Defining: Transformation

Honors College curriculum

Since rolling out our current curriculum in the fall of 2018, students enrolled in the Honors College have had an educational experience that’s more collaborative, more experiential and more focused on making a difference in Richmond.

Our curriculum was created out of a desire to make honors education more outcomes-focused and attract students from disciplines throughout the university. What resulted is a program that takes advantage of VCU’s urban environment and prepares students to graduate with skills in communication, independence, critical thinking, creativity, social awareness, leadership, collaboration and a commitment to community engagement.

Incoming Honors students are placed into cohorts of classmates designed to emphasize diversity of race, religion and gender, as well as diversity of thought, major and perspective. Over their time in the Honors College, students take a series of new and existing courses focused on learning about and engaging with the Richmond community.

The program culminates with capstone projects that address real-world problems facing the city and surrounding localities.

Humans of RVA and VCU

A course called Humans of RVA and VCU is a key part of our curriculum.

Inspired by Humans of New York, Humans of RVA and VCU lets students step outside the classroom and study the nature of community, as well as community engagement and their role in it.

Incoming Honors students will work in small, diverse groups to interview Richmond residents and post their stories and photos to social media, with an eye toward gaining a better understanding of the many facets of the community.

Students who took a spring 2018 semester pilot of the course paved the way. Check out their stories on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more about the new Honors College curriculum and the Humans of RVA and VCU course on VCU News.

Capstone project

During their first year in the Honors College, students are introduced to eight priority areas of the Richmond community identified by the Capital Regional Collaborative, a collaboration of local government, business and community stakeholders.

These eight pillars are:

Students begin to hone in on specific interests tied to the priority areas as they explore them in the Humans of RVA and VCU course. In a subsequent course called Investigative Inquiry, students receive “engagement points” by participating in activities in the Richmond community.

Throughout the program, students also take a number of electives that lead them toward, or inform, their capstone projects.

Prior to their senior year, students begin making plans for their capstone project, tackling a problem within one of these priority areas. And in their senior year, they implement the capstone and present it at the end of the year.

“Students like the chance to do things. They want to be involved. They want to make change. They want to feel that they've had an opportunity to make a difference.”

Faye Prichard
Instructor and director of writing

Course highlights

Additional courses and programs under tour curriculum include:

Diversity elective: Students are required to select a course centered on diversity. This course can be about diversity directly, such as issues related to race, class and gender. But it could also explore diversity of thought. For example, a student majoring in biology might choose to take an Honors humanities course.  

Writing program: First-year students take the Honors College signature writing program, which trains students to write for scholarly and general audiences.

Flourishing: In the first-year course HONR 150: The Applied Science of Wellbeing, students explore evidence-based theories and practices that promote personal wellbeing. Students will read primary research that illuminates the connection between emotional health, physical health, social relationships, mindfulness, and optimal daily functioning.

Mocktail hours: In their second year, Honors students further define their areas of interest. They participate in “mocktail hours” with leaders from Richmond’s business, political and nonprofit sectors to learn more about the issues and problems facing the community.

General inquiries

Have a question about our curriculum? Please contact us by filling out the form below.

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