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Skidmore College
Honors Forum

The Student-Led Honors Project

The Honors Forum holds that all of its members should use their talents to contribute to campus and/or community life. Your Student-Led Honors 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
  • the viewing and discussion of films
  • the study/discussion of current events (e.g., immigration, Syrian civil war, etc.)
  • a particular artist and/or gallery exhibition
  • a particularly noteworthy book or paper, or series of related papers in a scholarly journal
  • a faculty member’s research and writing

Proposing a Great Conversation Project:

  • Deadline: GC proposals must be submitted by Friday of the third full week of the semester during which the project will occur. 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 detailed project proposal that describes the project, outlines the readings, and includes the schedule of the discussions like one you would see in the syllabus for a course. The schedule should denote who will lead each discussion, what reading(s) will be discussed during each session, and what you expect to learn from each reading/discussion pertaining to the overriding theme of the project. Proposals are expected to go beyond a simple list of topics and readings to make clear what questions and debates will frame each discussion. A projected list of specific learning outcomes is also welcome. Proposals should be submitted on behalf of all the HF members who are seeking credit for their Student-Led Honors Project in the group (each HF member participating in the project does not need to submit a separate proposal). The proposal must be approved by the Honors Forum Council. The Council may ask for revisions before approving your proposal. The Council welcomes consultation as you prepare your proposal. To access theGreat Conversations proposal form click here.
  • Faculty Sponsor. You must identify a faculty sponsor who is willing to help you formulate your Great Conversation project and assist you in identifying the readings.  Be sure that your faculty sponsor has read your proposal and checked off on it before you submit it.  Your faculty sponsor will receive a copy of your application when you submit it.  The Honors Forum Council may consult with your faculty sponsor as they review the application.
  • Participants. Ideally, discussion groups will include 5-6 people.  Participation in the group is not limited to HF members, and indeed non-members are encouraged to participate.  A maximum of 5 HF members seeking credit for their Student-Led Honors Project may participate in the group.

Project Report

Each HF member who is seeking credit for their Student-Led Honors Project must submit a final report for the GC project.  Reports will consist of a discussion script for one of the meetings and a final reflection about the readings and discussions over the course of the semester. 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) and cc your faculty sponsor. Your report must include the following:

  • Project title, your name, and the name of your fellow participants
  • Critical Analysis: Review what you learned from the readings and discussions. Be sure to address how each of the readings and discussions informed the overriding theme of your project.  What further questions were raised about the topic that you would like to pursue? (1,200 words max)
  • Script for one of the discussion meetings that you led

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 list 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 requires a minimum of 5 hours of actual meeting time, we expect that students will spend additional time preparing for the meetings (reading time, preparation of discussion questions, etc.) in order to ensure that they are interesting and productive.
  • Group Selection. The ideal group size is 5-6 participants.  Your group should not exceed 8.  You are encouraged to seek participants from different majors who can enrich your discussions by providing alternative perspectives.
  • Academic Credit. Though you cannot receive academic credit you’re your GC project, it may relate to a course you have taken or are currently taking.

For examples of Great Conversation projects that have been completed previously, click here.

The MAKE A DIFFERENCE 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 Make a Difference (MD) 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 Make a Difference Project:

  • Deadline: MD proposals must be submitted by Friday of the third full week of the semester during which the project will occur.  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 in which you describe the project in detail and explain how it meets the criteria in the description above.  Proposals should be submitted on behalf of all the HF members who are seeking credit for their Student-Led Honors Project in the group (each HF member participating in the project does not need not to submit a separate proposal). The proposal should include a timeline of events that demonstrates how each credit-seeking HF member will commit at least 15 hours of effort to the project (excluding the time taken to write the proposal and final project report). The proposal should include specific information about the project schedule, collaborators, budget (if necessary), outside funding sources (if available), and so forth. It should also indicate how the project engages your academic knowledge and capabilities: What research will you conduct? What data or literature will you draw on? The proposal must be approved by the Honors Forum Council. The Council may ask for revisions before approving your proposal. The Council welcomes consultation as you prepare your proposal. To access the Make a Difference proposal form click here.
  • Faculty Sponsor. You must identify a faculty sponsor who is willing to help you formulate your Make a Difference project and assure that it is intellectually rigorous.  Be sure that your faculty sponsor has read your proposal and checked off on it before you submit it.  Your faculty sponsor will receive a copy of your application when you submit it.  The Honors Forum Council may consult with your faculty sponsor as they review the application.
  • Participants. Students may work as individuals or in groups to complete a project. Each HF member seeking credit for the Student-Led Honors Project should complete at least 15 hours of work on the project; e.g., 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.

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 semester in which the project was completed.  Email your final report to Lisa Bradshaw (lbradsha@skidmore.edu) and cc your faculty sponsor.  Your report must include the following:

  • Project title and name(s) of students seeking credit for the project.
  • Summary of Activities: Summarize the project including who participated in it and the 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 you might have done to make 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 MD project:

  • Community Involvement. Your project must benefit a group or community, inside 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.  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?
  • Ongoing volunteer projects may 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.
  • You can do your project when school is not in session. Completing an MD project over the summer or winter break is allowed, provided that you submit a proposal the semester before the break.  Students may also complete an MD project while they are abroad.
  • 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 you cannot receive academic credit for your MD project, 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 using this form.
  • Note: The Honors Council and Student Executive Committee are 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.

For examples of Make a Difference projects that have been completed previously,click here.