Beyond the Forum

Through interdisciplinary, project-based learning, the Forum strengthens the critical skills of diverse student teams, helping Honors College students develop as global citizens and future professionals. Those foundations can lead to social innovation and social entrepreneurship commitments—and much more. The Honors College provides a network of support for students who want to delve more deeply into areas and skills addressed in the Forum.

Honors College Opportunities

Learning Assistants (LAs)

Each year, in coordination with the University’s Learning Assistants program, the Honors College hires students who have already taken the Forum to serve as Learning Assistants in the sections. Their experience and insights provide an incredible resource for current students and teaching fellows, and the Learning Assistants gain great experience in teaching and leadership, while deepening their understanding of social innovation, the UN SDGs, and the skills and perspectives necessary for tackling the world issues. The Forum, with its emphasis on creative ideas and presentation of complex materials, also provides a solid foundation for students wishing to serve as LAs in other classes. Most importantly, the students get an opportunity to be in the classroom as a teacher and a peer educator. Being an LA for the Forum provides students with a unique opportunity to receive faculty mentoring and benefit intellectually from their experience. Regular meetings or opportunities for conversations with the doctoral candidates from across the university allow LAs to discuss current issues in the discipline, mutual scholarly interests, and future opportunities for the LA in terms of research, graduate work, or careers.

The Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab is designed for students and teams who want to take the ideas and proposals they formulated in the Forum (or, in some cases, new ideas) and move forward by developing those ideas into start-up enterprises. Working with professional entrepreneurs and innovators, the students take a workshop/seminar in the fall of their second year, followed by close mentorship and financial support in the subsequent semesters as they generate professional business plans, work out legal and financial structures, develop communication strategies and prototypes, and most importantly—build new teams and partnerships with the eventual goal of entering the global marketplace and creating social goods and services that impact the world.

Global Innovation Fellows Program

This program supports students who have taken the Forum to engage in experiential research with our partner institutions through immersive field experiences in international locations. These opportunities emerge and change over the years. In our inaugural offering this past year with Lingnan University in Hong Kong, our partnership supported a small group of students with Forum experience on an extended humanitarian entrepreneurship workshop in Hong Kong with students from around the world, who then applied their learning to an impact project in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Community Engagement: Service and Alternative Breaks

With its emphasis on identifying the world’s problems and investigating how they can be addressed in specific local contexts, the Forum provides a foundation for students to engage in meaningful service both in their local community and in the larger world. Each year, in addition to the Alternative Breaks offered by the university’s Office of Leadership and Experiential Learning, the Honors College supports week-long experiences allowing students to immerse themselves within a community while serving it.

Formal Research

The Forum serves as a springboard to engaging in more formal research under a faculty member by introducing students to essentials skills necessary for all research: defining and identifying a problem or question, researching and critiquing previous attempts to address that problem, creating and refining innovative approaches to the topic, and conveying new approaches clearly and confidently in multiple formats. 

Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

All Honors College students are required to take at least one Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar in their first two years, a small discussion class that many regard as their favorite while at Rutgers. In seminars, Honors College students make use of the critical reading, writing, group-work, and presentation skills learned in the Forum, and build on their interdisciplinary exposure to questions, issues, and methods. Seminars such as Dr. Patel’s FEW (food-energy-water) Nexus in the Anthropocene directly connect with the interdisciplinary skills practiced in the Forum as well as with the specific topics covered by the UN SDGs. After taking the Forum, Honors College students are strong in understanding the nature of seminar teaching and learning, whether in philosophy, literature, politics, global health, politics, or the life and physical sciences.

Other University Opportunities

The Lloyd Gardner Fellowship Program in Leadership and Social Policy

The Gardner Fellowship is a year-long program for juniors in SAS “to deepen their understanding of major global issues, to develop strong leadership skills, and to take a prominent role in addressing these issues in the coming decades.” Previous programs have been dedicated to violence and non-violence around the world, and the role of democratic institutions in contemporary societies. Competitive applications are reviewed each spring for the following year. The Forum prepares students for this opportunity through its emphasis on the UN SDGs and on developing ideas for addressing them. The Forum project also provides a foundation for the in-depth second- semester research/policy paper and formal presentation that culminates the fellowship. 

Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) Leadership Scholars Certificate Program

This two-year certificate program combines internships and seminars in leading to a Social Action Project in the third semester. With its interdisciplinary emphasis and its focus on women developing their leaderships skills both in the classroom and in the world in tackling social issues, the IWL program offers students the opportunity for continuing to practice the skills and hone the ideas that the Forum foregrounds. Student projects can be academic studies of global and national policy decisions affecting women’s lives, or developed from locally-based research and service partnerships involving community organizations.

Can be part of Honors College Capstone.

Eagleton Institute of Politics Undergraduate Associates Program

This three-semester (spring of junior year, both semesters senior year) certificate program educates students in linking politics to real world conditions and decisions. Forum students draw on their experience of understanding issues at both the global and local levels and from multiple frameworks in exploring both the theoretical and practical development of policy. Eagleton programs regularly require advanced analytic research, and incorporate direct connections with policy-makers at the local and state levels as well as in Washington, D.C.

Can be part of Honors College Capstone.

Engineers without Borders

The Rutgers chapter of Engineers without Borders is a student organization focused on planning and implementing projects in partnership with communities in developing regions of the world. Projects are multi-year commitments, including water purification and transport systems, bridge building, and energy solutions, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. The award-winning film, Thailand Untapped, was made by RU students about RU-EWB students, their plans, successes, and limitations in building a local village water system in Phrao district, Thailand. Honors College students have found Engineers without Borders a place to put the interests, skills, and ideas they developed in the Forum into action by engaging in these community-based international projects.