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A Component of Honor

February 11, 2020

Seniors in the Lasell University Honors Program shared self-designed research components at a showcase last semester. Honors components often amplify prior projects or research by examining topics on a global scale. 

Topics at the showcase included global beauty standards, water pollution and human rights, professional basketball, food waste, international voluntourism, and the health properties of red wine, to name a few. In total, 35 senior honors students presented work. 

Hannah Bowerman, a fashion design and production major, explored "What Native Americans Can Teach Us About Dealing with Climate Change Globally." Her research was inspired by a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)

"I went to the First Annual Indigenous Resilience Event, which was a panel of Native American women working in the sciences," she said. "All of the women exuded so much love for the Earth and talked about their struggles in getting other people and scientists to understand the importance of respecting our environment."

Bowerman used a quote from Ranalda Tsosie, one of the panelists, to inspire an art print. 

"She said, 'We have forgotten how to listen to the land.' I translated that into a print to get people to remember that we must give back to the Earth and not only take, or else we will have nothing left," said Bowerman.

Psychology major Evelyn King took a closer look at poverty and the human mindset. 

"Some people who are in poverty develop a mindset that can trap them into learned helplessness or into feeling like they have no control over what happens to them," said King. "People who have this external locus of control are less likely to seek healthcare, self-care, etc. I discovered through my research that some people in poverty show signs of brain atrophy which can stunt brain development and change the way they think. The good news is that our brain is 'plastic' (neuroplasticity) and such a mindset can be reversible with education (of the public to reverse stigma), self-esteem building, and encouragement for their independence."

Stephanie Athey, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of humanities, shares that "components are different work, designed by you, to pursue your passions." Honors students must complete four components over the course of their studies.

"Lasell's Honors Program is unique in its thorough incorporation of this high level of creative, individualized, custom investigation that is piloted by the students," said Athey.

"Components are wonderful examples of Connected Learning [Lasell's academic philosophy] because they often spring from projects, ideas, and campaigns that students have been involved with outside of the classroom. When they focus that in toward the classroom, they are encouraged to use unusual sources to explore the topic."

For example, she said, past student projects have included a cookbook of global foods for an anthropology course, and dresses crafted on ratios learned in a geometry course.