Skylar Tibbitts ’08 has participated in the Honors Program since his freshman year. That was nearly five years ago when he arrived on campus to pursue a degree in Architecture. Over that time, his academic and design courses have meshed completely with the opportunities Honors has afforded him.
“One of the fears I had is that the program would be difficult,” Skylar said. “But, I found that it made everything else I was doing more enjoyable and helped me look at projects in a new way.” Take, for instance, his study abroad honors project in Rome. “There, I studied contemporary European architectural techniques, and the knowledge I brought back to my work here at the University was eyeopening.”
Honors courses are typically more interactive, with in-depth intellectual discussions that delve into all facets of a particular topic. Students bring differing perspectives to discussions. For Tibbitts, this meant a more involved, engaging experience. “What I found was that I could actually design the program in a way that I could bridge barriers between subject material in Honors and my architecture education,” he offered.
A perfect example is a project on Rwanda, the war-torn country in Africa that has endured internal conflict between two groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi peoples. As Tibbitts explained, “This is a situation that could benefit from a virtual design of flexible borders in a computer system that would help to examine how to best deal with the reality of actual borders and possibly create solutions for the country.” For honors credit, Skylar developed a visual representation of his thesis that demonstrated digitally how his proposed transient borders might operate. The Rwanda project became Skylar’s submission for the capstone Contemporary Perspectives course.
There are so many opportunities to adapt student projects to the Honors structure, according to Tibbitts. “The summer reading program is a great way to get Honors credit.”
So many interests whirl around him — last year he was part of a team of architecture students who designed the set for the Annual Fashion Show; and, in September he co-curated with an adjunct faculty and fellow students an exhibit SCRIPT/INE at The F.U.E.L. Collection in Old City Philadelphia. Although these projects were not undertaken for Honors credit, Skylar is quick to praise the flexibility of the Honors Program. “Everything becomes synchronized because you, the student, can adapt the program to best fit your educational experience,” he concluded.