Honors Program

Casco Bay Region Thematic Cluster


To find upcoming cluster courses:

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Casco Bay Region: Where We Live

A Thematic Cluster in the USM Core (choose honors and/or non-honors courses)

 Cluster Description:   Explore your surroundings.  Understand your community.  In this cluster, you’ll examine our region’s culture, transitions, diversity, and natural environment.  You’ll reflect on our local identity and experience: Who are we?  Why are we the way we are?  How does Portland, Maine, or New England fit within the world?  How do we relate to the ecosystem that supports us?  The cluster fosters a sense of place and connects you to the community.  It motivates community stewardship, including a commitment to protect what you love about Maine. 

The Casco Bay Region cluster is organized by the Honors Program, and all students are encouraged to sample honors (HON) courses.  Non-honors courses are also available.  HON courses are seminars that emphasize discussion, reflection, close reading of challenging texts, writing, research, and civic engagement.  Non-honors courses tend to be slightly larger and less likely to use a seminar format.  All 300-level HON courses in the cluster are open to any USM student willing to engage with the course material; however, if a student’s grade in an HON course is lower than B-, that student is expected to finish the cluster with non-honors courses.

Non-honors Cluster Courses:




HTY 360  - History of Maine


every year

SWO 383 - Social Work with Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

none (permission for cluster students)

every year

ESP 200  - Environmental Planning

ESP101/2 or permission for cluster students

every other fall

ART 399 - Shaping the Terrain



ANT 360 - Public Archaeology (6 cr.)

ANT 103 or permission for cluster students

every year or two

CHY 233 - Analytical Chemistry

CHY 115 with minimum grade of C-

every fall

BIO 231 -Botony

BIO 107 with minimum grade of C-

every other fall

Honors Cluster Courses**




HON 355 - Casco Bay Area Topics  Course topics-which vary by instructor-address the culture, history, or natural einvironment of the Casco Bay area, Maine or New England. Course may be repeated for credit when topics differ.






every year or so

HON 359 - Honors Internship/Community Service    Honors Program internship or community service project.  Students, working individually or in a group, receive permission from the honors director; recruit a faculty sponsor; locate a placement; and write a learning contract that outlines reading and writing assignments.



Sophomore standing (ideally 2nd semester sophomore) and Honors student status (or permission)

every semester

HON 455 - Topics in New England Studies    Undergraduate seniors seek permission to sit in graduate courses offered by the American and New England Studies program.  Courses appropriate for the cluster examine New England’s identity and experience in the context of the broader American experience.  Courses combine various disciplinary approaches, but all draw on contemporary scholarship and stress the historicity of the region’s culture and society.

  • ANE 615 - Folklore and Religion
  • ANE 620 - Regional Writing & the Sense of Place,
  • ANE 622 - Food: History, Culture & Politics
  • ANE 658 - Visual Culture of the 20th-Century America
  • ANE 668 – Writers of Northern New England
  • ANE 650 (Topics) – topics vary each year
  • Other ANE courses with permission
Honors Student and Instructor permission (normally requires 3.5+GPA and senior standing of 84 credits)

every semester










* All thematic cluster courses at USM are to be taken after (or current with) any course that fulfills the Core’s “Ethical Inquiry, Social Responsibility, and Citizenship” requirement. 

 ** Normally, students are required to select cluster courses with at least two different prefixes.  Students can complete the cluster entirely with HON courses, as long as those courses represent different disciplines (e.g., not all history courses or not all literature courses). Contact Honors for requirement certification.


For more information or to enroll in your first honors course,  contact an Honors Program advisor at honors@usm.maine.edu or the 207-780-4330.

USM Honors Program

The USM Honors Program is a long-time institutional member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, the professional organization devoted to honors education.

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