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Honors NEXUS Experiences

Honors NEXUS Experiences, while distinct in content and format, all share the goal of bringing together students and faculty from across the University in small groups to engage in non-standard learning models. Details on each experience may be found below.

UHP welcomes ideas for future experiences—please send them to Honors Advsior and NEXUS Coordinator.

NEXUS Experiences Beginning in the Spring 2018 Semester

Cick on any experience to view details and to access application links. Applications due Wednesday, November 22nd 2017.

NEXUS Experiences Beginning in the Fall 2017 Semester

Cick on any experience to view details. Applications closed for Fall 2017 experiences.

Duplicate Bridge: Thinking Skills in Different Disciplines

Contract Bridge is a trick-taking game played with standard 52-card deck that can help hone skills like memory, communication, and strategy—and you can earn an Honors Experience this year for learning how to play! Participants in this experience will attend weekly meetings with two key components: lecture and practicum. Faculty will lecture on aspects of bridge rules, bidding, card-play technique, scoring, table presence, and tournament bridge culture. Faculty will also show how the skills of the game—memorization, concentration, communication, contingency planning, analytics, etc.—have applied to their own research and/or teaching. Bring your dinner, meet new friends (including faculty), be exposed to thinking from a variety of disciplines, and learn mankind’s best intellectual sport. All books and other materials provided free of charge.

Activity Period: January–April 2018
Meets: Tuesdays, 5:30–7:30pm (with an hour of optional free play from 7:30–8:30pm) each day of the spring semester from January 23 through May 1, except March 13 (spring break).
Students to be admitted: 48
Participating faculty/staff: Matt Bribitzer-Stull, CLA–Music Theory (and UHP Director); Nicola Grissom, CLA–Psychology; Paul Gutterman, CSOM–Accounting; Eric Hendrickson, CBS–Biochemistry; Nita Krevans–CLA, Classics; Glen Meeden, CLA–Statistics; Harry Sapienza, CSoM–Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship


Competitive Scholarship Workshop

Every year students in UHP win nationally competitive scholarships that help them to pay for their undergraduate education, conduct summer research, or pursue graduate studies or other experiences abroad after graduation. To successfully apply for most of these awards, students should start planning well ahead of the deadline. This NEXUS experience aims to help you prepare an effective application, whether you are a junior applying this spring for post-graduate awards or a sophomore planning for the future. Topics covered have broad application outside of scholarship application as well, and will include: Introduction to competitive scholarships and how they might fit into your academic and professional plans; Assessing a scholarship and yourself; Building relationships and soliciting letters; Composing a personal statement; Writing about what you do; Talking about what you do (i.e., interviewing skills).

In addition to attending the six sessions, participants should plan to spend 4 hours per session completing related reading, research, and writing. Students will also participate in a half-hour interview and have a one hour meeting with the director of Office of National and International Scholarships.

Those who can benefit most are: 1) Juniors (or seniors) applying for Fulbright Student Awards to fund a year of foreign study, research or teaching in 2019–20. (Applications due beginning of fall semester 2018); 2) Juniors (or seniors) applying for Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Gates-Cambridge, Schwarzman, Yenching, Knight-Hennessey, or DAAD scholarships to fund graduate study in the UK, Ireland, China, Germany, or at Stanford beginning in fall 2019. (Applications due beginning of April through November depending on award); or 3) Sophomores planning to apply for any of the above or Truman or Udall scholarships during their junior year.

Activity Period: January–April 2018
Meets: From 3–4pm on the following Fridays: January 19th, February 2nd and 16th, March 2nd and 23rd, and April 6th. Interviews with ONIS director held April 20th.
Students to be admitted: 20
Participating faculty/staff: Timothy Jones, Director of the Office of National and International Scholarships; three additional faculty members TBD


Honors Lecture Series: The Successes and Failures of the American Higher Education System

During the 2017–18 school year, UHP will present its second lecture series, "The Successes (and Failures) of American Higher Education." The series comprises an eclectic blend of topics, values, experiences, and perspectives. Participants will attend the lectures, discuss them in small groups with a diverse mix of faculty, and write a final synthesis paper. This year we are proud to welcome another exciting roster of speakers—all of whom graduated from the University of Minnesota with Latin Honors—to campus. All lectures will be held in Northrop's Best Buy Theater unless otherwise noted.


  • Participants must attend five of the six lectures and discussions, and complete five of the six assigned readings
  • Participants must complete a synthesis paper at the end of the series, finding connection points between disparate lecture topics
  • Each participant will have an opportunity to join a group dinner with one of the speakers, courtesy of UHP
  • All materials (tickets, texts, dinner, etc.) provided by UHP
  • Speakers include:
    • Sep. 18: Jennifer Delton '89, Skidmore College Professor of History
    • Oct. 16: Rachel Cordova (Reina del Cid) '10, performing musician
    • Nov. 6: Erin Soderburg Downing '99, children's book author
    • Jan. 22: Louis Johnston '83, St. Johns University Professor of Economics
    • Feb. 26: Carol Becker '86, MN state and local government employee and activist
    • Apr. 9: Andrew Jones, '11, founder of Activated Research

Activity Period: September 2017 through April 2018
Meets: The following six Mondays from 4:30–8:30pm: 9/18/17, 10/16/17, 11/6/17, 1/22/18, 2/26/18, 4/9/18
Students to be admitted: 24
Participating faculty/staff: Matt Bribitzer-Stull, CLA–Music (and Director of the University Honors Program); Nicola Grissom, CLA–Psychology; Michael Stebleton, CEHD–Org. Leadership, Policy, and Development

The Washington Post Experience

Find out over winter break what you can learn by reading the newspaper every day and discussing it with a diverse group of thoughtful people. Students and faculty members will meet each day for one week, read the daily Washington Post from 9am–12pm, break for lunch, and return for an afternoon of lively discussion. Walking breaks twice a day also give participants a chance to stretch their legs and explore the East Bank campus (and its tunnel system).


  • Breakfast, afternoon snack, and newspapers provided free of charge.
  • Held in Nolte Lounge
  • Live in the dorms? Upper-class UHP students who live off-campus are willing to host you for the week!

Activity Period: January 8–14, 2018
Meets: 9am–4pm daily, January 8–14, 2018 in Nolte Lounge
Students to be admitted: 16
Participating faculty/staff: Benjamin Toft, CLA–Journalism and Mass Comm; Craig Packer, CBS–Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Christopher Johnstone, CEHD–Org. Policy, Leadership, and Development; John Logie, CLA–Rhetoric (Writing Studies)

Romeo and Juliet

The University Honors Program is proud to present a special year-long Honors Experience centering on Shakespeare's immortal play, Romeo and Juliet. This interdisciplinary opportunity builds on the successful "Dracula in Multimedia" experience completed in the fall 2016 semester. Students will work closely with a group of faculty members from various arts and humanities disciplines to explore Shakespeare's original play and its many translations into film, dance, opera, television, literature, and the visual arts. What are the problems, values, and insights of the original work? What is gained and what is lost in its various adaptations to other media? Why does this tale remain relevant to modern-day audiences? Highlights will include attending the Guthrie Theater's rendition of Romeo and Juliet, and Prokofiev’s ballet in Northrop. All experience materials (books, dance/film tickets, etc.) are provided by UHP, free of charge.

Activity Period: September 2017 through March 2018
Meets: Largely a variety of Mondays from 4:30–6:30pm. See the complete schedule for full details.
Students to be admitted: 12
Participating faculty/staff: Matt Bribitzer-Stull, CLA–Music (and Director of the University Honors Program); Lisa Channer, CLA–Theatre Arts and Dance; Carl Flink, CLA–Theater Arts and Dance; Michael Gaudio, CLA–Art History; Christopher Nappa, CLA–Classics; Katherine Scheil, CLA–English; Robert Silverman, CLA–Art History; Madelon Sprengnether, Emeritus–English; Adriana Zabala, CLA–Music

Cultural Experience Portfolio

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
—Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

UHP has designed this experience specifically to help students collect set of memories and reflections inspired by cultural experiences. Over the course of the 2017–18 academic year, participating students will attend twelve cultural events of their choosing. In addition, they will hear from faculty experts across the year about how best to prepare for these events, what to consider while enjoying them, and how to process the experience afterwards. Throughout the year, students will also be contributing to their own online portfolio—including brief essays, reflections, conversations, original artwork, and any other relevant reactions they would like to preserve. While the goal of this experience is to energize students to participate fully in the cultural life of the University, the Twin Cities boasts a wealth of additional cultural opportunities just steps away from campus. While in no way exhaustive, the following list provides a sampling of the kinds of opportunities students could attend (with at least one from each group listed below being required):

  • Dance (ballet, contemporary dance, folk dance, and so forth at Northrop, Rarig, the Barbara Barker Center, the Cowles Center, the Ordway, and many other venues off-campus)
  • Spoken Word and Exhibits (including the Honors Lecture Series, the U of MN Ford lecture, the Westminster Town Hall Forum, Minnesota Historical Society, exhibits put on by Archives and Special Collections, libraries on- and off-campus, poetry readings spoken-word performances, and so forth)
  • Live music (Minnesota Orchestra; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Minnesota Opera; performances of non-Western music at the Cedar Cultural Center; Met Opera Live in HD at movie theaters; popular music at First Avenue; a wide variety of performances of live music at venues around the Twin Cities; U of MN Symphony Orchestra; U of MN Wind Ensemble; and a host of community orchestras, bands, and chamber ensembles)
  • Theater (plays, musicals, and other theatrical performances at Rarig, the Guthrie, Penumbra, and Southern theaters—among many, many more)
  • Visual arts (installations or special exhibits at MIA, the Walker, the Weisman, Goldstein Museum of Design and other galleries and architectural spaces)

Participating students will be using an online tool (likely WordPress) to curate their own portfolio of experiences. Students are expected to share some of these with the larger community of participants; one of them must be a collaboration with another student (a recorded conversation, a co-authored blog post, a joint work of art, etc.); and, finally, students are expected to show engagement with other students' posts by commenting on at least five across the year.

The Intended outcome of this experience is for students to enjoy a rich diversity of experiences outside of those they might already regularly attend. Hence, a classical violin student might go to First Ave to hear live music while a garage-band musician might attend a performance of the MN Opera. Participating students will be entrusted with selecting experiences that broaden their horizons and open them up to new corners of the cultural treasure trove accessible on and nearby campus.

Activity Period: September 2017 through May 2018
Meets: Students must attend a 60-minute intake meeting on either Monday, September 11 from 4:30–5:30pm or Tuesday, September 12 from 3:30–4:30pm in Northrop 240. Faculty lectures will generally be Mondays and Wednesdays between 2:30–5pm and Tuesdays between 2–5pm. Students must attend at least six of these 30-to-45-minute lectures.
Students to be admitted: unlimited
Participating faculty/staff: Brad Hokanson, CDES–Graphic Design; Lyndel King, Weisman Art Museum; John Logie, CLA–Writing Studies; William Messing, CSE–Mathematics; Matt Rahaim, CLA–Music; Mark Russell Smith, CLA–Music; Michael Sommers, CLA–Theatre Arts and Dance; Christopher Terry, CLA–Journalism; Christine Tschida, Northrop Memorial Auditorium; David Walsh, CLA–Music; Jamee Yung, Weisman Art Museum

Archives and Social Justice

UHP is excited to partner with ASC (Archives and Special Collections) to provide Honors students a unique opportunity to work hands-on in collections under the guidance of archive and collection directors. Students will largely work on their own schedule apart from attending an introductory session with ASC staff at the beginning of the experience, a check-in near the middle, and final showcase at the end.

Participants will have the opportunity to choose a question or focus from among the list provided by Archives and Special Collections, or to devise one of their own. These questions will be designed to allow for meaningful interaction with more than one collection in ASC. Most student will work on a team of 2 to 3, though independent work is an option, especially for those engaged in thesis research.

Ultimately, students will share the results of their experiences in a final showcase. These results may take many forms: a mini-exhibit, a written guide to research materials (a good first step toward completing an Honors thesis), a recorded conversation with another student in the experience, a presentation (formal or via poster), and so forth. In all cases, we hope students emerge from the experience with meaningful answers to the following questions:

  • What is an archive, and how does it work?
  • What good is preservation for modern-day social justice?
  • What role does serendipity play in the investigation of archival materials?

Activity Period: September 2017 through April 2018
Meets: Introductory meeting on Wednesday, September 27, 4:30–6:30pm; check-in and final showcase to be scheduled once participants have been determined
Students to be admitted: 30
Participating faculty/staff: Archives and Special Collections staff

Transformative Conversations Project

Networking is important, but it can often seem superficial or awkward. If you'd like to skip the pretense, then the Transformative Conversations Project is for you. Students in this experience will learn how to have meaningful conversations with people who are making a real difference in their fields. They will learn how professional leaders launched their careers and hear about issues that are truly important to them. Students will then choose someone whose interests align with theirs and pursue a substantial networking conversation. This project will help students make tangible connections with thought leaders in different sectors as they explore an approach to their own developing career that will allow them to be involved in similar issues.


  • Students will be prepared for networking interviews through training from participating faculty and staff members.
  • Students will be trained to interview and take field notes, introduce a structure to record and reflect on things they learn, and provide a space to share their learning with other Honors students.
  • Participants will set up a series of 3 or 4 interviews with people who are recommended to them by their first (and possibly, subsequent) contact points
  • Students will participate in a mid-semester reflection and end of semester report-out with other honors students as well as staff from CCEL, LEAD, and UHP.

Activity Period: September 2017 through January 2018
Meets: Students must be able to attend the following four Tuesdays from 4–5pm: 9/19, 10/3, 10/24; and from 4–6pm on 1/30)
Students to be admitted: 16
Participating faculty/staff: David Valentine, CLA–Anthropology; Laurel Hirt, Center for Community Engaged Learning; David Hellstrom and Christine VeLure Roholt, Leadership Minor

Laboratory Research Sampler

Although labs and the people who work in them are highly creative and productive, the work that happens there can seem inaccessible and mysterious to undergraduates. In this pilot Honors Experience, research labs across the University will open up their doors to a small group of Honors students over the course of an academic year. With each lab tour, students will read the most recent publication from that lab and discuss it with the faculty and staff researchers. Students who participate in this experience will have the opportunity to tour labs in the STEM fields, the social sciences, and in departments not traditionally known to do lab work (think Apparel Design, Dendrochronology, and Anthropology). If you are wondering what research looks like and would like to get started yourself, this is an excellent way to become familiar with the University's opportunities.


  • Students will be responsible for attending at least six (6) of the lab tours offered.
  • Students will participate in pre-reading publications, lab tours, and reflection experiences throughout the semester, as well as a reflection/response paper at the end of the academic year.

Activity Period: September 2017 through April 2018
Meets: Students must attend an introductory meeting in Northrop 240 from 4:30–5:30pm on Tuesday, September 12. Lab dates and times will be set with participants' schedules in mind.
Students to be admitted: 12
Participating faculty/staff: Lucy Dunne, CDES–Apparel Design; Dan Griffin, CLA–Geography; Nicola Grissom, CLA–Psychology; Sarri Haqqi, Minnesota Historical Society; Tom Hoye, CSE–Chemistry; Paul Iaizzo, Medical School–Surgery; Forest Isbell, CBS–Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Kieran McNulty, CLA–Anthropology

ACARA Honors Change-Makers Program

Do you have an idea for how you can contribute to creating more sustainable, resilient communities? Interested in addressing a social or environmental problem on-campus, in the local community, or overseas? Regardless of your discipline or leadership experience, this program will provide the training, coaching, and resources to help you successfully develop and pilot your idea.

Applicants must apply to the program with a project idea and interdisciplinary team proposals will be prioritized. Those accepted are required to attend "Be the Change: an IonE Student Retreat" on Saturday, September 16 from 9am–4pm in Bruininks Hall, two of four fall workshops (Dates TBA) to help learn human-centered design tools and leadership skills, and a final event on January 26 from 1:30–4pm in which students will present their project for a panel of judges and other audience members. In addition, all program participants are expected to attend at least six 30-minute coaching sessions (offered three times a week) during fall semester to get support and feedback on the project. Students can apply for mini-grants to support basic project expenses in the fall, and students who are interested in continuing to work on their project after the project can compete in the Acara Challenge (March 2, 2018) to win an Acara Fellowship (and up to $5000).

Activity Period:September 16, 2017 through January 26, 2018
Meets: Saturday, September 16 9am–4pm, and Friday, January 26, 1:30–4pm
Students to be admitted: 40
Participating faculty/staff: Megan Voorhees, Acara Associate Director; Fred Rose Acara Director, and coaches from on and off-campus.

Caring for the River at Your Doorstep: The Many Faces of the Mississippi

Middlebrook Hall sits within Mississippi National River Recreation Area and Dakota homeland. The purpose of this experience is to give students multiple and varied opportunities to engage with the Mississippi River corridor, its people, history, and material life, so that they can supplement their chosen academic path with an urban river experience and also become better stewards of water wherever they live. Explore one of the planet's great rivers right outside the doors of Middlebrook Hall, participate in habitat restoration, and learn about the Mississippi through history, art, geology, and ecology. Lectures, field trips, readings, videos, and discussion during the cold-weather months will augment hands-on work on the river in warmer weather. In partnership with community organizations, this experience will be a truly interdisciplinary exploration of the natural and cultural resource that flows through campus.


  • The year's experience begins with a fall orientation and introduction to guided stewardship projects on the banks of the Mississippi
  • Monthly meetings and a final project will provide the structure for exploration of various facets of the Mississippi river, including learning about water levels and larger systems, seasonal changes, and independent student visits to the river to take a photo or document it somehow (photograph, drawing, written reflection, field notes/observations, etc.)
  • Particularly in the cold-weather months, students will be able to take advantage of a number of exploring and learning opportunities, some of which will be selected from a menu of options available to the broader public, and some of which will be created solely for members of this cohort. These may include: Mississippi festival at St. Anthony Park, Institute on the Environment water bar, a ranger-led activity at the Mississippi River National Park Visitor Center, Mill City Museum, Fort Snelling State Park Visitor Center, and rafting down the river with Wilderness Inquiry
  • Over the course of the experience, students will develop a project, either solo or in an interdisciplinary team, that is suitable for sharing with the broader University and river-corridor community at a final cohort meeting in the spring
  • See the rough schedule for more details.

Activity Period: September 2017 through April 2018
Meets: Healing Place Festival (September 9, 2 hours between 11am–3pm, within walking distance of campus); Intake and check-in meeting in Middlebrook, Thursday, September 14, 1–2:30pm; Outdoor orientation Thursday, September 21, 1–3pm outside Middlebrook; other meetings to be planned around participants' schedules, but likely on Thursday afternoons and Saturdays.
Students to be admitted: 15
Participating faculty/staff: Christine Baeumler, CLA–Art; Jay Bell, CFANS–Soil, Water, and Climate; Anna Bierbrauer, CDES–Landscape Architecture; Len Ferrington, CFANS–Entymology; Pat Nunnally, River Life; Mona Smith, Dakota media artist