Honors 491

The Junior Honors Seminar forms the “breadth” component of the Honors degree requirements, contrasting with the in-depth study within a discipline entailed in the Senior Honors Project, HON 496, which normally follows this seminar and a course on research methods, HON 495. Seminars usually meet once per week and enrollment is limited to 15 students. The course is usually offered with a Writing (W) Focus designation.

Although A-F grades are submitted, the instructor also provides a written critique of each student’s participation in discussion and his or her written work. This critique is provided to the Honors Program and it forms part of the overall assessment of the student by the Honors Council, which makes recommendation for the Honors degree: “No Honors,” “Honors,” “High Honors,” or “Highest Honors.”

Topics for seminars should be amenable to an interdisciplinary approach and the instructor should establish early in the semester a common base of knowledge which can be used as a foundation for class discussion and individual assignments. Often the topics for the seminar are of special interest to the instructors, oftentimes something quite new, and it should stretch them beyond the usual confines of their specialty and discipline. The topic should be attractive to a wide range of students in order that they can each bring their disciplinary perspectives to bear. Speculative topics, social problems, ethical and philosophical issues, and critical perspectives on popular culture are particularly suitable. Seminars may also promote a humanistic perspective so emphasis on policy issues, civic engagement, and the ethics of inquiry are appropriate.


  • introduce students to an area of interdisciplinary concern
  • introduce students to inquiry across the disciplines
  • further train students in seminar protocol and academic discourse
  • foster critical thinking and presentation skills
  • encourage critical reading of popular and scholarly literature
  • help prepare students for independent research, especially the Senior Honors Project

Learning Outcomes

  • students will understand multiple disciplinary perspectives on a relevant topic
  • students will develop skills for participation in seminars
  • students will learn to critically read popular and scholarly publications

Proposal Format

Proposals should be submitted by the published deadline in the Fall semester, and must contain the following:

  • cover letter or email that states when the course will be offered; the qualifications of the instructor; and General Education requirements that the course is expected to meet
  • a syllabus that includes, at least, a general description of the course sufficient in detail for Honors to gauge its probable relevance to a variety of majors; course objectives and student learning outcomes; an outline of course topics; a list of some representative texts or readings; and description of assignments or other means of assessment.

Please note that because the course carries a W Focus designation, the proposal must also indicate that written assignments constitute at least 40% of the final grade; show how the course uses writing to promote learning of materials; and indicate interaction on writing between the instructor and students.

The Honors Program requires that all syllabi for Honors courses contain a statement about accommodations for disabilities, such as the following:

If you feel that you need reasonable accommodations because of the impact of a disability, please speak with me privately to discuss your needs, and/or contact the KOKUA Program (956-7511 or kokua@hawaii.edu). We will be very happy to work with you and/or the KOKUA Program.

The Honors Program also encourages the use of Universal Design for Instruction in its courses to ensure maximum accessibility for all learners. Please see: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Academics/instruction.html