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. Brief info on current and upcoming Honors NEXUS Experiences is displayed below. Click each experience for complete details.

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

The application period for NEXUS Experiences beginning during the Spring 2019 semester is now closed.


Anna Karenina

The University Honors Program is proud to present a special year-long Honors Experience centering on Anna Karenina. This interdisciplinary opportunity builds on the successful Dracula and Romeo and Juliet experiences completed in previous years. Students will work closely with a group of faculty members from various arts and humanities disciplines to explore Anna Karenina 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 the Joffrey Ballet's performance of a new story ballet with live orchestra. All experience materials (books, dance/film tickets, etc.) are provided by UHP, free of charge.

Activity Period: Spring 2019 semester

Meets: Thursdays, 4:30–6:30pm

Applied Reality: What Impact Will You Have?

Have you taken the Honors Seminar "Reality 101" or had other experiences that have given you insight into the grand challenges of humanity and our planet? This NEXUS experience will bring together students to deepen their knowledge of the grand challenges and find ways to assure a more sustainable future. This experience will be co-created with participating students based on interests and needs, and facilitators will connect students to mentors, resources, and people in support of action that individuals and/or the group choose to take. Much of the experience will be devoted to discussion and processing of personal, emotional reactions to environmental realities, and then working to channel this energy into identifying a supported, meaningful project, be it advocacy, habitat restoration, research, education, or something else.

Activity Period: January 2019–April 2019

Meets: Fridays 12–1:30pm in Middlebrook Hall (bring your lunch)

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.

Activity Period: Spring 2019 semester

Meets: Wednesdays from 12:15–1:45pm in or near Middlebrook Hall.

Contract Bridge

Contract Bridge is a trick-taking game played with a 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: Spring 2019 semester

Meets: Mondays from 5–7pm (with an optional 7–8pm free play hour) in the Middlebrook Hall Terrace Room (bring your dinner!) from January 28–May 6 (except over spring break).

Developing Yourself Through Competitive Scholarships

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).

Activity Period: January 2019–April 2019

Meets: From 3–4pm every other Friday

Immigration History Research Center and Oral Histories

What is your family's history? Where did your ancestors come from? How is history reflected in the experiences of your parents and grandparents? Join other honors students to help answer these questions and to learn how history makes its marks on all of our family's stories. This NEXUS experience will give you an opportunity to research the origins of your family in the United States through archival records. You will combine research in libraries, archives, and museums with conversations with your own family or members of your community. Your final project will be an oral history with a family member or community member, which you can produce into a short segment suitable for radio or sharing online.

Activity Period: Spring–Summer 2019

Meets: Introductory meeting on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019; Check-in and final showcase to be scheduled once participants are finalized

Philosophy, Conceptual Art, and LEGOs

The LEGO experience will comprise about a dozen one-to-two-hour meetings of the participating faculty with sixteen Honors students. Readings, video viewings, presentations, guest lectures, site visits, and hands-on sessions will serve as catalysts for discussion in the hopes of spurring future research and community connections.

Activity Period: Spring 2019 semester

Meets: Select Mondays in Middlebrook Hall from 12:15–1:45pm

Tabletop Games: Don't Settle for Catan!

From a game of mahjong in the park to a 5-hour wargame in a residence hall den, tabletop gaming has provided a lifelong hobby for people all across the globe. This NEXUS experience will explore why games are so endlessly fascinating, from art and design, to mathematical principles, and interpersonal motivation and behavior. We will meet once a week to learn from faculty about an aspect of games that intersects with their expertise. Then, in small groups, we will spend time learning different types of games, including: cooperative, asymmetrical, team-based, solitary, and non-competitive. At the end of the semester, in addition to new knowledge about the theory and design of gaming, students will have been introduced to a variety of specific games and a deeper understanding of what makes them so compelling.

Activity Period: January 2019–April 2019

Meets: Wednesdays from 3:30–5:30pm

Cultural Experience Portfolio

UHP has designed this experience specifically to help students collect a set of memories and reflections inspired by cultural experiences. Over the course of the experience, participating students will attend eight cultural events of their choosing. In addition, they will hear from at least four 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. 

Activity Period: Begins Fall 2018, open until completion.

Meets: Students must attend a 60-minute intake meeting on either Tuesday, September 11 from 4–5pm or Tuesday, September 18 from 4–5pm in Northrop 240. Faculty lectures will generally be offered on Tuesdays at 4pm. Students must attend at least four of these 30-to-45-minute lectures.

Honorary Degrees: Strengthening Tradition and Advocacy in Higher Education

This NEXUS experience will immerse students in one of the traditions whose inner workings are rarely accessible to undergraduates—the awarding of honorary degrees. Honorary degrees are bestowed upon notable people for their contributions to society through their work in a field. In this instance, students will be working with faculty in CEHD to identify and advance a candidate for an honorary degree. Curious students will have the opportunity to learn how to identify and research a slate of potential candidates, write and present a nomination, and advocate for their candidate to the CEHD Senior Management Team.

Activity Period: Fall 2018 semester, specific meeting times to be scheduled around participants' calendars

Meets: There will be 4–6 common meetings to develop skills for research and presentation, some check-ins with Dr. Madyun, and a presentation to the CEHD Senior Management Team. Specific dates TBD

Honors Lecture Series — 1968/69: 50 Years of Social Justice in the USA

During the 2018–19 school year, UHP will present its third lecture series, 1968/69: 50 Years of Social Justice in the USA. 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 6 speakers to campus. All lectures will be held in Northrop's Best Buy Theater unless otherwise noted.

Activity Period: September 13, 2018 through April 18, 2019

Meets: Lectures will be held on Thursdays from 3:30–4:30pm; dinners are from 5–6:30pm; Discussions held 6:30–7:30pm. Specific dates TBD

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 Honors NEXUS 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.

Activity Period: Fall 2018 semester

Meets: Students must attend an introductory meeting in Northrop 240 from 4–5pm on Wednesday, September 12. Lab visits will be on Wednesdays from 4–5pm

The New York Times Experience

What can you can learn by reading the newspaper every day and discussing it with a diverse group of thoughtful people? How do different newspapers handle the same stories? Find out over Winter Break! Students and faculty members will meet each day for one week, read the daily New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Minneapolis Star-Tribune 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)

Activity Period: January 14–20, 2019

Meets: 9am–4pm daily, January 14–20, 2019 in Nolte Lounge

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.

Activity Period: September 2018–January 2019

Meets: Students must be able to attend the following three Tuesdays from 4–5pm: 9/25, 10/2, 10/30; and from from 4–6pm on 2/5