The Credo Honors Program was first offered in the 1975-1976 academic year at Concordia.
It was designed to invite and challenge the “high ability, highly motivated student” who was prepared for the challenge of additional courses. These courses were meant to “contribute to the ethical, moral and religious development of students,” to help students become autonomous learners, and to clarify and introduce students to different areas of knowledge and “key works in the development of human beliefs and values” (Concordia College Record 1974-1975, 19). These sentiments have not changed through the decades that the Credo Program has existed. The format of the program, however, has changed to fit the evolving needs of students and the core curriculum.
When the Credo Program was first offered, students would be invited into the program before the fall semester of their freshman year. Another option for students wishing to join the program was to petition to join the program at the end of the first semester or be nominated by a faculty member. After their freshman year, students were no longer eligible to enter the program. The reasoning behind restricting entrance to the Credo Program to the freshman year was that there were four required courses a student had to take as a freshman. Were a student to join later than the first year, there would be no opportunity to take these classes. The original organization of the program was structured to fit into three years. The first year consisted of four courses taken only by freshman: two discourse, one philosophy and one religion. The second year was similar in the fact that it was four specific courses: one of each in history, film, science and social science, this time taken by sophomores. The final year consisted of a final seminar or project that juniors would organize for themselves. This organization was designed to keep the student invested and involved with the program while also allowing students to complete necessary core requirements with these courses.
The organization of the program has changed dramatically through the years that it has been offered at Concordia. In 1994, the Credo Program underwent dramatic changes. The completion rate for the program had been dropping steadily since its inception. After surveying students, the program was amended to only have five required courses instead of eight, Discourse was removed entirely in favor of taking courses that filled core requirements, and a senior seminar project was made optional. These changes were implemented in the hopes that the program would be viewed as more flexible to students who had previously struggled to schedule classes.
In 2005, the Credo Program was subject to another round of modifications. Eligible students are invited into the program as part of their matriculation as first-year students. Credo students are introduced into the program through small, specialized Inquiry Seminar courses. Students that continue in the program are required to take three additional Credo courses in a variety of areas including the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics and upper-level religion. The courses are designed to cover specific topics that allow students to conduct original research. The research component to the program is meant to help students become autonomous and to introduce them to the many different sources available to their research. As with the courses in the first iteration of the program, these courses are designed to not only cover credits for Credo, they are designed to count toward core credits as well.
An important figure in the Credo program was the first director, Dr. Robert Homann. He was a professor of chemistry and served as chairperson of both the chemistry department and Credo program for a number of years. He was also the associate academic dean from 1969-1976. Described by many as a strong leader and someone who embodied the liberal arts spirit, Homann was the ideal professor to head a new program that was working to instill in students the desire to learn and think in ways that were not taught in typical college courses. He was active in helping to facilitate discussions between students and faculty, which led to his success as a Danforth Associate from 1979-1985. Even after his involvement with the creation and inception of the Credo program, Homann remained heavily involved on campus. He was named dean and vice president for academic affairs in 1990 where he continued to encourage students and the college to think in new and challenging ways.
Contributed by Allison Cassell, archives associate, Concordia College Archives
Photo previous page: A student stands under the Lion Gate in the ancient Greek city of Mycenae while on a day trip during the Credo in Crete semester abroad, 1998.