Proposal for a New Undergraduate Honors Program at John Jay College



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Proposal for a New Undergraduate Honors Program at John Jay College

Submitted by: Sondra Leftoff (Chair), Caroline Reitz and Alisse Waterston




  1. Mission Statement

The Honors Program at John Jay College reflects the unique mission of the college in its academic focus on the liberal arts and the study of justice, and its desire to “inspire both students and faculty to attain/maintain the highest ideals of citizenship and public service” (John Jay College Mission Statement). The program will combine the rigors of a liberal arts education with a commitment to exploring the idea of the common good both as the theme of the program and as a basis for research projects by students. The program emphasizes critical thinking, creativity and ethical decision-making with attention to global concerns, community responsibility and civic mindedness.




  1. Guiding Principles of the Honors Program

The program will demonstrate commitment to the following principles:



    1. maintain the student diversity that has characterized our undergraduate student population;

    2. provide new opportunities to meet the educational needs of academically promising students;

    3. promote the core values of a liberal arts education with a curriculum design that is inclusive of all disciplines at the college;

    4. embrace the college’s mission of broadly educating for justice and preparing students to be responsible citizens in the global community;

  1. support a pedagogical approach emphasizing active learning experiences and community building; and

  2. create opportunities for the faculty to collaborate on innovative curriculum and pedagogy.




  1. Program Theme and Design

The organizing theme of the John Jay College honors program curriculum is “the common good.” This theme flows from our college mission statement and provides an intellectual frame. Recognizing that the concept “the common good” represents a debate rather than a definition, the program enables students to consider the varying disciplinary and contextual factors relevant to understanding its construction. It is broad enough to encompass a wide range of interests (from poetry to politics) while providing an organizing principle around which students can develop a focused learning community, and can ask broader questions than their individual disciplines might enable.

Students will be challenged to consider questions of the common good in an era of increasing globalization. The program’s design asks students to explore the theme in relation to:


  • enduring questions of human existence;

  • contemporary questions of social justice;

  • perspectives from the humanities, social sciences and sciences; and

  • their own experiences in community building, both inside the classroom and beyond, including the role of the citizen-academic-practitioner in establishing and maintaining democratic societies.

Constructing the program around this theme promotes program goals of:




  • building community amongst students and across disciplines;

  • developing critical thinking skills;

  • attaining an appreciation of the complexity of ethical principles in a global context;

  • promoting civic mindedness; and

  • fostering relationships between the academy and community in addressing problems of mutual concern.




  1. Program Goals




  1. General goals:

The program seeks to educate global citizens who understand the relevance of academic study in appreciating the world they have inherited and in enriching the lives of individuals and communities both locally and globally. The program is designed as a model curriculum for our institution which allows students to pursue questions of the common good through academic pursuits, field experiences and research opportunities. It emphasizes disciplinary excellence while challenging students to apply their academic expertise to broad social concerns by learning to collaborate across disciplines and with diverse communities to address such issues. By stressing questions of the common good, the program will enable students to consider their scholarly concerns in the context of their ongoing views of and commitments to civic life.




  1. Specific goals:

The development of community will be both structured into the program and an object of study as the program acts to build bridges between one student and another, between students and faculty, between students and city resources and between academic knowledge and public interest. Building community amongst students and between students and faculty facilitates retention in college. Building community beyond the academy will enable students to explore questions of the common good both as an academic focus and as field experience (in real time) along with providing the opportunity to address how they can best contribute to community as citizens-academics-practitioners.


The thematically-based curriculum is designed to promote academic excellence and to be inclusive of students in all majors at the college. The curriculum in the first two years provides students with a common core focusing on the question of the common good, with a particular emphasis in the first year on the global city as context. In the third and fourth years, the curriculum enables students to either emphasize research in their chosen disciplines, or research that addresses contemporary community problems. The latter prepares students to consider how the academy can effectively collaborate directly with communities in addressing the common good through academic projects and discipline-based research.
The final senior seminar brings the entire graduating class of the program back together to discuss their various senior projects and the relevance of these projects to the theme of the program. The seminar provides an opportunity for students to reflect on how the ongoing exploration of the idea of the common good has prepared them for their roles as scholars, practitioners and citizens of a global community.
The combination of Honors Core courses and disciplinary courses takes students on a journey from engagement to expertise, while providing the flexibility to respond both to individual student interests and faculty research agendas. In its emphasis on writing, academic rigor and research, the program helps students make creative and ethical connections in and between the many communities of our city and world.
In combining new Honors core courses with existing and proposed courses in John Jay’s various academic departments, the program provides new opportunities for faculty in curriculum development and pedagogical innovation.


  1. Structure of the Program

The proposal is for a four-year program which students can enter in either the first, second or third year. All Honors Core courses emphasize writing, research and field experiences.


The Honors Program is comprised of two aspects: the “Honors Core” and the “Disciplinary Component.” The Honors Core will involve a (maximum) sequence of seven “core” courses within the Humanities, Social Sciences and Sciences (see Course Descriptions and Curriculum Template).
In the Disciplinary Component, students will be required to take three courses from a list of select courses offered by departments, chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor. The Disciplinary courses will be selected for inclusion by the program director and the Honors Program Faculty Advisory Board, based on a determination of their relevance to the goals of the program. The Disciplinary Component might include a combination of existing courses and newly-designed experimental courses.
The Core Courses in combination with the Disciplinary Component provide students with a liberal arts foundation while preparing them to formulate and carry out research projects that enable them to address concepts of the common good from multiple perspectives.
All students in the program will complete a capstone research experience. Students may choose one of two options for this capstone experience. Each option requires a research project. Option A enables students to design a research project exclusively within their majors under the guidance of a faculty member in the major. Option B enables students to design a research project which addresses and acts to solve a community-based problem relevant to the theme of the common good (see below for description). Students may work in interdisciplinary research teams in Option B. They will develop and execute these projects in collaboration with community leaders, spokespersons, their faculty mentors and each other. Projects may range from subway poetry to crime prevention, but they will share the goal of addressing the common good.
The junior year methodologies course will prepare students to pursue Option A or Option B in their senior year.
Capstone Research Option B: Research in/for the Common Good:

The capstone research option to develop community based projects addressing local problems and concerns challenges students to apply their academic skills to the concerns of the communities of our city and the problems we share in the global community. By introducing students early in their careers to the significance of collaboration between the academy and community in addressing social problems and issues of social justice, we hope to foster students’ ongoing commitment to public service and civic engagement. The experience will also enable students to understand the complexities of leadership, community building, collaboration and notions of the common good when working together to achieve mutually desired goals.




  1. Benefits of the Program

The program provides a model of education which stresses the theme of the common good as a core concern in curriculum and an organizing principle in educating students to become citizen-scholars in a global community. It is particularly relevant to the John Jay College undergraduate experience where the union of academics and civic engagement remains a core value.


The design of the program will provide the following benefits:


  • an over-arching theme which provides a core concept and intellectual frame;

  • interdisciplinary approaches addressing core concepts;

  • a four-year program which enables students to form and maintain a learning community while providing multiple entry points to maximize access for our students;

  • an opportunity for ongoing peer associations begun in introductory level courses and continued through the final senior semester enabling students to learn both within their own disciplines and from interdisciplinary perspectives;

  • research choices to meet student interest and requirements of diverse majors;

  • capstone research option of collaborative community-based research projects relevant to the program theme of the common good;

  • a capstone seminar experience which enables students to re-engage with their peers in the program across majors as they reconsider the concept of the common good and explore larger meanings of their work and its social values;

  • new opportunities to explore, analyze and enact concepts of leadership in relation to ideas of the common good;

  • new bridges between the college and the surrounding community;

  • development of models of collaboration across disciplines and between the academy and the community in enacting the college’s educational commitment to civic engagement and public service;

  • close faculty interaction and supervision;

  • attentive advising;

  • new opportunities for undergraduate recruitment;

  • recognition for excellence and accomplishment (on transcript, diploma);

  • opportunities for professional development (participation in conferences);

  • leadership experiences;

  • strong preparation for graduate school and/or employment;

  • improvement of retention at the college; and

  • faculty opportunities to develop new curriculum.




  1. Students

  1. Admission Routes: The program has multiple entry points. Students may enter as freshmen, lower-level sophomores or lower-level juniors. We will recruit a freshman entry cohort. We will also recruit students for the program from within our student body beginning with second semester freshmen. We envision a significant cohort of the program to be students recruited from within our own student body.

  2. Non-traditional students: We will maintain our commitment to access for our working and non-traditional students within our recruitment and program design/implementation approaches.

  • Size of program (suggested): 25 freshmen (15 incoming, 10 recruited from spring admission freshmen), 30 sophomores, 20 juniors.

  1. Admission criteria: We anticipate admission criteria to be based on multiple measures, and propose a “portfolio” approach in which students will be evaluated on the basis of the entire package, not singular criteria. The portfolio of specific admissions criteria will be decided in collaboration with the Honors Program Steering Committee and other members of the college community. It will be re-evaluated periodically for its appropriateness. The admission criteria for entering freshmen, for students entering the program from within the college as second semester freshmen, and for those applying as transfer students will include a high school average that places the student in the top 10% of the (previous year’s) John Jay College freshman cohort. The criteria for students entering the program as sophomores or juniors will include an overall GPA of 3.2. This is a minimum criterion for acceptance into the program for sophomores and juniors. Junior entry and transfer students will be carefully evaluated to determine their ability to succeed in the program. All students who apply for the program and meet the minimum admission criteria will be interviewed by faculty in the program as part of their application. Transfer student interviews will include a discussion of their particular interest in and activities regarding the theme of the program. The portfolio approach allows for flexibility in determining the suitability of a student for the program. For example, a student may perform below expectation on standardized SAT exams yet have gained the recognition of an instructor for their budding intellectual interests. We might want to consider such a student for admission to the program.

One sample set of admission criteria is provided below:



      1. Incoming freshmen, spring and fall admission:

  • High School Average: Rank in top 10 percent of the (previous year’s) John Jay College freshman cohort.

  • ACT Composite Score or SAT score: Rank in the top 10% of the (previous year’s) John Jay College freshman cohort.

  • Writing Sample: approximately 500 words (previously graded work)

  • Two page biographical essay including an explanation of their interests in this particular program

  • One letter of recommendation: High school teacher

  • Interview by Honors faculty member

  • Interview by current or former student in the program

      1. Current John Jay students (sophomores and juniors)

  • GPA: 3.2 or higher

  • Writing Sample: approximately 500 words (previously graded work)

  • Two page biographical essay including an explanation of their interests in this particular program

  • Two letters of recommendation: at least one must be from a John Jay faculty member

  • Interview by Honors faculty member

  • Interview by current or former student in the program

      1. Transfer students

  • GPA: 3.2 or higher

  • High School Average: Rank in top 10 percent of the John Jay College freshman cohort

  • Writing Samples: approximately 3 papers, with one at least 1000 words (previously graded papers)

  • Two page biographical essay including an explanation of their interests in this particular program

  • Two letters of recommendation: at least one from a faculty member from the transferring college

  • Interview by Honors faculty member

  • Interview by current or former student in the program

  1. Retention criteria: Students in the Honors Program will be expected to maintain outstanding performance in the program and in activities in the college community. We will evaluate students annually in a “portfolio” approach, considering academic performance in their courses, commitments to agendas of the common good in the community and commitments to the learning community of which they are part. Students will be expected to maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 each semester, along with excellence in written work and active engagement in their courses (including regular attendance and participation in their classes and timely completion of course requirements). Students must meet attendance requirements of the university in their honors courses to remain in the program. In the portfolio approach, evaluation will take into consideration a spectrum of performances, although minimum classroom performance will be a necessary criterion in that. Students who do not maintain the minimum 3.2 GPA, meet attendance requirements, or maintain an overall outstanding record will be placed on probation for a semester and re-evaluated. They can be removed from the program at the end of the probation semester if their performance does not meet these criteria. The Director and faculty in the program will collaboratively make this determination. Students who complete the program must have an overall 3.2 GPA to graduate with Honors. Junior entry students in addition will be required to maintain a 3.2 GPA in their John Jay honors courses to graduate with Honors. The performance of junior entry students will be carefully evaluated at the end of their junior year to determine their ability to succeed in the program, based on the GPA and classroom criteria described above.

  2. Advisement: Faculty advising is important to maintaining students in the program and we recommend such services be provided as an ongoing part of the program.




  1. Relation to General Education Requirements

The college is presently considering the revision of the general education requirements. This issue will need to be addressed when that process has been completed. We anticipate most courses in the program will satisfy general education requirements or credits in the major.


  1. Faculty Advisory and Governance

The Honors Program Faculty Advisory Committee (presently the Faculty Steering Committee) will become the faculty governance structure of the program, with an ongoing role of reviewing, advising and endorsing the program. It will collaborate with the faculty administration of the program to address essential functions, such as reviewing admissions, retention and outcomes criteria and determining faculty participation in the program. It will be comprised of faculty representing the academic diversity of the college and the various governance bodies of the faculty. It will include representatives from the Council of Chairs, Faculty Senate and Undergraduate Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee (UCASC); two at large representatives; and the faculty administrator of the program for a total of 6 members. One at-large member will be recommended by the Faculty Senate and one by the UCASC. The composition of the committee will be balanced to include representation from the humanities, social sciences and sciences. It will hold regular meetings during each semester and provide progress reports to the Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies on an ongoing basis. Both may be asked or invited to attend these meeting for discussion and consultation.

The program will be administered by a director who is a full-time member of the faculty. That person will be appropriately compensated.




  1. Faculty Participation in the Honors Program

Teaching faculty for the program will be selected through self-referral and through recommendations by department chairs and by other faculty. Only full-time faculty will teach in this program. Faculty will rotate through the program and will remain for two year terms (this may be extended and may be of longer duration during the early years of the program). There will not be a permanent Honors Program faculty, so that faculty throughout the college will have an opportunity to participate.


  1. Requirements and Curriculum

Requirements: Maximum: 7 core courses and 3 disciplinary courses

  • Freshman entry: 30 credits to complete the Honors Program. (7 core courses, 3 disciplinary courses)

  • Sophomore entry: 24 credits. (5 core courses, 3 disciplinary courses)

  • Junior entry: 18 credits, including the Intellectual Foundations I course taken in the junior year (4 core courses, 2 disciplinary courses).

CURRICULUM

FRESHMAN YEAR

Learning Objectives:

Engage in critical thinking

Develop student community

Appreciate the social fabric of the city

Understand relationship of globalization and NYC
Fall Semester

Community and the Common Good: Exploration in the Global City, Part I (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed/ENG 101 Composition requirement). Writing Intensive

Honors 1XX
Community and the Common Good: Exploration in the Global City, Part I

Concepts of “community” and the “common good” will be examined both in and out of the classroom in writing-intensive interdisciplinary courses taught by full-time faculty from different departments. New York City will provide the context for this introduction to the Honors Program and to the college. Students will use the city’s abundant resources to examine questions that are central to the Honors experience. While syllabi for this course will change depending on the professor, “Community and the Common Good” will allow students to begin the conversation about how modernity, creativity, globalization, and mobility—hallmarks of New York life—impact how we understand, experience and articulate who we are and what we have in common. The course will emphasize community building within the classroom and community exploration outside of it.



Spring Semester

Community and the Common Good: Exploration in the Global City, Part II: (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed/ENG 201 Composition requirement). Writing Intensive

Honors 2XX
Community and the Common Good: Exploration in the Global City, Part II

This is a continuation of the fall semester course which will include greater attention to how writing shapes and is shaped by different disciplines and to the role of public discourse in constructing our sense of community and the common good. It will maintain the emphasis on student community building and on an interdisciplinary understanding of what constitutes, threatens and invigorates the common good.




SOPHOMORE YEAR

Learning Objectives:

Develop deeper understanding of concepts of the common good within disciplines

Develop understanding of interdisciplinary models

Develop conceptual models of leadership

Develop student teamwork
Part I. Fall or Spring Semester

Intellectual Foundations I: What is the Common Good? (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed)

Honors 2XX
Intellectual Foundations I: What is the Common Good?

This course will emphasize how different disciplines frame seminal questions about the historical, religious, scientific and philosophical contexts that have shaped and continue to shape questions of the common good. The course will address themes such as global-local relations; power and hegemony; culture and diversity; individualism and collectivism; and ethics. The course will emphasize writing, research and community experiences consistent with the other offerings in the Honors Core.




Part II. Fall or Spring Semester

Intellectual Foundations II: Leadership and the Common Good (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed)

Honors 2XX
Intellectual Foundations II: Leadership and the Common Good

This course will examine models and ideas of leadership across cultures and over time, keeping in mind how questions of the common good shape such models and ideas. The course will enable students to consider the relation between collective goals, individual needs, and the challenges that leaders and communities face in promoting the common good. The final project for this course will use John Jay College as a case study.*


* Students can develop and implement this project for credit in the junior year.

JUNIOR YEAR

Learning Objectives:

Understand disciplinary epistemologies and methodologies

Develop conceptual frame for problem-solving research

Understand interdisciplinary research approaches

Fall or Spring Semester

Comparative Epistemologies and Methodologies (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed or credits in the major).

Choose Option A or B Both options introduce students to disciplinary approaches to formulating research questions and the underlying epistemologies that determine these approaches. Either course will function as a pre-requisite for the senior capstone research options. Option B emphasizes research questions and methodologies relevant to community-based research and social justice concerns.

Students will choose one of these two options in consultation with their major and honors advisors



Option A

Honors 3XX

Comparative Epistemologies and Methodologies A:

The Idea of the Common Good across Disciplines

Epistemologies and methodologies in the humanities, social sciences and sciences will be explored and compared as students develop expertise as researchers and come to understand how each discipline contributes its methodologies to addressing issues of the common good. Each student will develop a research proposal on an aspect of the common good, incorporating at least two of the three areas of the liberal arts and sciences.


Option B

Honors 3XX

Comparative Epistemologies and Methodologies B:

Formulating Research Questions on the Common Good

This course focuses on questions of methodologies and epistemologies in considering community-based research and collaborative models relevant to social justice concerns. The course will enable students to appreciate the unique contributions of each of the liberal arts and sciences in defining and addressing social issues for the common good. It will also address issues of power and control in defining problems and constructing research agendas where inequities of power, colonialist legacies, etc. are relevant concerns in such production of knowledge. Students learn how to be observers, interviewers, researchers and members of collaborative research teams. Students learn how to assess issues from the public’s perspective and to critique constructions of social identity in developing relevant research models. Each student will develop a research proposal that will address a community concern through designs which are academically rigorous, theoretically based and geared toward social change and the common/public good. This course is recommended for students who plan to take Option B, Research in/for the Common Good: A New York Experience, as their senior capstone research option.



SENIOR YEAR

Learning Objectives:

Understand how to engage in research for the common good

Produce completed research project and present to colleagues and community

Learn to apply knowledge and academic resources to research questions in your field

(Option A)

Learn to apply knowledge and academic resources to address actual community concerns

(Option B)
Fall Semester

Capstone Research (Credits for Option A will be granted in the major department; Credits for Option B will be determined by the Honors Program in consultation with the student’s major advisor.) (3 credits)
Option A
Capstone Research

Research in the Major

Students will complete their capstone project in their major. The major and honors advisors will consult on the development of the project to determine how the idea of the common good will be represented by the student in his/her final project.



Option B

Honors 4XX
Capstone Research

Research in/for the Common Good: A New York City Experience

Students will develop research projects in the common interest/for the common good focused on New York City as “our global city.” The capstone will expose students to collaboration within the academy, and between the academy and the community as they collaboratively develop research projects that address or reflect community concerns to promote the common good. It emphasizes community building in promoting team-based research and collaboration on projects across disciplines. It places importance on understanding diversity within the city and the city within the global community. The projects will enable students to integrate disciplinary perspectives with “real world” concerns. They will enable students to integrate the earlier academic exploration of New York City with contemporary research agendas and to consider the significance of an ongoing understanding of one’s community (however defined) in being able to contribute to its health and well being.

The final project may be a form appropriate to its content and to its benefit to the academy and community. That may include theatrical performance, community website, public lecture, etc.
Spring Semester

Capstone Seminar: Research and the Theme of the Common Good. (required for all students in the program) (3 credits, will satisfy Gen Ed or credits in the major)

Honors 4XX
Capstone Seminar: Research and the Theme of the Common Good

All honors students will take part in the senior honors seminar. They will present their senior projects and discuss the relevance of the project to the core concepts of the four-year program. Each student will develop a reflective paper or project on the relevance of the theme of the program in their intellectual development and undergraduate experience.

.


ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS

The Disciplinary Component (3 courses, 2 must be taken at the 300 level or above)

These courses will be chosen by the student, in consultation with the faculty advisor. The courses will be among our existing course offerings, and newly-designed, experimental courses. Such courses can be tailored to the student’s interest and/or major, but will share with the “core” courses an emphasis on research, writing and “field work.”


JOHN JAY COLLEGE HONORS PROGRAM (DRAFT)



TEMPLATE OF THE HONORS PROGRAM CURRICULUM

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall

Spring

Fall and Spring

FE
Core Course
Community and the Common Good: Explorations in the Global City I.

(3 credits Gen Ed/English 101 Comp)



FE

Core Course
Community and the Common Good: Explorations in the Global City II

(3 credits: Gen Ed/English 201 Comp)



FE, SE
Core Course
Intellectual Foundations I

What is the Common Good?


(3 credits)





Core Course
Intellectual Foundations II: Leadership and the Common Good
(3 credits)

FE, SE, JE
Core Course A
Comparative

Epistemologies & Methodologies A:

The Idea of the Common Good across Disciplines



OR
Core Course B
Comparative Epistemologies & Methodologies B Formulating Research Questions on the Common Good

(recommended for those who will enroll in the Senior Capstone Research Option B)


(3 credits)


FE, SE, JE



FE, SE, JE
Core Course I Capstone Research
Option A

Research in Major

(credit to be granted in the major department)


Option B

Research in/for the Common Good: A New York City Experience

(students may select this option with approval of their major advisor)

(3 credits).


Core Course II

Capstone Seminar: Research and the Theme of Common Good

Required for all students



(3 credits)











Disciplinary component

200 level



(3 credits)

Disciplinary component

300 level



(3 credits)

Disciplinary component

300 level

(3 credits)























Maximum Total Credits:

Freshman Entry: 21 Honors Core + 9 Disciplinary Component = Total 30 credits

Sophomore Entry: 15 Honors Core + 9 Disciplinary Component = Total 24 credits

Junior Entry: 12 Honors Core (junior entry students will be required to take Intellectual Foundations I in their junior year) + 6 Disciplinary Component (may be satisfied by completion of courses prior to entering the Honors Program). ). = Total 18 credits.

Prepared for 2nd reading at UCASC, March 27th, 2009




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