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. The following Honors NEXUS Experiences are not required for graduation with Latin Honors, but they may be used to fulfill non-course experience requirements. These experiences take a variety of forms, treat a diverse array of subjects, and occur over different spans of time.

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 Fall 2019 semester and winter break is now closed. Applications are currently under review and decisions will be sent shortly.

The application period for NEXUS Experiences beginning during the Spring 2020 semester will occur during the Fall 2019 semester. Watch your University of Minnesota email account for updates!


Autumn Beauty on the Mississippi: Understanding and Caring for the River at Your Doorstep

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 grounding in experiencing an urban river and also become better stewards of water wherever they live. Explore one of the planet’s great rivers right outside the door of the Honors dorm, participating in habitat restoration, and learning 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: Fall 2019 semester

Meets: Wednesdays from 12:30–2pm in Northrop.


CANCELLED: Honorary Degrees: Strengthening Tradition and Advocacy in Higher Education

Due to the departure of Associate Dean Na'im Madyun, we will not be able to offer the Honorary Degrees NEXUS Experience this year.

Activity Period:


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 2019, open until completion.

Meets: Students must attend a 60-minute intake meeting on September 10 from 4-5pm in Northrop 240. Faculty lectures will generally be offered on Tuesdays at 4 PM. Students must attend at least four of these 60-minute lectures.


Explore the Treasures of the Archives

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.

Activity Period: Fall 2019 - Spring 2020

Meets: Introductory meeting check-in and final showcase to be scheduled around student availability once participants have been determined


Feeding the Mind Through Print Media

What can you 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 11–17, 2020

Meets: 9am–4pm daily, January 11–17, 2020 in Nolte Lounge


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 2019 semester

Meets: Students must attend an introductory meeting in Northrop 240 Wednesday, September 11 from 4–5pm. Lab visits will be on Wednesdays 4–5pm.


Spotlight Lecture Series: Perspectives on Environmental Justice

The University of Minnesota Spotlight Series (formerly known as both the Honors Lecture Series and Northrop Lecture series) is a collaborative partnership between Northrop, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University Honors Program to present lectures, panel discussions, exhibits, and other events throughout the academic year around a topic of timely interest. The 2019-20 series focuses on Environmental Justice and features perspectives from a variety of voices in the field, including academics and practitioners from multiple disciplines. Campus leaders, artists, policymakers, and funders will explore several critical aspects surrounding the intersection of the environment and equity.

Participants in this NEXUS Experience will attend the lectures, discuss them in small groups with a diverse mix of faculty, and write a final synthesis paper. All lectures are held from 3:30-5pm on Thursdays in Northrop’s Best Buy Theater. They are free and open to the public. View the full list of events by clicking the title of this NEXUS Experience above.

Activity Period: September 2019 through April 2020

Meets: The following Thursdays from 3:30-5pm for lecture and Q&A, 5-6pm for discussion, and 6:15–8pm dinner: September 19, October 10, November 7, February 13, March 19, and April 9.


The Great Gatsby

This interdisciplinary opportunity builds on the successful Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, and Anna Karenina experiences completed in previous years. Students will work closely with a group of faculty members from various arts and humanities disciplines to explore Gatsby and its many translations into film, dance, opera, television, literature, and the visual arts.

Activity Period: Fall 2019

Meets: Mondays, 4:30–6:30pm during the fall 2019 semester.


Transformative Conversations

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 2019–January 2020

Meets: Students must be able to attend the following four Tuesdays from 4-5pm: September 24, October 1, October 29, and February 4 (longer final meeting runs from 4–6pm


Cities & Urban Communities: Data, Organizing, and Equity

This NEXUS experience will introduce students to concepts in urban affairs and public policy, looking at current debates and struggles across the metro through lenses of social justice, data analysis, and community organizing. We will be working with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), a center within the University of Minnesota’s Office for Public Engagement. 

Activity Period: Spring 2020 semester

Meets: TBD

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 2020

Meets: TBD

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 2020–April 2020

Meets: From 3–4pm every other Friday

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 2020

Meets: Mondays from 1–2:30pm

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 2020–April 2020

Meets: TBD