TCNJ’s Honors Program is built on three Pillars that serve as the basis and scaffold for the Honors experience through curricular and co-/extracurricular offerings at the College. Honors students and faculty are expected to be creative and innovative in achieving these goals.
The First Pillar–Challenging Study that Promotes Deep Thought and Reflection
All courses at TCNJ are intellectually challenging, but Honors courses in particular challenge students by emphasizing the theoretical and philosophical foundations of intellectual endeavor in the field of study of the course. Rather than simply requiring more work than other TCNJ courses, Honors courses invite students to slow down, explore a discipline’s theoretical underpinnings, ask big questions about the nature of the world, question assumptions and accepted wisdom, and develop a deeper understanding of phenomena around them. This is achieved in a variety of ways, including:
- Enhanced assignments, which require in-depth analysis, theoretical thinking, and engagement with primary source materials,
- Enhanced course goals, which focus on big questions in the discipline as much as on specifics of the course’s immediate subject matter,
- Ownership and independence in their learning process,
- Opportunities for the development of independent projects of the students’ own design
- Dissemination of original scholarship and engagement with scholarly communities on campus, regionally, and nationally,
- Courses taught exclusively by full-time faculty or by visiting or adjunct faculty who are experts in a specialized field of study.
The Second Pillar–Integrative Ways of Thinking
The Honors Program presents an opportunity for students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to participate in high-level conversations on topics outside their primary major. The goal is to develop holistic approaches to understanding complexity. Honors courses are designed to develop a student’s intellect, intuition, and imagination, to promote reflection and awareness of familiar and opposing ideas, and to cultivate a nuanced and global view of policies and issues.
This integrative thinking is achieved in a variety of ways, including:
- Structuring courses to promote discussion and analysis of cross-cutting questions and controversial issues from different perspectives,
- Opportunities to enroll in advanced seminar-style courses,
- Offering courses that are team-taught by faculty with different specializations,
- Opportunities to expand horizons by enrolling in study-abroad Honors courses,
- Projects that challenge students to apply their disciplinary knowledge to entirely new topics.
The Third Pillar–Purposeful Commitment to the Community
The Honors Program represents an opportunity for TCNJ students to take an active leadership role in the classroom, on campus, and beyond, by applying their knowledge and passion to tackle big questions and issues. Students are encouraged to apply what they learn to their community in a variety of ways, including:
- Developing special projects with real-world outcomes around which a course has been designed, e.g., curating an art exhibit, helping to plan a symposium, conducting an assessment for a non-profit organization.
- Serving as a peer mentor or tutor,
- Performing community service,
- Serving as a directed learning assistant for a TCNJ course,
- Performing impactful work that aims to solve problems on campus and/or for the community outside TCNJ,
- Developing additional course materials that enhance classroom learning.