Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives in the UHP

Dear UHP Students:

The faculty and staff of the University Honors Program are committed to addressing and ending any negative experiences for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students in our community. We write to share with you the steps that we are currently undertaking—and have already undertaken—to confront issues of diversity within our own program. This work is ongoing; it is not always obvious and, in a large institution like ours, progress can sometimes be slow. The UHP has also recently gone through a significant change in its administrative structure and staffing and such transitions always divert time and energy away from important objectives.   

After hearing from students about diversity concerns in the Fall, we began working with Director of University Diversity & Inclusion Programs Jordan West, who suggested we begin with a “temperature survey” for the program to help focus our actions towards the areas in most need of consideration and change. This work has been delayed by the pandemic, but we are committed to administering this survey in Fall 2020. The newly re-formed UHP Advisory Committee (which includes faculty representatives from around the university) has also been tasked with making recommendations to the program in this area. As mentioned in our previous email, we are convening as well a UHP working group composed of students, faculty, and staff to help guide us forward. Students who would like to volunteer to be a member of this working group should complete this form. This group will convene over WebEx this summer (at a date and time convenient to as many participants as possible), but those who are unable to participate this summer are still invited to sign up. Work will continue in the Fall.      

Several recent straightforward changes that have been made include updating the UHP Student Handbook for 2020-2021 to include specific policies related to UHP student conduct to help maintain a supportive and inclusive environment for all our learners. The faculty handbook is also being updated to include additional expectations and resources for instructors. Origins’ faculty are working together as well to diversify their Origins courses. In recent years, faculty have expanded their range of readings to include non-White authors such as James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, the Dalai Lama, and Paulo Freire, to name a few. Women writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Christine Korsgaard, Martha Nussbaum, and Virginia Held have been added to syllabi, and many of our faculty have shown students the anti-racist documentary “I’m Not Your Negro,” a powerful film on Baldwin and the American Civil Rights movement. Diversifying our syllabi is an ongoing effort—one that started over a decade ago when we began the important work of teaching non-Western traditions like Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucian thought in Origins. We remain committed to advancing a wide range of voices in the Honors program, and recognize that Origins is not the only place where we have work to do. It is important to us that all of our classes and spaces feel welcoming and inclusive to everyone. This will require working on our culture as a whole, reviewing how we teach our course materials, and being more mindful of how we engage with students inside and outside of the classroom. 

Like all special programs on campus, the UHP works in concert with the GW Office of Undergraduate Admissions in recruitment and admissions. The UHP staff has worked and is working closely with Admissions on the issue of diversity in enrollment. We have discussed the issue in depth with Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Ben Toll last summer, and we have emphasized our desire to have the Honors Program advertise as widely as possible. As a result of these meetings, the UHP was involved with the “Your GW” program in the Fall, which provided a direct avenue to a set of prospective GW students who we hoped would consider applying to the Honors program. We recognize that our admissions process is not yet fixed, but we are taking steps to understand the problem and learn how we can do better. We are pressing Admissions to ensure that a diverse set of applications is sent for our review. We are working to upgrade the UHP website so that it better represents the program and will be more attractive to prospective students who want to build a strong academic community. We have also altered our portion of the admissions process to more explicitly consider factors such as race, socioeconomics, and first-generation status.    

In Fall 2020, all UHP first-year students will live as a community in West Hall. Having the full incoming class living in West will allow us to do more focused community building in the first year, which is planned to include issues related to diversity and inclusion. Though a return to “normal” is unlikely in the Fall, we remain committed to unifying the incoming class through a shared academic and co-curricular program. Vern RAs are committed to building a community that supports all of our students. The UHP will also be working with the MVC Area Coordinator (Dan Wright) and Community Director (Marissa Townsend) to discuss options for integrating diversity and inclusion education programs in the residential community experience directly. Further, in collaboration with the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement, all UHP students will take part in an unconscious bias workshop in the Fall.

In addition, we are integrating anti-racist and anti-bias training into the Peer Advisor program so that peer advisors are equipped with the tools and self-awareness needed to address acts of racism and bias as well as refer students to supportive resources. Peer Advisor Leadership in particular will participate in anti-racist and anti-bias training to uphold these standards for the rest of the peer advisor program. 

 Under the Honors new administrative organization, Associate Provost for Special Programs & the Mount Vernon Academic Experience Elizabeth Chacko is tasked with course staffing. We have had multiple discussions about the need for diverse course offerings and faculty in our upper level courses, but because faculty and classes are scheduled a year in advance this process takes time. Since the needs of the UHP are similar to those of the other special programs on the Mount Vernon Campus, Associate Provost Chacko is working on building common programming to address these issues among students and faculty throughout these programs. In addition, our faculty and staff—like our students-—will take part in anti-racist and anti-bias training (again, hosted by GW’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement).

The University Honors Program believes that critical reflection, historical awareness, an openness to the diversity of human experience, and an empathetic moral imagination are the cognitive skills necessary for building a just society free from racism and oppression. The UHP is committed to cultivating these skills and enabling our students to become agents of positive change as we struggle together to create a compassionate society in which all can flourish and thrive without fear of harm. 

In solidarity,
The UHP Administration & Faculty

Statement on The Murders of Black Americans and Racism in the UHP

UHP Students,

The UHP condemns in the strongest terms the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade and all other members of the Black community who have been killed as a result of anti-Black racism and systemic oppression. Black lives matter. For far too long, we have lived under a system that has dehumanized and cast Black lives aside using state sponsored violence. These murders are not isolated incidents, but rather the results of longstanding systems of oppression built on white supremacy. As a society and as a community of scholars, we must confront this truth and commit to genuine discourse and action on issues affecting Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

In these moments, we must also look inward, and the UHP acknowledges that our program is not one in which all BIPOC students, staff, and faculty feel fully safe, represented, and supported. Our mission implores our students to “probe the most foundational questions of humanity and to apply their understanding to complex problems of the world today,” and we must do the same as we think about our own program. We should examine in what ways problems of racism, privilege, and lack of diversity have been sustained in our classrooms, living spaces, and in our own UHP community. We should also ask: How can we address these concerns internally and what can we do to actively overcome their presence? How can we resolve and constantly re-evaluate each of these issues as they evolve over time? These are questions that we have committed to consistently ask ourselves to create lasting change not just in our program, but within the greater context in which it exists.

One immediate action is to stand up, speak out, and support those around the country and the world who are making their voices heard. We condemn the authoritarian response of our leaders and the violence against citizens who express their legitimate grievances as is their fundamental first amendment right.

Our goal is to be a community where we all belong, but unfortunately, we are not yet fully there. As we press on toward that goal, we are listening carefully to the concerns that have been brought to us. We are eager to make improvements to our program so that we can better serve our mission. As a start, we are putting together a working group consisting of UHP students, faculty, and staff to help identify areas of concern and provide concrete steps for moving forward. Later this week, we will be telling you more about what the UHP has been doing and is committed to doing in the future and asking for volunteers to join this working group.

In solidarity,
The UHP Administration & Faculty

GW Resources:
#
GWInSolidarity Events 
GW Bias Incident Reporting
GW Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement


Anti-Racist Resources We Are Reading: 
Anti-Oppression LibGuide: Anti-racist resources
Educational and actionable resources

A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources: Book, movie recommendations, and more

Join us Monday 4/27 for a HSM Movie Night!

It’s 2006: Rihanna is calling S.O.S. (please) and it’s the Disney Channel movie premiere of High School Musical. Join us for a much needed throwback on our High School Musical movie night with Student Staff Ronnie and Program Manager Ben! One thing that will make this night extra special is, that’s right, it will be Ben’s first ever HSM viewing!!! Exciting!!!!

It will be on Monday, 4/27 at 7PM EST. 

Join us here: https://gwu.webex.com/meet/ronniericcobene

See you there…

Fall 2020 Registration Guide

It’s almost time to register! To help prepare, check out these tips and reminders.

Registration Schedule

***Friday, April 17th @ 9AM EST: Honors Early Registration***(Remember, early registration is for your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th semesters!)

April 20
9 AM
Monday
90 or more credits earned
(use your transcript to find your total credits)
April 21
9 AM
Tuesday
70 or more credits earned
(use your transcript to find your total credits)
April 22
9 AM
Wednesday
50 or more credits earned
(use your transcript to find your total credits)
April 23
9 AM
Thursday
30 or more credits earned
(use your transcript to find your total credits)
April 24
9 AM
Friday
0 or more credits earned
(use your transcript to find your total credits)

Registration is open from 9:00 AM to 11:59 PM EST

If you’re not sure when you register, you can check your earned credit hours in GWeb using the following path: Student Records & Registration Menu > Student Records Information Menu > Transcripts > View Unofficial Transcripts. Make sure you’re looking at overall hours earned for the accurate total!

Urgent Hold Information

Check your record via GWeb regarding holds prior to your scheduled registration time. Any hold on your account will prevent access to registration. You can view any holds on your account by looking at: Student Records & Registration Menu > Student Records Information Menu > View Administrative Holds.

Make sure to check now and again in the days lead up to registration. Check early, and check often! BADLY TIMED HOLDS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.

Fall Registration Advising

All honors students are encouraged to see a Program Manager before registration. Make sure you are prepared with a tentative course schedule using the Fall 2020 Schedule of Classes and Honors course descriptions. As new course information and revisions become available, we will update the website. Please re-check the information on the Schedule of Classes and the Honors site before you register to ensure that you’re up-to-date!

Unfortunately we won’t be able to meet in person for advising events and meetings, but please feel free to make a virtual appointment with us online: honorsprogram.gwu.edu/make-appointment

Your peer advisor is also always a good resource if you have questions about specific courses, professors, or anything you’d like advice on!

A COVID-19 Message to Our Seniors

Added Note from Brianna:

I was feeling really under the weather the day we filmed so I’m sorry for the miserable face. I love you all! Feeling better now!

Added Note from Josh:

Y’all know you’re super welcome to come to UHP events once you graduate, right? You’ll get free admission to Student-Faculty Dinners henceforth. I don’t want this to be the last I see of you! Come back around!!

Transcript:

Professor Kung: To all the UHP students who are graduating this semester, this is definitely not the final semester anyone was expecting for you. The entire faculty and staff of the UHP is heartbroken that graduation has to be cancelled. We are going to figure out a way to celebrate your accomplishments, we promise that. But in the meantime, remember that what you’re doing right now is a civic duty. We hope that when you think back on this semester, you’re going to focus on the fact that your actions and sacrifices have helped to slow the spread of this disease. For someone out there right now, today, what you are doing is literally a lifesaving act for them. So keep that in mind. 

Eydie: Hi guys, you know me. I’m a sap. Graduation time is the most wonderful time of the year for me and i’m feeling sad too. Just remember, we will come together. We are GW and we will figure out a way. And people are at work right now figuring how to make the end of your experience at GW better than what you’re going through right now. We are thinking about you all. We are thinking about your parents and how proud they are of you. We are proud of you guys! We are gonna get through this. I may cry a little but that wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Take care!

Josh: I echo everything that was just said. I have a special connection to this class because I entered GW with y’all and with a little twist of fate left a little earlier. But we have been through it, one might say. Because we entered in 2016 with the 2016 election and we are leaving and being sent off by COVID-19. So you know, it’s just the way it goes. But yeah, I echo when we heard about in person classes being cancelled for the rest of the semester, it was a blow to all of us especially on behalf of you guys. College has this unique sense of community to it, and having that ripped away early is a really rough thing. But we are working our hardest to give you that sense of community feel virtually. It won’t be the same, but it will be something! Through the digital townhouse project, be involved there, be connected there, stay with us! We care about you. 

Ben: Hey everybody, seniors. We just want to let you know how sad we are about the events that have taken place lately and the fact that we won’t be able to see you in person for the rest of the semester. Honors advising is still open for business. We are here virtually for you and if you want to check in about the remainder of your classes, just to chat about life, to catch up, Brianna and I are here for you. We definitely want to continue staying in touch. You know how to access our calendar, put time on it so we can catch up and stay connected with you.

Brianna: As Ben said, we still have appointments so definitely reach out. I know we’d love to hear from you and I hope everyone is doing well. I’m not going to pretend I know all of the answers right now with all of the balls up in the air but I’ll figure it out with you. So we are here for you, please take care of yourselves and we will see you soon. 

Professor Hammond: Hi everyone, I am listening to what everyone is saying and I’m just reminded about how bummed I am that we are not going to get to celebrate you all in person. As Josh was saying, and as I am remembering you all came in at a really interesting time and now you’re leaving at a really interesting time and that’s… interesting for a lack of a better word. I’m going to miss you all and I hope there are lessons that you all can take from this. Which sounds like a really trite thing but I really think there definitely will be and the sacrifices that you all are making for the greater good here. Insert some really prolific X-Files quote, for those who know who know will know. I hope you all are taking care of yourselves. So much is up in the air and there’s a lot you can’t control. But something you can do for yourself and those near you is reaching out and connecting with us and your loved ones. 

Professor Ralkowski: Hey guys! So I wanted to connect with a couple things that people said already. I feel exactly the same way that Eyde does about graduation. It feels like a holiday, like Thanksgiving to me– it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This particular graduation is one I’ve been looking forward to since you were freshmen. Precisely because I feel a special connection to your class. Your freshman year was the first year that I lived in West Hall and the first year I started doing pancakes with the Professor and this little dog on the scene. In a way I think of you guys all as Lola’s siblings. To be honest, I was looking forward to this graduation but also dreading it because I know this end of the academic year is going to feel like someone ripping my heart out of my chest. And now, we are in this very strange place in life facing a global crisis. 

The one thing I wanted to say that is meant to be heard just in the spirit of solidarity is I can imagine you guys are feeling a lot of anxiety about the future. There’s disappointment about graduation and then there’s anxiety about what’s to come for you and your careers that are not yet started. The one thing I can say that is just minimally related to your experience. I finished my PhD just as the 2008 economic crisis hit us. The job market looked really bleak and for about 2 years, I was losing all hope of finding an academic position, But then I ended up with this one. And I couldn’t feel happier that I’m in this place. So, I just want to ask you guys to persevere, to stay strong, and to have faith in yourselves because I really mean it. This couldn’t be happening to a greater group of GW students and if anyone can make it you guys can. You’re going to be fine, Last thing I’ll say, I’ve talked to many of you about having a BBQ at my house in celebration of graduation. That offer is still on as soon as we are out of quarantine. So see you guys there!

Professor Aviv: Hi everybody. So just following up on two things that Mark said. First of all, I too graduated in 2008 and I started my graduate program a day after September 11, 2001. So, absolutely we are going through unprecedented and very scary times. But you are really well equipped. You started your program in 2016, right around the election and you’re graduating into a once in a century pandemic. And I think there is no clearer message to you than the world really needs your talent and energy to change it and make it a better place. It was really a pleasure to meet so many of you, have conversations in and outside the classroom and I look forward to continuing them so read out to me whenever you want and whenever you can. Worst case scenario I’ll be at Mark’s barbecue too. We talked so many times about ideas that shape the world, and now it’s your turn. So, congratulations, celebrate your achievements and we will find a way to celebrate it together. And take good care of yourselves. 

Professor Trullinger: Hello everyone, it’s hard to follow up these messages of hope and encouragement with anything really special of my own to say. So I guess i’ll just share a message of personal gratitude. The graduating class is one that has come through a lot in terms of the external world. But those of you who are close to me, it has been a time of great personal trial for me. And so I do  feel a special sense of connection to you all and to people I’ve known from the beginning, those I’m just getting to know now. And it’s really been a very special opportunity of, now I say i the past tense, but the reality is I’m still going to be here and I am still available as I like to say in my classes, there’s a lifetime money back guarantee where you can always ask me about something years down the road about something you learned. But also just for knowing how you’re doing. This is definitely not what any of us expected but the reality is, this was always a case, maybe not with this particular challenge, but with challenges in general. The important thing we do is to remember the character we display in the midst of the circumstances is really the most important. Remember to do well, be well, take care of yourself, and also be good to one another.    

Professor Kung: Just to wrap things up here. Not all the faculty could be here today but everyone is thinking of you. Again, we are going to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve. Please keep in touch, we love our alumni coming back and visiting, and talking, and emailing, and writing blog posts. So we expect to still hear from you even after the conclusion of all of this. 

A COVID-19 Message to All Our Students

Note from Brianna:

I was feeling really under the weather the day we filmed so I’m sorry for the miserable face. I love you all! Feeling better now!

Transcript:

Professor Kung: Hello everyone, we hope wherever you are, you’re safe, you’re well, and you’re hanging in there. Clearly, this spring isn’t what any of us expected. From an educational standpoint, for the rest of the semester, my advice is simply to focus as much as possible on your love of learning. Stay in communication with your professors, expectations are clearly quite different now. No one’s gonna be penalized for circumstances outside of their control. You can do this, you can do this well. Eydie…

Eydie: Hi guys, I know this is hard for you, this is hard for us too. But maintain your sanity by taking care of yourself, your parents, your cats, your dogs. Go outside, get some fresh air, throw a ball around. Talk to each other and find a way for comfort. We’ll be back at the townhouse as soon as we can, the coffee will be rolling and will have plenty of snacks when everybody gets back. Miss you guys, see you all soon. Josh, off to you.

Josh: This is a really rough time for everyone, we just want to recognize that as a staff, we want to say that yeah we’re here for you, we care about you. We really care about community as a program, as hopefully you already know, and we are doing our best to translate that digitally with the digital townhouse project. They’ll be another note about that. So yeah, stay connected, stay with us we care about you. Passing it over to Ben…

Ben: Hey everybody! We miss you guys, we hope everybody’s doing well. This is just a note to say Honors advising is still in business. We have advising ability for you scheduled on the UHP website as usual, and we will hop on a WebEx call and be there for you for anything. Don’t be strangers, continue to reach out if you need anything, Brianna and I are here for you. And I’ll pass that on to Brianna…

Brianna: Just wanna echo that we’re here for you guys as well. Just anything at all, just reach out and we’re here for you.

Professor Hammond: Just want to echo what everyone is saying, that we’re here for you in the community. Definitely reach out, whatever you need, whether it be class stuff, non-class stuff. And for me my main thing for you all is making sure you’re taking care of yourself, taking care of those around you, and being mindful of your mental health. Doing what you need to do, and recognizing where you need to step up or step back, and you know, taking care of you. Passing it off to Mark…

Professor Ralkowski: Hey guys, Lola is here as well. She wanted to say that she misses you all, but she also sees a silver lining in coronavirus in that she gets to spend a lot of time with her family, take lots of walks, get lots of attention, but she does miss you all and she’s excited to see you all in the fall. Two thing I wanted to say are: I think it’s really important to stay connected during this time. It’s only been a few days of this social distancing, I’m already feeling it, I can imagine you all are as well. So, when you’re thinking of things we can do for you, one thing that’s easy for us to do is create spaces where we can just get together virtually and just chat. It can be about nothing, sometimes those are the best conversations. And the other thing I’ve wanted to say I’ve forgotten so I’m just gonna pass it off to Eyal next.

Professor Aviv: Hi everybody! So I’m echoing what Mark just said. I’m here, I don’t have anything to do other than be with my family and working, prepare for classes, but I’m really happy to talk to everybody who wants to chat. And I just want to hope that all of you are good in health and spirits, and you’re spending good time with your family, and keeping touch with your friends. I know that these are times of change and they’re really scary. I myself woke up today at 5AM for fear of the world, but I also hope that this is an opportunity for change. And I’m really looking forward to see everybody when we get back and keep making this world and our society a better place. So, thank you, and I’m passing it to Joseph I think…

Professor Trullinger: Hard to follow up on so many wonderful, beautiful things that have already been said. But I guess this is something that i try to remember during hard times, which is not to let school get in the way of your education. I suppose what I mean by that is that all the formal mechanical structures of school that we all get wrapped up in, I think it’s really important to try as best you can to put those to the side and remember the intrinsically good things that are there in learning: the sense of connection, the sense of intellectual discovery, even just the sense of escape. Just being able to imagine a  different world, a different way of doing things, a different environment than the one you’re in now. Things will be better, and I do believe we can stick with one another throughout this, I am available just like everybody throughout this. And that’s all I have to say. 

Professor Kung: I’ll just wrap up by saying that, unfortunately not everyone could be here today, but all your faculty are thinking of you now. So please be in touch, and good luck!

Professor Christov: Hi everyone, I know this is a very unusual and very stressful time, with the Coronavirus, but Im here to tell you: let’s take care of ourselves and take care of each other. Now I know many of you are quite anxious, I know that I am. How do we learn from our online classes? How do we graduate without even walking? Many of you may even be thinking, the economy’s tanking, how am I going to get a job? What will my future look like? Now I cannot tell you what the answer to these questions might be, but I’m here to tell you one thing: practice kindness. Show accountability and fairness, resilience. Show respect and grow in your fortitude. We all need to practice those things right now, and doing so will also make us appreciate the human contact that truly matters in our lives. And remember the Taoist philosophy in finding your internal peace: “Govern yourself by doing nothing that goes against nature.” Govern yourself by doing nothing that goes against nature. So you can now tell yourself that it is okay to be anxious, it is okay to feel anxious. And doing so will help you lessen your struggles. So go forth, stay strong, and until next time!

COVID-19 Tips and Updates

Hello, UHPers!

We know this is a rough time for everyone due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak and the precautionary measures everyone is needing to take at this time. We have some updates for you about UHP operations, and then a note from the Director of the program about the shift to online instruction, as well as tips for you as you navigate being students in that context.

UHP COVID-19 Related Updates:

All UHP courses will be taught online from March 23 through April 5.

  • The UHP Townhouse will be closed to student socialization during that period, as group gatherings on campus are being discouraged…
  • …but, we are going to be launching the Digital Townhouse Project during this time! We want to make sure you can still have spaces to engage in community, even if you aren’t on campus. To learn more about it, click here.
  • WebEx virtual one-on-one advising meetings will be available – you will sign up online as usual.
  • First-year small group advising will be shifted to online virtual sessions – attendance
    remains mandatory. You will receive more information on how to access these sessions from Brianna and Ben soon.
  • Trivia Night (which would have been held on March 29th ) is cancelled :(.
  • If campus does fully re-open on schedule and you are unable to make it back on time (for example, if you become ill or are quarantined), please let your instructors and Ben or Brianna know!

A Note from the Director:

As GW will now be officially moving instruction online from at least March 23 through April 5, let me take a moment to talk about how UHP faculty and staff hope our students will react to this shift. I will also provide some tips for maximizing your learning in the online environment. First of all (as has been said before) please plan to be patient and flexible. Some faculty have never taught online before and so a learning curve is to be expected. For a planned online course, an instructor would have spent many months beforehand training on the relevant technological tools and designing the course specifically for the online environment. Obviously, this won’t be the case for your current classes. That said, please know that your instructors will be doing their absolute bests over the next few weeks to make sure you continue to master course content and skills.

We always talk about the “intellectual omnivorousness” of UHP students – which must, by definition, include a willingness and desire to be a truly self-directed learner. This interest, independence, and self-motivation are key to helping you succeed intellectually for the remainder of the semester. We hope you choose to envision a few weeks of online learning not as a burden or a “less-than” experience, but as an interesting educational experiment and an opportunity to mature and develop as an adult learner. Effort will be required, but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded with knowledge.

Communication is going to be incredibly important in the coming month. Please read all email very carefully and check for Blackboard announcements regularly. Be in contact with all your professors as soon as possible if you expect any technology challenges while off campus (for example, if you won’t have access to a stable internet connection). Some faculty will hold class using synchronous (real time, interactive) online sessions. These sessions can only be held during the standard class time band (e.g. a course that meets M/W 12:45-2pm EDT can only meet online during those exact times) – this is to ensure that no student will have a time conflict between two different online sessions. This means, however, that students who will be living outside the Eastern Daylight time zone may need to attend a session at an odd local time. You should communicate directly with your professor if this is the case, but please realize that faculty members are not authorized to change class meeting times and may still require you to attend.

Even online, collaborative work with your peers is likely to remain an important part of your learning. Working with your peers online requires clear peer-to-peer communication, of course. Plan to use various online tools that are designed for distance collaboration, such as Google Doc and Slides. GW students also have access to WebEx, which will allow you to work directly through video conferencing and desktop sharing.

Finally, a quick guide to being an online learner:

How to be a student in a synchronous online course:

1. Prepare just like you would for any class session (complete the assigned reading, come with questions, etc.).

2. Find a quiet place with a stable internet connection where it is also okay for you to talk aloud if the course will include a discussion component. Whenever possible, use a computer with a camera and microphone (if need be, however, that you can login to Blackboard Collaborate via your computer but then use a phone to call in/speak). Before you activate your camera, check around you to make sure nothing embarrassing will show up with the camera field of view!

3. Login at least 10 minutes early for the first online class meeting to make sure that the software is functioning correctly.

4. In Blackboard Collaborate, you will enter the classroom both muted and with your camera off. Be sure to activate your camera but keep your microphone muted until you need to speak to avoid background noise (e.g. typing, dogs barking).

5. Use the “raise your hand” button if you have a question. Alternatively, you can type questions into the chat function. Remember to unmute yourself when it is time to speak.

How to be a student in an asynchronous online course:

1. Check for new Blackboard announcements and assignments daily.

2. Consider pretending like the class is meeting at its regularly scheduled time and use that “in class time” to complete online assignments and activities. At minimum, keep careful track of due dates to avoid scrambling/cramming at the last minute.

3. Keep in mind that even if a faculty member will not be grading every assignment you have been asked to complete, you are cheating yourself out of learning the material if you do not make an effort to do the work.

4. If you are asked to participate in a text discussion via the Blackboard Forum, here are some tips for participating in an online discussion board.

5. Read all directions carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear.

6. Make use of instructor “virtual office hours.”

The Digital Townhouse Project!

Hello, dear UHPers!

We get that this is a really tough time for everyone right now, and that wherever you end up in the coming days, it may not be the most pleasant of times. So we want to provide you some virtual community! Thus: the DIGITAL TOWNHOUSE PROJECT! We would love for the home-y, welcoming feel of the townhouse to be present with all of you still, despite all the change and anxiety in the air.

That said, we don’t know how this is going to play out at all yet (it’s quite new for us!), and I’d like your help! Below, we’ve got a form with some of the different options we’ve been thinking of. They aren’t things we’ve prepared for yet, but we’d love to get your feedback on all this, and also your ideas!

Note from the Director on COVID-19 Virus Preparation

Greetings,

I know you have all been hearing from many different campus partners about the University’s response to COVID-19, but I wanted to quickly let you know how the UHP is responding to the challenges raised by this virus.

For the time being, the UHP is open and operating as normal. Spring classes are meeting, and the townhouse is open for study hours. That said, this is obviously a fluid situation and the UHP will adhere to all University recommendations and directives as they arise. In particular, GW has suspended all non-essential, GW-affiliated international travel and is requiring community members traveling within certain countries to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Unfortunately, these travel restrictions will impact the spring break and summer plans of some UHP community members. Advisors Brianna and Ben are available to help students navigate any last-minute changes that might affect a student’s four-year plan. In light of COVID-19, please consider your personal travel plans carefully for the upcoming spring break week. In the event that you become ill or are subject to quarantine, UHP faculty members are aware that flexibility will be required and are prepared to make appropriate individual accommodations. Communication is definitely the key here, so please be in email contact with your instructors directly if you are unable to attend class. Please do not attend class if you are not feeling well!

In the event that the University decides that it is prudent to cancel some (or all) face-to-face class meetings, the semester will continue using online resources. We ask students to be flexible and patient as there are bound to be some initial technical hiccups. Also, each faculty member will use different online tools and teaching methods, depending on the course content and format – so follow directions carefully and ask questions if you are uncertain about any course expectations. In the event of campus closures, Brianna and Ben will still be available for advising sessions, which will be held via WebEx.

Let me conclude by echoing the GW Student Association’s message of “stay informed, stay calm, and be kind.” Keep reading your emails carefully, keep washing your hands and keep looking out for one another. Further, the UHP will not tolerate any bullying, scapegoating or demonization connected to the COVID-19 virus. Bias and xenophobia have no place within our community of scholars, so please immediately report any acts of hate or bias that you have experienced or witnessed. If you have any questions, you can also reach out to me directly at bcobb@email.gwu.edu..

Bethany Cobb Kung
Director, University Honors Program
Associate Professor of Honors and Physics

Food for Thought w/ Professor Restrepo!

If you missed our first Food for Thought, have no fear! Our second one is coming right up. Join us for free lunch, next Friday, March 6th at 12pm in the townhouse, and an exciting talk about negotiations in Cuba and differing interpretations of truth and justice. Read the note from professor Restrepo for more details and RSVP with the form below!

Truth and Justice in the Colombian 2016 Peace Accord

After 5 years of complex negotiations that took place mainly in Havana, Cuba, the Colombian government completed a Final Peace Agreement with the FARC in November 2016, thereby ending the oldest conflict in the southern hemisphere. Despite the extraordinary tangible achievements that preceded the signing of the original Accord, a referendum to confirm the people’s approval was held in October 2016. Against all predictions and polls, the original Peace Accord was defeated by a small margin polarizing Colombians and negatively impacting its implementation.   In this talk I will argue that a great part of this divide stems from a misunderstanding of the meaning of truth and justice in the Peace Accord.

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