Liberal Arts Scholars Program (LASP) | College of Arts and Sciences | The University of Vermont(title)

Are you looking to make the most of your first year of college? To meet like-minded, academically oriented peers and faculty with expertise in your areas of interest? To take three or four small, seminar-style classes with a cohort of other first-years? We urge you to explore the Liberal Arts Scholars Program.

Students who have been admitted to UVM’s College of Arts and Sciences by the Admissions Office can apply to this special program made up of six themes. Come experience these benefits:

  • A unique first-year experience taking classes and living with peers
  • A program with a small liberal arts college feel
  • A strong and tight-knit community – you will be part of a cohort of 25 or less in your theme, and 150 in LASP as a whole
  • A first-year opportunity to combine academics with a residential experience
  • A pathway to UVM’s Honors College
  • Close relationships with dedicated faculty and staff


Program overview

Program overview

LASP Themes


Arts Scholars have the unique opportunity as first-year students to take Creative Writing combined with an Art course and a course from Dance or Film and Television Studies. This small cohort of students shares a passion for creative expression and a drive to improve and expand their creative outlets, and they have their own section of these courses. A few Arts Scholars are theatre, music, or art majors, but we often see a wide variety of majors such as neuroscience, history, computer science, and undeclared.


“The Arts Scholars program was more than just academics. It was a safe space. A space of relief. But also, a place of joy, acceptance, and growth. It was a fun place where creative minds came together to do more than make art. It was an outlet where we could express ourselves freely through all the classes we took together. I was nervous going into college, and this was a tight knit community that I knew I could fall back on that would help me in my transition to college life.”

Dean I., Class of 2025, Social Work Major

2024-2025 Arts Scholars courses

English 1027 - Writing: The Manuscript

This workshop will focus on the reading and writing of the creative manuscript. We’ll explore a selection of books published within the last ten years, including Robin Coste Lewis’s To the Realization of Perfect Happiness, Ronaldo Wilson’s Carmelina: Figures, and Julian Delgado Lopera’s Fiebre Tropical. We’ll read two poetry collections newly published in the summer of 2023, Terrance Hayes’s So to Speak and Nicole Sealey’s The Ferguson Report: An Erasure.

What can these collections tell us about contemporary American writing? What does each manuscript demand of the reader? The writers we’ll read work in a diversity of forms, drawing on radically different schools and traditions. What’s your artistic lineage? Who are your literary ancestors? You will be encouraged to explore these questions. Over the course of the semester, you will compose your own 15-page manuscript. Expect to generate new pages each week, explore various perspectives on revision, and contribute meaningfully to workshop, supporting the evolution of your classmates’ writing. A dedication to craft, aesthetic innovation, and risk-taking is expected of writers in this course. 

Taught by Eve Alexandra, Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Dance 1020- Environment and Performance

This course explores the relationship between the human body, environment, and performance. The course orients itself around the processes of the body, as it moves, witnesses, and discerns to uniquely perceive ‘environment’ as a multi-layered body of history, geography, and identity and ‘performance’ as a social-political and transformative structure. The goals of the course are to heighten an individual's sensitivity to naturalistic practices that help build relationships to space, time, biography, and context. The class offers perspectives of how performance can function as a vital way of seeing, as well as being, within specific and rapidly shifting environments.

Taught by Julian Barnett, Professor of Dance

2024 Arts Scholars Application Questions

  1. How does creativity inform your identity? Please describe your creative interests and activities, and how you think the Arts Scholars program could be important to your undergraduate education. How do you intend to challenge yourself as an artist and a scholar?
  2. Over the past few years students in the Arts Scholars program have studied the work of artists and writers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Danez Smith, and Eileen Myles. Artists and writers may push a viewer or reader out of their “comfort zone” and challenge established ways of thinking on subjects such as race, sexuality, beauty, and identity. Important and innovative works often challenge our very idea of what constitutes art. Can you identify a work of art that pushed you out of your “comfort zone”? Is there a painting, a poem, a performance, or a song that radically challenged your way of looking at the world? How would respond if you encountered such an artist or writer in an Arts Scholars classroom? Can you imagine pushing at boundaries and conventions in your own work?

Program Contact

Directed by Eve Alexandra, Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies

Earth and Environment

Earth and Environment Scholars look at issues of sustainability through many lenses. This year students will take a field-based Geology course. This course, called “Mountain to Lake,” uses Vermont’s natural landscape as a laboratory to learn how geoscientists use rocks, minerals, fossils, measurements, and observations to reconstruct the natural history of places. Additionally, students will take a geography course and a writing-intensive course.


"The Earth and Environment LASP provided me with an environment where I was able to explore my academic interests in an intimate learning environment. The classes I took broadened my understanding of what it meant to study the environment through scientific, cultural, artistic, and literary lenses. I took classes that I would have never chosen for myself, but they ended up being my favorite classes I’ve taken so far. The small group sizes allowed my peers and I to engage in compelling discussions, work in small groups, and make lasting friendships. The professors were passionate and engaging, and I was able to make strong connections with them. LASP is an excellent way for students to become acclimated into the UVM community through shared interests and academic passions. It creates opportunities for students to build connections both academically and socially, and ultimately, allowed me to experience my first year of college to the fullest."
Izzy D., Class of 2026, Political Science & Environmental Studies Double Major

“The Earth and Environment Scholars program was an exceptional opportunity that allowed me to get experience in natural science related fields without being in the Rubenstein School. The EES program is unique, and thus notable, because it took elements from other areas of study, like philosophy and literature, and connected them to our learning about the natural environment and the role we as humans have played in shaping it. Another aspect of the class, which is the same for all LASP programs is the small class sizes. These allowed me and my fellow classmates to more deeply understand what was being taught and connect with the professors on a personal level.”
Barton R., Class of 2026, Undeclared Major

2024-25 Earth and Environment Scholars Courses

Geology 1020 – Mountains to Lake

Have you ever been curious about how geoscientists look at the natural world and gather clues that reveal the history of a geological feature or landscape? In this class, we will use Vermont’s natural landscape as a laboratory to learn how geoscientists use rocks, minerals, fossils, measurements and observations to reconstruct the natural history of places. Most weeks we will engage in field activities and visit a different place from deep within Vermont’s Green Mountains to the shores of Lake Champlain. Along the way you will learn about the methods of scientific inquiry in the geosciences and develop skills necessary to make informed judgements about geological information and interpretations. This class has many practical applications, from the exploration of natural resources to learning about changing environments.

Co-taught by Professor Laura Webb and Professor Keith Klepeis, Geology


Geography 1020 – Geographies of Life and Death

The 21st century socioecological condition is deeply uncertain. This uncertainty not only stems from ongoing environmental crises, but also from the political, technological, and economic systems that drive these crises. Despite urgent demands to rethink how society interacts with the environment, the future often appears bleak and unpromising. Yet, if we want a future capable of supporting society, it follows we must question dominant systems and attempt to build them differently and more sustainably. How, then, to forge different paths toward equitable and flourishing futures?

This course takes a critical geographical approach to examine relations between life and death in the 21st century, focusing on how life and death are ‘spatialized’ through social, political, and technological processes. The course begins with an examination of life, exploring strategies for building kinship, connectivity, and commonality with the world. Following this, the course examines life’s counterpart, death, to understand how it is operationalized through discourse, technology, and social policy. We will use biodiversity loss, pandemic, and industrial slaughter as ongoing and evolving case studies. By critically evaluating geographic dimensions of life and death, this course aims to inspire students to articulate and enact visions for desirable futures.

Taught by Harlan Morehouse, Professor of Geography 


English 1705 - Writing Sustainability

We write in order to share information, yes, but also to make meaning of our lives in connection with the myriad happenings around us—the web of life. “We tell ourselves stories,” as Joan Didion famously stated, “in order to live.” In this nature- and science-oriented composition course, a core offering for credit toward both the Reporting & Documentary Storytelling (RDS) and Writing Minors as well as the Sustainability (SU) Gen Ed Requirement fulfillment, we’ll do just that: utilize writing to increase understanding—others’ and your own. The focus, for the most part, will be on sustainability—encompassing environmental concerns, medical practices, ecological literacy, and social connection. Through various forms of writing—including magazine-style journalism—we’ll learn to keep a close eye on detail, to recognize the wait—what? moments, and then translate those into writing that creates a desired cause-and-effect in our intended audience. Readings include: Why Fish Don’t Exist, “a magical hybrid of science, portraiture, and memoir” (Susan Orlean) by NPR’s Lulu Miller; writings from American Earth, Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (edited by Vermont’s own Bill McKibben), and excerpted essays and chapters by renowned feminist and naturalist, Terry Tempest Williams. 

As Sam Kean, editor of The Best American Science & Nature Writing, writes: “This is one of the most exciting times in the history of science…. Perhaps, not coincidentally, science writing itself has never been better either. There’s a misconception among the public that science is Vulcan, a strictly logical enterprise. In reality it’s an intensely human activity, employing the full range of both reason and emotions, of logos and pathos… and a real sense of craft and storytelling.” Through storytelling, imitation, and the writing process, we’ll learn the craft of employing the written word not simply for education and comprehension but so that these sustainability-based narratives become touchstones to the deepest of human concerns and values—as well as action and hope for change. How did they do it? we’ll ponder, and then track scientific queries and pluck ideas from the rich pasture of nature and the environment. How does this impact the quality of life over time? What can I do? we’ll wonder as we explore sustainability and discover both solutions and recreation—through writing itself, as its own sustaining tool and activity. 

Taught by Jenny Grosvenor, professor of English


2024 Earth and Environment Scholars application question

EES is designed for students who are interested in the environment. Craft a short autobiography (i.e. tell us the story of YOU) that makes clear your interest in the environment and how you came to that interest.

Program Contact

Director Harlan (Todd) Morehouse, Professor of Geography and Geosciences


Humanities Scholars prompts students to think about transnational experiences and the cosmopolitan life of cities in the 20th and 21st centuries. Through the lenses of history, world literature, and art history, students explore the various cultural encounters that have shaped and continue shaping our increasingly connected and diversified world.


“Participating in the Humanities LASP has provided me with an expertly curated body of knowledge and a strong foundation to build the rest of my college experience upon. The content of the program was rich, the professors were compelling and helpful, and it was rewarding to participate in a shared discourse with peers who were passionate about the material.”
Liana L., Class of 2025, Religion and Film and Television Studies Double Major


“LASP provided me with the perfect landing pad for my first year at UVM. By providing special dorm housing with other LASP students, dedicated faculty, and unique classes just for LASP students, the program provided a unique blend of structure, opportunity, and fun. 
It introduced me to new subjects I would not have otherwise explored and friends I still have three years later. The students I met in the humanities program were from many different majors, but aligned around a common interest in human society and culture, giving me a rich glimpse into different parts of UVM. LASP also helped me to develop my research skills, which has been useful as I am now completing my undergraduate honors thesis.”
Laurel K., Class of 2024, Psychological Science major, Anthropology minor

2024-25 Humanities Scholars Courses

World Literature 1022 - Tales from the Global City

What conventional boundaries must we transgress in order to form authentic communities? How can we live together as diverse groups of strangers? In the late-20th and early 21st centuries, world cities are crucibles of diversity and mobility, yet globalization and privatization lead to individuals’ isolation and alienation. In this course, we examine the individual’s search for connectedness, purpose, and beauty in the international metropolises of New York, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City through literary fiction and nonfiction, framed by the lenses of urban theory and architecture. Additionally, we consider the extent to which diverse bodies (marked by gender, race and ethnicity, and sexuality) are free (or not) to circulate in urban space, and how.

Taught by Ignacio Lopez-Vicuna, Professor of Spanish & World Literature 

History 1020 - Visualizing India

In this course we will explore India through its nineteenth and twentieth century visual and material culture, using images, advertisements, and the histories of things to uncover different perspectives on the past than what is available from other sources. Key themes about Indian history—gender, health/medicine, modernity/progress, and empire/nation—are revealed by using advertisements to explore markets, desires, consuming practices, and political choices in late colonial urban India.

Taught by Abigail Mcgowan, Associate Dean and Professor of History

Art History 1020– Arts of Conflict/Revolutions

This course delves into art created during periods of social and political upheaval and revolution. Starting with the Haitian Revolution in the 1800s, it spans various global contemporary events. The focus is broad, encompassing graffiti, large paintings, physical acts of protest, re-enactments, and photographs. The course aims to familiarize students with worldwide expressions of rebellion and dissent, encouraging critical analysis of historical events' enduring impact and exploring how people voice their concerns during times of socio-political turbulence.

Taught by Sarah Richter, Professor of Art History

2024 Humanities Scholars Application Question

Explain how a book, work of art, film, or cultural experience has influenced your world view or made you interested in learning more about other world cultures.

Program Contact

Directed by Ignacio Lopez-Vicuna, Professor of Spanish and World Literature

Life Science

The Life Science program is open to students entering UVM in Biology, Biological Science, Plant Biology, Neuroscience, and Zoology. We pair one fall and one spring course with the core science and math courses this cohort takes as part of their major. In the fall, students take a seminar course on evolution, and in the spring, dive into research. A benefit of this program is having a small cohort of 25 peers who are taking many of the same Biology, Chemistry and Math courses and share a passion for science.


“I am very thankful that I got a chance to do LASP…it had a big impact on my experience of being a freshman at UVM. One of the most important parts for me, was living with people who I was also taking classes with. This made my community feel a lot smaller and helped me find some amazing friends. Having friends in my classes with me also meant that I had people I could turn to for help with assignments or studying. Our environment of helping each other was also something I really valued. I think that being surrounded by people who had ambitious career goals and are truly passionate about biology, zoology, and neuroscience encouraged me to take my own goals more seriously. I appreciated the different interests and perspectives of other LSS students and enjoyed learning about everyone’s interests, whether that was insects, the impact of aging, equality in healthcare, or endemic species.”
Aly R., Class of 2025, Biological Science Major, Spanish Minor


2024-2025 Life Science Scholars Courses

Biology 1020 – Human Evolution: Cambrian Era to the Present

How do human beings fit into the natural world? Are we fundamentally different from other animals, or do we just have a specialized skill set? Who are our closest relatives among non-vertebrates? Among the vertebrates? How did our evolutionary history lead our species to occupy such a key ecological role that the very future of the global ecosystem depends on the choices we make? Through readings, videos, exploratory writing, and discussion we will critically examine our place in the natural world and how we came to occupy it. We will begin the semester learning about the history of evolutionary thought leading up to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and studying the mechanism of natural selection. We will then follow the evolutionary history of humans, from the earliest vertebrates in the Cambrian seas, to the colonization of land in the Devonian, to the radiation of mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs, to the evolution of humans over the last five million years. We will finish the semester by considering the Anthropocene, the period in history during which ecosystems have been primarily affected by human activities – how we got to where we are now, and where we can go from here.

Taught by Kristin Bishop, Professor of Biology

Biology 1020- Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE)

How does modern science evolve? How do researchers build upon each other’s contributions? This Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) provides early opportunities to Life Science Scholars to participate in scientific research. In this course we will focus on the first steps of scientific research: reading, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific literature. Students will discuss how science works and how it is communicated to the scientific community and the public. Specifically, we will discuss how scientific papers are structured and reviewed by peers before publication. Students will read the most recent scientific literature to develop a research question on their field of interest and write a research proposal. This course helps students to get involved early on in scientific inquiry, develop innovative ideas and realistic expectations about science, and gain confidence and competency in developing hypothesis and scientific writing - all key skills that jump-start a research career at UVM.

Taught by Kristin Bishop, Professor of Biology

2024 Life Science Scholars Application Question

A liberal arts education is distinguished from a professional education in taking a broad, interdisciplinary approach incorporating viewpoints from such diverse fields as the arts, philosophy, economics, mathematics, history, social and physical sciences, etc. Please describe a recent scientific discovery you have read about in the news and describe how considering this discovery from the viewpoint of different disciplines can help guide our understanding of this discovery and make wise decisions about how to use it. Explain how studying the life sciences through an interdisciplinary lens is important to your own educational goals.

Program Contact

Directed by Kristin Bishop, Professor of Biology

Social Science

This program looks at current social problems with faculty from a variety of disciplines such as Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology, examining dimensions of social inequality, including class, race, gender, and environment. The fall seminar on Global Gender Inequality adds an extra one credit research experience.


"I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part in the Liberal Arts Scholars Program at UVM, an opportunity that has truly enriched my academic journey. I was in the Social Science LASP and only had great experiences. I loved all of the professors in the program, they were all very knowledgeable and great at presenting their information. The classes were able to push me in a way that bettered my education at UVM. I also was able to quickly build great friendships with many of the other people in LASP. It is an amazing way to meet people during your freshman year. I would highly recommend that anyone with the opportunity to be involved in LASP, do it. The program was such a valuable experience that I’m honored to have had."
Luke H., Class of 2026, History major with Anthropology and Geography minors


2024-2025 Social Science Scholar Courses

Political Science 1026 - Global Gender Inequality

This course asks the question, “Why does the status of women vary so dramatically across countries?” and seeks to answer this question using social science research methods. The main assignment is a workshop style, multi-stage research/writing assignment about the status of women across the world. Each student chooses an indicator of gender equality, collects data on that indicator, and uses the data to test hypotheses about the causes of gender equality. The course includes dedicated time where we work on the research project.

Taught by Caroline Beer, Green & Gold Professor of Political Science

Sociology 1020 – Social Inequality

In this class, we will examine multiple dimensions of social inequality, including class, race, gender, environmental, and political inequality. We will also become familiar with several sociological theories to understand why inequalities persist across space and time. Major course assessments will be verbal presentations and reflective essays; the goal is to become more comfortable communicating a theoretical understanding of social inequality.

Taught by Jenny Lai, Professor of Sociology

Anthropology 1020 - Past and Present Perspectives on Human-Landscape Interactions

This course will interweave the concept of sustainability with themes of land use pressure, ecological diversity, environmental conservation, tourism, geopolitics, climate change, and social justice. Students develop a foundational knowledge of sustainability, delve into a research project that tasks them with exploring and evaluating the human-landscape interactions of past cultures and civilizations and their environments, and finally discuss how power imbalances and structural inequalities at the local to global scale are disenfranchising many groups from making sustainable decisions about their futures.

Taught by Marieka Brouwer-Burg, Professor of Anthropology


2024 Social Science Scholars Application Questions

  1. The Social Science Scholars Program is designed for students who want to understand critical social problems from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. What problem most interests you? Why? Describe your personal and academic experience with this issue.
  2. Are there any specific books, films, research studies, performances, manifestos, visual works or experiences that have already come to shape the way you see the world? What are they and how have they affected your ideas?

Program Contact

Directed by Caroline Beer, Green and Gold Professor of Political Science

World Languages

The World Language Scholars program provides students interested in world cultures the opportunity to explore the role languages play in constructing notions of memory, identity, and belonging in our globalized world. In addition to a foreign language course of their choosing, students take one seminar per semester that investigates the dynamics of language and culture from a variety of regional, disciplinary, and scholarly perspectives. This year, students in the program are choosing from areas across our School of World Languages & Cultures with American Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish all represented.


"It was a really great way to connect with other people interested in language, and it was fun to live with those same people so we could easily talk outside of class! Coming from a bilingual household, it was nice to live with people who spoke another language as well, even if it wasn’t the same as mine. I’ve also made some really good friends through the program, and had the opportunity to have more personal, engaging interactions with my professors that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise."
Emilia W., Class of 2024, Math major with Minors in German and Music


2024-2025 World Language Scholars Courses

Film & Television Studies 1022 – Now on Netflix!: Producing and Streaming of World Culture(s)

The twenty-first century ushered in an exciting era for the entertainment industry, marked by the emergence of digital delivery. For the cinema, this resulted in the rise of streaming platforms that have altered the shape of and our engagement with films/series from nearly all parts of the world. We will trace Netflix’s global expansion and examine its ramifications for culture, language, and media representation. Working with films/series from Africa, France, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, and the U.S., we will determine what it means that we can instantly “tune in” to a Spanish, German, or African television series, without geographic, linguistic, cultural, or technological limitations, while also working to determine what remains culturally specific about these global goods.

Taught by Bridget Levine-West (formerly Swanson), Professor of German and Film and Television Studies

World Literature 1020 - Frames of Remembrance: Post-Memory Generations and the Graphic Novel

In The Generation of Post-memory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust, Marianne Hirsch describes the relationship that the “generation after” bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma(s) of those who came before. She explains “to grow up with overwhelming inherited memories, to be dominated by narratives that preceded one’s birth or one’s consciousness, is to risk having one’s own life stories displaced, even evacuated, by our ancestors. It is to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic fragments of events that still defy narrative reconstruction and exceed comprehension. These events happened in the past, but their effects continue into the present.”

In this course, we will explore a range of graphic novels that grapple with the devastation of war, ancestral trauma, and political oppression from the Holocaust through to the end of the Cold War, including: Maus, We Are On Our Own, Auschwitz, Yossel, When I Grow Up, The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, Marzi: A Memoir, Letting It Go, The Wall, The Other Side of the Wall, Soviet Daughter, and The Apartment. In addition to exploring how and why the medium of the graphic novel resonates with issues of collective trauma, (post)memory, and identity-formation, we will also explore how the past – as communicated through these works –continues to color our relationship to remembrance, testimony, alienation, gendered violence, intergenerational relationships, and political activism. 

Taught by Devin McFadden, Professor of Russian and World Literature

2024 World Language Scholars Application Questions

  1. Describe your language learning experiences thus far. What motivated you to study a new language and culture and what continues to motivate you? What have you found challenging and how have you responded?
  2. In Norwegian, “utepils” refers to drinking a beer outside on a sunny day. In Japanese, there is a noun that specifically refers to the splitable wooden chopsticks you get at take-out restaurants. The German verb “verschlimmbessern” describes the phenomenon of accidentally making something worse while trying to improve it. These and other words require explanation to properly communicate their meaning in a different language and culture, and are, to varying degrees, “untranslatable.” What word or concept do you consider untranslatable? Choose a word from any language/culture (even English!). Then, explain what it means and why it cannot or should not be translated from its original language.

Program Contact

Directed by Bridget Levine-West (formerly Swanson), Professor of German and Film and Television Studies