Honors College Forums to Focus on Innovation, Med School, Community Service and Olympics

Honors forums offer students a one-credit-hour immersion in diverse worlds of research and scholarly exploration.
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Honors forums offer students a one-credit-hour immersion in diverse worlds of research and scholarly exploration.

In the spring 2020 semester, honors students will have an opportunity to explore the inner workings and challenges of modern innovative thinking, the meaning and impact of service work, and the history and controversies surrounding the Olympic Games. Students who hope to pursue careers in medicine may apply for a hands-on, workshop-style course to better prepare for and understand the application process for medical school. Finally, 15 ambitious students will have a chance to explore the world of higher education administration with Chancellor Joe Steinmetz himself.

These 75-minute, one-credit-hour honors courses, designated HNRC 300VH in the University of Arkansas catalog, bring star faculty and top administrators together with honors students on a weekly basis to discuss key topics, from climate change to running a major museum. 

"This year, we are proud to offer a record five forum courses in the Honors College, spanning a range of topics that will be of interest to students from across disciplines," said Honors College Dean Lynda Coon. "Our forums engage students in high-level discussions on complex, timely subjects. We can't wait to offer these exceptional courses and engage with the students who participate in them."

Honors students must apply to participate in Honors College Forum courses, and seats are limited. Interested students are encouraged to read more about the courses and professors on the Honors College Forums web page.

The final deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. 

Spring 2020 Honors College Forums

Flagship U!: This course, aimed at students interested in leadership, will offer an unparalleled opportunity for 15 undergraduate honors students to learn about higher education administration from Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in academic leadership. To stimulate and focus discussion, each of the students will be randomly assigned the role of an executive committee member for the duration of the class. Once a week these honors students will convene around Chancellor Steinmetz' dining room table to discuss the most critical topics facing flagship campuses today, including campus carry, student activism, interdisciplinary initiatives, diversity and inclusion, and access and affordability. Other assignments for the course will include interviews with current U of A administrators, as well as a research project and presentation covering other flagship universities in the United States. 

Innovators: This course will be taught by Alan Ellstrand, associate dean of Walton College, and Karl Schubert, who holds a joint appointment with the College of Engineering and Walton College as the director of research for innovation and data science initiatives. Students in this course will meet with some of the very best innovators from a variety of fields, and will learn about innovation in art; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); architecture; and business; as well as for the social good. Students will also discuss the need to embrace failure and the many ways in which the successful guest speakers have themselves experienced failure. And students will examine how their failures can be applied to and integrated into future endeavors. This multi-college interdisciplinary class will introduce students to the key elements of innovation, including how to recognize a good idea, create effective strategies, and generate empathy and awareness as it pertains to both needs and solutions.

Med School: Led by Mack Ivey, the Leibolt Chair of Premedical Sciences and lead faculty advisor in the premed program, along with Honors College advisor Monica Moore, this forum requires students to think critically about popular depictions of doctors in media, as a way to enter conversations that help parse out fantasy from reality. Such critical analysis will become the starting point for students to engage in self-reflection as they begin composing authentic responses to critical questions posed by med school admission committees. In addition, this forum will help med school applicants develop a deeper awareness of some of the most important issues facing medical doctors these days, such as the opioid crisis, the relationship between the American Medical Association and the U.S. government, the increasing elderly population, and the rise of corporate healthcare. Course objectives will include discovering and discussing authentic ways to present yourself to admission committees, understanding and implementing persuasive features of popular medical discourse and revising the medical school applications in a workshop-style format.

Olympics: This course presents an overview of international sport, in particular the Olympic movement. Led by recreation and sport management professor Steve Dittmore, who worked for 10 years in media relations for the Olympics movement, class discussions will center around the governance, policy, organization, marketing, symbolism and sociopolitical history of the Olympic Games. While the primary focus will not be on individual athletic accomplishments, the course will address individuals when appropriate. Topics will include Games structure and amateurism, the 1936 Berlin Games, Olympics during the Cold War, commercialism and bribery. Students will also discuss the future of the sporting event: as the IOC is considering sports such as breakdancing and lacrosse as potential future medal events at the Olympic Games, are the Games becoming too big? Why are cities no longer wanting to host the Olympics?

Service: Honors College Associate Dean Jennie Popp, a former Peace Corps volunteer and codirector of the U of A Service Learning Initiative, and Katie Powell, an associate director for student success at the Honors College who contributes to service learning course development, will lead this course. The class will delve into what service really means, both for those doing the serving and for the communities being served. Course topics will include the privilege inherent in service, the leadership skills and potentially life-changing experiences gained through service work, and the connotations of the word "service" itself. This forum will meet once a week in the heart of the community —- the Pryor Center on the Fayetteville town square — to address a variety of viewpoints on the history of service, its strengths and its shortcomings. Additionally, community leaders and changers will meet with forum participants to discuss how they have defined service — in their work, their resources and their roles as individuals and community members. This course will culminate in a civic action plan to allow students to reflect on the course content, and how it impacts their own personal and professional goals and interests. This forum will allow students to explore, engage and enact what it means to serve.


Samantha Kirby, senior editor
Honors College
479-575-5848, srkirby@uark.edu

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College
479-575-2024, kcurlee@uark.edu


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