University Scholars & Global Scholars

Every spring, 30 outstanding second-year students from a variety of disciplines become the new class of University Scholars and Global Scholars.
Students stand in two rows
Members of the 2023 cohort of University Scholars.


University Scholars Program

The University Scholars Program was founded in the spring of 1982 by Judge Deanell Tacha, then Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Professor Francis Heller, then the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Law and Political Science. The program now counts as alumni over 750 students.

University Scholars receive a one-time scholarship. In addition, they are connected with a faculty mentor who helps them deepen and expand their academic interests.

Global Scholars Program

The Global Scholars Program assembled its first cohort of 15 students in 2009 and has been attracting high achieving, internationally engaged students ever since. In addition to taking the Global Scholars Seminar, Global Scholars conduct internationally focused research on a subject of their own choosing, which they present at the Global Scholars Research Symposium their senior year.


Both programs require enrollment in an interdisciplinary seminar that addresses an important topic in contemporary society. Below are course descriptions for 2024's seminars:

Instructor: Paul Scott, Professor of French

4–6:30 p.m. Mondays, Nunemaker 102

How and why do we imagine the future? Most personal and collective human endeavors -science and technology, religion, politics- are focused on future outcomes and possibilities. Thinking about and planning ahead is a deep-seated phenomenon that is ancient as humankind itself. This course will explore a variety of political, environmental, and technological visions of the future, with particular emphasis on analyzing their function of warning about the contemporary society in which they are produced or presenting a critique of the inequalities that exist in our present age. We will also become familiar with the diverse theories of social justice that inform projections of the future in addition to utopian theory and criticism.

We will study movies, TV shows, short stories, and novels dealing with the potential consequences of a range of issues that impact us today, from AI to environmental catastrophes. A major part of the course will be devoted to exploring different fictional utopias and dystopias, particularly the paradox of why we enjoy dystopian works more than positive imaginings of the future and why, ultimately, every utopia represents a dystopia for some. Since utopian ideals underpin extremist ideologies such as fascism and communism, we will also apply our close readings and analysis of futuristic texts to a selection of political manifestos and speeches from Karl Marx to recent presidential campaigns.

Throughout the semester and with our close readings of these works, the course will cultivate an awareness of the close relationship between cultural expression and social history, emphasizing the importance of speculative fiction in the ethical and political debates that matter to us: who we are and what we could (and should) be.

Instructor: Brittnee Carter, Associate Professor of Political Science

4–6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Nunemaker 102

Global security challenges are among the most important issues of the contemporary world. Challenges such as armed conflict, civil war, political violence, terrorism, human security, and peacekeeping impact the lives of all communities across the globe.  These issues are not only high on the agenda of politicians and decision makers, but are also prioritized by the public as major issues of concern. As the world becomes more interconnected, security challenges become more complex and involve and impact more and more communities and actors. As such, contemporary issues in global security require a wide array of actors, intelligence efforts, technology, and innovation operating across local, national, and international levels of governance.

This course explores contemporary issues in global security and examines the conceptual foundations and practical policy frameworks for issues of foreign policy, conflict management, defense and military strategy, political violence, human rights, and peacekeeping.  The course will facilitate an understanding of fundamental issues about the causes of conflict and political violence and foreign policy decision making, but will also consider rising challenges such as global health and migration (human security). This course combines scholarly inquiry from multiple disciplines (ranging from defense studies, crisis management, psychology, and ethics).  Students will learn frameworks of security decision making and apply them to real-life cases to explore and understand complex modern-day global security challenges. 


To be considered, applicants must have a cumulative KU GPA of 3.5. Students do not need to be members of the University Honors Program to apply to either program. (At the beginning of the fall semester, second-year students with a strong academic record are invited to apply.)

Scholars are selected on the basis of academic credentials, commitment to their education, intellectual promise, involvement and interests outside of the classroom, expressed interest in the topic of the seminar(s) to which they have applied, and recommendations.

Application process

While these two programs share a joint application process, they differ in terms of structure, activity, recognition, and compensation. Students should review both programs and the seminars planned for each as they decide whether to apply to one or both programs.

The application process takes place through the University of Kansas Scholarships Portal, powered by AcademicWorks. Students will sign in and complete the online application form, which asks for a personal statement for each scholars program to which a student is applying.

During the application process, students will also provide the contact information for the two recommenders; those individuals will automatically receive an email that includes a link to a recommendation form. (Students may send additional reminders to their recommenders through AcademicWorks if necessary.) 

Applications for each cohort open in August, with interviews taking place in October.

Have questions? Contact University Scholars Program director Sarah Crawford-Parker at or Global Scholars Program coordinator Michelle Ward at

Application Forms