students in a study group

Explore the big Ideas.

What’s the meaning of life? How do we create a just society? What defines beauty? What is our place in the natural world? How does science move society forward? If you have a passion for really big questions like these, the Liberal Arts Scholars Program (LASP) is a rewarding choice. In this first-year program, you will take from four to six integrated courses exploring core moral, aesthetic, social, environmental and scientific issues. The program launches your undergraduate education through deep exploration into the big questions faced by humans since antiquity—questions we grapple with today. 

Do it Together.

LASP offers residentially-based seminars, which means you live and learn together with passionate, like-minded peers who share your interest in thoroughly exploring topics from many different points of view, in several integrated classes. The conversations don’t stop when classes are over—they continue through shared meals, in your residence hall, and through many structured and unstructured activities throughout the year. The community you build is deep and lasting—a community you will take with you wherever you go in your life.

Go Broad and Deep.

LASP offers five separate options, in the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, the earth and environment, and the natural sciences. In “Humanities Scholars—Fresh Lessons from Great Thinkers,” for instance, you’ll take courses in classics (“Classical Texts and Transformations”), history (“Fashioning the Self and Society, from Antiquity to the Renaissance”) and religion (“The Search for Meaning after the Scientific Revolution”). In the natural sciences, you’ll take courses in chemistry, biology and math, exploring Nobel Prize-winning discoveries and developing your own scientific research projects. Whether you focus on the humanities or any other area, your courses are taught by award-winning faculty from a variety of disciplines who explore similar intellectual terrain using different lenses. The result is a rich academic experience that strengthens your intellectual, creative and expressive abilities.

Through this year of integrated courses, you will:

• learn and study with some of the best students at UVM, in one of the university’s most challenging and intellectually rigorous first-year programs;

• begin building close relationships with your professors and peers, relationships that can last a lifetime;

• hone your study habits and skills in critical thinking, writing, and communication which will support your success in future years.

These programs are designed for highly motivated first-year students with strong academic records. Admission to a program is by application. We encourage you to apply early!


Liberal Arts Scholars Programs:

Arts Scholars—Artists in Action

"The extraordinary and welcoming individuals within the ASAA program have become my second family — my home away from home. Everyone in the program brings to the table unique stories and perspectives, and the professors are eager to positively impact my time at UVM . . . When I started at UVM I was unsure what I wanted to major in; I knew I wanted to study something creative, but wasn’t sure how or what. The ASAA program helped me to discover my enthusiasm and passion for filmmaking and pursue a major in Film and Television Studies." -- Jordan Mitchell

The Artists in Action program is designed for adventurous and disciplined students seeking to broaden their understanding of the creative process by working in a variety of artistic media: film and television, music, theatre, creative writing, visual art, and dance. Students enroll in two classes per semester (four over the full year) which complement one another and relate to an overarching annual theme, such as “Breaking Boundaries: The Experimental Spirit in the Arts.” Course work is both studio-based and scholarly, giving students hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to collaborate and examine the history, practice, theory, criticism, integration, social relevance, and connectivity of varied creative forms. Students and faculty travel together to destinations such as artist studios in the Adirondacks and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, exploring work and experiences that enrich our classroom discussions and creative processes.

Artists in Action students become leaders in creating, showcasing, and cultivating the arts through classes, exhibits, performances and other events, both within the university and within the greater community. Students work collaboratively to design and implement a community art project that engages with important social issues. Community partners may include Burlington City Arts, local museums, the Flynn Center, Waterfront Theater, the Vermont International Film Festival, Vermont Stage Company, local music groups, and other arts organizations and venues.

Arts Scholars Courses 2019

Past AS courses have included:

• Movement and Improvisation
• Musical Avant-Gardes: Sun Ra, John Cage, and Beyond
• Creative Writing: Writing Experimental World Poetry
• Archive Fever: Film Begets Film
• Art and Aesthetics
• Bookmaking
• Acting

Admission is by application. For further information, contact:

Professor Eve Alexandra
(802) 656-4039

Additional info:
Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 courses

Earth and Environment Scholars – Inspiring Engagements with Place and Process

"Participation in the Earth and Environment program has been one of the high points of my teaching career at UVM. This intensive program allows instructors and students to get to know each other as individuals keenly interested in similar topics, and a synergistic learning effect is created when what is acquired in one course complements content in a second course. It is a pleasure to work within a community of learners." -- Dr. Cheryl Morse

Tackling today’s pressing global environmental issues requires interdisciplinary perspectives and deep understandings of place and process. EES engages highly motivated students in opportunities to explore human-environment connections by taking four classes (two each semester) in the earth sciences, environmental humanities, and critical social sciences. This approach involves field-based and applied learning in Vermont’s varied landscapes, while in-class work spans local to global scales. In addition, students participate in residentially-based sustainability activities that build community among action-oriented scholars dedicated to advancing environmental problem-solving. 

Earth & Environmental Scholars Courses 2019

Past EES courses have included:

• Mountain to Lake: Geology of the Lake Champlain Basin
• Water Resources Management in a Changing World
• Place and Environment: The Geography of Vermont
• Sustainability: A Cultural History
• Reading the American Wilderness
• Nature and Democracy
• Politics of Environmentalism

Admission is by application. For further information, contact:

Professor Cheryl Morse
(802) 656-2106

Additional info:
Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 courses

Extra EES Application question:
EES is designed for students whose interests in the environment range from the geosciences to the humanities and social sciences. We seek to attract a diverse group of students whose interests will broaden the experience of others. Please describe your interest in the environment and in our program in particular.

Humanities Scholars—Fresh Lessons from Great Thinkers

"I honestly don’t think I could have accomplished so much in my life if it not been for my time spent in the Humanities program. Beyond just the great education I got in those classes, it was so instrumental in teaching me the importance of community when it comes to humanities and the arts, which is something I seek out now as an adult. My biggest take away from the program was that building relationships with others who have similar intellectual and artistic interests, and finding ways to collaborate with and support them, is the best way to expand upon one’s own endeavors.” -- Stefani D, English major, class of 2011 (now a widely published author)

This program explores great texts and thinkers, with a focus on their ongoing relevance to contemporary life. The program consists of four courses taught by award-winning faculty in literature, history, and religion/philosophy, with an emphasis placed on social experience, the nature of humanity and ethics, the modern self, and personal questioning. An additional one-credit fall colloquium brings students together for regular guest lectures and performances, connecting students to intellectual leaders within and outside UVM. Within courses, readings extend from the Classical world of Homer and Plato to modern figures like Virginia Woolf and Elie Wiesel. Assignments focus on common themes, with each class addressing those themes from different disciplinary perspectives, offering a complementary and integrated approach

Established in 1978, the Humanities program was the first integrated residential academic program in the College of Arts and Sciences. The program provides a rich, foundational experience in the liberal arts that benefits students regardless of their major or future career. Students from the program have established careers in law, diplomacy, higher education, medicine, science, ecology, public service, and writing and publishing at all levels.

Humanities Scholars Courses 2019

Past courses have included:

• The Rise of Popular Rule
• Fashioning the Self and Society, from Antiquity to the Renaissance
• Classical Texts and Transformations
• Modern Political Ideas in the Western Tradition
• Religion, Philosophy, and Self-Knowledge
• Literature of the Western Tradition

Admission is by application

Professor Mark Usher
(802) 656-4431

Additional info:
Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 courses

Extra Humanities Application Question:
What writer or artist or era are you particularly curious about and would like to explore more completely? What about that writer/artist/era interests you in particular? Why do you think it is important to study that topic?

Social Science Scholars—Understanding Critical Social Problems

"'The program is a crash course in critical thinking, complex writing, intense reading, and always interesting group discussion. I can truly say that [the program] has greatly prepared me for the rest of my college career and beyond.'" – former student

Founded in 1993, UCSP offers an interdisciplinary exploration of the critical social problems that shape the modern world. Rather than providing easy solutions, this program dives into the intertwined social, cultural, political, and economic complexities of social problems through seminars in anthropology, geography, sociology, political science, and economics. Students take five courses (three in the fall semester, two in the spring) and are invited to undertake an optional capstone independent research project during the spring semester. Through penetrating discussions and intensive writing, students work closely with faculty to develop integrative perspectives on a variety of social problems such as global environmental degradation, social inequality, economic growth and breakdowns, international political relations, urbanization, and race relations in the United States. Armed with a critical thinking toolkit and passion for issues such as social justice and equity, UCSP students often go on to become leaders across campus and in the community in a range of social issues.

Social Science Scholars 2019 Courses

Past courses have included:

• Culture and Environment
• Capitalism and Human Welfare
• Geography of Global Cities
• Politics of Gender Inequality
• Social Inequality

Admission is by application. For further information, contact:

Professor Luis A. Vivanco
(802) 656-1184

Additional info:
Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 seminars

Extra Social Sciences Application Question:
UCSP is designed for students who want to understand critical social problems from the perspective of the social sciences. Our students are passionate about social, cultural, political and economic issues and are committed to equity and human welfare. Please describe your background and interests in (a) the social sciences and (b) any activities you’ve been involved in that might connect to any themes our program touches on—such as social justice, politics, economic trade, sustainability, cultural differences, globalization, urban dynamics, etc. In your answer, please address clearly what social problems or issues interest you, and whether there are any courses in particular in our program that stand out for you.

Life Science Scholars – Creating Scientific Leaders

“Science is not a series of isolated Eureka! moments. Instead, good science takes time and involves failure, troubleshooting, discussions, re-evaluations, and—yes—frustration. Good science is always challenging; that’s what makes it fascinating.” Dr. Laura May-Collado, Program Director

From healthcare to genetic modification of bacterial populations, the life sciences provide critical information for addressing challenges in animals, plants, ecology, and pointedly human health. In this program, highly motivated students have the opportunity to take their passion for science to the next level through discussion, exploration, and hands-on research opportunities. Throughout the year, students take core science and math courses together (including dedicated lab sections just for NSS students), building foundations for a range of majors in the life sciences. In addition, in the fall semester NSS students explore the latest Nobel-prize winning science through a discussion-based, writing-intensive seminar. In the spring semester, students have a dedicated research course in which they will develop research projects in marine soundscape ecology, integrating data processing and data analysis with a goal of preparing manuscript submissions for publication. Through the program, students create a dynamic environment for scientific communication, collaboration and mutual learning. (Note: Life Science Scholars LASP is available only to biology, biological science, neuroscience, plant biology, and zoology majors in the College of Arts & Sciences.)

Life Science Scholars Courses 2019

Admission is by application

For further information, contact:
Professor Laura May-Collado
(802) 656-2922

Extra LSS Application question:
Describe a scientific news story that has captured your attention recently. What about that story particularly interested you? In your answer, please explain how the story connects to your own scientific goals and possible future contributions to scientific community.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between LASP and the Honors College? Will my LASP classes count toward my degree? Where will I live on campus? Find out the answers to these and other common questions on our Frequently Asked Questions page.




The Fine Art of Connection

Izzy Siedman (pictured above) and her classmates, who together participated in the Peace Paper Project workshop, are part of UVM’s Arts Scholars: Artists in Action, one of several College of Arts and Sciences programs designed to help enrich the first-year college experience. Students in these integrated programs take four to six classes together as a cohort, and share a residence in the Living/Learning Center.

The artist book class, led by book arts expert and UVM lecturer Steve Kostell, was one of this year's Artists in Action courses. Others included film, creative writing, and philosophy of art and aesthetics. This immersive fine arts experience, Kostell says, enhances students' ability “to tackle complex problems through exploring a variety of creative solutions.”

Application Details

These programs are designed for highly motivated first-year students with strong academic records. Admission to the program is by application and space is limited. Decisions will be released on a rolling basis within two weeks of applying. Apply now to secure your spot.