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Hicks Honors College

Honors First-Year Colloquium


About Colloquium

Honors First Year Colloquium (IDH 1923) is a required Honors class that is designed to focus on leadership experiences, academic skills, and critical thinking. Many of the assignments are demonstrations of these important skills, such as networking, engaging in group work, giving oral presentations, effective note taking and understanding other points of view. At the end of the semester, students will create and present posters detailing topics they have covered or things they learned in their Colloquium class at our annual First Year Showcase. To view past posters please visit the First Year Showcase website.

Colloquium is broken into three themes, each focusing on a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal:

Dr. Kaplan speaking with students

1. National Identity & Migration

Student sitting in honors class

2. Self & Society 

students sitting at table with guests in honors class

3. Model U.S. 

Important: All three themes have expected out-of-class time commitments and required service-project components. These time commitments are roughly equivalent across all three themes, so no one theme is "easier" than another.

National Identity & Migration

About NIM:

NIM is taught by Dr. Leslie Kaplan and is the largest of the three Colloquium sections, comprising of approximately 2/3 of all first-year Honors students. NIM explores the question of who we are as a nation, and how our immigration history and policies reflect and impact our identity.

This class will focus on Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. People everywhere should be free of fear from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives, regardless of their backgrounds. 

NIM's service projects are annual projects prearranged by Dr. Kaplan, so when students sign up for NIM, they will also choose a Breakout group/project as well. 

Student smiling and pointing during Refugee Simulation

Students participating in the Refugee Simulation


NIM is taught once a week on Tuesday evenings during the Fall semester, and offers students both the strongest Honors community experience of their university career through NIM's large lecture, followed by small breakouts, the most student-lead experience in the college. 

Lecture takes place in a theater on campus, and is a Honors community building experience where all 200 NIM students are able to come together to listen to the same presentation, either from Dr. Kaplan or from one of NIM's many guest speakers. In addition, because of its size, NIM is able to include a number of large-scale events during class time in place of regular lecture including a simulation activity and interactive presentations.

Breakout occurs after lecture is finished, and is where students "break out" into smaller groups of around 20 students for the second half of class to work on their breakout's service project. Breakout is lead by student facilitators, Hicks Honors upperclassmen who choose to return to NIM to help guide their first year counterparts through the group's service project. Although breakout is considered class time, its primary goal is to help build a sense of community among first year Honors students by having them work towards a common goal and encouraging them to share their experiences with one another. 

Soccer Breakout group playing with refugee children

NIM student taking a break from soccer 

NIM Lecture

NIM Lecture

NIM Breakout Groups:

  • Soccer-Coach soccer for and mentor local low income, immigrant, and refugee K-5 children. Must have Friday afternoons available.
  • Mentors-Mentor and tutor local low-income, immigrant, and refugee K-5 children. Must have some availability in afternoons.
  • Tutors-Teach English to local immigrant and refugee adults. Must have some availability in mornings, afternoons, or evenings.
  • Philanthropy-Plan and host the annual Honors Gala event, fundraise for a local refugee charity, and run a public relations campaign. Must have Tuesday afternoons available and attend the Honors Gala.
  • Events-Plan and host holiday parties for local low-income, immigrant, and refugee children. Must attend all events (Wednesday or Thursday afternoons after 2 PM).
  • Film-Create films and videos about NIM, Honors, and the local refugee community. No experience needed, training will be provided.
  • GIS-Work to create maps and mapping projects. No experience needed, training will be provided. Must be available Thursday or Friday 1-3 PM. 

Self & Society

Self and Society, comprised of two sections, is taught by Lt. General Richard Tryon and Dr. Suzanne Ehrlich. This course focuses on the concept of Community and Belonging: who you are, who you want to be, what you hope to get out of your college experience, and how you can have a positive impact on our greater society and world. 

S&S provides an overview of all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but has students choose 1 SDG to further examine. Students in Self & Society will fulfill their service project requirement by choosing a project as a class, and then deciding as a class how it will be completed. Because of it's smaller size, S&S is able to provide its students with the option to participate in small group discussions covering assigned readings on cultural legacy and opportunity. 

Self and Society makes up roughly 1/6 of all first-year Honors students in Colloquium. Both sections meet twice a week in regular classrooms and follow a more traditional class schedule.

Students in Self and Society writing on a white boardSelf and Society in-class activity

Model U.S.

Professor Will Pewitt teaches Model U.S. where students will have the opportunity to engage with governmental issues in a simulation game that spans the semester. They run for higher offices, pass legislation, and collaborate with peers to create a future reflective of their shared values and vision. Students do not need to be especially invested in politics to get a great deal out of the class; all students enrolled will gain skills in working independently and interdependently to achieve their aspirations in transferable ways. 

There are multiple options for the service project component of Model U.S., and students will be able to rank their preferences of these around the time of the Honors Retreat (early to mid August). Model U.S. primarily focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, particularly through the idea that creating just laws and upholding human rights depends on a a hands-on understanding of how our institutions operate.

Model U.S. makes up roughly 1/6 of all first year Colloquium students and meets twice a week during regular class hours.

Model U.S lecture

Model U.S. classroom participation