Schwanke Honors Institute: Prep for College and Beyond

Header Graphic includes photos of Schwanke 2019 students, and the following text: Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke Institute.  Preparing for College and Beyond.  June 14-26, 2020. Summer Session on the Environment and Sustainability.

Join a two-week summer honors program for high school students and incoming college freshmen to explore University life and academics at the University of Montana’s Davidson Honors College. Learn from award-winning honors faculty, build connections with other curious students, and engage in what an honors education has to offer, including experiential learning and small class sizes. Choose between two environmentally-themed courses and receive three college credits.

Program Features

Here are a few of the experiences you will have this summer in the Schwanke Institute coordinated by the Davidson Honors College (DHC):

  • A choice between two 3-credit courses taught by University of Montana faculty:
    • Creative Writing in the Environment
    • Climate Science, Society, and Solutions
  • On-campus housing in the residence halls with fellow pre-college students and current students in the Davidson Honors College, who serve as residential staff and teaching assistants
  • Structured days with morning class sessions, afternoon workshops to prepare for college opportunities, and local field trips to explore course topics
  • Evenings to eat in the dining hall, finish homework in your dorm room, and attend group activities 


Rising high school sophomores through rising university freshmen are welcome to apply. Students must have completed their freshman year of high school by June 2020. Enrollment in the Institute is limited, so we encourage early applications. Please select the application link below to complete the online application:

Schwanke Honors Institute Application Coming Soon!
Application Deadline: April 30, 2020

Courses will fill on a rolling admissions basis  
Need-based Scholarships Available

Please note you will need the following documents to complete an online application:

  1. Student's unofficial high school transcript.
  2. Statement of Interest: In 500 words or less, please describe your interest in participating in the Schwanke Institute’s summer honors program. Please be specific in the relevant experiences you have had, what you are interested in learning, and why you would like to participate in this institute.
  3. Name and contact information for a high school counselor as a reference, an unofficial copy of your high school transcript, and financial information, if you are interested in being considered for a need-based scholarship.

For more information or questions please contact: 
Davidson Honors College – University of Montana – Missoula, MT 59812
Phone: (406) 243-2541 or email:  

Program Curriculum

Schwanke Institute is an immersive, two-week classroom and field-based program focused on the environment and sustainability. Students choose between two, three-credit courses taught by University of Montana Honors faculty. These courses draw from the University of Montana’s nationally-distinctive programs in creative writing and climate change studies.

Schwanke Course Descriptions

SchwankePicture3.pngCreative Writing in the Environment

Western Montana is rich with sparkling rivers, magnificent lakes, and ponds. Creative Writing in the Environment offers the opportunity to explore these waters afield and through the written word. Students will focus on identifying their own home waters, be it stream, lake, pond, or ocean. What draws us to water, that most essential and entrancing of elements? What shapes, defines, and threatens our home waters? Students will interpret the theme of home waters through poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Read more about the course description and instructor



Climate Science, Society, and Solutions

How will climate change shape the future? What are the opportunities and risks for human society? How can we anticipate and engage with solutions? These big topics are made local and personal as we study climate change on the natural and cultural landscape, consider new perspectives through interactive simulations, talk with local sustainability leaders, and work in teams to develop practical solutions. What, ultimately, does it mean to build hope and personal power in the face of climate change? Read more about the course description and instructor.

Photo of UM instructor and former Schwanke Institute students at Glacier National Park.

Program Costs

The cost of the 2-week program, to be announced, will include tuition, lodging, meals, and activities.

Program Scholarships

Thanks to the generous support of the Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke family, there are a number of tuition-only scholarships that will be awarded on the basis of financial need. Information about applying for a scholarship is included in the application.  Presidential Leadership Scholarship semi-finalists may apply for these need-based scholarships and will also be granted a $500 scholarship.   


For more information or questions please contact: 
Davidson Honors College – University of Montana – Missoula, MT 59812
Phone: (406) 243-2541 or email: