2021-2022 Undergraduate Academic Catalog

Honors Programs

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors Program

Lesley University has a tradition of applied social justice and the CLAS Honors Program with its focus on critical community engagement seeks to build on this tradition. Many Honors Programs claim to train students to take the reins of power to guide the future. At Lesley, we seek to train students to break the reins of power that oppress so many communities and to rebuild them in more just and humane ways.

Students with a record of academic promise and leadership in high school apply to join the Honors Program when they apply to enter the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Others are invited to join afterward, on the basis of their academic record. The goals of the Lesley University Honors Program can be separated into four pillars: forming a close-knit intellectual community, fostering scholarly independence, developing close interaction with faculty, and integrating this intellectual work with “critical community engagement.”  All of our students will have the opportunity to work with grassroots community organizations and working together to define goals and strategies. They will be taught reflexive practices not only to work effectively with other people but also to recognize their own privileges and vulnerabilities and analyze how these create power inequities that affect their interactions. 

The CLAS Honors Program seeks to create a strong intellectual community from the start. Most students come into the program in their first year and take a set of linked Honors courses. Students in each section of these linked courses take both classes with the same students, helping them get to know the other entering Honors students quickly. CLAS Honors students take the course Doing Good or Looking Good? The Ethics and Politics of Community Engagement. This seminar gives honors students practice applying the ethics, theories, and principles of social justice to community engagement. The community engagement component offers students critical hands-on experience with campaigns for different aspects of social justice (e.g., climate justice, voting justice, and housing justice). A number of course assignments and presentations require students to reflect critically on their community engagement experience and the course thematizes how differences in power and privileges affect the practice of working with diverse communities locally and globally. Students take Hon Seminar II (usually in the Spring of their second year) to continue to further build the relationships among students in the Honors program and further explore some area of social justice. Students also get together for social events every semester, including attending plays, visiting museums, attending dinners, and attending talks with faculty.

The Lesley Honors program also facilitates Honors students’ ability to develop into independent scholars through close interaction with faculty. Students have the option of turning any of their regular coursework into an Honors Contract by proposing to complete an Honors Project. Planning and completing this project builds relationships between the faculty and the Honors students, and requires these students to do additional independent research.  Students pursue their passions in close consultation with experts in those fields.

Students complete senior year having built lasting friendships among Honors students and the wider Lesley community. Having completed the requirements of five Honors courses, they leave having developed the skills and practice of independent scholars that can plan and execute well-designed research projects that often engage with the community outside the walls of Lesley’s campuses. They leave having developed close relationships with faculty who have guided their intellectual pursuits and mentored them in how to use those skills and talents in their future careers and their future advocacy efforts. 

For more information on the Honors Program, contact:

Dr. Michael Illuzzi

Associate Professor of Political Science 

Director, Honors Program

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University Hall 2-095



Lesley Art+Design Honors Program

Students who demonstrate academic excellence and artistic talent by high ranking portfolio scores and who wish to engage in a rigorous cross-curricular studio/seminar-based coursework and dialogue as well as extracurricular experiences, are invited to participate in LA+D’s Honors Program from the first year experience through the capstone in the fourth year.

Students who participate in this program can expect added rigor in project-based courses, integrated and interdisciplinary practice with group project dynamics, collaborative experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Focused critiques and special events serve to support the development of students’ skills as they prepare for lives as creators and active participants in visual culture.

Students will be expected to take a minimum of three of the four honors courses (one per academic year scheduled each fall). Students who are not invited in their foundation year may petition their department Chair to participate. For more information, please contact First Year Experience Coordinator, Leah Craig, lcraig@lesley.edu. Students can also petition to take Honors-based courses through CLAS by contacting Michael Illuzzi (info above.)