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


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 2020 Honors Program Newsletter!

Smash Stuff: An Intro to Sustainable Materials Engineering – Gabrielle Gaustad

In this course we will be smashing diverse products with a focus on electronic waste (phones, tablets, a TV, VCRs, kitchen appliances, etc.). After some stress- relieving destruction, we will endeavor to identify all of the contained materials using basic characterization techniques (no prior experience required). Discussion on Design for X (X = Reuse, Remanufacturing, Recycling) and sustainability implications will be included. Each student will submit a bill of materials for their products which will be synthesized for the entire class. The final project will be a design change to reduce the environmental impact of one of these products (the deliverable can be a presentation, report, or prototype). NOTE: This class will meet from 5:20-7:10.

Training Methodology: Ancient Spartans to Spartan Racers – Tim Keenan

From soldiers of ancient Sparta and ninjas of Japan, to marathon runners and triathletes, to today’s on-screen Batman and Superman, explore the evolution of training methodology among athletes of varying concentrations throughout history, including both the physical regimens and mental approaches, designed to achieve maximum success. Weekly readings and videos will stimulate in-class discussions, and students will be asked to prepare one final presentation summarizing which techniques they found most intriguing, and whether there are any methods they might adopt themselves

Difficult Womxn – Rïse Peacock

Difficult Womxn is a seminar that honors and explores the voices and written words of womxn who have been deemed “difficult” or disruptive during our contemporary times. BIPOC voices will be prioritized, and authors for the course will include Roxane Gay, Mikki Kendall, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks. This course will also include excerpts from the book Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity. Students will engage in critically-led discussions based on the readings and will eventually lead their sessions. Assignments will include a weekly journal entry utilizing the creative style of the commonplace journal and a self-directed project or presentation.

A Dark and Stormy Night – Allen Grove

Become a published writer! In this seminar, we’ll survey 180 years of haunting tales. We’ll read stories about haunted houses, haunted objects, and haunted minds. Each student will then write an original ghost story, and the seminar will culminate with the design, editing, and publication of an anthology of those stories.

HONR 102 Alfred E. Nigmas – Garrett McGowan and Andrew Eklund

Throughout history, societies have used puzzles for relaxation and encrypting information. More recently, it has been shown that puzzles are an excellent means to flex your brain, to build cognitive ability and maintain mental health as we age. In this course, we'll study, develop, and solve puzzles of many forms - numerical, alphabetical (words), and mechanical. In addition to focusing on the history and importance of cryptography & puzzles through group presentations, ciphers ranging from simple substitution to technologically advanced systems will be discussed. Students will also design their own puzzles or ciphers.

DO NOT PASS GO AND DO NOT COLLECT $200: 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 write a short reflection 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 course will meet from 6:20-8:10 (or may be adjusted to accommodate students’ needs), and will be taught entirely online. Students who cannot meet at the regular time may contact the professor.

Quest for Knowledge: Dungeons & Dragons – Danielle Gagne

Seasoned players, Dungeon Masters, and newbies can join this honorific quest for knowledge. Adventurers in this course will read not-so-ancient scrolls on topics related to the literary roots of Dungeons & Dragons, the societal impact of the game, the “backlash” from parent and religious groups, racism, sexism, the role of magic in society, role-playing and identity, morality, and why no one really likes kobolds. Join weekly quiz-quests for experience points (i.e., grades), play a bit, and create a character sheet based on your analysis of a well-known persona for the final.