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University Honors Faculty Fellows Begin the Design of the Reimagined Honors Curriculum

The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently announced the inaugural class of University Honors Faculty Fellows within the Division of Student Success.  

The University Honors Faculty Fellows consist of 12 faculty members from various colleges on campus with the goal and purpose of developing a core honors curriculum that places a strong emphasis on the application of innovative methodologies, such as design thinking to address complex problem solving.

Using the Honors external review and reimagining process, which took place in the Fall of 2022, the Faculty Fellows have started laying the groundwork for the development of a comprehensive and engaging curriculum to ensure students will be equipped with the necessary tools to effectively navigate their path to success in their academic and professional pursuits. By helping honors students engage in problem-solving approaches, such as “design thinking”, the focus will also be on creating practical solutions and providing a structured framework for approaching sophisticated, multilayered issues.  

“Design Thinking is a creative process to explore desired future conditions. Honors Students will work in diverse teams and synthesize a breadth of knowledge and experiences to test original ideas for emergent, unfamiliar, and complicated real-world situations,” said Professor David Matthews of the College of Architecture and Design. “Based on empathic, human-centered perspectives, design thinkers learn to create desired future conditions by innovation, iteration, experimenting with prototypes, and taking risks.” 

The leadership from Dr. Pat Akos, Associate Vice Provost for Student Success and Executive Director of Honors & Scholars Programs, has been instrumental in the selection of a diverse and accomplished group of Faculty Fellows, ensuring that students will have access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise from a broad range of academic disciplines. 

“The Faculty Fellows were chosen based on their teaching excellence, experience with honors students, design and topical expertise, and commitment to the Honors Program”, said Dr. Akos. “The collaborative nature of the fellow’s program mirrors the interdisciplinary problem-solving approach our University Honors students will learn.” 

“I am grateful to the faculty fellows for graciously committing their time, talent, and expertise to this impactful university initiative. The Honors Faculty Fellows are an essential component of the Honors Program, and their contributions will significantly impact the program’s success,” said Vice Provost for Student Success, Amber Williams. 

The work of the Faculty Fellows will continue through the spring semester into next fall with learning objectives, assessments, syllabi, and a proposal for an honors minor as planned outcomes. The curriculum design will provide interdisciplinary breadth early in students’ academic careers to prepare them for the depth of college and disciplinary honors programs on campus.  

We invite you to stay tuned for more updates as the work of the Faculty Fellows unfolds. Please click here and select the Honors Faculty Fellows drop down to read further about the perspectives of the Faculty Fellows on design thinking and wicked problems.  

Honors Faculty Fellows:

Neeraj Bharadwaj, Professor, Haslam College of Business 

Marina Maccari-Clayton, Distinguished Lecturer, Department of History 

Matthew C. Harris, Associate Professor, Haslam College of Business 

Jon Hess, Professor, College of Communication and Information 

Nathan Hicks, Assistant Professor, Tickle College of Engineering 

Joe Jarret, Lecturer, Department of Political Science  

Sean S. Lindsay, Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy 

David Matthews, Professor, College of Architecture and Design 

Mike McKinney, Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences 

Andrew Pulte, Distinguished Lecturer and Director, Department of Plant Sciences

Anna Sandelli, Associate Professor, Libraries  

Keith Stanfill, Assistant Dean, Tickle College of Engineering 

Ex-Officio Curriculum Committee Members: 

Ryan McCormack 

Elle Johnson 

Aaron Dixon 

Virginia Stormer 

CortneyJo (CJ) Sandidge 


University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Division of Student Success

Richard D. Lee