First and foremost, Blount is an academic program. Students earn a liberal arts minor through their Blount coursework. Additionally, while Blount is not a part of the Honors College, all Blountees automatically gain Honors admission. Completion of the Blount curriculum entirely satisfies Honors College course requirements. Essentially, it’s a way to earn Honors status while graduating with a minor. And, like the Honors College, Blount gives its members priority class registration.
The Blount Scholars Program is centered on the Blount minor in liberal arts. Taken from the Latin, līberālis (befitting or worthy of a free person), the liberal arts are those subjects and skills that since classical antiquity have been considered essential for citizens to know in order to take an active part in civic life. Originally seven in number, in the contemporary university, the liberal arts comprise the disciplines in the Humanities, Natural Sciences, Arts, Mathematics, and Social Sciences.
The Blount minor aims to allow its students to approach these contemporary disciplines with a variety of perspectives. It lends itself to the liberal arts by teaching Blount students how to critically think and write proficiently throughout these different disciplines. Because the Blount Program leads to a minor, even students whose majors are in colleges outside the College of Arts & Sciences can participate in the program. You can learn more about the goals of Blount on the Program Mission page.
The structure of Blount comes in three parts. In the first year, students take two courses each semester: Foundations (3 credits) and Convocation (1 credit). Foundations meets twice a week in sections of 15 students or less, and it’s where first-year Blountees read a diverse series of texts, develop strong writing skills through one-on-one feedback, and learn how to engage in scholarly discussion. In Convocation, which meets once a week, all of the first-years gather to hear from a rotating cast of speakers.
In their sophomore and junior years, Blountees take three thematic seminars (also known as “301s”). Thematic seminars are also small sections (typically fewer than 12 students), and are hosted by a range of faculty from across the university. Curious about past seminars? You can see the database of all recent 301s. While thematic seminars are typically not as intensive as the first-year courses, they still hue to Blount’s standards of rigor. They can also be taken abroad!
Finally, in one semester of their senior year, Blountees take Worldviews. This 3-credit-hour course is the culmination of their work in the past three years. During Worldviews, students develop a final project. These may range from a redesign of Tuscaloosa’s public transport system to an analysis of houseplant fervor during COVID-19.
Blount is relatively small; compared to the 40,000 students in the university at large, only around 120 students enter the program each year. First-years live in the Blount Living-Learning Center together, resulting in a tight bond among each cohort. You can learn more about the specifics of the Blount dorm on the Housing website or our buildings page. The dorm isn’t just a living space, though: the first floor also houses classrooms and offices. First-years attend their Foundations classes in the same building they live in. No more treks across campus at 8am! The office on the first floor houses Dr. Keene, the associate director of the program. This proximity means our faculty are always available to meet with students.
The community developed during the first year of the program continues to thrive in later years of the program. The House of the People, Blount’s student government, hosts events throughout the year for all grade levels. These range from a semesterly dance (pictured to the left) to catered dinners with faculty. Outside of planned events, Blount is lucky enough to have two buildings on campus (besides the dorm). Tuomey Hall and Oliver-Barnard (OB) Hall house faculty offices, classrooms for thematic seminars and worldviews classes, and common spaces for all Blountees. It’s a common sight to find a spontaneous game of chess occurring in the Tuomey library, students studying in either building, and cooking some ramen in the OB kitchen.
Rather than being competitive, Blount is incredibly supportive. On the night before an essay is due, you’ll always find groups in study rooms in the dorms working together to proofread and offer advice. Older students regularly volunteer their time to edit assignments for first-years.
In a word, Blount is close-knit. Students benefit greatly from our small class sizes and limited program size. The rarity of taking seminar-style courses at such a large university as early as your first year allows Blountees to develop strong relationships with faculty. It’s difficult to earn a letter of recommendation from a professor who couldn’t pick your face out of the other 200 students in a lecture hall, but Blount solves this issue. Additionally, Blountees get detailed feedback on their work, including one-on-one essay critiquing sessions with the graders of those essays. Our faculty want our students to succeed.
Blount, while rigorous, is not overly time-consuming. Blount students can easily participate in student organizations and honors societies at Alabama. In fact, Blountees are known for their high levels of involvement across campus. Blount students have historically been recognized for premier awards and scholarships.
Within the program, Blount hosts numerous student organizations and clubs. Our ambassadors (pictured to the left) give tours to incoming students, our mentors guide first-years through the process of figuring out college, and the House of the People hosts events for the student body.
The catalog of Blount clubs is constantly evolving as students create new ones. Longstanding organizations include the Blount Literary Journal (pictured left), the Origami Club, and the Chess Club. Starting a club within Blount is easy, and it’s a great way to boost your resume and meet new people.
Even without joining a club within Blount, the high achievement level of our students means it’s nearly impossible to find an area of campus not populated by Blountees. Becoming involved around campus is a lot easier when you know people already in a student organization. You’ll always have someone to sit with and hold you accountable for attending your lectures. There’s no better way to make a large campus feel small than by starting off with a group of 380 or so friends.
Ready to join this fantastic group of people? Apply today! Admission to the program is competitive. Any prospective first-year at the University of Alabama may apply on this website. Although we accept applications throughout the year as space in the entering class permits, students are encouraged to apply by January 1st for priority consideration.