By Chris Cunningham
For her Honors Program class at Lane Community College, "Invitation to Inquiry," student Catherine Mullins decided to research contemporary Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce. She had become familiar with the author during her Catholic high school education in southern California.
Researching Pearce's unconventional life, in which he converted to Catholicism in prison, had a profound impact on the student's thinking about her pivotal role as a researcher.
The object of "Invitation to Inquiry" is "not to produce a paper but to write about the research process," says Mullins, who conducted e-mail interviews with the New Hampshire-based author.
Pearce valued Mullins' analysis and asked permission to post her work on his blog, St. Austin Review. View "As You Read It: From 'Nazi-Hippi'' to Catholic Literary Scholar, Joseph Pearce Discusses a Unique Career," at www.staustinreview.com/ink_desk/archives/confessions_of_an_ex_nazi
Lane instructor Ce Rosenow teaches "Invitation to Inquiry" and encourages her students to choose a topic they care about and to delve deeply into the subject matter, Mullins says.
"Ce is wonderful," says Mullins, who plans to transfer to the Savanna College of Arts and Design in Savanna, Georgia, in 2014 to study writing. "She just blew me away."
The difference between the honors seminars and standard college-level courses is the emphasis on research and critical thinking about the research process itself, says Rosenow. In the future, Rosenow will team teach the inquiry seminar with biology teacher Katie Morrison-Graham, further enhancing the interdisciplinary characteristic of the course.
The Honors Program, which began in summer 2011, is one of six at Lane to receive a 2013 Schaefer Innovation Award. Jennifer Hare, Honors Program coordinator and advisor, notes that Lane is one of two community colleges in Oregon to offer such a program. "I'm excited to see how the program has grown" to 50 students in less than two years, she says.
The honors curricula, which so far includes art, math, politics and anthropology, offers 11 honors classes, nine of which are open to all Lane students. Two are honors seminars open only to students who have been accepted into the Honors Program.
"So much power was in my hands," Mullins wrote in her paper about her research project. She had "this sense of obligation, not just to do justice to the words of Mr. Pearce, but to the ideas he was trying to convey, to make the reader understand him the way I felt I understood him."
Published by Lane Community College Marketing and Public Relations, March 2013.