Fast, Fresh Starts
Nancy Mansfield, associate professor of legal studies in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, could have just assigned her students chapters to read and held lectures for her seminar on “Healthcare: How does the system work?”
But she wanted her students to experience the delivery of care first hand, so she took them to the red zone of Atlanta’s only trauma care center at the Grady Health System.
Their host, Dr. Daniel Wu, Grady’s assistant medical director of emergency care, took the class through the ER on what he characterized as a slow day, even as he led them past eight patients on gurneys waiting to be seen.
“If I could give you a picture of health care in America, this is it – patients in the hallways of the emergency department,” he said.
Moments later, a man in shock and in need of resuscitation was wheeled into the emergency room. “Let’s go!” Wu boomed, guiding the students into one of the bays to observe.
“I love this,” said freshman Lisa Magnant as she watched the intubation. “I want to go to medical school, so I am eating this up.”
Magnant and her classmates were in the Grady emergency room as part of an Honors 1000 seminar, a one-credit, pass/fail class required of all incoming Honors freshmen during their first semester at the university.
With 15 or fewer students, Honors 1000 allows Honors freshmen to become acquainted with distinguished faculty in their field of interest early on in their college careers. It also allows them to get a taste of cutting-edge research through topics that are timely and relevant in various disciplines. “Usually a freshman wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity,” said Gerhardt Slawitschka, who is taking a seminar on the Presidential Election of 2008. “You’d be in big lectures taking care of the core requirements and it would be several semesters before you were through with the grunt work.”
The Honors 1000 seminars, however, explore issues in greater depth and across interdisciplinary lines on topics such as the Cultural Politics of Globalization, Animal Minds, Imagining Numbers, the Power of Photography, Memory and the Act of Writing and much more.
Many of the seminars incorporate the faculty member’s current research into the discussion. For example, Dean Randy Kamphaus of the College of Education is teaching a seminar on screening for child mental health problems where he shares findings from his ongoing research project on a screening tool in the Los Angeles County School System.
“Children are falling through the cracks,” Kamphaus told his seminar. “That’s why we’re doing this study. We created screening measures to be used by teachers and parents to reach kids who are suffering in silence.”
Kamphaus also will be taking his seminar to a Gwinnett County school to talk directly with a psychologist about children’s emotional and behavioral disorders.
Teryl Frey, associate chair of the biology department, was prompted by news headlines on stem cells and cloning to host his seminar on “Genetically Modifying Life,” which examines the current technology that allows for genetic modification of plants and animals as well as human genetics and gene manipulation. So far, Frey’s students have visited his lab to see his research on the rubella virus, and the university’s Advanced Biotechnology Core Facility, where they observed DNA sequencing, cell sorting, proteomics and other techniques essential to microbiology and molecular biology.
“Right now, I’m a kid in a candy store,” said Mahad Mousee as he observed the gene chip reader in action. “I’m loving Dr. Frey’s seminar. Everyone is here because they are interested in genetics. We’re always discussing new topics and going into labs.”
Faculty members who teach the seminars are raving about their experience as well. Department chairs and deans who normally wouldn’t have an opportunity to interact with students are setting aside one hour each week to teach the Honors seminars.
“They are some of the most alert, attentive and on-time students I’ve ever had at Georgia State,” Frey said. “And they ask a lot of really good questions. They help me lecture because what they are asking are the things I want them to know.”
Codes of Honors
The Honors 1000 seminars are just one part of Georgia State’s newly-revamped Honors Program. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1975, the Honors Program is now a university-wide program, open to students across five colleges.
“Originally, it was a small program that catered primarily to students in the humanities,” said Robert Sattelmeyer, the Honors Program director. “By taking it university wide, we’re catching up to the changes in our demographics. A vibrant, rich Honors Program is needed at a university of this size.
Honors students can enroll in graduate-level courses and participate directly in the research projects of Georgia State scholars and scientists. Students also have the opportunity to initiate their own advance research projects, compiling the results and writing an Honors Thesis, which opens doors to graduate and professional schools.
In addition to these academic opportunities, Honors students receive individualized advisement, priority registration for classes and special housing. Nearly 200 beds in the newly-constructed University Commons are set aside for honors students. The program also provides a computer lab, study lounge and seminar rooms just for Honors students.
And Honors Program perks don’t end there. Students have opportunities to study abroad as well. Last year, during the three-week Maymester, for example, Honors students traveled to Paris to study artistic tradition, Costa Rica to explore the rainforest, Puerto Rico to examine Afro-Hispanic culture and the Georgia Coast to review its history and literature.
The Honors Program provides also mentoring and advisement for graduate school and post graduate scholarship. In recent years, Georgia State Honors students have been admitted to top graduate, law and medical schools including Harvard, Georgetown, Cornell and Princeton universities and have received prestigious national fellowships, such as the Fulbright Scholarship.
The Honors Program is open to incoming freshmen who have attained a 3.5 grade point average in high school and have scored at least a 1200 on the math and verbal section of the SAT or a composite score of 26 on the ACT, as well as transfer students and current Georgia State students who have a 3.5 grade point average on at least 12 hours of credit.
Students can take as many or as few honors courses as they wish and, by fulfilling particular requirements, can earn any of three special honors designations that appear on their transcripts and diploma at graduation.
“It’s the academic enrichment of a small selective college, while taking advantage of the breadth of offerings of a large public research institution in the middle of a metropolitan area,” Sattelmeyer said.
For more information, visit www.gsu.edu/honors.