Arkansas Honors College “Honors Passport” Courses Combine Foreign Study, Student Presentations

Editor’s Note: The following information is from the University of Arkansas Honors College. The college dean has designed the Honors Passport experiences, a capstone course abroad. “Honors Passport courses send honors students and top faculty scholars to historically and culturally significant sites around the globe. During these two-week intersession courses, each student much research and present on a historic site, monument or notable individual, taking an active role in teaching the course.”

Sixteen Honors College students recently spent a full semester preparing for study abroad in Peru, and landed in Lima well-versed on the Incan Empire, the Andean Hybrid Baroque and indigenismo.

Arkansas Honors Dean Lynda Coon and Prof. Kim Sexton, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

“The idea is to create an international capstone experience where students and professors together explore the interaction of contemporary and historical sites, texts, and artifacts,” said Honors College Dean Lynda Coon.

Honors College Dean Lynda Coon has launched a series of innovative honors courses since joining the history faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences in 1990. She helped to create the Honors Humanities Project (H2P) and as dean she has developed Signature Seminars, Forums, Retro Readings courses and this Honors Passport study abroad experience. Coon’s research focuses on the history of Christianity from circa 300-900.

Kim Sexton, an associate professor of architecture at Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, specializes in the architecture of late medieval and Renaissance Italy. Since joining the Fay Jones School’s faculty in 1999, Sexton has taught survey courses in the history of world architecture, specialized courses on medieval and Renaissance architecture, and space and gender theory. Sexton is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Loggia Culture: Spatial Practices in Medieval Italy that positions the loggia or portico in cultural history.

Arkansas psych major Linh Luu giving a presentation at Santa Catalina, a Dominican convent in Arequipa, Peru.

Dean Coon and Professor Sexton have taught the second semester of H2P since 1999. They also developed Medieval Bodies/Medieval Spaces, an interdisciplinary honors colloquium that traces the evolution of western medieval history through text, ritual and built environments.


Best Public Universities for Study-Abroad Scholarships

No matter what your major is, you may be eligible for one of the almost 3,000 study-abroad scholarships for undergraduates awarded each year.  The generous Boren scholarships along with the far more numerous Gilman scholarships provide between $2,500 and $20,000 for studying abroad.

The keys: at least a 3.5 gpa for Boren awards and around a 3.4 gpa for Gilman awards AND excellent skills in the foreign languages emphasized by the Boren program (see below).  Gilman awards are for students receiving Pell grants, and chances are about 1 in 3 for long term awards and 1 in 5 for summer awards.  Gilman study must be for at least four weeks, and Boren study is generally a full semester or entire year.

We are completing our national database of prestigious undergraduate and graduate awards granted to students from 80 leading public universities.  The database now includes the full history of winners of the following awards: Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, Churchill, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall scholarships, by university.

The database also includes the full history for Gilman study-abroad scholarships, and for Boren scholars awarded since 2003.

Following the program descriptions for Boren and Gilman scholarships, please see a list of the public universities whose students have earned the highest number of these study-abroad scholarships.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

“The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. For a complete list of countries, click here. Boren Scholars represent a variety of academic backgrounds, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili.”

“The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad and was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide.

“The program aims to encourage students to choose non-traditional study and intern destinations, especially those outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The Gilman Scholarship Program aims to support students who have been traditionally under-represented in education abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in underrepresented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”

Gilman awards range from $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the duration of studying abroad.

Public University Leaders in Boren Scholarships (about 167 a year):

Arizona State (by a large margin), Maryland, Illinois, UT Austin, Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oregon, Pitt, Georgia, Ohio State, South Carolina, Michigan, Washington, Ohio University, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Public University Leaders in Gilman Scholarships (about 2,500 a year):

UC Berkeley (by a large margin), Arizona, UC Santa Barbara, UT Austin, UCLA, UMass Amherst, Oregon, Texas A&M, Illinois, Maryland, Illlinois Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, and Temple.



Twelve KU Global Scholar Seniors Address Symposium

Editor’s Note: This post by KU staff has been lightly edited.

The first University of Kansas Global Scholars cohort presented their research at the Global Scholars Symposium on April 20. The daylong symposium, coordinated by the Office of International Programs, showcased the seniors’ research on topics ranging from developmental disabilities in Kansas and Peru to herbal remedies in 20th century Slavic folklore.

The 12 students served on panels including a final roundtable panel with the entire group discussing their Global Scholars experiences.

“This symposium is a perfect example of the scholarly enterprise that Global Scholars was organized around. The scholars represent the first cohort, whose interests are as innovative as they are creative and intellectually stimulating. This is a perfect way to showcase and share the undergraduates’ talents and promote KU’s mission as an international research university,” said Brent Steele, director for faculty programs.

Global Scholars recognizes and encourages undergraduate students who have an interest in global studies and a strong academic record. The students come from a wide range of disciplines across the university. They were selected for their demonstrated interest in global and international studies, plans for studying abroad, and potential for continued high academic achievement and leadership. Each student participated in a three-hour seminar taught during the spring semester and was paired with a faculty mentor with similar interests during their undergraduate studies. Three cohorts are currently participating in the program.

The Global Scholar presenters:

  • Alexandra Chase, Wichita, senior in psychology and international studies
  • Joshua Dean, Overland Park, senior in economics
  • Katie Fankhauser, Topeka, senior in environmental studies
  • Ryan House, Salina, senior in biology
  • Sarah McCabe, Berryton, senior in journalism
  • Jeff Miller, Lawrence, senior in anthropology
  • Shenji Pan, Jiangsu, China, senior in mathematics and economics
  • Jay Patel, Ottawa, senior in psychology
  • Taylor Patterson, Manhattan, senior in ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Amy Sinclair, Wichita, senior in microbiology
  • Sarah Stern, Lawrence, senior in journalism and Latin American studies
  • Matthew Werner, Wichita, senior in electrical engineering and computer science.

Updated Study-Abroad Data–Part One

The College of William & Mary, and the universities of Delaware, Vermont, and Virginia are the major public university leaders in the percentage of undergraduate students who study abroad, while Michigan State, Minnesota, UCLA, UT Austin, and Indiana are the top five public schools with the most students studying abroad, in absolute numbers.

Given the generally larger size of undergrad enrollments in public universities, it is difficult for public universities to make the top 40 list in the percentage of students studying abroad, and William & Mary, Delaware, Vermont, and Virginia are among the smaller high-profile public institutions in the nation.

The percentages of undergrads studying abroad at those four schools are as follows:

–William & Mary, 38.1 percent

–Delaware, 34.7 percent

–Vermont, 32 percent

–Virginia, 30.4 percent

The major public universities with the highest number of students studying abroad as these:

–Michigan State, 2,577

–Minnesota, 2,562

–UCLA, 2,451

–UT Austin, 2,350

–Indiana, 2,203

–Wisconsin, 2,159

–Washington, 2,152

–Penn State, 2,087

–Georgia, 2,079

–Florida, 2,075

Future posts will discuss the latest trends in student travel, such as favorite locations and duration of study abroad.

New for Fall 2013: Indiana’s Hutton Honors College Adds to Great Study-Abroad Rep

Already recognized nationally for its outstanding study-abroad program, Indiana University and Hutton Honors College have received two more recent gifts that will provide honors students with greater financial support for studying abroad.

A $500,000 gift for the Edward L. Hutton Foundation will provide needed funding for high-achieving students who seek international experiences but are challenged by difficult economic times.

“Given the current economy and the surge in costs for airfare, living expenses and program fees, this generous gift and the IU match couldn’t come at a better time,” said Matt Auer, dean of the Hutton Honors College. “We’re thrilled that a second generation of Huttons shares our passion for study abroad.”

With the new funding and match from IU, the Hutton International Experiences Program will enable 600 students annually to incorporate international experiences into their academic programs.

Another gift of $100,000, to be divided between HHC and the College of Arts and Sciences, has come from an alumnus, Devesh Shah, through a Goldman Sachs charitable giving program.  The funds will be used to support students studying abroad in developing nations, and to support those thriving academically who have financial needs.

Shah graduated in 1997 with an individualized major in applied mathematics in finance.  When he arrived at IU, he knew no one on campus, but among several university faculty who helped and mentored him, he included former Hutton Honors College Dean Julia Bondanella.

According to Hutton Honors College Dean Matt Auer, the Goldman Sachs Scholarship is open to any undergraduate who meets academic and financial requirements.

“Over the past few years, the Hutton Honors College has encouraged high-achieving IU undergraduates to ‘go off the beaten track’ when they travel abroad to study, intern and volunteer,” Auer said. “This generous gift from Devesh Shah and Goldman Sachs is in sync with our goal of promoting profound learning experiences and personal development opportunities in nontraditional locations worldwide.”

In 2011-2012, HHC provided almost $745,000 for overseas study and volunteer experiences, along with nearly $324,000 for grants for research and internships and approximately $15,000 through a student funding board for student-generated extracurricular programs.



University of Utah Honors College Is Loaded with Options

The Honors College at the University of Utah may have more interesting options for living, learning, and participating in honors projects than any other program or college that we have reviewed–and we’re not talking about the fabulous skiing that is so accessible from Salt Lake City.

Okay, we do have to mention that the brand new Donna Garff Marriott Honors Residential Community (MHC for short) does in fact have a ski wax room as well as storage space for skis and bikes.

But what is most impressive is the thoughtful, coherent, yet flexible curriculum that blends effectively with so many living and learning options that it will be difficult to list them all.

Admission is selective but holistic, with no ironclad test and GPA requirements.  From what we gather from the website, applicants are “highly likely” to be admitted with SAT 1490 (ACT 34) and above, plus a GPA of at least 3.8.  It appears that “likely” admission requires an SAT of around 1360 (ACT 31) and a GPA of 3.6 or so.  SAT of approximately 1250 (ACT 28) and a GPA of 3.5 or higher may require the applicant to go through a portfolio admissions process.  The portfolio must contain two letters of recommendation, a graded writing sample that includes the name of the teacher who issued the grade, and a personal statement of 1-3 pages.  Portfolio applications may require four or five weeks for review.

The requirements for the preliminary honors certificate are six hours of credit in Intellectual Traditions (IT) courses; three hours of credit in an honors writing course; and six more hours that can be from several honors core options.  These include American Institutions; honors calculus; and core courses in behavioral sciences, physical and life sciences, fine arts, Construction of Knowledge, or any honors seminars.  Note: AP credits can apply to general education requirements but DO NOT displace honors course requirements.

The university honors degree requires an additional six hours of honors courses and a thesis or capstone project.   Most departments also offer an honors track, and even those that do not offer the separate track do have honors advisors that can supervise the thesis.

It appears that it would be difficult not to continue taking honors courses, given the range of options.

Students can select honors internships “to work alongside a community leader in a real-world situation to bring about change in a community,” meanwhile receiving a $1,000 stipend for the 16 weeks required to complete the internship.

Or students can take honors tutorials that enable them to work one on one with a faculty member on a research project, while meeting with the instructor weekly.

Most interesting to us is the option to participate in the honors think tank collaborative classes, limited to 12 students, many with different majors.  These two-semester courses bring students together to apply multidisciplinary perspectives to a “contemporary societal challenge under the guidance of faculty,” and also carries a stipend of $1,000.

Students may also participate in honors cohorts of 20 students, who focus on topics of mutual interest.  Examples are cohorts for religious studies, environmental studies, pre-med, pre-law, ethics, American Studies, Sciences, and LGBTQ studies.  Students meet monthly to discuss their projects and aims.

The legal cohort, for example, allows students to attend hearings, meet with judges and attorneys, do legal research, learn about the Socratic method of teaching, and study case law and courtroom practices.  Students also have the opportunity to consult with advisors about the many career options and specialty fields available to lawyers.

Another exciting feature is the early assurance program, which is open to students with SAT scores of 1170 or higher (ACT 26) and GPA of 3.8, who want to attend graduate school at the “U.”   Most honors students are eligible.  The program allows students to take up  to two years to decide on a graduate major–a remarkable level of flexibility.

Each year, the most elite applicants to the early assurance program are selected as Eccles Distinguished Scholars, who receive full support for tuition, fees, and housing as long as they remain eligible.

All honors students are eligible for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which offers some grants of $1,200 for first-time research projects in collaboration with and $600 in renewable grants.

Students may earn honors credit for studying abroad and can choose from seven special honors options:

  • Theater, humanities, and fine arts in London
  • British studies–the Bloomsbury Group–in London
  • Environmental studies in Costa Rica
  • Summer studies in Berlin
  • Summer studies in Cambridge
  • Social work in Mexico
  • Writing in Costa Rica

Students may also receive credit for non-honors study-abroad courses, but not for courses in language study abroad.

The new Marriott Honors Center (MHC) is opening this Fall.  The MHC is located near the Huntsman Center on Campus, at the intersection of Mario Capecchi Drive and South Campus Drive.  The MHC has 309 beds in apartment/suite configurations, and there are plans to expand the facility.

The MHC has its own cafe, coffee shop, laundry, ski wax room, music room, secure bike storage, and is near a TRAX line that provides transportation around the city.

The residence hall includes an honors core experience floor for students who have not decided on a major; a first-year honors floor for students who have chosen a major; an upper-division honors community; and residences for Eccles School of Business honors students and College of Engineering honors students.

Additional honors communities are located in the Officer’s Circle section of the campus.  These include The Law House for pre-law students; the Honors Innovation House; the Poulson House for students working on capstones and theses; and another Honors First-Year Floor at Sage Point.




New Mexico Honors: Interdisciplinary, Interactive

While all honors colleges and programs offer interdisciplinary courses and emphasize student interactions in small classes, the University Honors Program at the University of New Mexico does an excellent job of describing exactly how these best practices come together to develop students who are confident, engaged, and increasingly aware of their place in a complex world.

“Rather than simply piling on extra work, Honors courses are specially designed and crafted to be interdisciplinary,” the program site says. “Topics are examined a little more in depth than in normal undergraduate courses at the University. Extensive student participation and creativity form the foundations of every course. Enrollment is capped at 16 students. Interaction takes place in group activities and round-table discussions or presentations.”

The curriculum requires a minimum of 24 hours of honors credit, and it is, in fact, carefully designed.  First-year students take at least one 100-level honors “Legacy” course.

“Legacies incorporate history, literary works, philosophy and/or political theory, drama and/or poetry, art, music, dance and/or architecture, science, math and/or technology. Legacies deal with the development of ideas rather than definitive historical time.”

Next come 200-level courses.  These are cross-cultural topics, including Women, Africa, the Far East, the Americas, Medieval Europe, and the origins of mathematics and science. “These courses incorporate interdisciplinary explorations of specific topics with an emphasis on developing and strengthening skills important to success in Honors and undergraduate education, including oral and written communication skills, reading skills, critical and creative thinking, etc.”

The next series, 300-level courses, are an interdisciplinary exploration of specific topics designed to demonstrate the interconnectedness of academic disciplines. “Recent courses have focused on the significance of gender in myth and literature, bio-medical ethics, the nature and politics of nuclear energy, the origins of prejudice, arts across cultures, the existential imagination, and cross-cultural communication.”

At the 400 level,topics are more in- depth than those in lower-level courses, and students will have increasingly greater roles and responsibilities, the ultimate goal of the curriculum. “These courses afford enthusiastic and enterprising students the opportunity to craft a publishable paper or coordinate a collaborative mini-conference.”

Finally, senior options, earning six credit hours, can take the form of a thesis that can be interdisciplinary or within a discipline; or a senior teaching assistantship; or a senior colloquium involving a service learning project.

Another especially interesting option for honors students is to work on the honors publication, called Scribendi, Latin for “those which must be written.”  Ten to twelve honor students work on the magazine, which publishes creative and non-fiction work not only by students at UNM but also by students at any of the 127 members schools of the Western Regional Honors Council.  UNM honors students can receive credit for their work on the magazine.

Through the Conexiones Program, honors students can participate in more than a month of intensive Spanish-language study in Spain, in the cities of Trujillo and Salamanca. Students live with host families in Trujillo, “a city whose history and architecture represents in itself the history of Spain (from Iberians and Romans, Moors and Christians, to the famous Spanish nightlife, modern architecture and cyber cafés).”

“Students will attend classes in a 15th century restored convent, the site of the Fundación Xavier de Salas, an institution created with the purpose of studying and disseminating the theme of connections between Extremadura and the Americas.

“Weekly excursions are part of the program, including the visit to the medieval city of Cáceres and the Roman city of Mérida. Some highlights of the program are: a behind scenes tour of the ancient library at the University of Salamanca (one of the oldest in Europe), a day at a bull ranch in Salamanca, attendance at a performance of Classic Theater at the Roman Amphitheater of Mérida, a visit to the medieval town and monastery of Guadalupe and a day in the sister city of Alburquerque, with a tour through its medieval castle.”

The UHP at New Mexico began in 1957 with an enrollment of only 30 students; now the program has 1,300 students.  Admission requires a minimum ACT of 29 (SAT 1860) and a minimum GPA of 3.50.  Students must maintain a 3.20 GPA to remain in good standing.

UHP students enjoy priority registration, and many live in the Scholars Wing of the Hokona/Zia Residence Hall, home to Regents’ Scholars, Presidential Scholars, as well as UHP residents.  Hokona is a traditional, co-ed dorm, with mostly double rooms and corridor-style baths.  It is air conditioned and centrally located, very close to La Posada (LaPo) Dining Hall, the library, and buildings for economics and social sciences.


UMass Amherst: Public Excellence Amid Private Elites

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has the unenviable challenge of carving out its own place of prominence amid some of the most elite private universities in the entire world. There is growing evidence that the university, along with its Commonwealth Honors College, is doing just that.

The Times Higher Education world rankings of research universities has consistently ranked UMass at number 64 or better in the world–higher than some elite private institutions in the New England neighborhood. The Times also ranked the UMass disciplines of life sciences and physical sciences at number 32 and 48, respectively.

Other highly ranked academic departments at UMass are computer science, sociology, earth (geo) sciences, English, psychology, education, kinesiology and linguistics.

The UMass Commonwealth Honors College has for 18 years hosted the Undergraduate Research Conference, which brings together more than 800 young researchers from across the state to present their research work to their peers and a wider audience.

Further evidence of undergraduate research opportunities comes from the six to eight-credit year-long Capstone Experience, which “is a comprehensive, research-intensive thesis or project of original scholarship. Typically completed in the senior year, it is a chance for honors students to engage in rigorous scholarship and to explore an academic interest in depth.”

The UMass prominence in world rankings ties in with its International Scholars Program, which “allows honors students of any major participating in any of the university’s over 400 approved study-abroad programs in more than 60 countries to form an intellectual cohort, providing a structured opportunity to reflect on and share their international experiences and complete research linking their study abroad experiences to their larger academic goals.”

Prospective honors students should be excited to know that a new, 500,000 square-foot, 6-building honors college complex will open to students in fall 2013. Located on central campus, it is next door to the new rec center and a 5-minute walk to the main library. The residential complex will have 1,500 beds, including 600 in two-person rooms and another 900 in suites or apartments.

WSU Asst Dean Brings the World to Honors Students

The Honors College at Washington State University is already renowned for its global education emphasis, and now its assistant dean has received an award for her work.

Assistant Dean of the Washington State University Honors College Jessica Cassleman was presented the 2012 Robert C. Bates Award for her dedication to the advancement of international education programs. The award was administered by the WSU Office of International Programs.

The Robert C. Bates Award is presented annually to a member of the WSU or Pullman community who has: enriched the cultural experiences of the WSU international student and scholar population; promoted global networking through classroom and experiential education; or, increased awareness among the WSU student and/or staff population about our global interconnectedness.

Says Libby Walker, dean of the WSU Honors College, “Those of us familiar with Jessica’s activism and involvement in international education are certainly not surprised that she was honored with this award. We are proud of her accomplishments, and appreciative of Jessica’s dedication to the development of global education in the Honors College.”

Dean Cassleman has not only worked to enrich the lives of hundreds of WSU students, but she has also reached beyond the campus to facilitate bilateral agreements with other U.S. universities and to promote honors education in universities abroad.

Out of the classroom, she helped in the development of an Honors program at the Universidad Austral in Valdivia, Chile; the Federal University of Parana in Matinhos, Brazil; the Regional University of Blumenau, Brazil; and the Scientific University of the South in Lima, Peru. She has also served as key player in the establishment of partnerships between WSU and the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, Chile and Universidad de Concepcion in Concepcion, Chile.

She was a key proponent of the development of the WSU Honors College’s Certificate of Global Competencies, an elective program aimed at the enhancement of students’ preparation for the global environment of commerce, creativity, and scholarship.

Top Study-Abroad Programs

As we get closer to completing our research on fifty leading public university honors programs, we will release some of the results prior to publication of the guidebook A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs in April. In this post, we will list the top universities among the fifty for study-abroad opportunities.

The data we used are a composite of university-wide and program-specific information, depending on the degree of cooperation from the honors programs and colleges.

Some of the best study-abroad programs have an extremely high level of participation from honors students: as many as two-thirds of all honors students study abroad, many for a significant period of time. About half of the fifty universities in our study have received some form of recognition for study-abroad programs.

The universities below all received the maximum score in the study-abroad category (revised April 4, 2012):

Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan State, Minnesota, UCLA, UT Austin, Washington, Wisconsin, and Vermont.

Close behind are Georgia Tech, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara.