International Honors Program: Where the classes challenge your mind and your assumptions

The International Honors Program is a rigorous alternative to the General Education Program at Pacific Lutheran University, and is designed for independently-motivated students with an interest in pursuing their studies in a global context. Rooted in the university’s emphasis on liberal arts education, International Honors consists of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses that explore contemporary issues and their historical foundations through an integrated, multi-national approach. During the First Year, IHON students study the ideas and forces which have shaped the contemporary world, through a variety of texts (philosophy, sacred writings, historical documents, poems, dramas, etc.) and a variety of methodological approaches. In subsequent years, students then choose from multi-disciplinary courses on topics such as What is Work? Labor in Culture and Society, Friendship from Aristotle to Aids, Self/Other-Human/Animal and Global Climate Change along with many other courses. What distinguishes these courses from those students might take in the general education curriculum is that each engages its particular theme or topic in multiple ways, whether through different academic disciplines (such as political theory, or literary studies, or economics), or through different cultural perspectives (different countries, different languages, different traditions). For example: a course on epidemics and epidemiology might be grounded in biology, but include cultural perspectives on epidemics from history, or literature, or art.

The multidisciplinary character of the PLU IHON program serves the needs of IHON students with a wide variety of majors and minors, from across the university. Many IHON students also participate in PLU’s extensive and excellent study away programs, and our program requirements make allowances for a wide variety of student needs. We are also very excited about our new IHON Fall or Spring Semester study away program at Oxford University, where students have the opportunity to pursue a highly-individualized course of study through the Oxford tutorial system, while also exploring place-based learning with a PLU faculty member. Please follow this link for more information on this great study away opportunity.


Multidisciplinary approaches, historical and internationally focused study, intentional intellectual formation and ethical reflection, and the establishment of a cohesive learning community.

In a typical PLU IHON class you will find the following:

  1. Peers who are academically prepared and highly motivated
  2. Small class sizes (12-20 students per course
  3. Discussion rather than lecture. For example, many professors who teach in the program use some variety of the Socratic Method in their courses.
  4. Consideration of the ethical implications of the particular themes or topics under discussion.
  5. A global perspective
  6. Direct engagement with primary texts, rather than textbooks presenting summaries or simplifications.
  7. Creative assignments (i.e. the emphasis in our courses is not on tests or testing “acquired knowledge,” but rather how one uses what one learns in order to think through particular issues or problems).

Please see “course descriptions” for specific course descriptions on this website. Eligibility To be considered for admission to the International Honors Program, students must be admitted to the university and complete a separate application form. Students with a 3.6 GPA and higher are encouraged to apply. Students interested in the International Honors Program must complete the International Honors online application form. Honors Program faculty members will read applications and determine those admitted to the program on a rolling basis. Please contact Carmiña Palerm, Director of the International Honors Program, at with any questions you may have.

Oxford Program

The Oxford program is designed for PLU Honor students to study away at Oxford University.


Get your general and class specific International Honors questions answered.

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