The Honours College is an extra curriculair program for motivated and talented students. The program will be followed outside of the regular bachelor. The extra 45 ECTS have an interdisciplinary approach and mainly focus upon deepening and enlightening. Read the experience of Ubboians below!
Barend van der Have
Participating in the Honours College can at times be strange, confusing and demanding, but it will enrich you with a lot of new experiences and insights. As a former Honours student, I will explain the most important pros and cons of the program.
While it is often said that the Honours College is just ‘more of the same’, the focus of the program is in fact to a great extent on ‘broadening’. This means that the program is not a kind of ‘History+’, but that it provides contact (or confrontation) with other disciplines. This broadening was exactly what I liked about the program when I decided to join it. As an Honours-student you will participate in lectures organized by other faculties, for instance. Although this can be quite hard – I experienced a lot of difficulties with the course on ‘philosophy of science, technology and science’ for instance – you will gain insight in a completely new (scientific) world. Furthermore, those classes will be followed by students from many different disciplines. In my opinion, this bringing together is one of the strengths of the Honours College, because you will be confronted with a lot of different perspectives, ways of thinking and research techniques. I will never forget the assignment I did together with a physics student. We both had to get used to the other’s approach, but in the end, we learned a lot from it. So, the Honours College will provide you with these kinds of new perspectives and in that way, it is both challenging and enlightening.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well. For instance, it may be possible that you will find yourself in some very uninteresting courses (but the same goes for bachelor History, of course). At those times, staying motivated for this ‘voluntary’ program can be quite hard (but of course it is worth the effort). Moreover, it is a bit annoying to tell your friends time and time again that you ‘can’t hang out because you have another lecture in the evening’ (indeed, most Honours-lectures are in the evening). Besides that, the combination of the regular History program and the Honours College can at times be very demanding. A good degree of perseverance is not unhelpful. But if you encounter problems, it is good to know that the study adviser of the Honours College is very approachable and willing to help.
Finally, I would like to stress a point that is not very often mentioned regarding the Honours College. Namely, a nice thing about the Honours is that the curriculum also offers a wide range of workshops and seminars which are not so much about science, as they are about what it is to be human and to know yourself. Possible topics include ‘happiness’, ‘working together and ‘making choices’. Although this might sound a little woolly, I can say that I learned a lot from these meetings. I think that emphasis on these kinds of topics is very important and that it is something that is not covered enough in the current, stressful world of university. What I mean is that you will not find these things in your bachelor History, but you will find them in the Honours.
Altogether, I am happy that I joined the Honours. It often regarded some hard working and at times it was really stressful, but in the end, I see it as a really nice addition to my studies. By saying so, I mean not so much the factual knowledge, but more the new perspectives and insights I gained. The Honours College adds something to your knowledge of science, your fellow humans and yourself.
Barend van der Have
Honours College student 2015-2018
The Honours College consists of two parts: the “Petrus Camper Track”, or the broadening segment, and the “Arts Deepening”, or the deepening segment. Currently, I am a third years Honour student and so far, the Honours College has helped me to improve my academic skills, but it has also helped me to incorporate new perspectives, other than the one supplied by the History bachelor. From the deepening segment I did courses on rhetoric and how to apply them to your argument-structure, the uses of narrative, the history of ideals about life, and the rhetoric of fear – these courses build on your knowledge from the bachelor and take it further. You will meet with Arts students, which gives you the opportunity to understand the different academic perspectives of other bachelors.
The broadening segment of the Honours Track focusses on developing yourself, and so you take multiple courses on e.g. how to become an academic or entrepreneur, ‘The Art of Influence’, courses of other faculties (I took a course on stem cells with multiple excursions to the UMCG and one on constructing polities), and on how to develop academic skills (such as debating, academic writing, teamwork and writing about science).
In your second year, you will choose a summer school, and other honours students from your cohort as well as professors from the RuG will join you on this summer school (with destinations such as Surinam, Canada, New York, Rome, Warsaw, etc.) to do some fieldwork – it is recommended that you choose a summer school that is not organised by your own faculty, in order to keep challenging yourself. In the third and final year of the Honours College Track you will present on the Petrus Camper Track Festival on the topic of your summer school.
In my experience, the Honours Program will keep on challenging you as a person and as a student. It will help if you do not mind to go to college in the evening (Honours College courses usually take place in the evening) and it helps if you are enthusiastic to learn new things aside from your bachelor and are motivated to put work into that. The results? An improvement of your skills, new friends (from multiple disciplines) and a broadening of your academic horizon!