Since its beginning, the J. N. Andrews Honors Program has sought to provide challenging classroom experiences focused on critical thinking, discussion, and debate. Following in the footsteps of our namesake, the early Adventist scholar and missionary J. N. Andrews, the Honors Program strives to wed rigorous academic training with deep and abiding faith. In addition, the program’s culminating Honors Thesis provides a context in which undergraduate research endeavors flourish. For decades, the Honors Thesis project has served as the capstone of the Honors curriculum.
The Honors Thesis experience brings together the intellectual energies and enthusiasm of students, seasoned professors and researchers, and the interdisciplinary Honors Council. The Honors Thesis process involves writing a formal research proposal document, defending that proposal before the Honors Council, and presenting the research findings first at the Honors Scholars and Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium and later at the Honors Thesis Symposium. The final papers are submitted to the Honors Program and to the university library where they are archived in hardcopy and digital format.
Successful undergraduate research does not happen without the support of many units on the university campus; in the case of the Honors Program, we value our partnerships with the Honors Council, academic departments, faculty researchers, the James White Library, and the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship. The Honors Council vetting process offers crucial evaluation and quality assurance through the proposal defense. The interrogative format of the proposal defense readies students for the difficult task of explaining intricate disciplinary jargon to an educated but general audience.
Undergraduate research prepares students for the transition into professional school, graduate school, and career employment. By requiring that students initiate investigative projects, design research models and methodologies, review the discoveries of previous scholars, and report in oral and written form on their own findings, the Honors Thesis appropriately caps the undergraduate Honors experience. Undergraduate research combines mastery of a body of knowledge with the application of critical thinking skills central to the learning and pedagogical methods of the Honors Program. It's a great pleasure to watch the maturation that takes place as students assume increasing ownership of their individual research work. Faculty members privileged to oversee Honors Thesis projects also benefit as some projects transform into joint conference presentations and publications.
Students in the pure and social sciences occasionally see their thesis work published in peer-reviewed journals. Students in the humanities frequently present at disciplinary conferences and utilize their thesis papers as sample essays for graduate school applications. In concert with academic departments, the Honors Program happily funds thesis students to attend specialized conferences and present their research findings.
Thanks to the support and participation of faculty across campus, the Honors Thesis remains a significant means by which undergraduate research transforms students into accomplished young scholars.
Photos From Top to Bottom: 2013 Honors Poster Session - Samantha Snively, a senior English major who won first place in her category from the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, poses beside her poster; Tyler Pender, a senior Chemistry major, presents his research