Honors Learning Communities
Our students are high achievers who want an engaging undergraduate experience. Students join cohorts in which they take linked courses throughout their first two years at UNO. As such, Learning Community Honors students will complete 75% of Honors’ requirements in their first two years on campus.
We are an interdisciplinary group of faculty dedicated to providing Honors students with enriched and diverse learning experiences and opportunities that extend beyond the classroom and into the greater Omaha community. We emphasize students take a hands-on, collaborative approach to their education—and have fun doing it.
“It is a pleasure to work with students that enjoy utilizing their critical thinking skills to explore the course material and relevant current events.” – Honors Learning Community faculty member, Sam Clinkenbeard (Criminal Justice)
The 2016-2017 school year was the inaugural year for the Honors Learning Communities.
We formed two cohorts in the fall 2016 semester:
One cohort links courses in English, geography, and gerontology. We explore the aging process around the world. Students refine writing, information literacy, and research skills by completing library research coupled with in-person interviews. They also work with translators of recent refugees and immigrants to the U.S., bringing to life their “Coming to America” stories. Additionally, collaborating with a local non-profit group, we add an immediate application of knowledge gained in the classroom to real world experiences.
Two students even presented their experiences at an Honors conference in South Dakota! One of our cohort students, Lauren, recalled the conference: “Between listening to speeches and talking with other universities, we were able to network and exchange ideas with other Honors programs. The conference provided us with a wonderful opportunity to share the UNO Honors Program.”
The second cohort links courses in argumentation and debate and geography together. We investigate global systems through a systematic approach, breaking global issues into component pieces. Culminating in climate change research projects centering on individual country responses, faculty reinforce interdisciplinarity and the development of the whole student through debate themes, discussion questions, and exposure to a variety of ideas, viewpoints, and disciplines.
“The Honors courses were very engaging in the sense that I had the same people in class almost every day of the week so I knew each of them of a pretty personal basis. I also got to see many different perspectives right out of the gate at college, which was both interesting and enlightening.” – Nick, Honors Learning Community member
In the spring 2017 semester, new courses were added to the experience. Students took either a criminal justice or a social work course and each paired with an Honors specific course, “Identity”, in which we explored what it means to be from our hometowns and how our hometowns fit within the national and global community.
“The cohort dynamic enriched the classroom in several ways. The cohort had a shared set of experiences that they could draw upon…these shared experiences not only made them more comfortable with one another, but gave them opportunities to collectively engage with our class materials and concepts through similar vantage points.” – Honors Learning Community faculty member, Liam Heerten-Rodriguez (Social Work)
Both cohorts participated in a mapping project in which we collaborated with a community partner, Omaha by Design, to measure the health of various Omaha neighborhoods. In this way, students gained practical experience collecting quantitative and qualitative data and were able to see how their efforts influenced urban planning decisions.
“Our community partners were very impressed with the level of detail and dedication to the mapping project. They indicated this was exactly the type of input they needed for continued city planning.”- Honors Learning Community faculty member, Matt Patton (Honors)
Each semester, we incorporate service learning into the cohort experiences. For additional information, please visit UNO’s Service Learning Academy.
The 2017-2018 represents our second year for the Honors Learning Community cohorts. Students chose from the same course combinations mentioned above.
Our Learning Community students come from near and far. One third of our students hail from Omaha and over half call other parts of Nebraska home. Nearly fourteen per cent of our students join us from California, Iowa, and Minnesota.
In addition to our service learning projects and partnerships with local non-profits, students participate in monthly excursions throughout Omaha. During the 2016-17 school year, we toured El Museo Latino and International Bakery in South Omaha, went on a walking tour of North Omaha, attended the opera, La Bohème, at the Orpheum Theater, cheered on the UNO Hockey team, sampled Indian cuisine at Southern Spice, and explored the Durham Museum. Each excursion builds on themes explored in class and gives students opportunities to see Omaha in a different light.
This past fall, we planned a number of exciting excursions related to deeper explorations of Omaha. Focusing on how age friendly Omaha’s neighborhoods are, students blend classroom material with on the ground experiential learning, while enjoying some of Omaha’s many unique assets. Tours included a historical overview of the Magic City, a behind-the-scenes tour of Seventy Five North, and a private tour of the Hindu Temple.
At the beginning of the 2017 fall semester, the 2016-2017 cohort met at Platte River State Park for a weekend of hiking, reminiscing, pizza, and s’mores. We worked on crafting résumés, scholarship, fellowship, and graduate school applications. Faculty and students alike shared experiences with cover letters, statements of purpose, and interviewing strategies.