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4 ways to investigate international perspectives

Dr. Monisha Pasupathi, dean of the Honors College at the University of Utah, believes there’s no better way to challenge students’ assumptions about the world than through international experiences. “It really jars you out of the cozy illusion that most of the world operates in the same way that you do,” she says.

She emphasizes the importance of pushing students out of their comfort zones while providing a secure environment for growth. To achieve this goal, the Honors College offers a range of international programs alongside its campus-based interdisciplinary curriculum.

These include Integrated Minor experiences in Costa Rica, South Africa, Mexico and Peru, as well as a newly developed pathway to the U Asia Campus in Incheon, South Korea.

Pasupathi explains, “Encountering different perspectives can lead to two responses: retreat or embrace. I want our college to prepare students for the latter, fostering creativity, openness, innovation, and connection.”

The Honors Integrated Minors provide a structured pathway for students from any major to earn an Honors degree. These minors revolve around a central theme and include a summer abroad experience shared with peers.

Let’s explore four ways students can ‘Go Global’ with the University of Utah Honors College:

Healing Human-Nonhuman Relationships in Costa Rica:

Students wave while heading out to explore Kenya during a past cohort of the Ecology and Legacy program. The 2024 cohort will take their studies to Costa Rica.

The Ecology and Legacy Minor weaves together narratives and history of conversation, community, space, place, and tropical biology. Through fieldwork and inquiry, students advocate for ecosystems and challenge traditional approaches to conservation and forge connections that transcend textbooks. Past programs have run in Kenya and Argentina and the summer 2024 cohort will take their studies to the rainforests of Costa Rica.

“To say this program changed my life is an understatement. Ecology and Legacy marks a pivot point for me because it redefined how I want to approach my career in materials science and engineering,” said Danielle Beatty, Honors Bachelor of Science, Materials Science Engineering, and participant in the 2017 Patagonia cohort.

Championing Health Equity in South Africa:

Students in the Integrated Minor in Health visited the medical school at Witwatersrand University in South Africa to learn from local experts.

Students in the Integrated Minor in Health examine health equity as the foundation of individual, social, and community well-being. Through a summer program in South Africa, they gain insights from local experts and visit key sites to understand the country’s health disparities.

“My own global experiences as a student have shaped my personal and professional development and my approach to teaching,” said Dr. Melissa Watt, Faculty Director of the Honors Integrated Minor in Health. “Working internationally has taught me adaptability, cognitive flexibility, and partnerships. And now, I am very excited to give undergraduate students a similar transformative learning experience.”

Exploring Human Rights and Resources in Mexico and Peru:

Students explore Mitla—an archeological site in Oaxaca—during the Summer 2023 Human Rights and Resources trip to Mexico.

The Human Rights and Resources Minor examines the distribution of cultural and natural resources as they relate to human rights, with international tracks in both Mexico and Peru.

“The program is grounded in the observation that meaningful conversations about human rights require concurrent conversations about ecology. The minor gives students the opportunity to explore the potential for human rights paradigms to inform our thinking about the environmental pressures of our twenty-first century present, all within the context of immersive experiences in Latin America,” said Dr. Christopher Mead, Faculty Director of the Human Rights and Resources integrated minor.

In courses like “Intellectual Traditions of Latin America” and “Energy and Society,” students examine the power and limitations of human rights discourses in addressing challenges such as water scarcity, air pollution, and decreasing biodiversity.

Immersing in Intellectual Traditions in Korea:

Honors students have a new opportunity to continue earning Honors credits while attending the University of Utah Asia Campus in South Korea as early as their second semester at the U. The U Asia Campus offers small class sizes taught in English, and close to one of the world’s most exciting cities—Seoul.

Honors cohorts are available in fall, spring, and summer. The summer 2024 program will offer three classes: “City as a Text”—a structured exploration of the urban environment and Korean culture, Cultures and Practices of Yoga, and Peace and Conflict of Asia.

“It is great to see so many learners interested in going abroad. In an increasingly global world, students see the value of seeking out opportunities that expand their understanding of cultures and customs. To have those experiences with a group that shares similar goals and interests is very powerful,” said Aaron Reynolds, Assistant Dean of the Honors College.

To learn more about international opportunities with the University of Utah Honors College, visit