Honors Learning-by-Contract (HLBC)

Honors students are strongly encouraged to enroll in routinely offered Departmental and General Honors courses, including seminars and tutorials, study abroad, independent study, and research credits whenever possible.

However, when not feasible (especially for students whose opportunities for obtaining the necessary credits to graduate with the Honors Certificate are otherwise seriously limited by departmental requirements or honors offerings within select majors), or a more desirable option exists to take on an added challenge in a non-Honors course, the HLBC option provides a student with a means of earning honors credit for a regular (non-honors) course.

Students who pursue the contract should be strongly engaged in the course’s subject matter and approach and committed to doing considerably more work than is required of other students in the course, including written components, presentation of their work, and regular meetings with the faculty member about their progress.

The main goal for the HLBC is to develop a semester-long project or series of tasks that equate to at least 30 and up to 45 hours (at least two hours a week) of value-added Honors work. The proposal must present a set of assignments or approaches to learning that is the equivalent of making the entire course into an Honors experience for the student.

HLBC proposals are to be uniquely designed for every student. The student and faculty members are to work together to ensure that the proposed sequence of study is original, properly intersects with the course, and provides an interdisciplinary and unique set of outcomes. Thus, the proposal design should put forth assignments or tasks that effectively transform the course, are substantive, and require concrete submissions or performance elements to be completed at specified intervals.

Summer HLBC Experiences

HLBCs can be undertaken during a summer session if the class is a full-session (eight week) course. We do not permit HLBCs for either of the four-week sessions or alternative short-term courses.

Due to the shortened duration of the summer term, there is a limit of one (1) HLBC per student during any SU session.

Apply for an HLBC

As the Honors College adjusts procedures for COVID-19, all documentation (proposals and evaluations) and questions should be directed to Honors Advisor Shanay Murdock.

1. Prior to applying, you must read the Polices, Timeline, and Guidelines information below. Proposals for Fall and Spring semesters are due by the end of the second week of classes, and for Summer semester by the end of the first week of classes. Late applications and late evaluation submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances.

HLBC Policies

HLBC Timeline

Guidelines for Developing an HLBC Course

2. Once you have read the above guidelines and have met with your faculty mentor to develop your proposal, please complete the form below. Please make sure to fill it out thoughtfully, completely, and in consultation with the faculty member. Every project must include some sort of public scholarship or presentation to a broad audience (not just the faculty member).

HLBC Proposal Form

3. Once your project is complete, you will then reflect upon both the process and experience. Honors Learning-by-Contract Evaluation Forms are due by Reading Day of Fall and Spring semesters and by the last day of class for Summer semesters. Any student who fails to complete or withdraws from an HLBC without prior notice and approval from the Director of the College will be prohibited from pursuing another HLBC project unless and until they meet, in person, with the Director to explain the situation.

4. Posting of H Designation.  In order to see when an HLBC has been added to your academic record (following completion of your course and submission of your evaluation), you must view your Student Academic Profile. Use these instructions on how to access your Student Academic Profile. Unlike your Gn_Hon or H courses, which all have an H behind the course number, the Honors Learning by Contract does not. Its Honors designation will display in the remarks column of the profile (the right-hand column) and appear as an “H” in that column. Adding the designation can take up to a month due to review and processing times. If you have any questions regarding this process, please speak to your Honors Advisor.

HLBC Examples

The following students completed projects that reached across disciplines, were creative in project designs and goals, and achieved the desired outcomes in such a way that their educational experience was not just enhanced, but was markedly improved.

  • Rebecca Ernst (Nutritional Sciences) undertook detailed research on obesity and health, resulting in a poster presentation during the Undergraduate Research Forum held each April. Her results were so impressive that she was offered a research position for the next academic year as one of a select group of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology Research Interns.
  • Marilyn Haigh (Journalism and International Studies) used her time in a journalism class, 4508: Information Graphics, to hone her data analysis skills, while simultaneously interning for the US Olympic Committee. Working with massive datasets, Marilyn demonstrated facility with cleaning up the data as well as being able to tell a coherent and supported story from its information. The work that she did was instrumental in helping her get a summer fellowship with CNBC, as it was the topic that quickly became the focus of her interview for the position.
  • Amy Keller (Biology) undertook an art project in her Art 1020W class, writing a comprehensive research paper and art analysis of the painter Georges Seurat, and his works. She then went a step further, and used what she learned about Seurat’s processes and thinking, merged that with her own approach to painting and produced an original work of art that was both her own imaginings (futuristic in design) but pointillist in its style.
  • Christopher Phan (Biochemistry major) infused his English 2530 course with additional medical-based poetry, carefully researched and finely crafted, ultimately submitting his work for publication in the journal Ars Medica, as well as using it as the foundational writings for a fellowship submission. He called his experience “a process of contemplation” that was based on a research process of “discovery and innovation.”