Honors Colloquium

Our biannual book discussion and common reading for all students in the Honors College
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What is ​Colloquium?

Each semester, all Honors College students explore a new topic through a common reading.  We come together for one night over a meal and share thoughts in small groups led by university faculty and staff members.  Generally, the discussion is accompanied by a keynote, expert panel, or other group activity.  

Colloquium topics are drawn from all areas of study.  Recent topics have included books on honesty, free speech, DNA and genetics, local food movements and sustainability, economics, immigration and American identities, and Victorian vampires.  We read novels, non-fiction, and sometimes even graphic novels and comics.  Colloquium is never the same twice, and by the time you graduate you'll have read a diversity of topics that help stretch your knowledge in news and unexpected ways.  

Faculty & Staff interested in participating should contact the Honors College office​ for more information or to sign up to be a table leader.

Honors Colloquium / Mackenzie Burke
Past Colloquium topics

2018-19: Facing Failure - A Year of Learning from Mistakes

  • Spring '19: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by ​Dan Eagan
  • Fall '18: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error by Kathryn Schulz

2017-18: The Year of Conversation

  • Spring '18: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by ​Krystal Sutherland
  • Fall '17: How Does it Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi

2016-17: The Year of Curiosity

  • Spring '17: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
  • Fall '16: Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes​ 

2015-16  

  • Spring '16: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
  • Fall '15: Unlearning Liberty by Greg Lukianoff

2014-15

  • Spring '15: Running the Books by Avi Steinberg
  • ​Fall '14: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

2013-14

  • Spring '14: Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Fall '13: The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen​

2012-13

  • Spring '13: Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie - A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss​
  • Fall '12: The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman

2011-12

  • Spring '12: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Fall '11: The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt​

2010-11

  • Spring '11: "Introduction to Freud's Dream Psychology" by Andre Tridon & "A Counterblast in the War on Freud: The Shrink is In" by Jonathan Lear
  • Fall '10: Apology by Plato​

2009-10

  • Spring '10: Satchmo: the Genius of Louis Armstrong by Gary Giddins​
  • Fall '09: Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet by Steve Squyres

2008-09

  • Spring '09: Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington & Amartya Sen
  • Fall '08: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis

2007-08

  • Spring '08: The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer & Jim Mason​
  • Fall '07: "Pearls Before Breakfast" by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post

Upcoming books:

2019-20's Honors College Theme is "The Year of Stuff"

Both texts this year were chosen to address this theme.

Spring 2020 - Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes

Image result for Garbology

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist takes readers on a surprising tour of America’s biggest export, our most prodigious product, and our greatest legacy: our trash


The average American produces 102 tons of garbage across a lifetime and $50 billion in squandered riches are rolled to the curb each year. But our bins are just the starting point for a strange, impressive, mysterious, and costly journey that may also represent the greatest untapped opportunity of the century.

In Garbology, Edward Humes investigates trash—what’s in it; how much we pay for it; how we manage to create so much of it; and how some families, communities, and even nations are finding a way back from waste to discover a new kind of prosperity. Along the way , he introduces a collection of garbage denizens unlike anyone you’ve ever met: the trash-tracking detectives of MIT, the bulldozer-driving sanitation workers building Los Angeles’ Garbage Mountain landfill, the artists residing in San Francisco’s dump, and the family whose annual trash output fills not a dumpster or a trash can, but a single mason jar.

Garbology reveals not just what we throw away, but who we are and where our society is headed. Waste is the one environmental and economic harm that ordinary working Americans have the power to change—and prosper in the process.

 

Fall 2019 - Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

Image result for stuff matters

New York Times Bestseller • New York Times Notable Book 2014 • Winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

“A thrilling account of the modern material world.” —Wall Street Journal

"Miodownik, a materials scientist, explains the history and science behind things such as paper, glass, chocolate, and concrete with an infectious enthusiasm." 
Scientific American

Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that renowned materials scientist Mark Miodownik constantly asks himself. Miodownik studies objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik explores the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor to the foam in his sneakers. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way.

"Stuff Matters is about hidden wonders, the astonishing properties of materials we think boring, banal, and unworthy of attention...It's possible this science and these stories have been told elsewhere, but like the best chocolatiers, Miodownik gets the blend right." New York Times Book Review