HON201: Invitation to Inquiry

The Honors Invitation to Inquiry course is one of two capstone seminars required for completion of the Lane Honor Program.

On the surface research appears to be the main focus of the Honors Invitation to Inquiry course. Yet beyond examining the research process, students are urged to develop “critical thinking” skills and “question assumptions.” Much of what was addressed in the class had far less to do with physically collecting research and far more to do with evaluating our own understanding of scholarly research and what it means to be a scholar.

In the process of developing critical thinking skills the students learn to formulate and often reformulate research questions. As a research question leads to potential answers those answers lead to new questions. This method of developing news questions based on research is what helps to define a scholar as an innovator at the cutting-edge of their field.

Discovering what others have not and interpreting information in new ways makes scholarly research relevant. “Questioning Assumption” is an important tool in this process. When a scholar can assess their own assumptions along with commonly held assumptions from within their field they are in a better position to reveal new ways of understanding our world.

Honors Invitation to Inquiry encourages students to discover new ways of perceiving their own work in a scholarly context.


Most of the information I collected for my research in this class was accessed through the Lane Library data bases.

Example of the research articles that I accessed are listed below.

click to view image gallery

After collecting the bulk of our research we created an annotated bibliography.We had been challenged to question assumptions both in our own thinking and in the sources we evaluated. Forming the annotated bibliography helped me to consider more broadly how each source related to others and the topic generally.


Each student in the class was to research a scholar and contact them for an interview. I contacted, David Kusin, a former curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art who had later work on Wall Street and in time developed his own art index Kusin & Co. Much of what I heard from Mr. Kusin related to the concepts we had been addressing in this course regarding the need to be asking questions others in the field have not. Conducting an informational interview was a form of research I had not used before this experience.


Our final project included both a reflective essay and a round table discussion both of which were to focus on our research process and what we had discovered. The reflective essay gave me a chance to assess what I though were the most central concepts within the course and in turn helped me to further understand my role as a student and aspiring scholar. The roundtable discussion reveal to me what others felt were central issues and how they saw their own research in the scope of their own fields.

Signature pieces included:




Additionally, read and  discussed The importance of stupidity in scientific research by Martin A. Schwartz.


In this brief article Schwartz discusses why doing research can be so frustrating and feel so overwhelming. Schwartz explains that people naturally feel stupid when researching to find answers they do not already know. But, we are also assured that this feeling of stupidity can come to seem natural and aid us in our drive to find conclusions.

 Stuart Firestein: The Pursuit of Ignorance

Also, addresses this issue in a candid and humorous way.

View it here:


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