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Skidmore College
Honors Forum

The Service Requirement

The Honors Forum holds that all of its members should use their talents to contribute to campus and/or community life. A Service Project will give you the opportunity to develop a creative and intellectually substantive endeavor outside of the classroom or as an extension of a classroom experience. The Honors Forum allows you to choose one of two paths for completing this requirement.

The Great Conversation Path

Skidmore College is an institution dedicated to promoting the life of the mind both inside and outside of the classroom. Honors Forum students have insatiable and diverse intellectual appetites and are dedicated to fostering a vibrant intellectual campus life. Honors Forum seeks to harness this energy to enable its members to contribute to the broader Skidmore community. Students choosing the Great Conversation (GC) path must design and implement a means of extending their intellectual conversations in a vigorous and serious way.

GC projects are reading and discussion groups which meet for a minimum of five (5) one hour sessions during the course of one semester. Examples include:

  • groups organized around readings of primarily intradepartmental or interdepartmental interests
  • groups organized around the watching and discussion of films
  • groups organized around the study/discussion of current events (e.g., immigration, Syrian civil war, etc.)
  • groups organized around a particular artist and gallery exhibition
  • groups organized around a particularly noteworthy paper in a scientific journal
  • groups organized around a faculty member’s research and writing

Requirements for completing your Great Conversation Project:

  • Deadline: GC proposals must be submitted by the third Friday of the semester during which the project will occur. The Council aspires to respond within one week of submission. Projects may be completed during any semester except the spring semester of a student’s senior year.
  • Proposal: Submit a project proposal which outlines the readings and the schedule of the discussions (in other words, something like a syllabus). Proposals are submitted on behalf of all the HF members participating in the group (that is, each HF member need not submit a separate proposal). The Honors Council must approve for your project to count toward the Service Requirement. The Council may ask for revisions before approving your proposal. The Council welcomes consultation as you prepare your proposal. Proposals must be submitted to Lisa Bradshaw (lbradsha@skidmore.edu).
  • Faculty Sponsor. You must designate a faculty sponsor who can assist you in identifying the readings.  
  • Participants. Group membership must include a minimum of 3 HF members and a maximum of 5. Non HF members may and are encouraged to participate as well.

Project Report

There are two aspects to the final report for GC projects. One is a discussion script for one of the meetings. Each HF member who is participating must lead at least one discussion during the course of the semester. Second, each member must submit a final reflection about the readings and discussions over the course of the semester (1,200 words max). Reports must be submitted by the last day of classes at end of the semester during which the group met.  Email your final report to Lisa Bradshaw (lbradsha@skidmore.edu). Your report must include the following:

  • Project Title and Your Name(s)
  • Critical Analysis: Review what you learned from the readings and discussions. What further questions were raised about the topic that you would like to pursue?

Things to consider when designing your Great Conversation project:

  • Reading selection:  Is there a classic text which you have always wanted to read but you have not found on any syllabus? Is there a theme to which many authors have addressed themselves that appeals to students across disciplines? Is there a noteworthy journal article which is getting lots of scholarly attention? Answering these or similar questions will assist you in selecting a substantive reading that will keep you interested and motivated over the course of your project. Don’t hesitate to ask the Honors Forum Council or other faculty members for advice.
  • Hours. Although the project only requires a minimum of 5 hours of actual meeting time, we hope and suspect that students will go beyond this. Also note that those meetings, in order to be interesting and productive, assume additional hours of preparation (reading time, preparation of discussion questions, etc.)
  • Group Selection. The project requires a core of 3-5 HF members but you should try to expand your group. The maximum number of a vibrant reading group is roughly 8-10.
  • Academic Credit. Though your project cannot receive academic credit, it may relate to a course.

The Civic Life Path

Skidmore College has always been an institution that emphasizes and cultivates an ethic of service. Students choosing this path must design and implement a community service project. Your Civic Life (CL) project should be both process- and product- oriented, as well as intellectually rigorous; it will require initiative, planning, organization, leadership, and personal reflection. The project should stretch you creatively and intellectually beyond the scope of a normal academic or extracurricular undertaking.

Requirements for completing your Civic Life Project:

  • Deadline: CL proposals must be submitted by October 15 for projects which begin during the fall semester and by February 15 for projects which begin during the spring semester. The Council aspires to respond within two weeks of submission. Projects may be completed during any semester except the spring semester of a student’s senior year.
  • Proposal: Submit a project proposal for approximately 15 hours of effort (excluding the time taken to write the proposal and final project report). The Honors Council must approve for your project to count toward the Service Requirement. The Council may ask for revisions before approving your proposal. The Council welcomes consultation as you prepare your proposal. The Council will not approve proposals for projects that have already been completed. Project application form, click here.
  • Faculty Sponsor. Because we are looking for intellectually rigorous projects, we require you to have a trusted faculty member evaluate your proposal before you submit it to the Committee. You and your faculty member can review the project criteria found here. Click here for the faculty sponsorship form.
  • Participants. Students may work as individuals or in groups to complete a project. Each member should complete at least 15 hours of work on the project; for a three-person group, a total of 45 hours is expected. If you choose to work in a group, you may submit one proposal and one final report. Both should detail the specific contributions and time given to the project by each member. Credit may not be awarded to each participant if his or her role is not articulated.
  • Extensions. In extenuating circumstances, the Honors Council will grant extensions on deadlines for projects.  Study abroad is not grounds for an extension. If you are planning on going abroad and would like to complete a project when you return, you must submit a proposal before you leave. To petition for an extension, email the Chair of the Council. The Honors Council is here to help brainstorm possible projects, finalize ideas, point out potential problems, and help students find others for group projects.  Another great resource is Michelle Hubbs, Director of Community Service. Her office on the 2nd floor of Case Center.
  • Can ongoing volunteer projects count toward the requirement? There are many wonderful community programs already in place (Saratoga Reads! for instance). It is acceptable to work with a previously established program or organization only if you take on a leadership role and clearly specify in your proposal how your project moves you beyond what you are already accomplishing in this ongoing community project.
  • Can I do my project when school is not in session? Completing a citizenship project over the summer or winter break is allowed, provided that you submit a proposal the semester before the break.

Project Report

The report is a summary and analysis of your project. Groups that work together can submit one report. Reports must be submitted by the last day of classes at end of the academic year in which the project was completed.  Email your final report to Lisa Bradshaw (lbradsha@skidmore.edu). Your report must include the following:

  • Project Title and Your Name(s)
  • Summary of Activities: Summarize the project including who participated and timeline of events. If relevant, include products of your project: photos, displays, etc. We are always looking for good pictures to post on this website.
  • Critical Analysis: Review what you learned about the issue you were addressing. Explain how well your project met a community need. Evaluate the success of the project and what might you have made it even more effective.
  • Final Reflection: For group reports, it is essential that each individual write their own reflection in this space. What did you personally gain from undertaking this project? Evaluate the effort you put into the project. Will you continue to work on this project or on this topic?

Things to consider when designing your CL project:

  • Community Involvement. Your project must benefit a group or community, insider or outside Skidmore College. Any events or services must be not-for-profit. What or whom does your project benefit? Why is this an important addition to the community in which you plan to work?
  • Intellectual Rigor. Your project should challenge you to reflect, think critically, and demonstrate initiative; you will also want to challenge or inspire the intended audience. Is the community need defined with reference to academic scholarship? Are you demonstrating an academic understanding of the issue? Do you provide any research evidence that supports this kind of project? Is there evidence that this approach will be effective?
  • Hours. Your project should involve at least 15 hours of work, including planning, preparation, and execution. The time to write your proposal and project report is not included in the 15 hours.
  • Clubs and Organizations. You may use a student club or organization as a platform from which to launch your project, but you must extend your endeavors beyond the normal duties of a member. Simply acting as a club officer or an SGA senator, for example, will not suffice.
  • Group Projects. Consider a project that involves working with one or more fellow HF members. Such projects often prove to be the most fun and fruitful. The Honors Council can help you find like-minded students, if you wish.
  • Academic Credit. Though your project cannot receive academic credit, it may relate to a course. In fact, expanding upon coursework may help you get the most out of the experience.
  • Financial Support. Should your project require a budget, you can apply to the Dean of Studies for Student Opportunity Funds. The Honors Forum has limited funds available to students completing Service Requirements, but funding is not automatic; you can apply for funding when you submit your proposal (with this form).

Civic Life Project Examples (click here)