New Interdisciplinary Honors Curriculum Integrates Portfolios, Experiential Learning

Autumn 2012 Newsletter

In 2010, the University Honors Program launched a new curriculum, replacing its predecessor of twenty-one years. Students can now earn one of three Honors distinctions: Interdisciplinary Honors (completion of the core curriculum), Departmental Honors (Honors work in the major), and College Honors (the combination of both Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors).

UW Honors students with Bill Baccus in Olympic National Park, Spring 2012
Students discuss intertidal habitat with National Park Service scientist Bill Baccus in Olympic National Park, Summer 2012

Interdisciplinary Honors, a new option, focuses on diverse ways of thinking across disciplines. In their first quarter in the program, students enroll in HONORS 100, in which they are introduced to the Honors Program, community, their personal UW librarians (new to Honors) and the resources to help them succeed at the UW. During the course they also set up an electronic portfolio that will serve as a critical tool in making connections between work done in a variety of courses and beyond the classroom. A short video describing the Honors Portfolio is available at:

Students must also complete two experiential learning projects, choosing among the areas of service, research, leadership and global engagement, which are also included within the portfolio. The program concludes with a capstone course (HONORS 496) in which students finalize and present their portfolios to students, staff, and faculty.

Students who have completed the new curriculum report that they have gained much from the process of reflection and integration that the portfolio offers and have used the material they collected in applications to graduate and professional schools as well as for job opportunities.