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Students and faculty members from the Chu Kochen Honors College at Zhejiang University in China pose with faculty and staff from Richland College. Richland College Honors Program Visited by Students and Faculty Members from Zhejiang University in China

A delegation of four students and three professors from the Chu Kochen Honors College at Zhejiang University in China visited the Richland College Honors Program June 6 to learn more about honors program curricula in the U.S. in relation to design and assessment.

“We are honored to have the Zhejiang University Honors College delegation with us at the Richland College Honors Program,” said JaiJun Bracewell, faculty member for Richland College’s School of World Languages and Cultures. “Thank you, Dr. Kathleen Stephens, for hosting this event, the faculty who attended and Dean Susan Barkley.”

One Chu Kochen Honors College student, chemistry major Yaoting Xue, is currently learning about metal-organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, basic theory of soft materials and researching soft robotics. He enjoys being a part of Chu Kochen Honors College because it is considered “a big warm family.” Prior to attending the event, Xue explained what he was most excited about: “I want to know how the undergraduate students at Richland College participate in academic work, and if it is possible for me to take a class at Richland,” he said.

Jiayu Chen is in her senior year and is devoting herself to writing her thesis under the instruction of a tutor. She has done some research on Ouyang Xiu, one of the most outstanding scholar-officials in the history of ancient China. Her plans include studying at Renmin University of China, where she can complete her post-graduate studies in higher education. “I am quite interested in various education models of honors colleges around the world to see what the different parts are and how they work,” said Chen.

When asked about the best part about being in the Chu Kochen Honors College, Chen said, “Students here receive more attention and benefit from a high-quality education. We’ve got top notch professors from various schools and departments. Every student is allowed to follow a self-designed curriculum plan to meet his or her interests and future goals. Academic training is emphasized, which prepares me for further study.”

During the visit, Xue, Chen and the rest of the Chu Kochen Honors College toured the new honors student center with Richland College Honors Program coordinator Kathleen Stephens. Later, the delegation attended a presentation by Stephens on how the Honors Program works at Richland College and had a meet and greet with honors faculty and students. They learned about the honors student learning outcomes, honors faculty workshops and other processes.

“At Richland, we have new-to-honors faculty workshops led by experienced honors faculty members from different disciplines and myself,” said Stephens. “In addition, just before mid-semester, we have faculty members give evaluation forms to their students, and then the faculty members prepare summary reports to share at the honors faculty mid-semester workshops, with an eye toward continuous improvement. We also have six honors student learning outcomes. Professors must submit a proposal to teach an honors course and include how they will meet at least two of the six learning outcomes. Many meet more than two.”

Prior to visiting Richland College, the Chu Kochen Honors College delegation attended the Fourth Annual Honors International Faculty Institute in Fort Worth June 3-5 at Texas Christian University. This intensive workshop was designed to equip university and college professors, instructors, lecturers and researchers who teach academically talented college students with knowledge, skills and resources necessary to design and teach effective honors courses.

“Through our participation in the 2017 and 2019 Honors International Faculty Institutes at TCU in Fort Worth, the Richland Honors Program is on the cutting edge of a world-wide honors movement,” said Stephens. “We are delighted that our colleagues in the TCU Honors College recommended us as a model program for the delegation from China to visit. We have also built connections with honors programs in the Netherlands through HIFI, and I anticipate Richland Honors expanding its success through this visit and through study abroad opportunities for our students, who went abroad in 2016 to London, Paris and Amsterdam, in May 2019 to Ireland, Wales and England, and are planning a May 2020 program to Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France.”

The Richland College Honors Program provides highly qualified students with an enriched and challenging academic community where they develop the capabilities necessary to excel in their educational and career goals. In May 2019, 24 students with the Richland Honors Scholar designation and 24 additional students with the Richland Honors Certificate designation graduated from Richland College. Learn more about the Richland College Honors Program at https://www.richlandcollege.edu/cd/instruct-divisions/rlc/mshp/honors-program/pages/default.aspx.

Zhejiang University is a key national university under the direct administration of China’s Ministry of Education and the joint support from China’s MOE and the Zhejiang province. Established in 1984, Chu Kochen Honors College is one of the oldest honors colleges and the most comprehensive honors college in China. For more information, visit http://ckc.zju.edu.cn/english/.