The Honors Tutorial (Year 3)

The Honors Tutorial is a small course capped at 12 students that offers a look into a specific topic or theme. To get a sense of what that means, check out our current Tutorials below, or click here to read about some of our past tutorials.

You also have the option of completing our Tutorial Alternative in place of taking a traditional Honors Tutorial course. Examples of typically approved Tutorial Alternatives include study abroad, internships, etc. Click here to learn more about the Tutorial Alternative.

Honors tutorial courses will carry the course number (between 311 and 347) corresponding to the general education area(s) addressed by the course. A key to those correspondences can be found here.

Winter 2021 Tutorial
Poster for HON340: The Honors Decameron: Documenting the Pandemic

HON 340: Documenting the Pandemic (Winter Session)

January 4-22, 2021 8:00-9:00am Mon-Thursday (On-Line) with Katie Quirk

News coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic provides abundant information: everything from infection data by zip code to Vietnam’s success story of containment. But beyond the data, how do we make sense of this experience? In January our tutorial group will use art–largely creative nonfiction prose, but other forms as well–as a tool to explore the seismic shifts that are happening underneath and within our daily lives. We’ll engage with pandemic stories, including tales of Florentines quarantining from the bubonic plague in the 14 century, contemporary commentary, short fiction from the New York Times’ Decameron Project, podcasts set in Israel and Ireland, photos essays, murals, illustrations, and protest art. By the end of our intensive three-week course, each of us will have produced a piece of art—a polished essay, a set of comics, or perhaps a musical composition—to help us make sense of this historic experience. Publication will be encouraged, though not required.

Spring 2021 Tutorials
Poster for HON309: The Honors Read
HON 309: The Honors Read Tutorial
Wednesdays 1:00-3:20pm with Chris Mares
Description: The students in this course will select the “Honors Read” for incoming students in the Honors College for Fall 2021.

Members of the Honors Community are currently nominating books to be considered for the Honors Read. This tutorial will analyze and discuss the nominated texts, develop and refine criteria, vote on the final choice, and prepare a letter to be included with the books provided to the incoming students.

Help choose the text that will introduce the class of 2025 to the Honors College!

Poster for HON333: Weird Times: Illness & Insight

HON 333: Weird Times: Illness & Insight 

Mondays 12noon-2:30pm with James Brophy 

We have been living through tremendously difficult, and profoundly weird, times. This class will be an exploration in that difficulty and weirdness. In addition to reading from pandemic literature by Defoe, Poe, Woolf, Camus and others, we will practice personal journaling, create narratives of our past year, and practice cultural critique of the current moment. While remaining sensitive to this real and ongoing crisis, we will explore things like: how we become differently attuned to ourselves when we are sick, or when our times are defined by widespread sickness; how relationships and values change; how time moves differently; how mourning and celebration are corrupted; how institutions fail and in failing may reveal fractures that were already there.

Poster for HON336: Lovecraft's Horror and Hate

HON 336: Lovecraft’s Horror and Hate

Tuesday and Thursday 9:00-10:15am with Adam Crowley (Remote)

This course explores the role of racism in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Starting with a consideration of race and place in nineteenth-century Gothic literature, the course addresses the significance of racist caricatures from this period to the North American pulp fiction markets of the early twentieth century. From this position, the class considers the work of H.P. Lovecraft and the ways in which Lovecraft’s better and lesser known works exploit such caricatures to create “sensational encounters.” The course concludes with a consideration of the social consequences of these caricatures, particular as they have been adopted and exploited by the Alt-Right in the twenty-first century.

A photo of ice on the water in the Arctic.

HON 338: Camden Conference

This course accompanies the Camden Conference held each spring. The topic changes yearly. The course prepares for the year’s topic with background readings and discussions. Students attend the conference and normally meet with conference participants. Subsequent meetings analyze the ideas presented during the conference. This year’s theme is “The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril.” 

Poster for HON350: Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease

HON 350

The Molecular Mechanisms of Human Disease (HON 350) Honors tutorial course that will be held online from January 14-22, 2020. During the HON 350 course, students are split up into teams and rotate through three different modules that each last two days. Those rotations are:
  1. Studying the mitochondrial effects of low-level environmental contaminants (e.g., arsenic, cadmium and lead) in zebrafish embryos by measuring energy metabolism in real time. Remy Babich and Prof. Nishad Jayasundara teach this module.
  2. Studying how low-level environmental and genetic factors impact innate immune system function in zebrafish embryos through bioinformatics analysis of RNA sequence data. Prof. Ben King and Prof. Keith Hutchison teach this module.
  3. Learning about personalized medicine where treatments are tailored to an individual’s genotype. The module utilizes three different genotyping methods using PCR and sequencing. Prof. Bruce Stanton (Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) and Dr. Denry Sato (MDI Biological Laboratory) teach this module.

At the end of each rotation, your team will present a summary of your work including data collected. After completing all three rotations, you will choose to be part of a team that compiles data from the three different groups for a rotation and make one final presentation.

Course materials are paid by the Maine INBRE Program that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Please contact Prof. Ben King ( for more information about the course.

The application form for the course (due Nov. 15th) is available at Students selected will be enrolled by the Honors College office.

The Tutorial Alternative


In some cases the tutorial requirement may be waived based on a Tutorial Alternative, which is defined as:

An academic or experiential learning opportunity involving small group interaction that is not available at the University of Maine and that is pre-approved by the Dean of the Honors College. Tutorial Alternative opportunities should include some if not all of the following: application of academic knowledge, intellectual merit, independent work, a cultural experience, and personal initiative. Because the alternative is in lieu of a 3-credit course only proposals that indicate the student will spend a comparable amount of time (approximately 80 hours, which can include preparation time for the experience as well as the experience itself) will be approved.  Such opportunities include, but are not limited to, study away experiences, engineering cooperatives, congressional internships, participation in Semester at Sea, cultural/language immersions, recognized summer REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates).

For information about Study Abroad opportunities through the University of Maine, click here to visit the website of the Office of International Programs.

Special Course Substitutions: The following UMaine courses for students studying Nursing, Education, Child Development and Family Relations, or Kinesiology and Physical Education can be substituted as Honors Tutorial Alternatives. 

  • NUR 306 – Care of Adults II Clinical
  • NUR 419 – Introduction and Service to Global Health
  • EHD 400 – Field Observation (Activity)
  • CHF 496 – Field Experience in Human Development and Family Studies
  • KPE 427 – Internship

You will still need to submit the application and complete the requirements for HON349, as described below.

This substitution should help make it much more possible to graduate from the Honors College with these degrees. If you decide to substitute one of these courses for your tutorial requirement, please reach out to the Honors Associates for more information.


Honors College students wishing to substitute an academic or experiential learning opportunity not available at the University of Maine in lieu of the  third-year tutorial must:

  1. Apply: Submit an application for a tutorial alternative at least one month before embarking on your experience.  Click here to submit your application for a tutorial alternative online.  (Typically you will be notified of whether your proposal is approved within two weeks of submission.)
  2. Enroll: If approved, register to take HON 349 after you have returned by emailing HON 349 is a 0 credit, P/F course. HON 349 should be taken within two semesters of the end of experience on which the Tutorial Alternative is based. NOTE: HON 349 is a 0 credit course. Taking this course will not add any credits towards a student’s full-time load in consideration of Financial Aid awards that are dependent on this.
  3. HON349 Course: Complete the HON349 course which requires submission of the following assignments:
    • Evidence of successful completion of any coursework involved in the Tutorial Alternative opportunity, typically a transcript or certificate (if applicable)
    • At least six photographs representative of the experience, including pictures of the student, that are suitable for the Honors College website, and
    • Completion of ONE of the following options:
      • ESSAY – A three- to five-page, double-spaced, reflective essay, OR
      • VIDEO – A three to five-minute video reflecting on your experiences.

If you have any questions about the Tutorial Alternative or HON349, please reach out to the Honors Associates.

 Click here to submit your application for a Tutorial Alternative!