Sundt Honors Seminar

In furtherance of the Honors College’s educational mission, Sundt Honors Seminars (HON 450V) aim to foster student engagement by offering intensive learning opportunities both inside and outside the traditional classroom.  The Sundt Honors Seminar is a unique, experience-based, interdisciplinary seminar developed and taught by the Sundt Honors Professor. The course is taught in the spring semester by the holder of the Sundt Honors Professorship for that academic year.  It may include a travel experience related to the seminar topic, hosting of outside specialists, or other unique activity.  The instructor is provided with a budget of approximately $10,000 to support the course.  The fund may go toward paying the costs of student travel, paying for supplies, inviting outside speakers, or other activities.  However, major equipment purchases are not allowed, nor may the fund may be used to hire a graduate assistant.

The Sundt Honors Seminar is open to Crimson Scholars of sophomore, junior, or senior standing by application only. Up to 14 students are accepted. Students accepted into the seminar will be designated Sundt Honors Scholars for the term. Sundt Honors Seminars satisfy the Viewing the Wider World requirement of General Education.


Hon 450V: The Sundt Honors Seminar: Corals and Global Climate change:

Protecting our natural resources by investing in cultural and economic benefits for society

M.K. Nishiguchi

T • 4:00 – 6:00 PM Foster Hall Rm 146

The Sundt Honors seminar for Spring 2016 will focus on how endangered natural resources (e.g., coral reefs) have been impacted by environmental stresses that are directly linked to global climate change (CO2 emissions, ocean acidification, thermal stress) and the impacts this loss has on both economical and cultural aspects of the community. The main goal of the course will be for students to better understand which biological processes affect coral reef health, and to develop a proactive strategy to educate and involve community “buy in” that will lead to better ways of protecting corals from the impacts of climate change. The course will combine lecture and hands-on field experiences here at NMSU and at the University of Hawaii. By working with scientists, marine educators, and local public groups, this class will enlighten students in understanding how corals are affected by climate change, and provide a springboard for them to develop ideas on educating the general public on climate change and the impacts this has on biodiversity.
Students will be required to work in small groups and conduct a two-part case study project during a 12-day field trip (over spring break) to the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) located on the island of O’ahu. Students will also be required to run a small subset of experiments monitoring corals both in the laboratory setting as well as in the field, to better understand the physiological processes that are affected by climate change. In addition, students will also interact with a local non-profit organization that is presently restoring one of the native fish-ponds near HIMB, whose corals were also impacted by the recent rise in temperature. Students will be given the assignment to design how such community efforts can be utilized to provide a springboard for education (to the community and beyond) about climate change, and the financial and cultural importance of coral reef communities that are endangered due to environmental stress.


sundt coral reef Spring 2016Figure 1. Global climate change’s effect on coral reefs. Both biological processes as well as economic and cultural awareness can be utilized to address how loss of habitat and essential natural resources can affect entire communities. Photo by Nick Graham.


Students will return to NMSU and will finish their case studies by providing written documentation of the study, as well as an oral presentation for the Honors College in a small mini-symposium and at URCAS, where the campus community will be invited to learn about climate change using coral reefs as an example. Final projects that are deemed suitable for use to the UH community and beyond will be available for public use both as a written report as well as online access to the data and information collected and analyzed by the students.
Dr. Nishiguchi is a Regents Professor in the Department of Biology. Her major interests are marine symbiosis, microbial ecology, and the effect of climate change on marine habitats.
The Sundt Honors seminar aims to foster student engagement by offereing intensive learning opportunities both inside and outside the traditional classroom. The Sundt Honors seminar is a unique, experienced-based, interdisciplinary seminar developed and taught by the Sundt Honors professor.



September 14th: Applications open

October 23rd: Applications close

November 1st: Sundt Honors Scholars and alternates notified of acceptance

November 30th: Travel deposit of $400 due.