In addition to hundreds of Honors courses—Honors seminars, H-version courses, Departmental Honors courses, and Honors Option courses—University Honors develops signature seminars designed to take advantage of all that our nation’s capital has to offer.

University Honors prides itself in developing state-of-the-art 21st century educational opportunities that combine in-the-classroom learning with out-of-the-classroom real-world experiences in Washington, D.C. and around the globe.

The world is our learning lab. Here are a few recent examples.


Architecture, Power, and Public Policy

Jane C. Loeffler, Visiting Professor and winner of the State Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award Behind the scenes tours of the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Row.  Learn about the role our nation’s architecture plays in diplomacy through first-hand exploration and private tours of the Department of State’s Reception Room and various foreign embassies on … Read More

Global Warming Record

Energy & Climate Policy: Money, Influence and the Competing Strategies to Influence Power

HONR 238C This class will provide an overview of our current energy situation, immersing students in the various policy debates on what role the government—both federal and local—should play in incentivizing changes to our current energy situation, and pro- and con- discussions of the policy alternatives. Using the ongoing energy and climate policy debate as … Read More


Supreme Law: The Constitution, Morality, and the Courts

Professor Susan Dwyer, Department of Philosophy Visits to the U.S. Supreme Court and lobbying organizations will be arranged during the semester. Gun Control. Abortion. Pornography. Physician-Assisted Suicide. Gay Marriage. Different people care deeply about these issues, and they seem to care about them whether or not they themselves want to own a gun, have an … Read More


Languages of Europe

Prof. Robert De Keyser, School of Languages, Literature, and Cultures In our globalized world, understanding other cultures is increasingly important. This course will contribute to that goal by familiarizing students with the ethnic, linguistic, geographic, and historical complexity of Europe from a somewhat oblique angle: by dealing with the languages of Europe in their structural … Read More


London and the British Empire, 1500-1850

Professor Richard Bell, Department of History This study-abroad course will focus on the people, places, and policies that shaped the development of the British Empire, the single largest trans-cultural phenomenon in the world since 1500. During visits to political and cultural sites in London, Bristol, and Liverpool, you will examine how ideology, migration, technology and … Read More


Belize and the Challenges of Globalization

Dr. Dorith Grant-Wisdom, University Honors This winter-term study abroad course takes place in Belize in January. Travel through Belize while exploring key issues in globalization. This course outlines the tensions among global, economic, political and socio-cultural values, using Belize as a case study. Students will meet with a variety of people and will become aware … Read More


Faith and Values in Public Life

Paul Monteiro, Office of Public Engagement, The White House Visits to the White House, Capitol Hill, and lobbying organizations will be arranged during the semester. From the earliest days of our nation, the debate over the role and scope of faith in public life has marked the development of our democracy. From English settlers seeking a … Read More


National Security Dilemmas

Daniel Rosenthal, JD, Office of the Director of National Intelligence This seminar includes field trips to government institutions and opportunities to hear from local experts in the field of national security. This course will introduce students to the moral, legal, and policy dilemmas faced by national security professionals in defending the nation, including the use of … Read More


Hungry, Hot and Crowded: Global Challenges in the 21st Century

Kathleen Mogelgaard, Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center Globally, nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry each night. Agricultural systems and human communities face growing threats from rising temperatures and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. Meanwhile, the world’s population is projected to add another 2-3 billion people by mid-century, further straining political and ecological systems. This seminar will … Read More

Contemporary Indian Society

Contemporary Indian society presents a series of contrasts. For a first time visitor, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed as he or she is inundated by the kaleidoscopic images of modern India. These include the crowded bazaars of old Delhi penetrable only on foot or by bicycle rickshaws; automobiles that zoom through New Delhi … Read More

Appetite for Change: Politics and the Globalization of Food

The symbol of globalization is the McDonald’s restaurant—a brand that is familiar around the globe, selling the same product in vast quantities, stimulating transnational flows of agricultural products, people, technology and ideas that touch all corners of the globe. How has the expansion of trade and investment in food products created political resistance and garnered … Read More


Sustainability and Development: From the Individual to the Global

HONR 218J This course takes an integrative and multi-disciplinary approach to developing critical awareness and understanding of the contested meanings, ideas, and practices of sustainability and development at the individual, local, national and global levels. In exploring a variety of issues, the course will attempt to respond to some critical questions including: How have the … Read More

"BenFranklinDuplessis" by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

Immigration: Personal Stories and Policy Changes

HONR 218P In 1751 Benjamin Franklin ranted and raved against German immigrants: “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.” … Read More

Flooding from Hurricane Katrina

Surviving Natural Disasters: Learning from Hurricane Katrina, Big Earthquakes, and Other Natural Hazards

HONR 219T The United States as well as nations throughout the world increasingly face the threat of significant natural disasters that include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and fires. Hurricane Katrina clearly identified the massive consequences of a failure to adequately prepare for a natural disaster – over a thousand deaths and $100 billion in damages. … Read More

Wikipedia Commons

Warfare and Society in Greece, Rome, and Byzantium

HONR 228V This course examines the interactions between warfare and society in the ancient Mediterranean from early Greece as described in the Homeric poems to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West (late fifth century CE), with some additional examples from medieval Byzantium. There are two primary foci: (1) evolution in the strategies, … Read More

Wikipedia Commons

Gladiators and Caesars: The Archaeology of Roman Spectacle

HONR 238Z Roman buildings intended for mass entertainment – the amphitheater, bath, circus, stadium, theater, and so forth – constitute a distinct class of public architecture found ubiquitously across the ancient Roman Empire, from modern Britain to Syria. This course will explore these and related monuments to understand how and why spectacle entertainments were fundamental … Read More

Eastern State Penitentiary (Wikipedia Commons)

Incarceration Nation: American History Behind Bars

HONR 258F There are two million Americans behind bars. The United States holds more prisoners than any other country in the world, and government spending on prisons is rising much faster than spending on schools. How did it come to this? How did the land of the free become the land of the unfree? This … Read More

Photograph of Harlem street by Gordon Parks

The Harlem Renaissance: Art, Literature, Classic Blues

HONR 248T This course broadly looks at the Harlem Renaissance, the black cultural movement on the 1920s, as an essential component in the study of the culture and experience of African Americans in the United States. Students are introduced to the historical background of the Harlem Renaissance; the defining anthology of the movement, The New … Read More

Paris gargoyle

Exploring Key Issues of Globalization

HONR 269E This course aims to assist students in their efforts to understand the phenomenon called globalization, by taking a multi-disciplinary approach that employs alternative integrating themes. Central to the course is the view that globalization relates as much to a way of thinking as it does to a description of the dynamics of political, … Read More

Class visit to the White House

Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy toward Afghanistan

HONR 269T In this Global Classroom, Honors College students at UMD and students at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul will examine the history of Afghanistan, its political figures, and the empires that attempted to rule the country. Students will also learn about Afghanistan’s turbulent modern history, including the Soviet occupation, the Afghan … Read More

President Barack Obama at a NSC Meeting in the Situation Room. Participants include Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, DNI Dennis Blair, White House Counsel Greg Craig, CIA Director Leon Panetta, Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, NSC Advisor Gen. James "Jim" Jones, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel 3/16/09. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Exploring How Foreign Policy Is Developed

HONR 278G This seminar will allow students to gain a better understanding of the role played by the National Security Council (NSC) in formulating, coordinating and implementing foreign policy. The seminar will begin by exploring the history of the NSC, including the events leading up to its creation and the underlying law that established the … Read More

Globe with superimposed network, from

Understanding the Global Economic Environment

HONR 288N The national and international macroeconomic environment is of great importance. Moreover, the global economy is highly dynamic, as witnessed by key players such as the EU, Brazil, Russia, China, and India. This course is intended to provide students with the tools necessary to intelligently interpret the national and international economic environment, including the … Read More

Political buttons

Contemporary Social Issues

HONR 348J This course seeks to engage students in a thoughtful, in-depth examination of critical modern social issues. We will explore issues of national and international concern–as well as problems students face in modern universities. Chief among major campus issues are affirmative action and multiculturalism. This class will examine the origins, purpose, and nature of … Read More

Capitol Reef National Park

Big History: Earth, Life, and Sustainability

HONR 349G As environmental change vies to become the greatest challenge of the entire human history, communicating the gravity of the urgent need for action is hindered by the lack of a long-term perspective. This course starts with the Big Bang and the origin of the solar system to introduce the evolution of Earth, Life, … Read More

NSA seal with Snowden inset

European Images of America

Ever since Europeans laid eyes on what they came to call “America“ it has served as a space for them to project their desires (wealth, freedom, democracy, equality) and anxieties (savagery, violence, materialism). America and particularly the United States became a key significant other from which they could make sense of their own identity while … Read More

Roman Acqueduct

Engineering in Ancient Empires

The so-called Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus to the Colossus of Rhodes, are well known examples of the technical skills of ancient engineers. This course will examine these and a number of other ancient technical achievements from bridges and buildings to aqueducts and artillery, with a focus … Read More

Map showing immigration flows to the US before 1965

United States Immigration Issues

Issues of international migration and the integration of immigrants and refugees are among the most compelling and controversial issues of the twenty-first century. The purpose of this course is to give students an introduction to some important issues and complexities that characterize the U.S. immigration process and policies. It will also focus on proposals for … Read More

Professor Grimm meeting with students (Washington Post)

Leading and Investing in Social Change: Redefining and Experimenting with Philanthropy

Prof. Robert Grimm, University Honors Faculty Fellow and Director, Do Good Institute (Formerly HONR349I: The Art and Science of Philanthropy; students may not receive credit for both.) How would you create a better world with thousands of dollars? In this innovative course recently profiled by the Washington Post, you will learn the strategies of effective … Read More


Africa and the Global Criminal Economy

HONR 219W Although some academics, policymakers, and journalists argue that Africa is “falling off the world economic map”, some processes and activities associated with the global criminal economy forge strong economic links between parts of Africa and the rest of the world. Illegal economic activity, and the global networks that allow it to flourish, can … Read More


Contemporary American Culture as Seen from Abroad: A Transatlantic Seminar

See your culture through the eyes of European peers! University of Maryland students will engage with students from the University of Tübingen in Germany via video conferences, social media, and email, exchanging ideas about contemporary American culture and issues of global relevance. We will focus on three areas: immigration and cultural diversity; politics and the … Read More


New York City and the American Dream

This course examines New York City as a central setting and trope in literary texts concerned with the American Dream. As the setting for dramatic stories of immigrant success and failure, as a site replete with consumer and cultural fantasies, the city of these texts both disseminates and critiques the belief in that dream. Our … Read More


National Security Dilemmas

This seminar includes field trips to government institutions and opportunities to hear from local experts in the field of national security. This course will introduce students to the moral, legal, and policy dilemmas faced by national security professionals in defending the nation, including the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists, the use of … Read More


Understanding the Global Economic Environment

The national and international macroeconomic environment is of great importance. Moreover, the global economy is highly dynamic, as witnessed by key players such as the EU, Brazil, Russia, China, and India. This course is intended to provide students with the tools necessary to intelligently interpret the national and international economic environment, including the impact of … Read More


The Problem of Prejudice: Overcoming Impediments to Global Peace and Justice

“Before we can study the central issues of life today, we must destroy the prejudices and fallacies born of previous centuries.”  -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy prejudice (n.)  Medieval Latin prejudicium “injustice,” from Latin praeiudicium “prior judgment,” from prae- “before” + iudicium “judgment,” from iudex (genitive iudicis) “a judge”. Meaning “injury, physical harm” is mid-14c., as is legal sense “detriment or damage caused by the violation of a … Read More