Prof. Darwall posted on his blog yesterday responding to emails he has received since announcing he was the new director of the honors program. Replying to one email (which I suspect was from a good friend of mine) about the exclusivity of the honors program, he writes the following:
“In my view, “Honors Program” is actually a misnomer. What we should be about is nothing honorary, not honoring ourselves, but the kind of challenging, committed intellectual exchange that is worthy of our honor. My idea is that to do this we need a place outside of the classroom where these exchanges can reliably be expected to take place, and my hope is that at least one such place will be the Honors Commons. So we need to maintain a relevant sense of place there (so that it doesn’t just become, say, an extension of the Computer Courtyard). However, I regard it as an open, discussable question exactly how we maintain this sense of place–suggestions appreciated.”
I am optimistic that inclusive, intellectual, creative programs and functions can be created that can utilize the Honors Commons both as a resource for honors students, but also for intellectual life at Michigan in general. I think that if the honors program staff or honors students organized receptions, discussion groups, and other events in the commons open to all, they would not only foster the type of “vibrant intellectual culture” Prof. Darwall and many others desire, but also elevate the reputation of the program and caliber of honors students.