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.

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.

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.

Last year's Honors freshmen identified climate change across our world. They wanted to discuss ways to protect the health of our planet, the disproportionate impacts felt by vulnerable populations, and how the stories we tell about climate change often silence critical voices or fail to reach us in ways we can best hear.

To demonstrate one model of complicated cross-disciplinary collaboration, we invited passionate thought leaders from different corners of the University to address these questions. UW is rich in multi-faceted educators, researchers, and practitioners. It would be possible to host a hundred great conversations about climate change with an assortment of speakers — all of them compelling and unique. 

This year's speakers represented very different backgrounds, experiences and intellectual approaches to the subject of climate change, including what is at stake in making knowledge and how that informs action. Jean Dennison (anthropology), Hanson Hosein (communication leadership), and David Battisti (atmospheric sciences) met with students and each other prior to the event to begin exploring the intersections of thier work and ideas as connected with climate change. 

Battisti, Dennison, and Hosein discuss how activism and academia sometimes intersect.

At the start of our event, Dr Lawson invited each speaker to make a statement outlining their own understanding of the entangled politics of climate change and story of how they came to these unique perspectives. Their conversation followed a series of prompts aggregated from hundreds of questions submitted by students and other audience members in pre-event engagement and through the online RSVP process. 

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 forcarey@uw.edu, and keep building momentum as an interdisciplinary community of practice! 

Download a PDF of this list and find other articles, resources, and discussions about Global Challenges like climate change and poverty as a barrier to health access when you join our Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers Facebook Group.

Winter Quarter 2017

Honors 394B “Climate Change, an international Perspective: Science, Art & Activism” Bob Pavia, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, Arctic Studies

The course will begin by building a foundation for understanding climate change causes and impacts, including atmospheric science, oceanography, chemistry, and ecology. Interwoven with the science will be discussions of how Arctic states are working together to mitigate climate change impacts. Arctic indigenous peoples are also working with Arctic states to engage in the climate change discussion. The course consider the impacts of climate change to those nations and people, and also how they are contributing through literature, music, art.

Ocean 450/Honors 221 “Climate Extremes” Paul Johnson, Oceanography and Paul Quay, Earth and Space Science

To better understand the key factors that control the earth's present and future climate, this course examines episodes in the earth's past when extreme climate conditions existed. Dramatic changes in the earth's climate have resulted from natural variations in solar insolation, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, rates and pathways of ocean circulation, plate tectonics, and the evolution of vascular plants and, in modern times, the burning of fossil fuels.

Seattle Times Features UW Student Adventure

Aug 1, 2016

great story published in the Seattle Times, takes readers on a joint Environmental Studies & Honors Field Studies course (HON 220 B / ENVIR 495 C) taught by Tim Billo. Honors students Madison Smith, Abby VonHagel, Minji Danielle Jung, and Hailee Herbst are quoted in the article and readers can peruse the course blog for greater immersion and student reflections.

We asked Professor Billo what his takeaways were from the experience: "I think it's hard to imagine a more interdisciplinary course with respect to the topics we cover—essentially assessing ourselves as a culture and civilization against the backdrop of human-constructed ideas of 'wilderness' and 'preservation'. Although we are embedded in nature and natural landscapes for the entire course, the course is as much or more about human history, culture, perception, and behavior. One of the wonderful things about working with students from a variety of majors, is that our discussions are so rich and multi-faceted. Students from the Interdisciplinary Honors Program are particularly well-prepared and passionate about embracing topics from a variety of perspectives, and wrestling with ideas in deep and meaningful ways. I love that we had students from English, Public Health, Philosophy, Environmental Science, Pre-Med, and Pre-Genetics, in addition to Environmental Studies (which in and of itself is an interdisciplinary major). The diversity and depth of ideas that students brought to the conversation in this interation of the course was unparalled, and was one of the most rewarding aspects for me of teaching it."

Come along on this beautiful trek through the backcountry of Olympic National Park, and explore why wilderness is such an important educational and inspirational element of who we are.

Connecting Clean Energy to the Internet of Things: Honors Alumna Anna Schneider '07 Innovates to Save the Planet

Jul 7, 2016

When she arrived on campus as a biochemistry major and Interdisciplinary Honors student at the University of Washington in 2002, Anna Schneider knew she wanted to be a "scientist of some kind." Like so many undergrads, Anna felt the pressure to choose a path and commit to a major but knew it was a big decision. Too big of a decision to rush. "I began to notice differences between myself and my pre-med peers in biochemistry. They had a real passion for the biomedical impacts of the research we did after school and I realized I didn’t feel that same passion. I loved the classes and being in lab, but there was that one little bit of extra spark that I thought I could find if I just looked hard enough."

Anna Schneider, Honors Croquet League 2004
Studying to be "some kind of scientist": Anna Schneider plays in the Honors Croquet League, circa 2004

Anna first discovered an interest in climate change during her fourth year at UW, while taking Neil Banas's "fantastic and highly interdisciplinary" Honors course Northwest Coastal Stories: Turbulence and Uncertainty in Science and in Culture. "Only in Honors could you take a single topic—the Puget Sound region—and use it as a lens to explore everything from climate change to colonialism. I loved creating a dynamic visualization of wave physics as much as I loved exploring the trickster narrative in Haida storytelling."

All Smiles at UW Honors' 2016 Celebration of Distinction

Jun 23, 2016

On the morning of June 10 we celebrated over 100 talented, committed undergraduate students from disciplines across campus as they transitioned into new alumni of UW Honors. 

At Honors' annual Celebration of Distinction (affectionately known as "The CoD") students, families and friends come together with faculty, staff, and alumni of the University at a special brunch with live music, awards, inspiring speeches, and a cording procession administered by Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Ed Taylor. Special guest speakers included Distinguished Alumna Justice Bobbe Bridge ('68), scholarship recipient Tressa Thomas ('17), and keynote speaker Stella Jones ('16).

Learn more about some of the newest Husky Honors alumni by perusing these student profiles that were on display at the Celebration.

Finally, see how much fun we had in our Facebook photo album! Special thanks to Ryan Luk (UW Honors) and Josh Burke (Grad Images) for capturing the magic. 


To our graduates: We are grateful to have taken part in the education of so many wonderful people and will miss you dearly! Don't lose touch with your friends from Honors. Keep coming to our events, join up as an alumni mentor, or find other ways to stay involved with our community of learners for life.

With great affection, the Staff of UW Honors

Justice Bobbe Bridge Wins Honors 2016 Distinguished Alumna Award

Mar 8, 2016

UW Alumna Justice Bobbe Bridge (B.A. with College Honors in political science) sets a high bar for those who would follow in her honorable footsteps.

Honors Director Vicky Lawson with 2016 Distinguished Alumna Bobbe Bridge
Honors Program Director Vicky Lawson and 2016 Distinguished Alumna Justice Bobbe Bridge, March 8, 2016.

Driven to solve complex societal challenges in partnership with individuals and agencies from many sectors, Justice Bridge's devotion is such that she spends her "retirement" urgently addressing systemic failures affecting highly vulnerable populations. In the course of her distinguished career (including eight years on the Washington State Supreme Court), Justice Bridge was deeply impacted by something that needed fixing further up the line from where she was sitting. During her three years as Chief Juvenile Court Judge, she repeatedly encountered troubled youth who were clearly trapped in cycles of systemic failure: foster kids with mental health issues; children removed from abusive homes; and homeless youth, a large percentage of whom were children of color.

"Honor" is sometimes defined as "a great privilege or recognition" but is just as often used to indicate "truthfulness or integrity."