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Today, professionals around the world recognize the need for experiential learning in education. Many schools have adopted programs that allow for this type of learning, including The Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The current Dean of the Lee Honors College, Dr. Carla Koretsky, states that, “The benefits of experiential learning are numerous. In a lecture it is easy for the mind to wander, while in experiential learning the students are constantly engaged. They learn more thoroughly and retain more information” (C, Koretsky, personal communication, March 2016). In a separate interview, the Director of Academic Advising at the Lee Honors College, Anthony Helms, states that “Conventional classroom experiences will always pale in comparison to the accessibility and overall quality of experiential learning. This is even more so with the digital native, Millennial generation” (A, Helms, personal communication, March 2016). Students at Western Michigan University who have experienced learning in this form, say that it is incomparable to anything learned in the classroom. More specifically, Diogene De Souza, an international student at Western, participant in a program entitled Study in the States, and currently studying abroad in Italy, stated that he “prefers experiential learning because you see the practical aspects of what you are learning. You take the classroom into the real world and watch how concepts alone can’t account for the fact that things get messy in the real world, and that there are other factors that cannot be replicated and often are not considered in the classroom” (D, De Souza, personal communication, March 2016).
“The mission of the Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College is to provide an exceptional undergraduate experience for high achieving students, to inspire in our graduates a thirst for the lifelong pursuit of creative inquiry and discovery, to provide our students with the skill and passion to address critical challenges, and to foster personal responsibility informed by a global perspective.” The Honors College adheres to its mission statement by providing opportunities that are not available to non-honors students because they recognize that honors student’s desire and expect learning experiences beyond what is generally offered to most undergraduate students. One particular opportunity provided by the Lee Honors College that merits further discussion is called “Study in the States.”
The Lee Honors College began offering this program in 2012. Dean Emeritus of the Lee Honors College, Dr. Nicholas Andreadis, said that the idea for Study in the States came from a conversation between he and another advisor discussing how to get more students to study abroad. The discussion led them to the idea of a unique program, Study in States (SIS), which provides students an opportunity to have a short-term learning experience outside of southwest Michigan. The Study in the States courses provide honors students the opportunity to participate in experiential learning through practiced Western Michigan University instructors as well as through outside-the-classroom, hands-on material.
The first class offered was titled: “Journey Through Hallowed Ground” and was led by, Dr. Nicholas Andreadis. Since then, many additional courses have been incorporated as well as more professors having a part in this program. “Journey Through Hallowed Ground” will be discussed in the article along with two other successful courses: “The Texas Tour” and “Disney Pilgrimage.”
Weston, Hayley, "Study in the States: Making an Impact on Honors Education" (2016). Honors Theses. 2732.
Honors Thesis-Open Access