The ever-changing Honors program at Oglethorpe University finally settled into a unique format that’s revolutionary for both students and staff.
Oglethorpe University is renown in the Atlanta area for its diverse private school education, one that features well-established interdisciplinary learning, a unique COR program, and various student involvements. Another platform is on the rise thanks to some new changes: the Honors program.
Little more than two years ago, the program was comprised of two parts: honors seminars for underclassmen students and the honors thesis for juniors and seniors. This system worked well in theory, but as the same professors began offering the same seminars year after year, the once budding program wilted into monotony.
Things changed though when Dr. Terry was appointed as the new head in 2015. She proposed the idea of allowing students to do extended research and work within their classes, earning them a positive mark on their transcript as a result. The idea passed with flying colors, and the H designation was implemented as an option for underclassmen, replacing the seminars.
“I think the intent is still the same,” said Dr. Shrikhande, who took over as director of the Honors program in 2018. “Which is to give students an opportunity to pursue independent research.”
For many students, this opened the door to a program they had never once considered. Robert Dougherty-Bliss, a junior currently developing his honors thesis, said that, once the program changed, he was “onboard immediately.” Dougherty-Bliss has taken a total of seven H designation classes.
He is now working on the second phase of the Honors program: the thesis. The university provides a research class during students’ junior year that guides them as they develop their prospectus. Then, once their prospectus is approved, they take a class senior year in which they work on completing their thesis. These classes each count for four credits, making it easier to manage a full course load and honors simultaneously.
In addition to taking courses, honors students are required to present their work at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium (LASS). LASS is a daylong celebration of learning that highlights student’s independent works. Classes are cancelled, and students are encouraged to attend as many panels, speeches, and project showcases as possible.
For Margaret Light, a sophomore at Oglethorpe, LASS was one of the more rewarding aspects of the Honors program.
“I got to take this knowledge of feminist philosophy that I had developed and fallen in love with, and I got to share it with other people,” said Light. She plans on pursuing the Honors program in full, hoping the program will better prepare her for graduate school.
As the program continues to develop, increasing amounts of students and faculty are getting involved.
“I hope that it continues to grow and that it remains a vibrant part of Oglethorpe,” said Dr. Shrikhande.