Source: The George Center for Honors Studies
By Joshua Fitzgerald
Did you know that Honors students used to take trips outside North Carolina? Were you aware that, at one point, the first-year Honors classes were called “Word and World I” and “Word and World II?” The George Center for Honors Studies, Greensboro College’s program for advanced students (whose name is often truncated to simply “Honors”), has a surprisingly rich history. The Collegian had the opportunity to learn about it during an interview with Professor Neill Clegg, the current Honors Director, to ascertain precisely how Honors and its curriculum evolved.
According to Professor Clegg, advanced first-year students could take a special Honors English class during the 1980s and early 1990s. Nonetheless, no Honors program existed for most of the 1980s. The English class was the only Honors material that Greensboro College offered.
However, in 1989, Dr. Ann Walter-Fromson, a psychology professor, asked the then-president of Greensboro College, William H. Likins, if the school could create an Honors program. Likins assented to her request. Professor Clegg recounted that the program “began with classes that were given kind of a heightened status … they were special, one-off classes that you could take, and in order to be in the Honors program you had to take five or six of those classes during the course of your education, and then you had to take one or two classes in your major that would have an honors component … that would lead to some sort of document.”
Then, the Honors program received a useful stimulus: Greensboro College won a grant whose funding allowed Honors students to take service trips outside North Carolina. Students travelled to Alaska, New Orleans and England. Eventually, however, the trips were discontinued as the money became exhausted. Greensboro College simultaneously realized that the courses that Honors offered students were not approved to receive general education credit. Therefore, by 1996, the administration told the Honors Committee (which had been established by that time) that Honors could continue to receive funding if the Committee developed a better, more relevant curriculum. As a result, the Honors Committee began to reconstruct the Honors Program.
“We recognized that very few – if any – students came to college with AP religion credit,” said Professor Clegg. “So we hit upon the idea of having team-taught interdisciplinary courses that would combine religion with history and religion with English.”
Freshmen students took the new classes. Sophomores in Honors enrolled in team-taught, one-off courses that combined other disciplines, emulating the old Honors curriculum.
The Honors Program utilized this plan until 2001, when Dr. George Cheatham noticed that planning new courses overtaxed Greensboro College’s faculty. He recommended that Honors focus primarily upon the Humanities. Soon afterwards, Dr. Richard Crane, a history professor, and Professor Clegg began to create the current freshman and sophomore Honors schedule. Originally, their courses were not identical to the modern Honors classes. For example, the first-semester courses “Word and World I” and “Word and World II” were renamed “The Basic Questions” and “Stories We Tell Ourselves” because they sounded deceptively theological. Nonetheless, through minor evolution, these courses would become the basis