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.
13 students stand on steps
Members of the 2022 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 of $1,500. 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 2023's seminars:

Instructor: Nathan Wood, Associate Professor, History
4–6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Nunemaker 102

Humans have long used tools and machines to alter the way we work and move, but beginning about two and half centuries ago, our relationship to technology fundamentally shifted as we began to rely less on natural and animate sources of power and grew increasingly dependent on industrial machines.

This course will explore our complicated relationship with modern technology, which can at times seem to control us, even though we are its creators. We will explore some “charismatic” technologies such as the railway, automobiles, and airplanes, alongside more humble, but no less significant technologies such as the clock, the bicycle, the washing machine, the Haber-Bosch process, birth control, and corrugated steel. We will examine narratives of technological progress and futurism, while paying attention not only to the moment of introduction when hyperbole abounds, but also to technology as it is actually used, which can undercut the predominance of powerful white men and wealthy countries in the story of technology. Throughout, we will reflect on the ways that wealth and social class, race, gender, and age shape access to and use of technologies.

The course employs a historical approach to help students to think about patterns in our relationship to technology, so that we might be more mindful as we use technology now and design the technologies of the future. For their final projects, students will choose a technology, conduct historical research on its introduction, apply course themes to interpreting its use, and speculate on future developments and uses.

Instructor: Marike Janzen, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic, German, & Eurasian Studies
5–7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Nunemaker 102

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the number of forcibly displaced people across the world currently numbers 89.3 million. The transition from lawful resident of a particular nation to refugee is a traumatic one, not least due to refugees’ loss of access to rights that are guaranteed to citizens of states. Depending on location, these include rights to safe housing, healthcare, education, and due process under the law. Refugees and citizens are human beings, but citizens are able to exercise their human-ness in ways that refugees cannot.

In this course, we will explore the diverging experiences of citizenship and refugee-dom, and examine how each shapes our understanding of what it means to be human. Our study will focus on cultural and political texts responding to crises in which the category of the refugee was codified in international law. These include the post-World War I period, World War II and its aftermath, and the steady increase of displaced persons in the past ten years due to (the often-interrelated phenomena) of war and climate change.


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

The two programs share a joint application process. Students should review both programs and the seminars planned for each as they decide whether to apply to one or both programs.

Applications must include a submitted online form with personal statement, along with two recommendations from a KU faculty member or instructor submitted through an an online recommendation form.

Applications for the 2023 cohort are due by 11:59 p.m. September 22, 2022. Interviews are planned for October 16, 2022, and cannot be rescheduled.

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