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The Honors Program at the University of Washington is an interdisciplinary program for undergraduates. Students can pursue Honors as a general education track, as an in-depth program within their majors, or as a combination of the two. Students may apply to the Program as new freshmen, at the end of their first year, or once they've selected a major.

Frances McCue with the UW Poetry Brigade

"Blind Glass" is a hidden gem

Produced under the auspices of the Poetry Brigade (a pop-up interest group of undergraduates who read, write and perform poetry or poetry's attendant sidekicks), "Blind Glass" is published infrequently as a PDF anthology, packed with work that challenges and illuminates.

HOPE screening and panel, winter 2015

Honors students establish "Bridges to HOPE" scholarship fund

HOPE students recently screened several short films about prison education programs and hosted a panel discussion to help raise funds for a new scholarship benefiting youth in foster care who have been impacted by incarceration.

Alumni panel at Honors 496, winter 2015

Life After College: Alumni open up to students in Honors 496

Honors alumni met with students of Honors 496—the capstone course wherein seniors finish and present an online portfolio reflecting their undergraduate experience—to discuss their own experiences of "life after college."

WASEDA staff and students, winter 2015

Driven To Discover: Honors students prepare for a year in Japan

Honors recently hosted colleagues from WASEDA University in Tokyo, Japan, who visited Seattle to meet with the recently-selected 2015-2016 Global Leadership Fellows and share updates and future directions of this unique program.

Fail for the Win

May 19th, 2015

Honors Program director, Vicky Lawson, spoke as one of five courageous faculty members at the May 6 “Reflections on Rejection Panel”, an inspiring event hosted by Undergraduate Academic Affairs in collaboration with the Stanford Resilience Project. Hot on the heels of the previous week’s Honors Hearth conversation with College of Arts & Sciences Dean Bob Stacey, Lawson was ready to tell everyone in the room the stuff we rarely hear: what went wrong and how it was okay.

Reflections on Rejection Panel, May 2015

After enjoying dinner and exploring the beautiful, newly constructed Intellectual House, we took our seats before the five panelists, all accomplished members of the UW community – associate professor of Anthropology and adjunct associate professor of Global Health, Rachel Chapman; professor and chair of Communication, David Domke; professor of Geography and director of the Honors Program, Vicky Lawson; professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bob Stacey; and assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering, Kate Starbird. Each panelist was introduced first in the typical manner – a list of achievements, successes, and awards – before reintroducing themselves with their “failure resumes”, the moments often edited out of our narratives. Immediately, this opening drew attention to the fact that, as Starbird stated, “failure and success are intimately connected”, and communicated a message of hope, the need for all of us to be resilient, and the capacity for resilience that lives in each of us.

Throughout the conversation, the audience came to understand that these people, people we respect and view as successful, are in fact…people.  They have experienced failure and hardships -- and were able to come out the other side (and continue to do so, even today!).  The presentation of the self-identified failures ranged from Domke discussing 27 rejection letters he received in response to job applications he submitted, to Lawson and Stacey discussing personal loss, to Chapman reading a poem that brought the audience to tears.  But the message was consistent:  failure is not something you should feel ashamed about and keep hidden. Through honest and open conversation, we can move past challenges and failures and emerge more thoughtful, self-aware, and resilient. And what better time to nurture this mindset than college? As Domke said, “Fear of failure is paralyzing [but] college is a time to try - you have the support”.

We are so proud to have had this panel at the UW and for Vicky to have fearlessly shared her personal stories, inspiring others to do the same, and embodying the support we, in Honors collectively, strive to have for students and their education.

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A big thank you goes out to UAA and the Stanford Resilience Project for bringing such an awesome event to campus!

We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did and, if you missed it, here were some other great, carry-with-you-quotes:

  • “We have this perception that other people are perfect because we write failure out of their stories” – Starbird
  • “Surviving failure is a collective process … that lift us up” – Lawson
  • “Letting down or building up the people we love is the only failure or success that truly matters” – Stacey

Bonderman fellows prepare to embark on solo journeys

Apr 27th, 2015
2015 Undergraduate Bonderman fellows
2015 Undergraduate Bonderman Fellows, left to right: Stephanie Riedl, Kevin Bogue, Emily Sorman, Matt Bell, Rachel Weisbeck, Xoe Amer

We were thrilled to welcome and celebrate the 2015 Bonderman Travel Fellows at recent reception that brought together past fellows, selection committee members, and some of the many UW staff who help make this fellowship such a success! Starting this summer, the new fellows will embark on solo journeys to at least two regions and six countries over at least eight months long, and may not pursue academic study, projects, or research while traveling.

Collectively, the 2015 Bonderman Fellows will travel to Colombia, Brasil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Patagonia, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Iceland, Mexico (Chiapas), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Palau, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Russia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Japan, China, Singapore, Bhutan, and Tibet.

Their travel interests include folk music and poetry; sacred spaces and spirituality; human connection to the ocean; the environment; urban development; biodiversity; indigeneity; the care of ageing and dying populations; music as a bond, and much, much more. We wish them safe and adventurous journeys!

Learn more about the Bonderman Travel Fellowship and view the Fellows' travel plans »

"Crash Course" videos from Honors 231C

Apr 9th, 2015

Special thanks to first-year Honors student Spencer Peters for allowing us to share his wonderful final project. He insists we recognize the great work of his student collaborators in Winter Quarter 2015 Honors 231 C and provided this description to help us understand the work.

What is the “Honors 231 Crash Course”? 

Sacred Cow

First off: Honors 231 C refers to a class called “Bull of Heaven and Earth: From the Paleolithic to the Chicago Stockyards.” It’s a hard class to pin down, but Honors 231C focused on how different cultures viewed and lived with animals, specifically cattle. The first week of classes, we watched a documentary on cave art, which offers an interesting lens into how prehistoric humans thought about animals before domestication. But the documentary wasn’t quite as interesting as it could be—it was very slowly paced and soporific. So I actually wrote my first paper on how the documentary could be turned into a modern piece of YouTube edutainment—a Crash Course, after the popular YouTube series of the same name. When I got the paper back from our professor Dr. Walker, written across the bottom was “Maybe a final project idea?”

At the time, I thought that was crazy. But as the course progressed, tracing one exciting thread through time and cultural space, I realized the course itself made terrific Crash Course fodder. Furthermore, my classmates had been giving interesting presentations—could these be condensed into Crash Course episodes? With Dr. Walker’s input and lots of help from my awesome classmates, the Crash Course idea evolved into the videos below. They don’t quite capture the entertaining quality of the YouTube masters, but I think they cover a lot of really interesting material.

Click Here to browse the Honors 231 C YouTube channel

Lost but not forgotten

Apr 8th, 2015
Mesa Grande Refugee camp

A group of UW Center for Human Rights students and faculty recently conducted research and video documentation in El Salvador supporting efforts to connect families with the children who were displaced during the country's violent civil war. Honors student and Peer Educator Nicole Einbinder reflects on the experience in this article: El Salvador families search for dissappeared children decades after war

(Photo by Linda Hess Miller via Wikimedia Commons)