Two students smiling and laughing at each other standing outside

The Honors College Orientation is held twice a year: once in late August for students joining the Honors College for the fall term and again in late January for new Honors students for the spring. Honors Orientation is a mandatory program designed to introduce incoming students to the foundations of undergraduate honors education, and provides opportunities to:

Fall Orientation for Honors students admitted for the fall is typically held on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to the start of the fall term. Spring Orientation for students admitted for the spring term is typically held during the first week of classes.

Honors Orientation is separate from campus-wide New Student Orientation overseen by the office of New Student and Family Programs. That orientation is mandatory for all students and incurs a fee. Contact New Student and Family Programs with any questions regarding New Student Orientation.

Spring 2020 Orientation

Fall Honors Orientation is required for incoming freshmen and students transferring from other institutions. There is no cost to attend. Enrolled incoming students are required to register online to confirm their attendance at Honors Orientation.

Spring Honors Orientation will take place the evening of Wednesday, January 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the Honors College classroom in the 7800 York Road building, room 131. Dinner will be provided for attendees.

Fall 2019 Orientation

Fall Honors Orientation is required for incoming freshmen and students transferring from other institutions. There is no cost to attend. Enrolled incoming students are required to register online to confirm their attendance at Honors Orientation.

  • Honors Orientation was the evening of Wednesday, August 21 and all day on Thursday, August 22. Schedule details and additional information regarding Honors Orientation were provided to incoming students in mid August.
  • Incoming Honors students who elect to live on-campus were scheduled to move in to their room assignments on Wednesday, August 21. Details on move-in was provided to students in August. Anyone who is not an incoming Honors student - including returning Honors students and other incoming students living in Douglass House but not admitted to the Honors College - had separate move-in dates and times. All students must follow the move-in timeline that the Department of Housing & Residence Life provides in August.


A common read is a required part of the Honors Orientation experience in August. This program provides an opportunity for Honors students to explore issues that contribute to broad intellectual development while fostering intellectual ties between Honors students, faculty and staff.

The 2019 Honors College Read is What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha.

Told with passion and intelligence, WHAT THE EYES DON'T SEE is an essential text for understanding the full scope of injustice in Flint and the importance of fighting for what's right. ”

Booklist (starred review)

What the Eyes Don't See is also the 2019 One Maryland One Book selection of the Maryland Humanities Council, and copies of the book are made available to participating public libraries and public high schools. Incoming students can also purchase this book from local retail stores or other booksellers, or borrow it from non-participating libraries.

The goals of the Honors College Read are:

  • Provide incoming students a chance to connect with other students
  • Provide incoming students simulated classroom discussion experience led by faculty
  • Provide students with a learning opportunity that relates to the academic expectations of the Honors College
  • Create an opportunity for critical thinking and ethical engagement
Honors Read Questions

What the Eyes Don't See provokes questions spanning several areas of inquiry, from epidemiology to economics, political science to public health, environmental engineering to environmental justice. The following questions will guide your discussion of the book at Honors College Orientation. Please prepare a written, typed response to at least ten of these questions. Write as much as you'd like. Some questions may only require a sentence or two while others may need a longer response. Responses will be collected, so be sure to include your full name and your Orientation group name/number (you'll learn this at Orientation) at the top of the page(s) that you submit.

  1. What factors coalesced to create a “perfect storm” out of which the Flint Water Crisis emerged?
  2. What could have been done to prevent the Flint Water Crisis? Propose at least two ideas. Comment on the feasibility of each idea.
  3. In what ways did our system of government potentially exacerbate the Flint Water Crisis? Do you think an alternative form of government would have been better positioned to respond to such a crisis? Why or why not?
  4. Why did so many governmental officials (at multiple levels) respond to the Flint Water Crisis with such lethargy?
  5. What is the Kehoe Rule? How did adherence to the Kehoe Rule manifest itself in Flint?
  6. What lessons did Flint in 2014 fail to learn from the D.C. lead crisis of the early 2000s?
  7. The costs of municipal water infrastructure, treatment, and delivery are substantial. Yet, the prices charged to consumers for water do not cover the true costs shouldered by municipalities. What factors should municipalities consider when setting prices for drinking water? How can we arrive at a fair price for water?
  8. The U.S. EPA action level for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (ppb). Yet, we know from medical research that no level of lead exposure is safe. Why, then, doesn’t the EPA set the action level for lead to 0 ppb?
  9. Hanna-Attisha was fearful of disseminating “bad” science. Why? What safeguards did Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s team take to prevent this? What safeguards did they skip?
  10. In what ways could scientific research be viewed as an obstacle, rather than as a tool, for improving lives in places like Flint?
  11. Why are epidemiological studies of lead contamination in drinking water more challenging to conduct than studies of microbial contamination (e.g., cholera)?
  12. Why are some (perhaps most) scientists hesitant to be viewed as activists? Do you think their reservations are valid?
  13. How did Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s past experiences inform her response to the Flint Water Crisis?
  14. In what ways can the Flint Water Crisis inform the way we think about environmental justice?
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