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Honors Semesters and Faculty Institutes

2016 Projects

For information on continuing projects (CAT, Semesters, Institutes) and for these Faculty Institutes, please contact Sara Quay at

Rotterdam HeaderRotterdam: A Modern Phoenix
July 11-17, 2016 • Rotterdam, Netherlands


Until May 14th 1940, the city of Rotterdam was like any other Dutch city, containing an old medieval center, functional waterways, and vast living areas for the working class. In May, 1940, a World War II bombing destroyed the heart of the city. What remained seemed to be a city without a heart, but also a city filled with potential that has been realized via streets which function as communities, small villages that have persisted over time, and a harbor that has expanded across oceans. Using City-as-Text pedagogy, the Institute will explore how creativity in this urban environment has marked Rotterdam as a vibrant, progressive city even as it struggles to meet the challenges of educating and serving the people from approximately 170 nationalities that live in its borders.

Grand Canyon Semester Image Small 2Grand Canyon Honors Semester
August 25-December 14
A life-changing learning experience in the high mountains of northern Arizona and the deep canyon country of the Colorado Plateau.

Northern Arizona University and the NCHC Honors Semesters Committee invite you to apply for the 2016 Grand Canyon Semester. The Grand Canyon Semester offers you the chance to investigate the landscape, cultures, and politics of the greater Grand Canyon region, while providing you with a life-changing learning experience in the high mountains of northern Arizona and the deep canyon country of the Colorado Plateau. You will meet Students with a wide variety of interests and passions from across the United States and around

Seattle+SummertimeCity as Text Master Class Uncovering Seattle
October 9 – 11, 2016


Facilitators: Sandy Farrier, Endicott College &
Susan Cannata, UNC, Pembroke

An opportunity for faculty with prior City-as-Text experience (Faculty Institute or at the   National Conference) to engage in an intensive exploration of Seattle prior to the 2016 National Conference.  The only city named for a Native American, Seattle has a rich history that contrasts distinctly with the contemporary culture. Participants will engage in the principles of site-based experiential learning with the intent of taking home a deeper understanding of City-as-Text principles to bring back to their home campuses.

NCHC’s Honors Semesters Committee has generated more than twenty full Semesters that feature experiential learning through a combination of interrelated courses integrated by a focus on the specific setting of each project. Semesters are offered regularly to invite Honors students nationally into a learning experience away from their own campus to sites abroad and in the United States. Students earn transferable college credit as they combine field studies, research, internships, seminars, and a living-learning immersion that taps the resources of a Semester’s location as it builds a community of inquiry.

The Honors Semester Committee also sponsors Faculty Institutes. These Institutes provide professional development opportunities for faculty interested in understanding the underlying design and assessment principles of this form of active learning The Institutes are exercises in site-specific, place-based learning, and offer workshops to participants who want to design adaptations of NCHC’s projects for their own campus or for foreign-study sites.

Past Honors Semesters have been in Washington, D.C., the Grand Canyon, New York City, El Paso, Appalachia, the Maine Coast, Iowa, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Southeast coast of the United States, on topics ranging from local culture to global concerns.

A listing of past Honors Semesters participants is available here.

NCHC’s Honors Semesters Committee undertakes several related projects throughout the year. Primary among them are:

City as Text™
Sometimes called CAT, and broadened into Place as Text to encourage applications of this approach to active learning in various settings, City as Text™ refers to structured explorations of environments and ecosystems. Designed as on-going laboratories through which small teams investigate contested areas and issues in urban environments, or competing forces in natural ones, these exercises foster critical inquiry and integrative learning across disciplines. A mini-version of this approach is included at NCHC’s national conferences.

Site-specific educational projects in which students earn upper-division honors credit that applies to their graduation requirements at home, NCHC has offered 29 of these since l976, at both national and international locations. These are theme-based clusters of courses drawn from several disciplines. They include an extended field laboratory based on CAT designs, as well as term-long directed research projects on problems better analyzed at this specific site than elsewhere. The projects are presented in a public symposium at term’s end. All aspects of NCHC’s Honors Semesters are experiential, from living/learning arrangements in which students  function as a community to fieldwork immersion into local culture.

Faculty who want to acquire greater familiarity with design elements of CAT as a learning strategy, and who are considering applying these field explorations either to their own campus courses/programs or for use in international study, are invited to participate in a “short course” on CAT. Several Institutes are offered each year. Articles on the concept and uses of this methodology have appeared in JNCHC and other publications. Most recently two monographs have been published: Place as Text (2000) and Shatter the Glassy Stare (2008). For information on these and other printed materials please visit the Pub Board table at the Idea Exchange (Saturday) or the Pub Board book sales station.

2015 Projects

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2014 Projects

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2013 Projects

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2012 Projects

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2011 Projects

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2010 Projects

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National Collegiate Honors Council
1100 Neihardt Residence Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
540 North 16th St.
Lincoln, Nebraska

Tel: 402-472-9150
Fax: 402-472-9152


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