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Honors Students go down the rabbit hole with the Alice in Wonderland Book Lab

In May 2016, we piloted this new program, which allows honors students to read a book of interest with a faculty member and four other honors students from various disciplines. The idea is simple: faculty propose any book they would like to read with honors students, students sign up for the a book lab that fits their schedule and interests, and Honors buys the books for everyone. Honors schedules four meetings for each book lab at the beginning of each term (we ran three labs in May, nine in September, and are offering seven more in January).


The range of books and faculty expertise was impressive. Students participated in labs run by professors from art, biology, English, environment and society, history, nutrition and food science, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and special education and rehabilitation. The books ranged from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Steven Johnson’s Ghost Map, from Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou’s Logicomix to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, from Beowulf to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.


Student response has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 100 students have participated so far, and their required reflections at the end of each lab suggest that reading and discussing these books has made them think critically, collaborate across disciplines, and engage with their world more proactively, all skills essential to the honors experience. Honors uses the reflections to assess the program and to grant one point toward honors requirements for each student. If you are interested in supporting the Honors Book Labs, please donate here ($20 supports one student, and $50-100 funds an entire lab).