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Michael Burke - Professor of Rhetoric and former Honours Dean at Utrecht University, The Netherlands and Ron Weerheijm - Manager Honoursprogram Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS), The Netherlands

Working in your own ‘bubble’ is not very difficult, but is it fun? And, moreover, is it profitable? The approach of honors is ‘community building’ with ‘likewise’ students and faculty. Cooperation in a network is about exchanging knowledge and experiences, to make learning a two-way movement. In the Netherlands, the approach of honors in research universities and universities of applied sciences is at some points different, due to their alleged task: science and profession. But at the same time: the effort is to make students ‘excel’. In what way can we work together in a network that makes it profitable for all partners? Research and Applies Sciences at the same time? What issues should we address, what ‘binds’ us and what things can or should we do in a different way?

Michael Burke is Professor of Rhetoric in the Humanities Faculty of Utrecht University (UU) and former UU Honours Dean (2016-2021). He has been working with honours students for more than twenty years. He currently teaches on two interfaculty, master honours programmes, which he himself set up, namely, the ‘interdisciplinary research seminars’ and the ‘Utrecht leadership programme’. He also teaches diverse undergraduate rhetoric and argumentation-based courses at University College Roosevelt, a UU liberal arts and sciences honours college based in Middelburg (Zeeland, NL). His pedagogical focus is on empowering students to flourish. His research on reading, rhetoric and language has been published widely in leading academic books and journals. Key publications include Literary Reading Cognition and Emotion (Routledge, 2011) and his co-edited book Cognitive Literary Science: Dialogues Between Literature and Cognition (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is the former President of the international Poetics and Linguistics Association and the former Secretary of the Rhetoric Society of Europe.

Reflections on the value of (inter)national networks in honors

Ron Weerheijm was trained as an architect and worked in that field for 15 years and now ‘designs’ with colleagues honors education for Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences since 2008. For the last 10 years, he also taught Creative Thinking to 1st and 2nd year students in all directions of study. Throughout the whole RUAS he works with students, teachers and managers to develop honors education, based on the competence profile Learning to Innovate. This profile, based on the 21st century skills, enables students to take control of their own learning and learning process, which is highly valued by students. Honors at RUAS is mostly integrated in ‘regular’ education, although many steps are still to be taken. One of the main features at RUAS is the Innovation Lab (a minor+) of 30 credits: a multidisciplinary, issue-driven program in which students learn to take the lead of their own development. The program is also introduced at universities in the US. Next to education he has taken the initiative for the European Honors Council and is member of honors networks in the Netherlands.

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