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 2019 Honors Program Newsletter!

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.

Cut - Bend - Fold – Bind—Myles Calvert

Exploring paper, fabrics, and pigments, this course will dive into different techniques of making hand and machine-bound books. A wide variety of stitches will be explored, as well as some advances in technology with the use of the digital glue binder and fabric printer. Assignments involve physical book creation / design, discussion / critique, and cumulate in a pop-up exhibition. Exploration and discussion of artists’ and rare books in the Scholes Library will be used as inspiration.

Alfred E. Nigmas—Garrett McGowan & 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, ciphers ranging from simple substitution to technologically advanced systems will be discussed.

Personal Financial Planning—Mark Lewis

The purpose of this course is to introduce honors students to the fundamentals of personal financial management in a more creative, interactive and dynamic manner that is used in the regular class. The class will include subject area experts sharing knowledge with the class, a stock investing competition with a $50 cash prize for the winner, and hands-on exercises. We will focus on wealth accumulation, paying off student loans, investment planning, insurance planning, retirement planning and estate planning. At the conclusion of the course, each student will develop their individual financial plan personalized for their unique circumstances.

The Science of Baking—David Marsh

We will look at how bread, cake, and pastry are so different despite being made of the same basic ingredients. In the same way that chemicals are made of different combinations of elements, we can create an endless number of delicious treats with just a few things in different ratios and mixed in different ways. Class time will be entirely devoted to baking different things, so you can get hands-on experience. There will be some short papers reflecting on each topic and a final project where you invent a recipe and bake it for the class.

Two Faced: Alter Egos and Other Selves—Katarina Riesing

There has been a growing interest in alter egos and the other selves we inhabit. From Jekyll and Hyde to Beyonce and Sasha Fierce, Superman to Second Life - we have a fascination with being another. This course will ask the question - why? We will look at the photography of Cindy Sherman and Nikki S. Lee, watch films from Bergman and Aronofsky, read sociological accounts and explore shifting identities in current events. These sources will investigate fractured identities of others and jump-start us thinking about our own. Students will do a series of projects exploring our own relationships with our many selves.