Oxford 2014

Debates of Science and the Humanities

Oxford 2014 poster

Sponsoring Units:  Honors Program (Undergraduate Academic Affairs)

Program Dates: July 24 - August 22 (Summer B Term)

The 2nd Honors in Oxford Program, established in 2011 in partnership with the University of Oxford

15 credits (onsite in Oxford summer = 13 and combined with a 2 credit spring prep seminar in Seattle)

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements:

Course CreditsCredit Type
Honors 230 5 Honors Social Science (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 392 5 Honors Interdisciplinary (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 397 3 Honors Social Science (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 397 2 Honors Social Science (taken in spring before departure)

(Note: The two Honors 397 classes will combine to satisfy one five credit Honors Social Science course requirement. Because Interdisciplinary and College Honors only require one Honors Social Science core course, the additional courses will fall into your "Any Additional Three" Honors course requirements.)

Due: January 17, 2014

Information Sessions

  • Tuesday, Dec. 3rd @ 12:30pm in MGH 211 B (Honors Seminar Room)
  • Tuesday, Jan. 7th @ 12:30pm in MGH 211 B (Honors Seminar Room)

About the Program

What is knowledge? What is a University? How have our institutions of learning and higher education come to be organized? How does today’s university reflect its genesis in historical debates among various fields of study and intellectual traditions?

Based in Oxford, England, the “Debates of Science and the Humanities” study abroad program will focus on these questions and explore the dynamic tensions that have long existed and continue to exist between the sciences and the liberal arts.

Along with its historic strength as an academic institution, Oxford University has a strong tradition of debate. Our course will dig back to history – investigating the role of science in the university as it transformed from gentleman’s pursuits loosely affiliated in learned societies into organized academic fields of study. Animating our program will be the Oxford tradition of debate, the writings of famous Oxonians from John Locke and Christopher Wren to John Ruskin and Stephen Hawking, and tours of historic and contemporary sites in Oxford and around the UK. We will explore historic tensions over the introduction of empirical and experimental science in a world of natural philosophy and the traditions of classical literature, philosophy and theology.

On site lectures, touring and research in Oxford will be augmented by field trips to significant sites and cities. One trip will include Edinburgh and Glasgow to investigate the Scottish contribution to the emergence of scientific research. Another will take us to the southwest of England to compare Stonehenge with the contemporary Eden Project – a biodome in Cornwall. Finally, we will travel to London to examine, among other topics, the redevelopment of Museums dedicated to science and natural history.

In Oxford we will concentrate on the social and architectural development of the numerous Colleges that comprise the University of Oxford, and we will study the development of newer science facilities including 19th, 20th and 21st century changes to the physical environment brought on by the introduction of new, high-tech laboratories. We will tour historic landmarks like the Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre (1669), important early modern ones like the Museum of Natural History (1886), and state of the art facilities like the New Biochemistry building (2009).

Topics addressed in this program include:

  • The dynamics of faith and reason
  • The development of the scientific method
  • The place of mathematics and empiricism in higher education
  • The emergence of the ‘hard sciences’ and new imperatives for education
  • The dynamics of history and progress (for example: introducing new kinds of research buildings in the historic fabric of Oxford)
  • The tensions between urban development (and growth of the University) and sustainability in response to scientific proof of climate change

Program Credit

Students will receive 15 credits of Honors core credits (Interdisciplinary and Social Science credits) -- 13 summer credits and 2 spring seminar credits. Participating graduate students will coordinate the allocation of credits with their advisers. The culmination of this study will be student presentations in Oxford.

Architecture credit is available. Alternative credit options must be arranged in advance with your departmental adviser.

Course Details

Course work will consist of a preparatory seminar in spring quarter 2014, field research including participation in on-site lectures, an extended research project, including primary and secondary research, and completion of a course portfolio and blog.

Spring 2014

Preparatory Seminar: Debates of Science and the Humanities in Oxford

Honors 397 (I&S)- 2 credits
This seminar will orient students to the site, to the structure and pedagogical goals of the summer course, and to research methods that will be employed. Further, this course will prepare students for the rigors of living and studying in a foreign culture.

Summer Quarter

Debates of Science and the Humanities -- Social Science Studies

Honors 230 (Honors Social Science core- I&S)- 5 credits
Introduction to debates of science and the humanities in Western Civilization, focusing on intellectual, urban and social issues.

Debates of Science and the Humanities – Honors Interdisciplinary Study II

Honors 392 (Honors Interdisciplinary core and I&S and VLPA)- 5 credits
Introduction to various research methodologies including e-Research, visual and spatial analysis, and interdisciplinary practice aimed at understanding the physical manifestations of intellectual traditions in Western Civilization focusing on intellectual, urban and social issues.

Interdisciplinary Special Topics–Independent Research Projects

Honors 397 (I&S) - 3 credits
Special course drawing from interdisciplinary research groups focusing on the dynamics of Science and the Humanities in the development of the University, the City and Western Civilization. Students will design and conduct individual research projects.


Rob Corser, Associate Professor



Rob Corser is an Associate Professor of Architecture at UW. He is a practicing architect with more than 15 years professional experience including 2 years in London where, among other technologically sophisticated projects, he worked as project architect for the Oxford New Biochemistry building.

Rob Corser directed the Honors summer program in Amsterdam in 2010, and co-directed the Architecture in Rome program in Fall quarter of 2011. Prior to coming to UW, he taught numerous summer programs in Siena Italy for the University of Kansas, and taught both summer and full semester programs for Syracuse University in Florence, Italy.

Ann Huppert, Assistant Professor


Ann Huppert is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at UW, focusing on Architectural History and the development of the architectural profession as a distinct field of knowledge. She held a postdoctoral fellowship as a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford from 2003-2005.

Ann Huppert co-directed the Architecture in Rome program in Fall quarter of 2011. Prior to coming to UW, she led numerous programs in Italy for the University of Kansas.

Program Cost

Program cost is approximately $5,200 per student (this amount includes tuition, lodging, classroom and lab fees, some group meals, admission to all museums and exhibits, excursions, partial ground transportation, and any conference fees). Course fee does not include Study Abroad fee ($300), airfare ($1,000-$1,600 round trip, depending on when and where you buy your ticket), food (about $30-50 per day), and personal spending money.

Financial Aid

Students may use their regular financial aid and scholarship funds for study abroad. The exception is any scholarship in the form of a tuition waiver. Tuition waivers cannot be used to pay study abroad program fees. Check with the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall for more information.

Funding opportunities are available through the Global Opportunities Program (Go! and Fritz Scholarships). The Office of International Programs and Exchanges maintains a funding opportunities list.

For information on the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program visit:
GET Program Information
and for Financial Aid Questions:
Financial Aid Information

The Honors Program students may also apply for any of the Honors Program Scholarships for Continuing Students:

The Study Abroad Refund Policy details out the process for withdrawal.


Oxford University is spread out across the city (there is no one main building site) and housing is also spread out, although the majority of the housing is located in and near the city center. Students will stay in dorms a short bus ride away from the city center.

Travel to Oxford

Oxford is easily accessible via bus from London. Students will fly into London (most of the major airlines fly either direct or with one stop from Seattle to London). Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to London and then Oxford, although clear direction will be given for bus travel to Oxford. Students may wish to explore budget airfares from Seattle to London offered on discount search websites as well as STA and Council Travel Offices in Seattle.

Within England

Students and instructors will go on several excursions outside of Oxford. Travel to London, Edinburgh, York, Bristol, and Stonehenge are incorporated into the program and paid for and arranged through the program. Bus and train transport is easy and frequent within and near Oxford. Students will also have opportunities to travel on their own before or after the program. Independent travel is not covered by the program fee.

All participants must have a passport valid for the duration of the program. It may take as long as six weeks to obtain or renew a passport.

Application Process

Acceptance to the program will be based on application materials, demonstration of academic excellence, one-on-one interview with the program directors, and motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures. As representatives of the University of Washington students are expected to behave with respect and appropriate cultural awareness and openness to learn. Learning from members of the host culture, peers, and instructors is expected of all participants.

Priority will be given to students in the Honors Program; however, all UW students are welcome and encouraged to apply. Applicants may come from any disciplines but directors are specifically targeting students in the sciences, humanities, and design studies interested in the development of intellectual traditions and of institutions of higher learning and research.

Due: January 17, 2014

For more information

Rob Corser, corser@uw.edu
Ann Huppert, ahuppert@uw.edu

For questions regarding credits, contact:
Julie Villegas, Honors Program Associate Director, International Programs Lead