THE EVENTS AND CRISES OF 2020 reveal tensions and fractures across the world that will require a new generation of well-informed, critical, and committed young people if we hope to avoid future catastrophe. A global pandemic, outrage over police violence and systemic racism, the longstanding assaults against Black lives and Black culture, political polarization and increasing economic disparity, environmental destruction and a dangerous degradation of civic norms – all of these crises contribute to an urgent need for justice and equity that can only be secured through a broader, more engaged and informed participation in our struggling democracy.
A MOMENT OF CRISIS, A MOMENT OF INSPIRATION
Our honors students in these troubled times are, more than ever, anxious to make a difference, to heal their communities and their world. They call for an educational experience that will inform and empower them to achieve personal growth and goals, but more than that, to equip them to see and identify changes in society and to bring them about.
This is not only a moment of crisis, it’s a moment of inspiration to action and an opportunity for change. This moment in history and its implications for the future have inspired us at Macaulay Honors College and the Barrett Honors College to found the Justice and Equity Honors Network (JEHN). We want to offer our honors students the kinds of educational foundations that they need, through courses and activities specifically selected and designed to help them understand, analyze, confront, and solve the issues that trouble our world.
A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR HONORS STUDENTS
Macaulay and Barrett, with other Honors Colleges to join later, will solicit, select, and curate a menu of interdisciplinary honors online courses at their separate institutions, and certify these courses for inclusion in the Justice and Equity Honors Network. Students at both (and all future) institutions will be able to earn a Justice and Equity Honors Certificate, to be awarded at graduation, for successfully completing at least 9 credits (three courses) from the Justice and Equity Honors Network, participating in the community of Justice and Equity Honors Scholars, and presenting their work to their peers and professors at an annual Justice and Equity Honors Conference.
The cohort of Justice and Equity Honors Scholars, through the high-level thinking and self-critical analysis that honors students have mastered, will identify and create new definitions, new understandings, of the principles necessary for achieving equity. They will inquire, research, and collaborate across academic disciplines, across communities, and across geographic regions. Each Justice and Equity Honors Scholar will, through participation in the Network, be empowered to think consciously and deliberately about their own goals.
Bringing together a coherent philosophy and plan of action to make change, the Justice and Equity Honors Scholars will face the challenge of creating a more peaceful, equitable, just, and inclusive world.