Schwanke Honors Institute


Due to ongoing challenges and uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke Institute has been canceled for the 2021 summer season to ensure the health and safety of our participants and staff. This was a difficult decision and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and disappointment this announcement has caused. We look forward to offering the Schwanke Honors Institute next summer and we will update our website when more information is available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to Davidson Honors College, Director of Student Engagement, Bethany Applegate ( if you have any questions. Be safe. Be well.

 For those Schwanke applicants who plan to join the UM family this fall, please consider UM’s Summer Start program! You can find more information about the program on the UM website:  

Questions about the Summer Start program can be directed to Grace Gardner, Director, UM Summer:


 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 Honors 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
  • 3-day excursion to Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Reservation for an immersive study of the environment and sustainability
  • 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 is limited- we recommend applying early. Applications are considered on a rolling admissions basis and students should receive notification of their acceptance within two weeks of applying for the program.

Application Deadline: TBA

Priority Scholarship Application Deadline: TBA
(remaining scholarship funds may be allocated after deadline)


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 Honors 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 scholarship.

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

Click here for a downloadable and printable Schwanke Honors Institute flyer

Program Curriculum

Schwanke Honors 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


Creative 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.


Program Costs

The cost of the 2-week program is $1800 (cost of in-state tuition at UM, plus a program fee):
Tuition (for in-state & out-of-state students): $1009                                                                 
Program Fee (includes lodging, meals, and activities): $791                                                         

Program Scholarships

Thanks to the generous support of the Kermit and Kathleen Schwanke family, there are a number of tuition-only scholarships awarded annually. Please see the link above for the scholarship application. Presidential Leadership Scholarship finalists may apply for scholarships and will automatically receive a $500 general scholarship upon acceptance to the Schwanke Honors Institute.

For more information or questions, please contact the Davidson Honors College: 406-243-2541, or email: (Davidson Honors College, Director of Student Engagement)