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Honors College Symposium

The UMass Lowell Honors College Symposium is non-credit, non-graded,  optional way for Honors College students to satisfy the H4 honors course requirement. The Fall 2018 symposium consists of three units throughout the semester, roughly one per month. Each unit requires approximately 20 hours of engagement. You can start today if you wish. The Honors College Symposium is classified as an Impactful Experience and, as such, includes a reading component, a writing component, and a speaking component. Future Symposia will consist of six units and they will be spread across two semesters.

Principal Features:

  • Three Units in the Fall 2018:  Beethoven, E = M C 2, and The Oresteia
  • Three Friday discussion sessions from 5-7 pm.. One in Sept. One in October. One in November.
  • Maintain a Reading Notebook while you read the three books.
  • One 20 minute presentation to be scheduled individually.
  • Submit one essay two weeks after final exams.

Questions: Ask Jim at

Sign Up: Fall 2018 Symposium Sign Up


Responsibilities of the Honors Students

Each student must:

(1) Sign up for the Fall 2018 symposium by registering  at  Fall 2018 Symposium. Jim will contact you shortly thereafter.
(2) Read and take notes on the assigned texts, view the assigned films, and/or listen to the assigned music/audio files. 
(3) Complete all pre-discussion session assignments and turn them in at the discussion session.
(4) At each discussion session, turn in a paper copy of your Study Log and your Reading Notebook.
(5) Attend, be on time for, be fully prepared for, and be fully engaged in all three Symposium discussion sessions.
(6) Prepare and deliver a 20 minute presentation on some aspect of one of the units being discussed. These will be individually scheduled outside of the discussion sessions.
(7) No later than two weeks after the last day of finals, the student must submit a Symposium Completion Packet that includes the Symposium's Capstone Essay.

Note: Failure to fulfill the above requirements in a timely manner will result in the student being dropped from the Symposium and thereby not receiving credit for the H4 honors requirement.

However, if a student has an impossible conflict and cannot attend one of the discussion sessions, it is possible to still complete the Honors Symposium by executing these three requests:

              (a) submit a typed up explanation of why you cannot attend the discussion session. Slide the paper beneath Jim's office door.

              (b) submit your Study Log and your Reading Notebook which covered the session you missed. 

             (c)  read, view, and internalize one Shakespeare Comedy identified by the Dean of the College well enough to then give a
                   public explanation of what transpired in the play. As speaker, you are not allowed to use any presentation slides or
                   notes. You should be able to present yourself in front of your audience and simply tell the story. The only assistance you may use is a
                   list of character names. This should be done no later than January 30th after the Fall Symposium and May 31st after the Spring

If a student misses two Symposium discussion sessions, the student cannot satisfy an honors requirement with the Honors Symposium.

Fall 2018 Honors Symposium

Month Facilitator Topic/Syllabus Discussion
September Timothy Crain

Beethoven Study Log

The Beethoven Reading Notebook

Assignment 1:
     Watch and Listen: Ode to Joy Flashmob
     Read: Lyrics and History of Ode to Joy
     Watch and Listen: Schroeder Plays the Moonlight Sonata. Lucy Sings
     Watch and Listen: Beethoven's 9th Symphony - Movement IV - Ode to Joy
      Watch and Listen: Beethoven's 5th Symphony

Assignment 2: Learn to Play Ode to Joy on the Recorder
Read and Take Notes:  Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris
Assignment 3:Watch: Immortal Beloved (full movie)
Music Playing Link Provided by Professor Crain (TBD)
Unit Summary & Evaluation Assignment

Sept. 21

October Silas Laycock

E= MC2 Study Log

The E=MC2 Reading Notebook

Read and Take Notes E = MC2 by David Bodanis
Einstein's Big Idea (2 hour Documentary on You Tube)
Watch the DVD: The Day the Earth Stood Still, B&W, Starring Michael Rennie
​Unit Summary & Evaluation Assignment

Oct. 26
November Steve Courtemanche

The Oresteia Study Log

The Orestieia Reading Notebook

Assignment: Family Tree Assignment
Assignment: Tantalus, Pelops, Atreus, and Orestes
​Interleaved Reading: 
         The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Translation by Robert Fagles, Penguim Classics
         The Serpent and the Eagle, Fagles and Stanford, Penguin Classics (with Notes)
Watch DVDs of Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides
Assignment: Unit Summary & Evaluation


Nov. 30

Writing Prompt for the Capstone Essay: To establish a common ground response for our seemingly disparate studies, it is safe to say we have been exploring progress--the metaphorical emergence from darkness into light. This progress requires courage, ethical conflict, struggle, endurance, and hard work. To make progress, to make a better world, to find truths, we must suffer, and this progress through human effort, human suffering, is what Fagles calls "the stuff of human victory." We have the freedom to create a better world. Consider the texts we have read and the discussions we have had and discuss in writing how this common truth unites all of the work of our symposium.

Honors Students Participating in the Fall 18 Symposium

Spring 2019 Honors Symposium

Month Facilitator Topic Discussion
February Keith Mitchell To be determined by Professor Mitchell Friday, Feb 22nd
March Robert Forrant To be determined by Professor Forrant Friday, Mar. 29th
April Deborah Finch One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach for America by Wendy Kopp Friday, Apr. 26th

Writing Prompt for the Capstone Essay: To Be Determined