Archive by Author

Message From the Director: New Senior Capstone

21 Mar

Dear University Honors Program Students,

A month or so ago I met with a small group of UHP students for one of our semi-regular “lunch with the director” gatherings. Those students were excited when I told them about a new curricular direction for the program, and I hope you all are too. Over the past year the UHP faculty, staff, and I have decided to revamp the capstone course designed for seniors. While we recognize the value of the senior thesis or project as one key component of a capstone experience, we felt for a variety of reasons – some philosophical, some logistical — that our capstone course could and should take a new form and direction.

The new capstone course will continue the ideal of bringing UHP students together during their senior year to reflect on what they learned during their four years at GWU and what direction their future lives and careers might take. Rather than develop a single course on a single, if broad, theme, we will now offer a series of very short courses – month long mini-seminars. You need only register for one such “mini seminar” during your senior year. These mini-seminars will tackle a big theme – an “enduring question” – from whatever disciplinary perspective a faculty member might represent, or from a variety of perspectives that interest seminar participants. One goal is for you to be able to study again with a faculty member who taught you earlier in the program. Another goal is for you to have a more relaxed academic experience –to engage in intellectual discussion without the “carrot or the stick” of grading. The new capstone course will not have any written requirements or tests associated with it. While it will carry one credit, the only expectation will be that you read material assigned and come prepared for a lively, but informal, conversation with each other and with the faculty member. We are choosing themes that are broad enough to interest all of us. This fall the theme will be love; next spring it will be time. This fall, Professors Winstead, Ralkowski, and myself will offer mini-seminars; next spring, Professors Creppell and Christov will offer mini-seminars, and Professors Kung and Aviv will team-teach one. Each will meet only 4 times over the course of a month.

When registration for Fall 2013 courses appear, you will see descriptions for this fall’s offerings, and next fall the descriptions will be available for the spring offerings. We hope you find the new format enticing and that you will look forward to this component of the senior capstone experience with as much enthusiasm as we feel about it. We have a ways to go in developing our ideas between now and next fall, but with Registration Season upon us, we wanted to let you know right away of the coming change.

-Maria Frawley, Director, University Honors Program

Class of 2015: Welcome! [Director’s Message]

24 Aug
Maria Frawley

Maria Frawley, Director of the University Honors Program

Dear University Honors Program Class of 2015 Students,

I write both to welcome you to George Washington University and to the University Honors Program. All of us in the Honors Program are eager to begin getting to know you, both in and beyond the classroom.  To that end, I hope that you’ll bring your best game to each and every class you take. You’ll represent the Honors Program in all you do. Our faculty value academic challenge and want not only to inspire you, but also to be inspired themselves by you! Stay engaged, ask hard questions, and know that your experience will be rewarding. Over the course of this semester you’ll learn about opportunities to get involved in our program beyond the classroom. I hope not only that you’ll take advantage of many of theses opportunities but that you’ll bring to us your own ideas for ways the Honors Program can best serve you. Best wishes for a smooth transition to life in DC (yesterday’s earthquake notwithstanding!).

All the very best,

Maria Frawley

Director, University Honors Program

Undergraduate Research Award for UHP Students

28 Oct

I’m writing to share wonderful news about a new program designed to promote research opportunities for University Honors Program students. Thanks to a very generous endowment from GWU professors Carol and Lee Sigelman, the honors program is the recipient of funding that will be allocated to UHP students through a program designated “The UHP/SURE Awards” (SURE standing for Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement). For this first cycle of support, funds will be available to support research activities conducted during the spring, summer, and/or fall semesters of 2011. Students can apply for grants in support of their research up to the amount of $500.

The attached announcement explains in more detail the intention and purpose of the awards, and I have also attached the proposal form to be used if you would like to apply for an award. In the meantime, please join me in thanking Professor Carol Sigelman for the generosity that she and her late husband, Professor Lee Sigelman, have shown in dedicating these funds to support research opportunities for University Honors Program students. We truly appreciate it!

-Maria Frawley

UHP SURE Application 2011

UHP Sure Award announcement

Laptops in the Classroom, continued

27 Sep

Hi, everyone. I’d love to know what fellow UHPers think about this Boston Globe piece on laptops in the classroom. I confess that found myself entirely in sync with the author, Carlo Rotella, who writes:

“Your money buys you the opportunity to pay attention to the other people on campus and to have them pay attention to you — close, sustained, active, fully engaged attention, undistracted by beeps, chimes, tweets, klaxons, ring tones, ads, explosions, continuous news feeds, or other mind-jamming noise. You qualify for admission, you pay your money, and you get four years — maybe the last four years you’ll ever get — to really attend to the ideas of other human beings, thousands of years’ worth of them, including the authors of the texts on the syllabus and the people in the room with you.”

Check out the piece in its entirety and let us know what you think:

Maria Frawley


29 Aug

Welcome to our freshman class, and welcome back to our sophmore, junior, and senior classes! It was entirely too quiet in the Honors Building this summer; we’re eagerly awaiting the return to life that the new academic year brings.

I attended the Convocation ceremonies today and don’t want to repeat the sound advice offered in today’s speeches. Instead, I thought I’d share two memories of the day that I’ve thought of since returning home. One of the highlights of the day for me happened when I was driving in. Near the Smith Center a few students were tossing a football across the road; a horde of students stood in front of one townhouse in what appeared to be a giant kiddie pool, laughing and gabbing. Still larger hordes of students — identifiable by the color of their t-shirts — yelled and chanted as they marched to the Smith Center. Faculty in their regalia darted between the chaos, looking for a way in. The campus was alive; a spirit of adventure could be felt. Life might appear calmer tomorrow when classes begin, but I hope that you take that spirit of adventure into the classroom with you. It doesn’t just belong outdoors!

The second highlight of the day occurred when I was lining up with other faculty to process in for Convocation. I had the good fortune to be standing next to Professor Peter Caws, a University Professor of Philosophy who teaches for the Honors Program, and was reminded that among his many scholarly articles and books, he once wrote about “the culture of curiosity.” The phrase immediately resonated for me, as it captures precisely what I hope the Honors Program will do for all of you — take your curiosity and lead you somewhere new; build a “culture of curiosity” for all of us.

Perhaps the phrase resonates also because one of my favorite lines in Lewis Carroll’s wonderful tale Alice in Wonderland is “curious and curiouser” — not perfect grammar, but it captures the spirit that leads Alice through all of her transformative experiences. I hope the semester ahead is transformative for you, and that your curiosity takes you somewhere you did not expect to go. With all the best wishes, Maria Frawley