The University of Washington Honors Program adds rich dimension to one of the world’s top research universities for undergraduates who are up to the challenge. Students have three options to benefit from our Program: as an interdisciplinary education track, as an in-depth program within their majors, or as a combination of the two. Our core interdisciplinary curriculum promotes expansive critical thinking, engaged global citizenship, and comprehensive learning that builds resilience and collaborative practice. Students may apply to the Honors Program as new freshmen, at the end of their first year, or once they've selected a major.

Problems and privileges we share with the homeless: like caring for our pets

Jun 19, 2017

This article bringing attention to the work of Honors Program director, geography professor, and co-director of the Relational Poverty Network, Vicky Lawson and her colleague, geography and CHID professor Kathryn Gillespie, recently made the front page of UW Today: 

What the bond between homeless people and their pets demonstrations about compassion

Those of you who have studied with Professor Lawson won't be surprised at her assertion that allowing ourselves to see the undeniable humanity we share with unhoused people is the first step towards changing the systems that allow homelessness to be a growing problem in our country. 

"There is a villainization of poor people, and the lack of services available is connected to how people are prioritized," Lawson said. "We need to start to think critically about how we understand ‘the other’; seeing homeless people as flawed and inadequate allows us to see ourselves as stable and good. You have to first understand that privilege relies on disposability and distance. Then you can take action."

Read the full article HERE. 


Hearts on our sleeves at this year's Celebration of Distinction

Jun 16, 2017

Every year the staff of the UW Honors Program gets to share THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT EVER with graduating students and their glowing friends and families. We never think it will be as heartwarming as it was last year and we are always wrong.

Speeches by Honors Student Speaker Reem Sabha and Distinguished Honors Alumnus Noah Purcell 

Event Photos by Peter Wirkkala of Grad Images and our own Ryan Luk


Love what you read! Summer reading suggestions from Honors students and alumni

Jun 2, 2017

Worried the end of spring quarter will leave you with nothing to think about? Fall face first into one of these literary gems, recommended by students in Honors  as worthy of your precious love. 

from Jeannette Bushnell
lovework: an unfinished syllabus
summer reading June 2017

Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns – historical fiction, two women in Kabul, Afghanistan

Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner – fiction, family, Afghanistan

Eknath Easwaran – The Bhagavad Gita – Indian Spirituality

Agatha Christie – All, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – mystery novels, England

Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie – student caregiver talks to teacher with Lou Gehrig ’s disease

Fatima Mernissi – Dreams of Trespass – memoir, Morocco

Alexander Shulgin – Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story – biography, science

Anne Moody – Coming of Age in Mississippi – autobiography

David James Duncan – The River Why – coming-of-age

Ken Follett – Fall of Giants historical fiction, WWI

Paul Kalanithi – When Breath Becomes Air – memoir

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities – fiction

Moshin Hamid – Exit West – fiction about refugees

Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages – fantasy

Brandon Sanderson – The Way of Kings – fantasy, world building, epic

Renee Ahdieh – The Wrath and the Dawn – fiction

Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game, Ender in Exile, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind – science fiction, role of empathy in love

Kyung-Sook Shin – Please Look After Mom – fiction, Korea, meeting of East & West, old & new

Kurt Vonnegut – Hocus Pocus – fiction, satire, prison, private school, class & race dynamics

Gregory Maguire – Wicked – Wizard of Oz through perspective of the wicked witch

Eric Weiner – The Geography of Bliss – non-fiction, NPR journalist travels world to see happiness

F. Scott Fitzgerald – This Side of Paradise – fiction

Markus Zusak – The Book Thief – coming-of-age, WWII, (will make you cry)

Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things – fiction, India, forbidden love, political drama

Donna Tartt – The Secret History – fiction, group of college kids murder friend…. with consequences

Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go – fiction on innocence, knowledge, and loss

Mario Vargas Llosa – Death in the Andes – fiction, Shining Path in Peru, suspense, political allegory

Ursula LeGuin – A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, The Other Wind – fantasy

Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – fantasy, humor

Charles Mann – 1491 – non-fiction, history

Stephen King – The Stand – fiction, post-apocalypse

Malcolm X – The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Sherman Alexie – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – semi-autobiographical novel

2016-17 Honors Grad Profiles

May 23, 2017
2017 grad collage

Please join us in celebrating University of Washington's Honors graduates! On our Honors Grads page you'll find some of the Interdisciplinary, Departmental, and College Honors students who are completing their degrees in the 2016-17 academic year.  Find out more about these remarkable individuals and their exciting plans for the future. Congratulations to all!

Alumna Nicole Einbinder wins Pulitzer Travelling Fellowship!

May 23, 2017

Advisors from our Honors staff were delighted to hear last week from alumna Nicole Einbinder, who recently  graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism with highest honors as one of the top four students in her class. Nicole also received a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, which allows her to travel anywhere in the world to pursue a story. 

Photo of Nicole Einbinder

We asked if it was okay to share her news and reflection with others in the UW Honors community. Read below:

"A year ago, I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at the UW. I was terrified of the future and unsure if I had what it took to make it in New York City. Looking back, I know I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for the unwavering support and guidance provided by UW's Honors Program. The coursework and community challenged my mind and prepared me for the rigor of Columbia. It reaffirmed a commitment to always follow your passions and pursue something worthwhile and with the ability to make the world a better place.

Today, I know more than ever that I am meant to be a journalist. I love storytelling and, especially in today's political era, know that the craft is more important than ever. I cannot wait for the future ahead and just wanted to thank you for everything from my undergraduate years. I'm still in a bit of shock that I actually got a Pulitzer award and salutatorian. Hard work pays off and I know that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn't for UW Honors."

Hear that, pending Honors graduates? You are ready to face the world and do great things!! Our staff offers heartfelt congratulations to Nicole and looks forward to hearing from all of our graduates with any news, big or small. 

Read Nicole's Pulitzer bio here

Get involved in prison education reform at UW! - by Claudia Jensen

May 19, 2017

When UW Honors students first had the chance to take a class with incarcerated inmates at the Twin Rivers Unit (TRU) at Monroe, they were determined to find a way to contribute to the educational opportunities available in that environment. As a result of that immersive summer experience, HOPE (Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education) was born. The organization was started in 2013 under the leadership of Dashni Amin, and it has been going strong ever since. Dashni and her fellow students established a scholarship, led book drives, etc. and her leadership was followed by May Lim, shown below at our class presentations last summer at TRU. It has been my privlege to be the faculty advisor to this dynamic RSO. 

Photo of May Lim during class presentations at Twin Rivers Unit, Monroe

As we approach our fifth year, we are celebrating HOPE’s achievements.

HOPE has sponsored exhibits of art created inside prison, they have held panel discussions involving formerly incarcerated students, and they have raised money to purchase dictionaries to place in the prison units. HOPE also sponsored book drives that resulted in about 1500 books that are housed in the new Academic Resource Center at Monroe – these are textbooks in all subjects that are available to everyone at Monroe. Finally, HOPE is working on sponsoring scholarships for incarcerated students who want to take correspondence classes.

All in all, we have a lot to celebrate as we head into our fifth year – please join us at an events and follow us on social media. 


Read student reflections by Hannah Myrick and Kathleen Edelheit to learn more about the Honors course: "In Your Name: Education Inside Prison" taught by Claudia Jensen.

HOPE Lives! Exhibits, panels, and a new website!

May 11, 2017

Photo of HOPE students within a wireframe model of an inmate's cell

Students leading prison education reform invite you to learn and join!

Huskies for Opportunities in Prison Education (HOPE) is a group of University of Washington Students who are dedicated to encouraging post-secondary education programs inside prisons. Our aim is to raise public awareness surrounding the need for more educational opportunities and to help make education more accessible to inmates. Towards this cause, we host several yearly events, and continually fundraise to raise money for those who are pursuing an education under extraordinary circumstances.

We are excited to release our new website as a resource for anybody who is interested to learn more about what we do, about incarceration, or about how to get involved with our organization. To learn more about us, and the power of education come check out our website at

HOPE is also hosting two upcoming events in the month of May. The first is our annual art exhibit between 10:00AM and 4:00PM on May 17th and 18th in the Quad.

Photo of artwork produced by inmates and other individuals impacted by the criminal justice system

This event features artwork of all kinds created largely by inmates, but also by other individuals who have been involved or impacted by the criminal justice system. It is held in order to raise awareness about prison reform and prison education programs, and also to humanize those who are impacted by the carceral system. Come enjoy the art, and learn about incarceration in America.

Our next event will be our annual speaking panel. 

This event features formerly incarcerated individuals who have re-entred. They share the stories of how they got through the system to where they are today. This year the event is being co-hosted with FIGHT, another UW affiliated organization. It will take place in Parrington Hall in room 309 on May 26th from 6:30 to 8:00PM.

For more information about these events, or to find out more about our organization you can check out our website,, or find them on our Facebook page at

To RSVP find the event page on our Facebook to let us know! (RSVP not required). Hope to see you at an upcoming event!

Honors Excellence in Teaching Award 2017!

May 9, 2017

After reviewing many wonderful nominations, we are thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2017 Honors Excellence in Teaching Award goes to Jon Herron!

Dr. Herron is a Senior Lecturer in the Biology Department, writer, and educational software designer. He earned his PhD from the University of Washington. His textbook, Evolutionary Analysis, is now in its 5th edition. He collaborates with SimBio Software on their EvoBeaker suite of virtual laboratory exercises and has served on the faculty at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.

Dr. Herron has been teaching for the Honors Program—and learning from his students—since 1996. His courses, which cover evolution, genetics, and human behavior, help students learn to think like scientists.

When asked about his experience teaching for Honors, this is just one of the many stories Dr. Herron shares: 

"After listening to Honors students discuss genetic drift in my class several years ago, I designed a virtual laboratory exercise on the topic that is now published by SimBio software. Last year Rebecca Price (UW Bothell) and colleagues published a pre-test/post-test study showing that students who use the virtual lab show considerably higher learning gains than students who get traditional instruction. I consider this one of my biggest professional successes, and I owe it to those Honors students in DNA & Evolution."

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Herron when you see him next, and check out this wonderful micro-lecture (from 2015) below!

Thanks to all of the students who took the time and made the effort to nominate our wonderful faculty for this honor.

UW Honors staff

Distinguished UW Honors Alumnus Noah Purcell uses his philosophy education to defend civil liberties

Apr 21, 2017
Photo of Noah Pucell

In recognition of his consistent defense of liberty and proven public impact, the UW Honors Program is delighted to announce Noah Purcell ('02 philosophy with Honors, economics) as our 2017 Distinguished Honors Alumnus at the University of Washington.

As Washington state solicitor general, Purcell recently argued Washington's challenge to the controversial Trump administration travel and immigration ban, winning both in District Court and the 9th Circuit, and earning a temporary restraining order of the ban. He did this with the backing of several major tech companies based in Washington state, collaborating effectively with the private sector to protect constitutional rights, specifically the right to religious freedom. The White House has since issued a revised ban that also has been halted as discriminatory against Muslims — a finding the U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to appeal.

Honors student Lauren Mittelman's Vulnerability Collective tears down walls

Apr 19, 2017

Honors senior Lauren Mittelman wants you to risk talking about stuff you don't think you're supposed to share. 

Earlier this spring, KUOW's Deborah Wang interviewed Lauren about her fascinating HON499 project to promote authenticity and resilience at UW. Before it was an independent study, it was an idea Lauren had while she was far from home. Lauren explains her inspiration for the project in The Vulnerability Collective (excerpted here): 

"This role model of mine had bumps along the way and feelings that seemed to mirror mine of the past four months. She wasn't a professor with major professional successes that helped her feel confident about sharing these. She was a regular twenty-something, figuring it out day by day and month by month. I was inspired.

Up until then no one had been so open about their undergraduate experiences. On that day in Barcelona, the idea came to me to build a collection of student stories and vulnerabilities. What if we all shared the stories that are otherwise not told? Why can’t we all be more honest and save everyone the trouble? So, seven countries and five months later, I was back in Seattle in January of 2016 switching around my academic schedule to pursue 5 credits of independent study which would eventually become this project. Researching university stories that are 'otherwise not told,' thus began The Vulnerability Collective."

Snapshot of a student's submission to the Vulnerability Collective

She collected stories first from friends and classmates, keeping their identities anonymous while letting the contributors describe themselves in non-traditional ways. 

Bonderman Fellowships Expand in 2017!

Apr 7, 2017

Photo of Dashni Amin traveling during her Bonderman Fellowship

"This trip has been the best part of my life. I hope Mr. Bonderman and the other people who made this experience so wonderful might get a glimpse at the depth of their impact and my gratitude. For a refugee kid whose movement around the world was motivated by force and fear, to embark on a bold adventure back around it as a learner — what a gift!"

-Dashni Amin ('15, Law, Societies, and Justice with College Honors)

UW Today recently published a glorious article full of interviews with UW alumni whose lives have been permanently changed for the better by "Wandering and Wondering." Read the article! It is 100% worth the time.

Many people do not realize that the prestigious Bonderman Travel Fellowship has a long history with the UW Honors Program. In fact, the unique opportunity is still administered in Honors by former Bonderman Fellow Brook Kelly, in partnership with the Graduate School.

For more than twenty years UW alumnus David Bonderman has annually supported UW students via travel fellowships that ask them explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new and unexpected ways. We are pleased to announce that the University of Washington Bonderman Fellowship will expand its impact with a new $10 million endowment from David Bonderman.

Thanks to this generous endowment, UW is able to both increase the number of fellowships (up by four this year to 18 total) and boost financial support by fifteen percent (up from $20,000 to $23,000 per award). Not only will more people benefit more deeply from the experience in the near future—the endowment also ensures that this leading-edge alumni experience will continue in perpetuity.

Read the full announcement with this year's Bonderman Fellow Profiles HERE


Portrait of a UW Honors Pre-Med: Alumna Sibani Das Q&A

Mar 15, 2017

Sibani as an Honors Husky, 2014 (courtesy of Sibani Das)


Sibani Das in 2014 - playing in the snow like a true Husky! (photo courtesy of Sibani Das)

Honors alumna Sibani Das (Biochemistry, 2014) is well on her way to an advanced degree in medicine, but says she sometimes misses the cross-disciplinary intellectual stimulation (and straight up fun) found in the Honors community. We caught up with her recently to see if she would share some of her experiences, especially with current students who are considering graduate school in medicine. 

HONORS: What did you major in? How did you choose that major? 

SIBANI: I did my B.S. in Biochemistry, which had been the one major I had said coming in as a freshman I would not do, because I had heard it was hard with many credits and there was Physical Chemistry! Though as I started to become interested in studying medicine and taking the pre-med sciences, I knew that I wanted to study the disciplines of science not as separate entities, but learn how each science, be it biology, chemistry, or physics worked together via one of the greatest examples of this connection: the Human Body. I turned out to enjoy the Biochemistry major and found it to be very applicable and useful in the real world of science.

HONORS: How did you decide to pursue Honors? What did Honors add to your undergraduate experience?

SIBANI: I wanted to do Honors when I had first applied to the UW undergraduate program but wasn't initially accepted. I re-applied and was accepted as an incoming 2nd year. It gave me time to reflect on my reasons in going to Honors where I realized that Honors would give me the platform to really challenge myself to take the information I learned through textbooks and lectures and understand its applicability to our dynamic world. Be it social sciences, natural sciences, English, Honors would give me the tools and community to have reflective discussions, work on projects in ways I could interact with the community outside the classroom, and learn about topics that are unique and can only be found in Honors.

Study Abroad! New Honors International Access Scholarship Invites you to live the dream

Feb 16, 2017

Don’t assume you can’t afford to study outside of the U.S.

The Honors Program is passionate about study abroad and the incredible impact it can have on a student’s life.  An education grounded in a global context provides life long skills and lifelong memories. Studying abroad deepens study at home and provides a foundation for expanded reflection and self-growth, all core tenets of the Honors Program. We want everyone to experience study abroad.

This year, thanks largely to the gift of a UW Honors graduate who rates study abroad as one of his most life-changing experiences, we are offering a new scholarship that we hope will encourage every student to apply to our programs, without concern regarding the added cost. 

Honors International Access Scholarship

The International Access Scholarship is awarded to an Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors student demonstrating the values of the Honors Program, which includes international engagement. Students who have applied to one of the Honors Study Abroad Programs or Direct Exchanges are eligible to apply.  Award recipients demonstrating a clear intention to engage in global citizenship and ethical study abroad are encouraged to apply.

  • $2,500 award
  • Eligibility 
    • A student in Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors
    • All years (rising sophomore, junior, and senior) are eligible
    • There are no residency or citizenship requirements for this award

Honors Program Scholarship

The Honors Program Scholarship is awarded to Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors students on the basis of outstanding academic performance. The Honors Program encourages students to apply for these funds to assist with study abroad or direct exchange expenses. This fund is supported by the generous donation of various friends of the Honors Program.

  • $1,000 award 
  • Eligibility 
    • A student in Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors 
    • There are no residency or citizenship requirements for this award
"Alone: just me and the map. I got lost, I asked for directions in broken German and many hand gestures. I wandered. Roamed. I felt safe, but I also pushed myself out of my comfort zone by choosing to see everything alone. Exploring alone allowed me to prove that I could do such a thing as a woman. And as a person. Being alone is associated with so many negative terms—but it shouldn’t be. My time alone allowed me to reflect upon who I am and what my goals are as I simultaneously appreciated the experience of being in Berlin. Being alone is independence. Exploring a city and yourself is independence."

"We Stand Together" Promotes Understanding and Collaborative Advocacy at UW

Feb 6, 2017

Last month's "We Stand Together" Racial Justice Teach-In was a timely and powerful event that I am thankful for having the opportunity to attend. Coming off of the heels of the 2017 presidential election, it was difficult to process emotions and thoughts while still maintaining day-to-day responsibilities. I decided to attend the UW Racial Justice Teach-In in order to gain insight into navigating the changed campus climate and develop ideas on how I could potentially use my position as an academic adviser to offer support. I have attended diversity and social justice related professional trainings but none of them elicited the feelings of solidarity, empowerment, and urgency like this one did.

The message of solidarity was apparent in both content and in attendance. Participants and speakers at this Teach-In included undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff — a message in itself that we do not need to be doing this work in silos. It was a humbling reminder that we should engage in these conversations together and call each other in, rather than call each other out.

This experience helped me move past my initial reactions of numbness and uncertainty and move to a more productive place. I felt empowered to help students process their own reactions and encourage them to engage in constructive dialogue with themselves, their peers, their instructors, and their families. This is the form of advocacy I feel most comfortable and prepared to do but also plan to advocate in ways beyond my comfort zone.

There were multiple moments throughout the day where a feeling of urgency surfaced in the room. Urgency to begin taking action to support all marginalized groups together rather than inaction due to feeling insecure about our personal knowledge or experience supporting various causes. I found this incredibly refreshing because it often feels that we get stuck in trying to advocate the "right way" for causes individually rather that collaborating across marginalized populations. Even if our advocacy work is not perfect, the sentiment was simply to try. Try to be more self-aware, kinder to others, and courageous about speaking out against injustice. 

Read more about the Jan 13 "We Stand Together" Teach In HERE

UW Honors' Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Feb 4, 2017

We in UW Honors are aware that the recent executive order concerning immigration has raised many concerns in our community and beyond. During this time of rapid change and turbulence in our country, we are guided by our mission and our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we continue to welcome students regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.

We would like to share this compilation of additional support and resources from the UW and elsewhere:


A scientist, an anthropologist, and a journalist walk into a....

Nov 21, 2016

Great thanks to the hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, staff, and friends of UW who attended our second Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Anwers event on November 15. All told, there were nearly 500 of us convened that night for a broad public conversation about climate change and and its entangled politics.

Photo of audience and speakers at 2016 Global Challenges event

This topic was identified by last year's freshman class. Our Interdisciplinary Honors Program encourages students to engage with complex issues of global importance during their time at UW and beyond. The Global Challenges event series invites three distinguished scholars into conversation across disciplines to address a complex problem that keeps our students up at night.

Climate Change conversations continue at UW

Nov 16, 2016

Students who attended our Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers event on Climate Change perused the Take Action table for ideas on what to do next, to stay engaged with this complex issue.

There were lots of materials from community organizers, UW departments, and RSOs at the table, representing the wide range of efforts guests of the event already support, including this shortlist of upcoming climate-change related courses in Honors and in departments across UW!

We ran out of handouts quickly at the event, so here is a copy of that (far from exhaustive) list. Let us know if you want something added to this list by contacting, and keep building momentum as an interdisciplinary community of practice!