The Honors Plan for Liberal Education

A traditional strength of Miami University is its emphasis on liberal education. In a broad sense, liberal education refers to education in a variety of disciplines/fields of study that is designed to help students understand and creatively transform human culture and society. While most Miami students develop liberal education skills and abilities by completing the Global Miami Plan, students in the University Honors Program develop these key skills and abilities in an alternative way, which is known as the Honors Plan for Liberal Education. Rather than fulfilling requirements in specific subject areas (e.g., English), Honors students meet three sets, or what Honors faculty and staff call "tiers," of increasingly challenging student learning outcomes. These outcomes are categorized into seven key competency areas, which include the following: Written Communication, Inquiry, Critical and Integrative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding, Collaboration, Reflection, and Breadth of Learning. These areas of competence are aligned with the essential learning outcomes of liberal education that several recent national studies have identified. Each competency area includes a foundational, intermediate, and advanced student learning outcome.

Students can meet the Honors student learning outcomes through any substantive and sustained experience they have during college. Thus, they can meet outcomes through Honors courses and Honors co-curricular experiences, non-honors courses and non-honors co-curricular experiences, courses for major requirements, courses for divisional requirements, elective courses, academic research, study abroad, student teaching experiences, and community engagement experiences. The competency areas and student learning outcomes allow Honors students to think more creatively about and plan more individually their liberal education. For example, ENG 111, which is a foundational English Composition course that meets a Global Miami Plan requirement, may very well allow an Honors student to achieve the foundational student learning outcome in the Written Communication competency area, but any course that involves writing a substantive paper or a co-curricular activity involving debate might be other ways that an Honors student could achieve the foundational student learning outcome in the Written Communication competency area.

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