Honors Program

Serious Play

If you are looking for a community where you can develop a unique perspective through critical independent thinking...

  • A place where the exchange of ideas and intellectual insights extend beyond the classroom,
  • A place where fantastically individual, quirky, fun, and eclectic personalities can meet, discuss, and learn, and
  • A place where ideas and imagination are taken seriously,

...Alfred University's Honors Program may be just the place for you.

Our Mission

Alfred University's Honors Program aims to enrich your undergraduate education by providing seminars that give you the chance to explore ideas, topics, cultures, and obscurities outside your normal academics. Without conflicting with the courses required for your major or minor, our program allows you to breathe, have fun, and explore the new and unusual with others who are as excited as you are about enriching their collegiate experience.

What Students Say...

The Honors Program is wonderfully unpretentious. These are people who know not to take life too seriously, yet who take their studies seriously. What a great outlook. - Jay Weisberger

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In our honors seminars, students have explored chaos theory, bioethics, and popular culture. They have written children's books, studied Harry Potter, discussed Star Trek and The Sopranos, and learned how to make their own maple syrup. They have even prepared for the Zombie apocalypse!

Most of all, our program offers students the opportunity to grow and enhance their education with a unique twist that makes it both intriguing and challenging. That's why we say our Honors Program is "Serious Play" -- it's that something extra you get with an AU education.

Check out our 2023 Honors Program official newsletter: The Honorific!

DO NOT PASS GO AND DO NOT PLAY MONOPOLY: What we can learn through board games – Likin Simon Romero
In this class, we will see how to use board games as a pedagogical tool. Each class will be centered about a subject (history, economics, natural sciences, social justice, morality and ethics, among others). The students will play a game in class whose theme matches the corresponding subject. They will be asked to fill a short questionnaire about the board game that they played and its theme. As a final project, students will choose a topic and a board game, then develop supporting materials (such as brochures, reference cards, images, audio, questionnaires, etc.) that could be used in a classroom setting to teach the chosen topic. NOTE: This seminar will meet 6:20-8:10.

The Doctor in the Police Box – David DeGraff and Juliana Gray
The entire universe--all of time and all of space--where do you want to go? In this seminar we examine the 60-year history of Doctor Who. We’ll look at how the TARDIS works, both as a time machine and a spaceship; the companions over the years, and how they have changed over time; aliens and other opponents the Doctor has faced; as well as topics such as mythological influences and gender. Weekly assignments include watching an episode or two and some reading; we’ll also gather to watch the 60th anniversary special in November. Students will give a final presentation on an analytical or creative topic of their choice.

Film Photography – Thomas Logan
This seminar will explore the recent revitalization of film photography through social media trends and pop culture uses. Students will get a hands-on approach in all aspects of shooting film. From various stocks of black & white to color film, we’ll cover a variety of methods surrounding analogue photography. Students will also get hands-on time with the dark room for developing their own film and creating their photos. Cameras alongside materials and lab usage will be provided. Students of all backgrounds and levels of experience are welcome.

From The Clash to Kendrick: The Art of Protest Music – Robert Reginio
The English punk band The Clash put it this way: “Let fury have the hour/Anger can be power/If you know that you can use it.” In this seminar we will explore music that attempts to put anger to use. We will look at specific touchstone political crises for punk artists who felt compelled to create in the face of injustice, rage, and oppression. We will then trace the rise of hip-hop as informed by a strong tradition of protest culminating in hip-hop music of the Trump era. Ultimately, we will ask: what makes good political music? can political art be good art? what happens when revolutionary culture is co-opted, packaged, and sold? We will trace two lines in the development of protest music: that of punk and post-punk and that of hip-hop. The work for the course? We will create and DJ a radio show to be broadcast on WALF utilizing the new Media Lab exploring the music of protest from the 1970s to today. Punk and post-punk artists may include: The Clash, Gang of Four, Minor Threat, Patti Smith, and Fugazi. Hip-hop artists and albums we will listen to are: Public Enemy, NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, Killer Mike, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah albums, noname’s Room 33, and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Additions as suggested by the class are more than welcome!

The Food Lab – John D’Angelo
This class explores the science of cooking, flavor, and nutrition. Each of us will commit to record each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack) at least once each week for discussion in class. Discussion points include how it was prepared, how it tasted, and its nutritional and caloric content. When the meal is self-prepared, a detailed recipe will also be discussed. We will prepare at least one meal together. The chemical and physical changes that occur during cooking will be discussed. There will be one formal written assignment, a term paper on a randomly assigned international or regional food. No prior knowledge of chemistry is necessary.

Monsters from Folklore to Reality – Andy Eklund
In this course, we'll examine the influence of religion, culture, and science on monsters throughout history. We’ll look at how we respond to the presence of monsters, whether in the form of alpha predators or other creatures stemming from folklore or reality. Monster-related topics such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, epidemics, & invasive species will be analyzed. We'll also focus on the scariest monsters in today's society – HUMANS. Through group presentations, designing our own monsters, and a team trivia final, in addition to sharing journal entries, we'll discuss how racism, anti-immigration, and nuclear fears are expressed through monsters’ portrayal in literature and the media. We’ll talk about the psychology of fear, hopefully partaking in Halloween traditions ranging from pumpkin carving and haunted houses & possibly ghost tours.

The Science and History of Alcohol – Garret McGowan and Chris Romanchock
Medicinally, as a source of nutrients, in worship and religion, and as a social lubricant, alcohol (ethanol) has been used by people from the earliest times to present. It was likely by a fortuitous accident tens of thousands of years ago that it came into human culture, and while abused by a minority of drinkers, most people derive pleasure from its consumption. In this course, the history and science of ethanol will be examined. A combination of laboratory exercises and lectures will comprise this course, and may include but not be limited to “crafting a homebrew,” analysis of beer/wine/spirits, field trips to vineyards and invited speaker visits.