Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

The Role and Value of Honor Today: A Roundtable

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

The Role and Value of Honor Today: A Roundtable

Article excerpt

As one who has worked in honors education on several college campuses, I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about honor - the word holds different meanings in different contexts: "I'm honored to be here ..." the Queen bestowing birthday honors, Scouting pledges that begin "on my honor," or marriage vows to love, honor, comfort and keep are just a few examples. Since even before accepting this position, I have been thinking about the value of honor to those we invite to membership and the sustained value of remaining an active member. We are currently working with membership consultants who ask those same questions.

Noted philosopher and public intellectual Kwame Anthony Appiah explores the notion of honor in his 2010 book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. He examines four distinct behaviors tied to honor - dueling, human enslavement, foot binding, and honor killings - and chronicles how redefining honor has led to changes in social norms regarding these activities. Appiah believes that "Attending to honor ... can help us both to treat others as we should and to make the best of our own lives." He extends that thought by adding, "if we can find the proper place for honor now, we can make the world better."

Making the best of ourselves and the world - such goals are often held before graduates by commencement speakers to encourage both individual personal growth and lifelong learning. But these goals also summarize well the mission of honor societies.

Since 2006, Phi Kappa Phi has participated in an informal gathering of like-minded honor societies. Together with the secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the executive directors of Sigma Xi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi meet annually to discuss common issues and concerns and to share news and initiatives. …

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