HONORS SCHOOL OF LINGUISTICS: AN INNOVATIVE PROJECT AT SOUTH URAL STATE UNIVERSITY, RUSSIA
The article investigates theoretical and practical challenges posed by Project 5-100 of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. The Project envisages that by 2020 five Russian universities will rank among top 100 world universities according to major global rankings. The goal of Project 5-100 is to enhance competitiveness of a group of leading Russian universities, of which South Ural State University is part, in the global research and education market. One of the challenges of the Project is innovations in education, namely, teaching students new professional competencies and leadership qualities necessary for the country’s sustainable and innovative development. A possible response to this challenge could be Honors Schools for highly motivated top students majoring in different bachelor-degree educational programs. First, different models of Honors Schools are looked at with respect to their program-bound character, including inclusive and exclusive. It is argued that the exclusive type seems preferable for honors programs in linguistics at South Ural State University. Second, principles of curriculum design are discussed with respect to the survey conducted among students. The aim of the survey was to find out if the students are willing to participate in the project, if they are ready to spend extra hours on learning, which competences they would like to develop, etc. The questionnaire is presented and discussed. The results of the survey are analyzed with a view to Honors School of Linguistics curriculum design. The analysis shows that in addition to further development of traditional general linguistic competences, such as reading, translation, oral speech, listening, and writing, the new curriculum demands proficiency in special professional skills, as well as formation of new managerial and leadership skills which the educational programs in linguistics outside the Honors School lack. These will contribute to practical development of professional and cross-cultural competences. Moreover, since joint research projects and academic mobility are welcome and supported by university authorities, this will hopefully lead to rapprochement of curricula in different cultures, and thus contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of linguistic education in Russia, as well as lead to closer mutual understanding. Perspectives of further research are outlined.