Intellectual Engagement & Interdisciplinary Study
The Donald C. Harrison Honors Program at Birmingham-Southern is designed to engage students' intellectual curiosity, enhance their oral and written communications skills, and further develop their ability to think and study independently. The importance of viewing issues from interdisciplinary perspectives and of integrating—as well as analyzing—knowledge is a special focus of the program's courses and requirements. The program addresses its mission through small, interdisciplinary seminars developed specifically for Honors students and through upper-level courses with an interdisciplinary focus. The Harrison Honors Program serves as a complementary approach to fulfilling the requirements of the College's Explorations Plan for General Education.
“… Honors students are open to new ideas, aware of expanding horizons, and willing to change their own ideas to make room for the knowledge that they gain. They incorporate, embrace, and encourage differences.
‘Honors' is not synonymous with straight A's and valedictorians. Ideal Honors students would participate in the program even if it did not appear on their transcripts.”—Excerpted from “The Ideal Student in the Honors Program” as adopted by the Honors Committee 2002.
The Honors Program is designed for students who are highly motivated, intellectually curious, and willing to be challenged academically. Approximately 25 such students are admitted to the program each year. Students may apply after being admitted to Birmingham-Southern College in the spring of their senior years in high school or during the fall as first-year students at the College. Interested students must complete an application form, write a short essay, and submit letters of recommendation.
The Honors Program component of Honors student's general education consists of five units of Honors seminars and one unit of independent study, known as the Honors Project. The specific general education requirements met by Honors courses and those met by regular courses will vary from student to student, depending on which Honors courses the student elects to take. Students may take one January Exploration Term Honors project which will count toward the five units of Honors seminars. Students who participate in study abroad programs that include interdisciplinary courses also may petition to count one such course toward their Honors requirements. Honors students' remaining general education coursework is completed in the regular curriculum of the College.
The student's sixth unit in independent study is typically taken over two terms. One-half unit is taken while the project is being designed by the student, the program director, and a faculty sponsor. The project must be interdisciplinary in nature and outside the student's major. Once approved by the Honors Program Committee, the independent study is completed the next term, giving the second half-unit of credit. All Honors Senior, or independent study, projects are presented publically as part of the program's requirements.
The notation “Harrison Scholar” is placed on the academic transcripts of students meeting graduation requirements as students in the Honors Program.
An added benefit of the program is that Honors students at Birmingham-Southern may enroll in Honors courses offered by the Honors Programs in the Birmingham Area Consortium of Higher Education (BACHE). Those institutions include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Miles College, University of Montevallo, and Samford University.
Birmingham-Southern College is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Southern Regional Honors Council and the Alabama Honors Council.
For more information, including a course listing, please visit the Special Programs section of the most recent issue of the Birmingham-Southern College Catalog.