Honors Students & Faculty Attend 2022 HERU Conference in Houston

"Delaney Williams and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson
Delaney Williams and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson

Post-Pandemic Honors: 
Educating Leaders for a Humane World

The 2022 Honors Education at Research Universities (HERU) Conference was hosted this summer at the University of Houston in Texas from May 31 - June 2, 2022. The theme of this year's  conference was "Post-Pandemic Honors: Educating Leaders for a Humane World." Honors Program faculty member, Dr. Ross Moret, along with two honors students, Delaney Williams and Gabriel Pfeuffer-Ferguson, presented on the FSU student-based campus initiative, Power of WE, whose mission is to "inspire a campus culture of innovation and collaboration by challenging echo chambers, building shared spaces, and bridging civic divides." Dr. Azat Gündoğan, who is also an FSU Honors Program faculty member, gave a separate presentation at the conference on the role that innovative pedagogies played in increasing honors students' resilience during the pandemic and the resultant publication of his students' research in the special issue of the FSU research journal, The Owl, titled "Everyday Life in the Pandemic."

Below are the abstracts for both presentations, as well as the students' overview on their presentation participation and reflections on their conference experience.

Session Presenters. Table on Right: Dr. Ross Moret, Delaney Williams, and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson
Table on Right: Dr. Ross Moret, Delaney Williams, and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson

Us, Them, and the Power of WE: Honors Experiences and the Good of the University

Abstract: Our presentation is about the positive spin-off effects of the synergy and symbiosis between an honors course at Florida State University, “Us and Them: Navigating Disagreements in a Polarized Society,” and the student organization Power of WE. “Us and Them” was developed as part of the curriculum for the Honors Experience Program (HEP), an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based, and state-of-the-art honors curriculum supported by extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular events and activities. Power of WE is an equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative that seeks to bridge civic divides by challenging echo chambers across campus—the same dynamics students wrestle with in “Us and Them.” The presentation will narrate and analyze the ways financial investments, expertise, and curriculum from the Honors Program were leveraged to recruit, train, and provide guidance to student leaders in launching and sustaining of the latest iteration of the organization, Power of WE 2.0.


Delaney Williams and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson
Delaney Williams and Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson



Presented Paper: "Us, Them, and the Power of WE: Honors Experiences and the Good of the University"

Overview: Delaney Williams presented as the student director of the Power of WE, along with executive board member, Gabe Pfeuffer-Ferguson and faculty advisor and professor in the Honors program, Dr. Ross Moret. Their presentation was about the relationship between the Honors Program and the Power of WE, a student-led and university-wide organization at Florida State dedicated to bridging civic divides that exist on campus and bringing different communities together to have impactful conversations. Delaney's portion of the presentation specifically covered the mission of Power of WE, the investment it has received from and the connection it has to Honors, and the benefits that can and does present to the university.

Delaney's Reflection: "This was the first academic conference I had ever attended, which can be nerve-wracking as is, but I was also presenting at a conference that was mainly attended by faculty members, advisors, and deans of honors colleges. But while the thought of presenting at HERU was a daunting one, this was one of the most rewarding experiences of my collegiate career. I was so honored to be able to present the work that Power of WE does on our campus and the way that we impact the culture here and encourage other universities to invest in student organizations like mine. Being one of very few students at this conference, I had a unique opportunity to share my own perspective on post-pandemic education and some shared experiences of college students in these times that I think was very enlightening to the other attendees."

Gabe's Reflection: "The opportunity to present at HERU had a massive impact on my academic journey at FSU, as this was my first time presenting at any conference in college so far. This meant I was quite nervous, as I came to learn I would be one of only a handful of students lucky enough to present in front of administrators and faculty members from prestigious research institutions across the country. The second the presentation began, my fears quickly subsided and were replaced with a sense of confidence as everyone in the room actively engaged with the presentation and seemed to be genuinely invested with my experiences with and service to the Power of WE and FSU as a whole. I was able to gain so much insight from the audience on more effective means of serving my peers and advocating to FSU’s administration."

Dr. Azat Gündoğan
Dr. Azat Gündoğan's presentation at the 2022 HERU Conference

The Role of Innovative Pedagogies in Increasing FSU Honors Students' Resilience: How They Thrived Amid the Pandemic and Published Their Research

Abstract: This presentation provides a case of student learning, research, and publication under the dictates of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case enables me to share my inferences on a yearlong process of teaching a theory-intensive honors course that switched to distant learning due to the pandemic in Spring 2020, organizing an online publication workshop during the summer of the same year, and supervising the article revision and submission process during Fall 2021. This process culminated in the publication of the Special Issue on Everyday Life in a Pandemic in The Owl, FSU's peer-reviewed, indexed undergraduate journal, in January 2021. Overall, this account underlines the significance of community building, innovative pedagogies, and experiential learning in Honors programs during the dire circumstances of disasters or other shocking events such as the global pandemic. The presentation will first provide a 'chronological' backstory, starting with the FSU Honors course IDH3401 Everyday Life: Time/Space/Power I offered in Spring 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the FSU community to switch to distance learning. The pandemic caused an abrupt interruption in students' quotidian rhythms and daily activities on campus. The resultant quarantine immobilized them; yet, with the help of the sense of community the Honors faculty have been building through curricular and co-curricular pedagogies, they adapted more quickly to new circumstances. Eventually, they conducted their research, submitted their essays, presented their findings to their peers, and successfully finished the course. I will then reflect on the FSU Honors faculty's co-curricular engagement and experiential learning pedagogies and the virtual Everyday Life Publication Workshop as an example of these efforts. With the ultimate goal of converting their IDH3401 research papers into publishable journal articles through this workshop, students regularly met during the summer of 2020. In the logistical sessions, we hosted other faculty who made presentations on various aspects of writing and publishing journal articles. In adjacent practicums, attendees worked in pairs and exchanged feedback on each other's drafts. During the post-workshop 'café sessions,' they checked in on each other to produce a sense of social accountability. The entire process required resilience, motivation, collegiality, and cooperation both on interpersonal and institutional scales. Their positive attitude, empathy, and care toward each other culminated in an informative special issue, the pinnacle of the whole process. This special issue exemplifies high-caliber learning and the quality of attainment, production, and dissemination of knowledge by honors students that any honors curricula aim.


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