Honors Thesis Pathways

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What is an Honors Thesis Pathway?

A Thesis Pathway is the ability to turn select Honors seminar courses (HON 394) into your thesis!

Students have the choice of a non-thesis HON 394 or a two-semester (HON 394 and HON 493) Thesis Pathway option.  The HON 394 class is the same either way.

The students that enroll in the Thesis Pathway will be part of a structured cohort course that will guide you through the thesis writing and defense process.

Students enrolled in HON 394 in the Fall and HON 493 in the Spring can expect to defend and submit their thesis in Spring 2021. 

Who are the students eligible for an Honors Thesis Pathway?

Both HON 394 and the Thesis Pathway option are open to all students who have successfully completed The Human Event or History of Ideas.

Thesis Pathways are open to all majors regardless of the topic.

Can I sign up for HON 394 and not do the Thesis Pathway?

Absolutely! The classes are open to those who don’t want to be part of the Thesis Pathway as well.

How do I get started?

To get started simply choose a HON 394 course listed below and sign-up for the Fall semester!  As the class progresses during the semester you will have the option to join the Thesis Pathway for Spring 2021.

For more information please contact Barrettadvising@asu.edu or your Barrett Advisor.

Pathway Courses

HON 394 (84703) Birth of the Quantum

HON 394 (84703) Birth of the Quantum

Professor Joe Foy

Email:  Joseph.Foy@asu.edu

This course, which is designed for a general audience of Barrett Honors students, will introduce you to the main ideas of quantum theory and its historical development. Quantum physics, which was discovered over 100 years ago, shook science at its foundation and forever changed the way we understand the universe and the matter contained within it. Along the way, you will learn about Einstein’s photon model of light, wave-particle duality, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Schrodinger’s ill-fated feline, quantum entanglement, and what Einstein once called “spooky action at a distance.” You will also learn how quantum physics explains a dizzying array of phenomena: the stability of atoms, the behavior of elements in the periodic table, why metals conduct heat and electricity so well, the limiting height of mountains, and the ultimate fate of our Sun, to mention only a few. It is not an exaggeration to say that quantum physics is the most successful physical theory of all time, yet this fascinating subject has only slowly diffused to the educated public since the early 1980's.

HON 394 (93102) Title: Homes, Homelands, and Belonging in World Literature

HON 394 (93102) Title: Homes, Homelands, and Belonging in World Literature

Professor Rebecca Soares 

Email:  Rebecca.Soares@asu.edu

What does it mean to feel at home?  How have the concepts of home and homelands shifted in our increasingly transnational and global world? How do issues of race, class, gender, nationalism, politics, industrialization, and war impact our sense of belonging? Focusing on these guiding questions, this course will introduce students to a wide variety of literary and critical texts from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century that address what it means to exist in an increasingly borderless world.  

HON 394 (93101) Title: American Political Thought: Principles and Paradoxes

HON 394 (93101) Title: American Political Thought: Principles and Paradoxes

Professor Matthew Voorhees 

Email:  Matthew.Voorhees@asu.edu

In this course we will explore the key philosophical currents underlying American political thought and will consider how this tradition has informed and been shaped by the conflicts that have defined American political life. What are the assumptions about power and self-government that have shaped the development of American political institutions and practices? Is there a distinctively “American” identity and how has it responded to various demands for inclusion and reform? Over the course of the semester we will use a combination of philosophical texts, speeches, historical documents, and fiction to examine such questions and to situate current political debates within the tradition of American political thought.  

HON 394 (93103) Title: Narratives and Podcasting

HON 394 (93103) Title: Narratives and Podcasting

Professor Pete Schmidt

Email:  Peter.A.Schmidt@asu.edu

Throughout this course students will learn about the art and techniques of storytelling and non-fiction narrative along with basic audio editing and engineering skills.  With that knowledge students will have the choice to pursue one of two course projects: 1) working collectively to research relevant stories about Human Event subject matter, develop podcast scripts for those stories, and produce and disseminate a finalized podcast or 2) (HON 394 + HON 493 thesis pathway) work individually or collectively to research and develop the first episode of a podcast series that will become the student’s honors thesis project in the following semester.

HON 394 (93181) Title: Sex, Race, and Victorian Science

HON 394 (93181) Title: Sex, Race, and Victorian Science

Professor David Agruss 

Email:  David.Agruss@asu.edu

Why do Victorian descriptions of British geological history, teaming with trilobites and dinosaurs, sound more like testosterone-fueled, Oriental adventure tales and less like purely scientific descriptions? Why do nineteenth-century scientific accounts of physiology experiments conducted in British medical laboratories sound like narratives of imperial exploration and racial exploitation in Africa? Why do strident Victorian debates about vivisection and animal suffering take the form of misogynistic and homophobic slurs against animal rights activists and accusations of sexual and racial “perversion” against male scientists? Why are Victorian accounts of venomous snakebites and of the invention of antivenom brimming with anxieties about racial, sexual, and transspecies contamination? In this course, we explore a range of popular Victorian novels that engage Victorian geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, physiology, vivisection, immunology, and archeology in order to think through the ways in which nineteenth-century British notions about race, gender, sexuality, imperialism, and colonialism powerfully, but often invisibly, shape the Victorian sciences—including their methodologies, their conception of scientific discovery, and their ways of imagining scientific knowledge and facts.

T.W. Lewis Center Thesis Pathways

This Fall semester, start on your Honors Thesis with the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development. This two semester course will meet your Honors Thesis Requirement and provide you with a level of structured support from Lewis Center faculty. Your thesis director will be the instructor of the course you enroll in, and support will be provided (if needed) for finding your second committee member. Students will be expected to have their thesis completed by Spring of 2021.  

If you want to want to participate in a thesis opportunity at a different campus then you can attend the class remotely through ASU Sync.

Below are the topics being offered this academic year.

To get started, fill out the application now.

HON 492 (93867) Topic: Science, Technology, and Society

HON 492 (93867) Topic: Science, Technology, and Society

Dr. Thomas Martin

T/Th - 3:00 PM 4:15 PM (ASU Sync)

In an advanced industrial economy, science, and technology impact our lives in increasingly intricate ways. Theses in this domain will focus on how a specific scientific/technical issue affects human beings at individual and social levels. There is substantial leeway in how this topic is interpreted, and it is meant to be as inclusive as possible. Though the thesis itself does not need to be scientifically technical, there must nevertheless be some substantive scientific/technological issue at its foundation. Both STEM and non-STEM students are encouraged to apply.

HON 492 (95837) Topic: Humanistic Inquiries of Culture, Politics, and the Psyche

HON 492 (95837) Topic: Humanistic Inquiries of Culture, Politics, and the Psyche

Dr. Jessica Sturgess

Monday – 4:50-7:35 PM (West/ASU Sync)

This seminar is for students who wish to write in a humanistic manner about traditionally social science driven topics. Questions related to studies of culture, political theory, or psychology (all broadly understood) are particularly welcome. These projects will do deep theoretical exploration to provide a philosophical interpretation of historical or current phenomena so as to better understand them in our contemporary moment.

HON 492 (93862) Topic: Leadership, Diversity, and Education

HON 492 (93862) Topic: Leadership, Diversity, and Education

Dr. Janelle Kappes

Monday – 10:45 -1:15 PM (Tempe/ASU Sync) 

Using an interdisciplinary approach to leadership, diversity, and equity, the topics of this thesis seminar will address the intersections of ability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and social class, and draw on interdisciplinary research in education and leadership to develop transformative approaches and solutions that lead to higher educational achievement for all students. Students may choose to focus on one, two, or all three areas of the topic in their thesis project. For example, students may analyze the structure of the American education system and examine historical, social, political, economic policies that promote educational equity and inclusion. Additionally, students may consider the role that education plays in fostering justice and equity in a democratic society.

HON 492 (93864) Topic: Humanities and Community Engagement

HON 492 (93864) Topic: Humanities and Community Engagement

Dr. Katherine O’Flaherty

Tuesday – 4:30-7:15 PM (Downtown/ASU Sync)

This class is designed for students doing thesis research on projects related to humanities (topics examining any aspects of human society and culture) and seeking to engage communities in and with their work. The humanities provide tools for shaping and reflecting the complexity of lived experience and provide powerful avenues for analysis, critique, creativity, and reflection. This class also provides opportunities for thoughtful advancement and innovation  enhancing the human experience. Students will work independently or in small groups to refine research skills, craft research questions, and design thesis projects on a range of topics.

Other Unique Thesis Pathway Opportunities

The Phoenix Area Social Survey Thesis Opportunity

The Phoenix Area Social Survey Thesis Opportunity

The Phoenix Area Social Survey gathers data on residents’ views and activities pertaining to a variety of environmental issues in the metropolitan area, specifically focusing on 12 study neighborhoods. Overall, the survey explores a diverse array of environmental attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors pertaining to landscaping decisions, water management, regional wildlife, and desert ecosystem in which we live. Students will use this survey data to develop a research question to explore for the honors thesis.  


How does this work?

For the Fall semester, you will sign up for PUP 598 or GCU 598 Social Survey Research Course.  (Both courses are automatic honors credits.)


In the Spring semester, you will have the option of continuing your coursework and turning it into your Honors thesis.  As part of this thesis pathway, you will be paired with two faculty members related to the research area to serve as your thesis committee. 

For more information and to take part in this thesis opportunity please contact Kelli Larson

Founders Lab

Founders Lab

This fall you have the chance to be a part of a unique team-based, experiential Barrett honors thesis/creative project designed to provide honors students an opportunity to design and launch a business, in tandem with relevant faculty, to meaningfully advance the discipline of start-up business design + launch.

Approximately 80 students working together in teams of 3, will select an ASU [patented] technology and walk through the process of designing and launching a business around that technology.  You do not need to be currently cultivating your own idea or start up to participate! The project will culminate in the spring through a demo day/thesis defense. 

Do you want the invaluable experience of an honors thesis that will teach you to apply principles of entrepreneurship to first-hand experience in business modeling, financial design, marketing strategy, sales/traction, and pitching? All majors welcome! Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.


Program Logistics


  • This program is only for Barrett, The Honors College (from any major or campus) and will result in an honors thesis project for submission by April 2021.
  • Thesis credits will be taken: Fall 2020- WPC 492 and Spring 2021- WPC 493 for a total of 6 honors thesis credits.
  • There will be required group meetings each semester with a schedule determined by the thesis director, Jared Bryne.
  • Support will be given in selecting a 2nd committee member and all students will be required to submit a Thesis Prospectus to Barrett, The Honors College fall semester 2020.
  • Full commitment and participation is expected for both fall and spring of the 2020-2021 academic year.


This program is currently full, however a waitlist has been started!  Click here to Apply.

Questions? Contact Jared Bryne

Pathfinder Research

Pathfinder Research

Student’s will have the opportunity to engage in a two year research opportunity with Nobel Laureate Dr. Leland Hartwell

For the first year students will register for two 1 credit sections of HON 394 with Dr. Hartwell.

The skills that a scientist needs are a curiosity about unexpected phenomena, the ability to formulate questions, and to design and perform experiments to answer those questions. This course is designed to provide undergraduate students with these essential skills. We will explore many surprising phenomena of our senses of vision and hearing. Students will formulate questions, and design and conduct their own experiment. 

In the 2nd year Dr. Hartwell will work with you to create a thesis and will serve as your thesis director.

This opportunity is designed for sophomores and juniors. For enrollment permission contact Professor Leland Hartwell at Lee.Hartwell@asu.edu