Honors News Archive

News in Brief

Blueprint for a Meaningful Life

Feb 23, 2016
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UW Honors' Interdisciplinary Program is often described by students and alumni as the "best of both worlds" — an intimate academic community inside a major research university where students engage in rigorous interdisciplinary discourse, active reflection, and experiential learning. More than just a distinction that comes with an undergraduate degree, it is a blueprint for living a meaningful life. This philosophy drives our continual evolution as a program where students risk exploring their talents and passions while emerging as self-aware leaders who make geniune societal impacts.

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What does society most need from each of us? It is a question that must, to some degree, be answered by students themselves. It is our privilege to encourage and guide them in their inquiry. To that end, we have developed several initiatives to further immerse students in the process of working to solve complex challenges, both international and domestic. The initiatives will be made possible primarily through private donations to the Honors Program Fund. With help from our board of volunteer advisors, we are now beginning to raise the support and awareness needed to bring students enriched domestic learning opportunities, deep connections with embedded interdisciplinary faculty and programs focused on the complex global challenges they hope to solve.

The Global Challenges — Interdisciplinary Answers Program

How can Honors inspire students to begin their career as collaborators invested in global change? By following their lead! Interdisciplinary Honors Freshmen identify a high-impact issue that then sets our community focus for a series of interconnected activities in the next academic year. Piloted in 2015, our first student-driven Global Challenge revolved around interrelations between health and poverty. The annual Global Challenge commences with a major public event in which several renowned faculty experts tackle the selected problem from interdisciplinary perspectives. Current freshmen have expressed overwhelming concern about climate change, which we will explore through unique activities and curricular pathways in the coming academic year.

Interdisciplinary Honors Global Challenges Professorships

Overlapping residencies bring faculty into Honors to collaboratively build unique co-taught courses and connective activities for students (like field courses, public scholarship, community service projects, reading/thinking groups, and new curricular pathways). Global Challenges Professors will be competitively selected from disciplines that would otherwise rarely intersect in the classroom. Not only will this deepen faculty-student engagement in Honors, it will quickly pay back into departmental offerings as diverse faculty draw from the expertise of unlikely colleagues and experiment with their most creative concepts.

New Field Studies Programs and Scholarships

The world is full of wonders to explore and challenges to address, not only abroad but also on our very doorstep. Experiential Learning Scholarships will help to democratize student participation in our emerging Interdisciplinary Honors Field Studies Program: a US-based complement to our Study Abroad Program. These new course offerings ground academic learning in US contexts through week-long field programs and domestic exploration seminars in which at least half of coursework is field based.

When they matriculate in our program, Interdisciplinary Honors students make the commitment to problem-solve across disciplines, reflect on their own unique opportunities, and develop the practice of paying it forward. We are grateful for the donors, volunteers, staff, faculty, and other allies of the Honors Program who encourage students towards global citizenship as they learn to think bigger by thinking together.