal should have the following: 

A. The completed Honors Course Proposal Form, including the brief description approved by HCDC.

B. A proposed syllabus. If the course has been taught as a non-Honors course, then it would be helpful to have both a copy of the non-Honors syllabus and a copy of the syllabus for the proposed Honors version of the course which clearly shows the Honors characteristics. 

Rev. 01/20