UCA Honors College
The UCA Honors College is an interdisciplinary program at the University of Central Arkansas. The program was founded in 1982 by professor of philosophy Dr. Norbert O. Schedler. One of the first Honors Colleges (in contrast to numerous Honors Programs) in the country, the UCA Honors College leads to the receipt of a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. Successful completion of the minor requires a senior thesis or a supplemental senior project such as a performance, exhibit, or other creative work. The Honors program derives its pedagogical underpinnings from the traditional small liberal arts college. It prides itself on small class sizes, intimate teacher/student relationships, and intense study of a variety of interdisciplinary subjects.
The Interdisciplinary Studies Minor is satisfied by the completion of a two-tiered system of courses. The first tier of Honors courses makes up the Honors Program. These four courses are considered the core classes and the credit from these classes is applied to the students' general education requirements. During the second semester of their sophomore year, students wishing to continue to the Honors College must successfully complete a sophomore lecture on a subject of their choice. The student must also meet certain GPA requirements to continue in the Honors College, the second tier of Honors course work. The 15 credits in the second tier of the program satisfy the requirements of the Interdisciplinary Studies Minor. In satisfying the minor requirements, students develop their own curriculum by selecting from a variety of course offerings. For completion of the minor the student will complete 2 Junior Seminars, 1 Senior Seminar, at least one Oxford tutorial, and Senior Thesis. Upper level courses are offered in subjects such as religion, gender studies, constitutional law, ecology, storytelling, the history of science, etc.
The UCA Honors College offers a number of activities that supplement their standard course load they call these co-curricular events. These include High Tables, a series of lectures given by visiting academics; Soapboxes, a series of discussion groups led by Honors students or faculty; a weekly meditation group; and a Foreign Film Series. These events are usually and hour to two hours in length and happen regularly throughout the semester.
The UCA Honors College also hosts two special events on a bi-annual basis. The first of these is called Issues in the Public Square. It is a week-long series of lectures and discussion groups concentrating on a single theme. Events are led by students, faculty, and visiting academics. The second of these special events is called Challenge Week; this event falls on alternating years from Issues in the Public Square. Historically Challenge Week was a week-long event but in recent years it has been expanded to two weeks to accommodate the increased number of speakers that are invited. Each Challenge Week concentrates on a theme, recent topics include ecology, intelligent design, and the cultural conflict in America. A number of guest speakers are invited for each Challenge Week, these lecturers are expert in their field and are the core of the events schedule. High Tables, Soapboxes, and roundtable discussions on related topics supplement these speakers. Past guest lecturers have included George McGovern, Ralph Nader, Ann Coulter, Michael Moore, Manning Marable, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Klosterman, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.