Request for Proposals: Honors Symposium Development

Faculty may propose Honors Symposia at any time. To find out whether course development funding is currently available, or when a new Symposium will next fit into the course schedule, contact the Honors Program.

Honors Symposia
The Honors Symposia are interdisciplinary “supercourses,” each consisting of four seminars. The seminars are part of the Discovery Program; each meets its own Discovery category after review and approval of the Discovery Committee. The individual seminars are each be comprised of one faculty member and 20 students. These seminars meet separately, but convene regularly for plenary sessions. Each 20-student seminar is run as an independent course, with each professor responsible for the content and grading; each counts as a full course in the professors’ workloads. Most class meetings take place in these groups, enabling highly participatory, in-depth discussion.

Several times during the semester, the four courses meet together for a plenary session. These can take various forms:  a group project, a special speaker, a film, or a panel discussion in which the four professors examine a particular problem, issue or text, modeling their distinct disciplinary approaches, for example. Note that the Symposia do not require participating faculty members to “co-teach,” but rather, to collaborate to some extent, primarily around some shared texts and assignments, as well as the topics and formats for plenary sessions. All 80 students in the Symposium should have a sense of participating in a common Honors experience.

The University Honors Program will facilitate this collaboration among faculty members. Symposium faculty will be expected to meet with one another during the course planning period and while teaching the course.

This course model helps to create a distinct academic community for University Honors students and faculty. It also offers faculty the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines and colleges, and to work with highly motivated students from all majors to create a stimulating, challenging academic experience.

Financial Support
A sum of $1500 will be offered to each faculty member willing to develop and subsequently teach a Symposium course section at least two times. Courses eligible for funding may be  entirely new offerings or modifications of existing courses.

Additional funds will be available for Symposium expenses, such as speaker fees and room bookings. Funds should be requested as early as possible, and will be available until exhausted each year.

RCM revenues from these courses flow back to the instructors’ home departments. The teaching of Symposium courses is part of faculty members' ordinary workload.

Proposing an Honors Symposium or Symposium Course

Faculty may propose either a complete Symposium or a course to fit within an existing Symposium (listed below).

Symposium topics must be broad enough to include a range of disciplines and Discovery categories, as well as unified by a set of ideas and questions that is of interest and importance to students from across the campus. 

Each course within a Symposium must address the broad topic of the Symposium, but should do so from the faculty member’s particular disciplinary and field perspective. Each must also be eligible for Discovery category approval.

Individual faculty members who would like assistance in finding collaborators are encouraged to contact the Honors office for assistance.

Current Symposia
Reinventing Healthy Communities Nationally and Globally: Medical, Legal, and Cultural Perspectives
Faculty: Jerry Marx (Social Work), Rosemary Caron (Health Management and Policy), Marion Dorsey (History), Sara Withers (Anthropology)

Reckoning with Race and Justice
Faculty: David Richman (Theater), Jason Sokol (History), Alynna Lyon (Political Science), Petar Ramadanovich (English)

Being Human
Faculty: Charlotte Witt (Philosophy), Ruth Sample (Philosophy), Jill McGaughy (Psychology), Julia Rodriguez (History)

Engaging Addiction: Drugs and the Human Condition
Faculty: Sheila MacNamee (Communication), Karen Van Gundy (Sociology), Michael Leese (History), Kate Gaudet (Humanities)

Examples of Possible Topics

Land, Sea, and Space: Creating the Future
A symposium that considers our physical world from philosophical, historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives. A theme of the symposium could be: How should scientific and political communities respond to the impacts of climate change on land, sea, and the atmosphere? Suggested course perspectives include: Ethics and Ecology; Maritime History; Sustainable Agriculture; Climate Change.

Community and Capital: Growth, Values, and Costs
A symposium that investigates the structure and development of communities via various forms of capital: social, economic, cultural, and physical. It encourages engaged citizenship through group problem-solving to better meet the needs of the local community. A focal point for the symposium could be the question: What are the best ways to promote livable, sustainable, and diverse communities? Suggested course perspectives/topics: Community Activism; Public Art and Creative Economies; Urban History; Land Use and Development.

The Proposal
Each proposal should be submitted to the University Honors Program via Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis, but funding and course openings are not always available.

Submissions should include:

  • A submission form (use the form for an individual course or a group submission, as appropriate)
  • A one-page cover letter describing the course and the reasons the professor is particularly suited to develop it
  • A letter of commitment from the Department Chair, stating that the course will be offered at least twice, pending initial approval by the Discovery Committee and the University Honors Program
  • Any supporting materials you would like us to consider

Evaluation of Proposals
A Course Proposal Review Committee comprised of university faculty members and UHP staff will review proposals. Final approval of funds will be contingent on receiving a satisfactory course review by the Discovery Committee and a course syllabus. Preference will be given to proposals from tenured and tenure track faculty members, but other instructors with records of teaching excellence will also be considered.

We encourage you to contact the University Honors Program to discuss your proposal.