The Honors Program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University is designed to meet the unique needs and enlarge the opportunities for the development of academically-accelerated students. Honors courses feature smaller class sizes, are organized in seminar/discussion formats, and move at a pace appropriate to gifted students. Honors scholars begin their Honors Program experience before they ever move onto to campus, engaging in the Summer Reading Program that invites students to begin reading and thinking in ways that will prepare them for higher education and an MVNU experience.
During their first semester, Honors scholars take Honors sections of the university's introductory course, Discipleship of the Christian Mind, where they will further engage the issue raised in their summer reading assignment. Then, in a two-course sequence of courses, Core Conversations I and II, students will engage in a discussion with each other, with their professors, and, above all, with some of the seminal thinkers in the western tradition. The conversation focuses on perennial human concerns, the nature and purpose of humanity, the interplay of faith and reason, the quest for justice and the need for mercy, the balance between individual liberty and the wellbeing of society, and so forth.
The Core Conversations courses remind students that our most basic questions have a history and invite them to explore answers already posed by engaging primary texts. At the same time, the series fine tunes their skills in reading, writing, and analysis, while bypassing the traditional general education requirements in philosophy and literature.
Honors Seminar is an ideal complement to Core Conversations. As a one-hour, interdisciplinary special topics-oriented course, each semester's seminars explore contemporary issues and questions from multiple perspectives. The seminar entertains guest lecturers from MVNU and other area universities and frequently employs field trips, experiential learning opportunities, and even travel-study options. While Core Conversations introduces students to a rich, textured background, Honors Seminar examines contemporary problems as they confront us in the particularity of our current situation. Recent seminar topics include Human Trafficking, Contemporary Science Fiction television, Modern Apologetics, and Presidential Landmarks. Honors scholars take the Seminar during six of the eight semesters they are at MVNU.
As Honors students mature, the program shifts its focus toward disciplinary research. In their junior year students design a research project and form a committee among their major faculty to guide them. One member of the faculty serves as a mentor, teaching the student how to conduct research and directing them through the project. Once completed and approved, Honors scholars present their findings to students and faculty at the university. The Honors Project often serves as a critical link between undergraduate and graduate education or as a step towards a future career. It is an ideal preparation for "the next step" Honors scholars frequently aspire to take.
In addition to these academic opportunities, the Honors Program offers designated Honors housing, early registration, extracurricular events and trips, and connection to internships and study abroad options.