During my recent tenure as Millsaps College Honors Program Director, it became evident to me that an ongoing problem was this: Honors Students often begin lengthy Honors Thesis projects without previously having undertaken substantial research. While we might expect that, following the Core 1, Heritage, or IDST interdisciplinary core curriculum sequence, students would have grown accustomed to writing research papers, it has become evident that this is often not the case. In some majors, even in the Humanities, students are not writing papers of more than 8-12 pages in length. It is no wonder that these students stumble when the Honors Program requires that they produce projects approaching Masters' theses in length and sophistication.
Interdisciplinary Learning Communities could help foster a culture of research and writing by allowing motivated, committed students to combine the writing requirement of two related courses from different disciplines in order to produce one rather longer writing project. For example, with the consent and aid of two instructors students could combine courses in, say, English and Art History, or Philosophy and a Modern Language, or Anthropology and Music, or History and Classics in order to launch a substantial research project. During the course of their writing and research they would then get coordinated input from their two professors as they produce a single research paper approaching 20-25 pages in length (as opposed to 8-12 page papers for individual courses).
The Two-Course Interdisciplinary Learning Community would enhance learning in at Millsaps College by providing opportunities for our more academically engaged students to learn the advanced research skills required to participate in the Honors Program and to complete Honors Theses successfully. Further, by fostering a culture of research, this QEP will help more Millsaps students than we are currently mentoring to acquire the kind of research and writing skills they will need to compete in graduate and professional programs.
Contact person: Eric Griffin
For a PDF of the proposal, click here.
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