Honors Scholars Compact

PREAMBLE:

The types of people attracted to Honors Scholars aim for excellence, not perfection. As a result, they are concerned about the quality of their involvement and work in whatever activities they select.  Hence, Honors Scholars students often seem to wonder about whether their commitments to Honors Scholars are adequate.  They muse: am I doing enough at a high enough quality that I belong in Honors Scholars? Do I fit here, or should I look elsewhere for a home?

Honors Scholars is in the enviable position of not needing to be large.  Thus, we can do what very few organizations have the courage to do, viz., be highly selective and worry only minimally about whether we are tiny or huge.  We can focus on creating a coherent, significant community, regardless of its size, thereby becoming what few organizations ever achieve: unity of purpose. Our purpose is to develop a self about which one can be proud, as well as a vision of what a better society would look like.  The avenue for achieving this purpose in Honors Scholars is the development of the skills and attitudes associated with ethical reasoning and critical thinking.

Honors Scholars takes the idea of “community” extraordinarily seriously. Honors Scholars gives its members a large number of gifts in terms of exposure to and appreciation of new questions, perspectives, cultures, and ideas.  Plus it gives reputational benefits that can have huge positive effects, enabling members to move easily into jobs and professional degree programs that would ordinarily be closed to them. More importantly, it encourages reflection about what it means to be an optimal friend, citizen, neighbor, and significant other. Finally, it provides a home where extreme learners are cherished, never ridiculed nor isolated. BUT in return, we expect members to be regularly asking the Kantian universalization question:  what would Honors Scholars be like if the other members of the community contributed what I am contributing to Honors Scholars?  Honors Scholars members must give to as well as take from the community for Honors Scholars to flourish. Communities require active and enthusiastic engagement.

It is safe to say that those who do not wish to read often and broadly should find some other place to learn.  Honors Scholars is fundamentally committed to the insights and enrichment that comes from reading.  If you are likely to mentally groan when we agree to read yet one more book as a group, you probably belong somewhere other than in Honors Scholars while at BGSU. 
 
By laying out the responsibilities of membership, we hope to accomplish at least 2 things: attracting only those who will flourish in Honors Scholars and providing markers that signal whether individuals should continue to belong.  We never want to ask anyone to leave; we would hope that those who do not wish to comply with the responsibilities laid out in this document would have the good sense to acknowledge that the fit is just not there for them. We are open to all, but Honors Scholars is for a very few people.

While it would be highly attractive to have a community where responsibilities are not only self-evident, but are enthusiastically fulfilled with no regulations or penalties involved, we are unfamiliar with any community historically that has flourished without rules and expectations that have teeth associated with them.  Hence, we know that the health of Honors Scholars requires us to be explicit about what we can expect and will require from one another.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Fulfill these obligations of membership and you are entitled to all the fraternity and privileges of membership in Honors Scholars.  While, as in any organization, there will be some who will be more engaged than others in Honors Scholars activities, every person who fulfills the following is an absolutely welcome member of our tribe. At the same time, please do not be disappointed when you notice that those who are most involved in Honors Scholars also correspondingly receive a disproportionately large number of its benefits.

By joining Honors Scholars I assert that I can be depended on to do the following:


I.      Complete the following required courses as early as is practicable:
         1.      Honors 2010: Introduction to Critical Thinking, and
         2.      Honors 2020: Critical Thinking about Great Ideas.

II.     Read and prepare to discuss all books and articles assigned in various Honors Scholars activities. Only in rare instances under unusual circumstances would there be an exception to this mandate.  To encourage compliance with this requirement, we will organize discussions such that they will often be led by randomly selecting a couple of Honors Scholars as the discussion leaders.

III.    Attend and participate in Honors Scholars meetings held once every 2 weeks.. Missing more than 1 meeting per semester is tantamount to making a choice that one no longer desires to be in the community.  One participates by asking questions or offering viewpoints on a regular basis during these discussions. 

iV.     Complete a research project during the junior or senior year that demonstrates high-level critical thinking skills and an appreciation of the role that moral principles play in forming arguments and behavior.  For instance, a paper for the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) would fulfill this obligation.

V.    Assist Honors Scholars in understanding the larger community around us by reading and sharing what you learn through your regular reading of a high quality newspaper or web site.  One or more of the following would be ideal, but there are dozens of others.  If you select something not on this list please clear your selection with the Director of Honors Scholars:

         1. The New York Times (http://nytimes.com
         2. The Washington Post
         3. The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/)
         4. Salon (www.salon.com)
         5. Slate (www.slate.com)
         6. Arts and Letters Daily (www.aldaily.com)
         7. BeliefNet (www.beliefnet.com)

Many students choose to participate in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), whereby students complete original research under the guidance of Honors Scholars faculty. The experience culminates in a national conference where the students present their findings and have the opportunity to have their work published. Honors Scholars students have participated recently in National Undergraduate Research Conferences. In 2019 NCUR will be held at Kenneshaw University in Georgia in April. Indeed, Honors Scholars faculty members have a long history of involving undergraduates in their research.

Recent publications by Honors Scholars students include:

  • The Legal Response to Obesity in the United States, Canada and France, Whittier Law Review.
  • The Unfortunate Role of Farm Subsidies as a Stimulus for Inequality and Obesity, Asia Pacific Policy Law Review.
  • Protecting Consumers from Themselves: Consumer Law and the Vulnerable Consumer, Drake Law Review.
  • Casinos and Problem Gamblers: The Complexity of Legal Responsibility, Charlotte Law Review.
  • American Medical Tourism: Regulating a Cure that Can Damage Consumer Health, Loyola Consumer Law Review.
  • Unconscionability and the Contingent Assumptions of Contract Theory, Michigan State Law Review.
  • Alcohol and Obesity Law in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law. A Modest Proposal for Ameliorating Urban Sprawl, Real Estate Law Journal
  • Nurturing Social Networks with Critical Thinking, INQUIRY: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines
  • Civil Union Statues: A Shortcut to Legal Equality for Same-Sex Partners in a Landscape Littered with Defense of Marriage Acts, University of Florida Journal on Public Policy

All Honors Scholars' travel costs, except for food, for cultural events or research conferences are free to Honors Scholars students.

VI.   For seniors only:  Assist the Director in defining and solving problems that need to be addressed in Honors Scholars; model the work ethic and character that capture the aspirations of Honors Scholars.