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Skidmore College
Art History

Art History Honors


honors process, criteria, and project guidelines

Art historical scholarship engages with pressing societal issues regarding belief systems, identities, communities, institutions, and practices of oppression and resistance. Art history also teaches visual literacy and critical thinking skills that are important for navigating our image-based world. 

The Art History department’s distinctive approach to Honors is designed to affirm these commitments. By taking the 1-credit course AH 373 in the fall of senior year and creating public-facing projects, Honors candidates extend their learning beyond the classroom and beyond requirements for the major. Their public-facing projects:

  • connect with broader audiences within and/or outside the Skidmore community;
  • make scholarly research accessible and inclusive;
  • affirm the social relevance of art history;
  • emphasize how visual and material cultures shape lives;
  • contribute to the production of reliable sources of public information.

Honors candidates are expected to demonstrate motivation, initiative, the ability to give and receive constructive criticism, the ability to work independently, and a sense of civic responsibility. This means not only doing excellent work in AH 373, but also taking full responsibility for executing high-quality projects outside the framework of a credit-bearing course.  

AH 373 supports project development during the fall semester. January graduates who wish to be considered for Honors must execute their projects before the end of the fall semester. May graduates who wish to be considered for Honors may execute their projects at any time during the fall or spring semester.  

To submit a project for evaluation by the Art History faculty, please complete this formThe form should be submitted as promptly as possible and no later than April 15. If your project involves a live event or will be accessible for a limited period of time, you are expected to submit the form at least two weeks in advance. 

Skidmore College criteria for Departmental Honors, from the Catalog

Departmental Honors will be awarded to any student who graduates from Skidmore after no fewer than three semesters and who meets the following conditions: unless otherwise specified by the department or program, a GPA of 3.500 or higher for all work in the major; the completion of any other academic criteria established by the department and described in the Catalog; a GPA of 3.000 or higher based on all work taken at Skidmore; a favorable recommendation by the department; and approval by the faculty upon recommendation by the Committee on Academic Standing.

Double majors must meet the above criteria for each of the majors. (The student may earn Departmental Honors in one, both, or neither major.)  These criteria also apply to interdepartmental and to self-determined majors. The 3.500 or higher GPA applies to the interdepartmental course work considered as a whole.

Project Guidelines
A. You choose your own topic, as long as you are able to associate your topic with the intent motivating Honors in the AH major: to design a public facing project that enhances engagement with visual culture within the Skidmore community or beyond. You can take any approach; the main requirements are that your treatment of the topic be compelling: that is to say presented in a way that demonstrates care, thoughtfulness, innovation and is engaging to experience.
B. You can present it any way you please. There are no formal requirements on presentation, other than it must be public facing. If you want to write in the first person, write in the first person. Use slang or don’t. If you prefer to present the whole thing as a video, present it as a video. In other words, you can use whatever style of writing, presentation, or media you want. What is important is that the format and presentation you do use helps rather than hinders your project. Perhaps most importantly, you must use media thoughtfully.
C.Your project will be assessed on how compelling and effective it is. Since your project can be about anything and there are no restrictions on format and presentation as long as there’s a public facing component, how will it be assessed? The main criteria focuses on how compelling and effective your work is.
A project is compelling when it shows some combination of the following:
- it is as interesting and/or relevant as its topic and approach allows
- it is as conscientious as its topic and approach allows (it doesn’t leave the audience thinking that important points are being skipped over or ignored)
- any questions, evidence, conclusions, or arguments are presented and with honesty and integrity
In terms of presentation, an effective project shows some combination of these attributes:
- it is readable/watchable/listenable (i.e. the production values are appropriately high and the audience is not distracted by avoidable lapses in presentation)
- it is appropriate (i.e. it uses a format and medium that suits its topic and approach)
- it is presented in a way that leads the audience to trust the author and their arguments, examples, and conclusions
D.Independence, Self-Sufficiency, Professionalism
To be considered for Honors, you must demonstrate independence, self-sufficiency, and professionalism. You will be responsible for developing and designing your project (with structured opportunities for feedback this fall) and for executing and completing the project completely on your own by the spring.
E. It is important that an honors project is distinct from other projects you have or are working on. Work for which students are being evaluated and receiving credit and/or compensation in another class, internship, etc. should not duplicate any of the work that is part of your honors project. Your honors project can develop past or ongoing projects, credit-bearing or not. However, the past and/or current work needs to be distinctively transformed into a public-facing project that fulfills all the requirements outlined above.