by Suzanne Unck
Over a week ago we returned from our visit to New Orleans (read previous blog posts). I needed some time to let all the impressions sink in and to be able to answer all of my colleagues’ (and my own) question: how to use this experience for our honours education?
Of course there are some practical suggestions. I really liked the concept of service learning, so I think we should integrate that in some honours courses. I’m also convinced of the advantages of an interdisciplinary freshmen’s honours program with a focus on personal development. So I hope we can accomplish that. And The Arts Council and we created an idea to change the Dutch ‘you do not stand out’-culture. We want to create a training program for all students and teachers called ‘How to be a rockstar?’ I’m really looking forward to implementing that. At the conference I also heard some useful information on pr, testing, designing courses and curricula and innovative education.
But what I brought along most of all, is less concrete. It’s more about the passion to continue doing the right things and doing things the right way. All the people I met were sparkling and it was very obvious they work with their heart. It was striking how that influences the way they look at honours education. It all starts with a strong vision and strong values. That leads to an ambition and to designing programs that are strongly connected to this vision in making the right choices. This is quite opposite from the way we usually design new education. Rarely we start with vision, mission and values; we like to begin with the system and try to fit it in. So we limit ourselves from the start. Or we think everything has to change and change itself is the goal.
The inspiration I take with me into our honours education, is working out of a vision when we are going to design scripts for honours for the near future. Last friday we had the first training session for honours professionals, teaching them honours pedagogy. All about self awareness, connecting, creativity and vision. And it worked already. The next few months are dedicated to our peer review audit and collecting ideas for honours as a stable factor within the Utrecht University of Applied Science. I’m determined to let that energy flow in and use it to create the best education for our students who demand the best of us.