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.
UW Honor's Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We in UW Honors are aware that the recent executive order concerning immigration has raised many concerns in our community and beyond. During this time of rapid change and turbulence in our country, we are guided by our mission and our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we continue to welcome students regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.
We would like to share this compilation of additional support and resources from the UW and elsewhere:
- UW President Ana Mari Cauce has issued a statement: "Supporting our international scholars and students"
- The UW Faculty senate, in keeping with their goal of inclusivity, has begun an online listing of events and resources for the community
- Office of Global Affairs has gathered resources for students and faculty
- International Student Services provides updates for UW's international student population, including this announcement specific to the Jan 27 Executive Order
- Leadership without Borders remains dedicated to working with and for undocumented students
- American Immigration Lawyers Association has generated a resource page that provides analysis and assistance for the general public
Portrait of a UW Honors Pre-Med: Alumna Sibani Das Q&A
Sibani Das in 2014 - playing in the snow like a true Husky! (photo courtesy of Sibani Das)
Honors alumna Sibani Das (Biochemistry, 2014) is well on her way to an advanced degree in medicine, but says she sometimes misses the cross-disciplinary intellectual stimulation (and straight up fun) found in the Honors community. We caught up with her recently to see if she would share some of her experiences, especially with current students who are considering graduate school in medicine.
HONORS: What did you major in? How did you choose that major?
SIBANI: I did my B.S. in Biochemistry, which had been the one major I had said coming in as a freshman I would not do, because I had heard it was hard with many credits and there was Physical Chemistry! Though as I started to become interested in studying medicine and taking the pre-med sciences, I knew that I wanted to study the disciplines of science not as separate entities, but learn how each science, be it biology, chemistry, or physics worked together via one of the greatest examples of this connection: the Human Body. I turned out to enjoy the Biochemistry major and found it to be very applicable and useful in the real world of science.
HONORS: How did you decide to pursue Honors? What did Honors add to your undergraduate experience?
SIBANI: I wanted to do Honors when I had first applied to the UW undergraduate program but wasn't initially accepted. I re-applied and was accepted as an incoming 2nd year. It gave me time to reflect on my reasons in going to Honors where I realized that Honors would give me the platform to really challenge myself to take the information I learned through textbooks and lectures and understand its applicability to our dynamic world. Be it social sciences, natural sciences, English, Honors would give me the tools and community to have reflective discussions, work on projects in ways I could interact with the community outside the classroom, and learn about topics that are unique and can only be found in Honors.
HONORS: Can you share a bit about your pre-med pathway? Did you know you wanted to go to medical school when you came to UW? What kinds of classes, opportunities, experiences did you use to explore the field of medicine and ensure it was a good fit for you?
SIBANI: Going into medicine was something on my mind when coming to UW but determining how fitting pursuing a medical career would be was a journey of discovery throughout my undergraduate years. I took pre-med reqs and chose a science major that combined my interests with prep for a medical curriculum, that was not a surprise. But I also did scientific research for my last three years of undergrad at the Center of Infectious Disease Research, which led to my Honors Senior thesis. I undertook experiential learning as a volunteer with Seattle Children's Hospital (I was very much interested in Pediatrics) and also taught as a mentor at the Kumon Learning Center. I shadowed a variety of doctors in the US and India to get a widespread understanding of the nature of practicing medicine to better understand the needed skills and working environment of a medical career.
Since my family is passionate about cultural education and community service, particularly due to their experiences of coming to America as immigrants from the rural state of Odisha, India, I became involved in several community outreach projects serving our communities here and in India. Now all these experiences and preparation gave me opportunities to reflect on how what I enjoyed and the skills I had built strongly complemented the focus and efforts of medicine.
HONORS: Tell us a bit about the medical school application process: how did you choose which schools to apply to? How many apps did you send off? How was studying for the MCAT?
SIBANI: The MSAR online tool really helped me to find schools in which their admission statistics matched my academic grades and scores as well as had goals similar to what I wanted from my medical school education. I had applied to 20 allopathic medical schools and 5 osteopathic medical schools.
HONORS: How was studying for the MCAT?
SIBANI: To study for the MCAT was challenging because it requires quite a bit of time to review and practice while keeping up with school and other activities. I took a Kaplan MCAT (old test version) review course which provided an endless number of practice questions and plenty of AAMC MCAT practice tests, which I think are the strongest tools of preparation. I took the summer before the September MCAT test date to study.
HONORS: What is a typical day in your med school life like now? What's your favorite part of being in med school? What's the biggest challenge?
SIBANI: We mostly have class from 1:30 to 5:30pm every day and there is prep work assigned for each day to complete before the class session begins. This prep work usually happens in the morning with review of the material in the evening. There are various activities, clinical workshops, and medical talks that are given throughout the week which we sign up for and attend as well as shadowing opportunities we fit in thru the week. We also have clinical skills classes once every week where we interact with patients and practice clinical interviewing. My favorite part is working with the patients and applying the material we learn in class to the health-care setting where you can see the action and the biggest challenge is keeping up with the fast pace of learning, especially retaining the information after it has been taught and tested.
HONORS: What advice would you give to pre-med students? To students who may be pre-med but aren't quite certain yet?
SIBANI: To pre-med students: keep reflecting and asking yourself why medicine interests you and what in your experiences has made you more confident about pursuing medicine. Those activities, classes, and endeavors that make you passionate about this career, whether or not they are related to medicine, is what will foster the passion in your application and interview and that is what medical schools are looking for. For those who are still determining whether they are pre-med: keep collecting info about the medical world and the preparation that goes into it. No one source can give you the complete picture of the diverse world of medicine but the more you talk to individuals who are healthcare professionals, medical students, and pre-med, the more insight you will get about this career path.
HONORS: What do you do to relax/what does your self-care look like?
SIBANI: I love to dance, it really helps me to relax and shake a leg when things get stressful or tough and I am really obsessed with watching comedy and mystery shows! For my self-care, I try really hard to always set an end-time to the day where I stop studying and working and relax and I also consciously plan some social activity every week so that I don’t forget to enjoy time off before I get carried away stressing myself of all the work I need to do.
CONSIDERING MEDICAL SCHOOL? COME TO OUR ANNUAL PRE-MED INFO SESSION:
Weds, 4/5 from 12:30-1:30 in MGH 206.
SEE HONORS EVENTS PAGE FOR MORE DETAILS.
Portfolio Parties March 8 & 9 Are for the Whole Community!
College is a time of exploration, study, trial and error, and so many ideas and pieces of information to absorb! Noticing how the pieces fit together takes time - it takes practice - it takes reflection. Let's celebrate the unique journeys of 34 Interdisciplinary Honors students as they share their reflections through capstone portfolio presentations — party style!
Students will present in three-to-four concurrent sessions. Each presentation will last ten minutes, which includes time for comments and questions.
Click the RSVP link below to see exactly when and where your friends and family are scheduled to tell thier stories (afternoons of March 8 and March 9). We'll meet in the main Honors Suite (Mary Gates Hall 211) to begin our celebration with a general welcome and delicious snacks, then disperse to separate presentation rooms.
Past presenters have frequently said they wished they had attended one of these portfolio parties while they were underclassmen! RSVP now and feel no regrets!
The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
- Thomas Paine
Study Abroad! New Honors International Access Scholarship Invites you to live the dream
Don’t assume you can’t afford to study outside of the U.S.
The Honors Program is passionate about study abroad and the incredible impact it can have on a student’s life. An education grounded in a global context provides life long skills and lifelong memories. Studying abroad deepens study at home and provides a foundation for expanded reflection and self-growth, all core tenets of the Honors Program. We want everyone to experience study abroad.
This year, thanks largely to the gift of a UW Honors graduate who rates study abroad as one of his most life-changing experiences, we are offering a new scholarship that we hope will encourage every student to apply to our programs, without concern regarding the added cost.
Honors International Access Scholarship
The International Access Scholarship is awarded to an Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors student demonstrating the values of the Honors Program, which includes international engagement. Students who have applied to one of the Honors Study Abroad Programs or Direct Exchanges are eligible to apply. Award recipients demonstrating a clear intention to engage in global citizenship and ethical study abroad are encouraged to apply.
- $2,500 award
- A student in Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors
- All years (rising sophomore, junior, and senior) are eligible
- There are no residency or citizenship requirements for this award
Honors Program Scholarship
The Honors Program Scholarship is awarded to Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors students on the basis of outstanding academic performance. The Honors Program encourages students to apply for these funds to assist with study abroad or direct exchange expenses. This fund is supported by the generous donation of various friends of the Honors Program.
- $1,000 award
- A student in Interdisciplinary and/or Departmental Honors
- There are no residency or citizenship requirements for this award
You're Invited to the Honors Hearth!
Imagine Honors Advisory Board Member Bud Saxberg as a cozy fireplace and you'll get the idea (Marisol and Clare at a previous Hearth)
"We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community." - Dorothy Day
Our next Honors Hearth brings our community together on Feb 28 for a cozy chat around an imaginary fire. The Hearth is co-hosted by the Honors LLC and led by student interest!
At this event you'll learn more about the people behind the curriculum. The humans behind the intellectuals. Past talks have ranged from intense policy conversation to personal anecdotes and dating stories, commiseration on issues of life balance and much more. Clare Bright (GWSS) and Marisol Berrios-Miranda (Ethnomusicology) will be steered by the questions you pose as you RSVP.
Attendance is rewarded with delicious desserts and hot drinks.
Tuesday, Feb 28, 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Maple Hall Great Room
ABOUT CLARE AND MARISOL
Clare Bright, a lecturer in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, has been a life-long philosopher (Ph.D University of Washington). She has taught some of the Honors Program's most popular courses for over twenty years, such as: Philosophy of Gender in Western Thought and Comparative Ideology: Human Rights Movements. In 2016 Clare was awarded the Honors Excellence in Teaching Award (HETA) in recognition of her fantastic propensity for deep conversations that somehow manage to balance grace, levity, and intellectual intensity. The HETA is conferred by Honors students and Clare assures them that, when it comes to personal admiration, the feeling is mutual.
Marisol Berrios-Miranda has a PhD in ethnomusicology, but her first education came from a childhood in her native Puerto Rico, where she was soaked in music. "I studied music academically, but the way I learned music - who sings well, what had a good rhythm - was sitting down and listening with my dad." She also credits her mother, Juanita Miranda-Berrios. "She is the encyclopedia. She knows everything about Latin rhythm and dance." Marisol teaches in layers, one rhythm at a time. Students who have taken her Honors Course, American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, describe her as "totally amazing," and "more fun than I imagined a teacher could be."
"We Stand Together" Promotes Understanding and Collaborative Advocacy at UW
Last month's "We Stand Together" Racial Justice Teach-In was a timely and powerful event that I am thankful for having the opportunity to attend. Coming off of the heels of the 2017 presidential election, it was difficult to process emotions and thoughts while still maintaining day-to-day responsibilities. I decided to attend the UW Racial Justice Teach-In in order to gain insight into navigating the changed campus climate and develop ideas on how I could potentially use my position as an academic adviser to offer support. I have attended diversity and social justice related professional trainings but none of them elicited the feelings of solidarity, empowerment, and urgency like this one did.
The message of solidarity was apparent in both content and in attendance. Participants and speakers at this Teach-In included undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff — a message in itself that we do not need to be doing this work in silos. It was a humbling reminder that we should engage in these conversations together and call each other in, rather than call each other out.
This experience helped me move past my initial reactions of numbness and uncertainty and move to a more productive place. I felt empowered to help students process their own reactions and encourage them to engage in constructive dialogue with themselves, their peers, their instructors, and their families. This is the form of advocacy I feel most comfortable and prepared to do but also plan to advocate in ways beyond my comfort zone.
There were multiple moments throughout the day where a feeling of urgency surfaced in the room. Urgency to begin taking action to support all marginalized groups together rather than inaction due to feeling insecure about our personal knowledge or experience supporting various causes. I found this incredibly refreshing because it often feels that we get stuck in trying to advocate the "right way" for causes individually rather that collaborating across marginalized populations. Even if our advocacy work is not perfect, the sentiment was simply to try. Try to be more self-aware, kinder to others, and courageous about speaking out against injustice.
Read more about the Jan 13 "We Stand Together" Teach In HERE
A scientist, an anthropologist, and a journalist walk into a....
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
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 email@example.com, 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
A 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.
Are Robots and A.I. an Existential Threat to Humanity? Interdisciplinary Honors students examine the question.
Will robots take the place of humans as producers of labor and culture?
What will happen to already marginalized workforces around the world as A.I. continues to advance and mechanization reaches all segments of the job market?
Can robots be programmed to empathize and/or be true artists and does it matter if they only appear to love us?
These are a few of the discussion topics from Honors 398H, a spring quarter seminar where undergraduates from major departments all across campus convened to consider the course subject: Are Robots and A.I. an Existential Threat to Humanity?
Connecting Clean Energy to the Internet of Things: Honors Alumna Anna Schneider '07 Innovates to Save the Planet
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 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
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
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.
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."