Sara Clarkson & Harjeet Mann Photo

Sara and Harjeet’s Honors Contract Experience with Dr. Janowitz

The Honors Contract course option allows students to personalize their Honors learning experience by developing a final project where they can dive deeper into a topic they are passionate about. 

Fourth year students Sara Clarkson and Harjeet Mann both created Honors Contracts with Dr. Naomi Janowitz, Professor of Religious Studies, after taking her Honors class RST 110: Life, Meaning, and Identity. We interviewed them to learn more about their projects and experience working on an Honors Contract with Dr. Janowitz.

Sara, an Animal Science and Psychology double major, focused on the moral response to the Covid-19 pandemic and how that could be used as a model for addressing climate change. She wrote an opinion piece and designed a pamphlet to summarize her key ideas.


Sara Clarkson Pamphlet

Q: Can you please describe your contract proposal (your topic and final product)? 

Originally, I wanted to look at how the moral view on climate change and agribusiness compares between undergraduates and faculty who are experts in the field, specifically focusing on Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory (MTF). Dr. Janowitz and I quickly realized the reality of surveying students wasn’t an easy option in the short time period I had to complete the project. We also entered unprecedented times as the pandemic quickly grew during Spring 2020, which was the quarter I was completing the project. Interviews on campus were no longer an option. During this time, Dr. Janowitz and I were thinking about what to do instead, and we started looking at the parallels between my topic of interest (the moral basis of climate change/agribusiness) and the covid-19 pandemic. Instead of my original project, we decided to switch gears and focus on highlighting the similarities between the moral basis of climate change and covid-19. My project had two parts. The first involved a literature search about MTF, how morality has impacted humanity’s response to climate change, and how morality was impacting our response to covid-19. I then wrote an opinion piece about how MTF was apparent in our response to the pandemic, how our covid-19 response showed humans are capable of this huge morally-based response, and how our pandemic response should be used as a model for responding to climate change. I then took that manifesto and designed a pamphlet that touched on the main arguments of my paper. 

Q: Why did you choose to complete an Honors Contact with Dr. Janowitz?

I chose Dr. Janowitz because I had grown closer with her during the quarter I took her class than with any other honors professor I had met thus far. I felt really comfortable going to her with bits and pieces of an idea that I had, and she helped me develop a project that I was really passionate about. I didn’t really even consider other professors. She was my first choice when I thought about professors to work with, and it worked out great because she was extremely willing to work with me and help design a project. My project topics also just lent themselves better to her area of focus than other professors I had taken honors courses with. 

Q: What advice do you have for other students considering doing an Honors Contract? 

I was initially hesitant about doing an honors contract because I thought I needed to have a super well-developed, thought-out project idea to be able to approach a professor and UHP about completing an honors project. That is not true at all. I met with Dr. Janowitz with just scraps of an idea and she was fantastic about deconstructing what I had and helping me build a really fantastic project. Don’t be afraid to try it even if you don’t have a completely solid idea of the project you want to do. If you work with the right faculty and have general ideas about what you want to do, they will help you figure out a great project for you. Honestly, I got way more out of this honors contract than I did in any honors course I took, likely because it was specifically designed around something I was interested in. If you are considering doing an honors contract, I definitely recommend going for it.

Harjeet, a Biological Sciences major, focused on the topic of Animal Loss and Coping and created a flyer for students and the Veterinary Medical School with recommendations on how to cope with the loss of an animal. 


Animal Loss Flyer

Q: Can you please describe your contract proposal (your topic and final product)? 

My honors contract was on the topic of Animal Loss and Coping. My end product was creating a flyer with recommendations made by me for what individuals can do to cope with the loss of the animal to share with students and the Veterinary Medical School. 

Q: Why did you choose to complete an Honors Contact with Dr. Janowitz?

I chose to complete my honors contract with Dr. Janowitz after taking honors RST 110 with her. During this course, we read a book called Dog Years and discussed a lot about the loss of animals and how one comes out of this loss. I was very impacted by the book and the class discussions since I lost an animal in my life at that time too. Realizing that losing a pet is one of the first times we experience loss of life in our lives, I wanted to study this topic further and find ways to help others heal and commemorate their pets. I loved everything about RST 110 with Dr. Janowitz and I was looking for another opportunity to receive her mentorship and learn from her as well!

Q: How did you approach her to ask to do the contact and what was the process like developing the Honors Contract proposal together?

I talked to Dr. Janowitz while in her RST 110 course to brainstorm ideas for my Honors Contract. Sharing that I wanted to focus on the theme from Dog Years, Dr. Janowitz helped me put together a proposal that combined my interest in researching animal loss and religious studies. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I had very enriched discussions with her!



Primary Category