The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) designated Torrey Honors College at Biola University as a Hidden Gem this month. ACTA’s Hidden Gems initiative shines a light on honors programs, major degree programs, minor degree programs, and certificate programs that guide students through a high-quality and coherent interdisciplinary education across the liberal arts.

“In Torrey Honors College, we emphasize education as extending far beyond mere vocational aspirations,” said Paul Spears, director of Torrey Honors College. “Like C.S. Lewis, we believe that being equipped to distinguish between what is true and what is false is not merely a utilitarian good, but a matter of life and death — that is what enables us to fully flourish as humans.

In Biola’s Torrey Honors College, students journey through their four years with a small cohort of peers, exploring perennial questions and discussing classical authors, from Plato to Dostoevsky. They also have the rare opportunity to study abroad in Cambridge or Oxford.

“Established in 1996, the Torrey Honors community of professors and thousands of students has explored the good, the true and the beautiful together through an integrated study of primary and biblical texts that fulfill university core requirements,” said Spears. “The oldest distinctive Christian honors program of its kind, Torrey acts as a single, comprehensive interdisciplinary four-year course, team-taught across small student cohort communities and personally guided by a hand-selected faculty mentor for each student. We are honored to be recognized as an ACTA Hidden Gem for our dedicated pursuit of truth through discussion of significant questions among serious peers as we develop virtuous leaders.”

ACTA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic excellence, and accountability in higher education. Hidden Gem programs typically include focal points of philosophy, literature, politics, history, and the Great Books of Western Civilization.

“Because ACTA’s Hidden Gem programs range from minors to majors to certificates, students can receive a first-class liberal arts education, either supplementing their major or as their primary major, no matter what kind of school they attend,” said Veronica Mayer Bryant, ACTA’s director of curricular improvement. “Hidden Gems faculty have carefully designed a cohesive course of study so that students learn a broad swathe of the liberal arts and sciences. They also immerse students in an enriching learning community. Through our Hidden Gems initiative, ACTA hopes to direct inquisitive students to academic programs that deepen their knowledge of intellectual interests while exposing them to other fields.”

ACTA’s Hidden Gems initiative serves as a complement to our What Will They Learn?® (WWTL) project. WWTL rates the core curriculum requirements at over 1,100 schools to determine which institutions provide a rigorous, liberal arts-oriented general education. Programs designated as Hidden Gems offer a robust liberal arts education regardless of their home institution’s core curriculum. WWTL and Hidden Gems help prospective students locate universities and programs that will prepare them for successful careers, informed citizenship, and human flourishing.

Learn more about Torrey Honors College. 

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