What is a Keystone?

The Keystone Project is the curricular spine of the Honors Humanities Program. It gives students a chance to explore a passion, to develop advanced research skills, to collaborate and learn directly from faculty, and to learn how to apply the humanities to their own interests.

Why Keystones?

Not only does a keystone project allow you to concentrate on what you care about, it also helps you to cultivate skills in research, to develop your creativity, to take the initiative in shaping your own ideas, and to polish your talents for presenting your discoveries. A Keystone EMPOWERS you to explore and to grow.


While the keystone project is an individual project, students receive feedback from peers and advisors within the Honors Humanities community. We also strongly encourage students to seek feedback from a mentor on campus or off. During the first year of Honors Humanities, students begin to explore topics that interest them. They begin to formulate ideas on what might make a good keystone project. During the first and second year, students take part in workshops where they receive feedback on their keystone work, culminating in a presentation of their work at the annual Keystone Symposium in April of each year.


The Keystone Symposium is an annual event hosted by the Honors Humanities program, during which students present their work to colleagues, family and friends. The format is similar to an academic conference, giving students the experience of presenting their work in a formal but friendly setting.


Two awards are given at the Symposium for exemplary keystone projects: The Seidel Keystone Prize and the Lowell Ensel Prize.

The Seidel Keystone Prize for Achievement in the Humanities honors a student majoring in the humanities who has demonstrated a consistent commitment to their keystone project and who has exceeded expectations, showing passion for their work and taking initiative in gaining new knowledge and experience. The Lowell Ensel Keystone Prize honors a member of Honors Humanities whose project takes the form of a creative work of art, music, literature or film. The prize is presented in memory of Lowell Ensel, a former Honors Humanities student who demonstrated an incredible talent for filmmaking. Each of the recipients receives a plaque in their honor, as well as a prize of $800.

Past Keystone Projects

Keystone projects are diverse in medium: students have written novels, musicals, liturgical masses, academic papers, blogs, learning tools. They have also presented plays, campaign speeches, formed non-profit organizations, and even made surfboards! The common thread tying every keystone together is its relationship to the humanities: by taking on a humanistic approach to an issue, or by focusing on an element of human culture in their project, students develop a personal connection with the Humanities and make a personal contribution to it.