Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College Launches the Morton Research Forum

WHC Building

by Lynda F. Rysavy | Monday, Nov 30, 2020

Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College has received a $500,000 challenge gift to launch the Morton Research Forum, named in honor of Jeffrey S. Morton, Ph.D., professor of political science in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters and Foreign Policy Association fellow. 

The Morton Research Forum highlights Morton and his contributions to foreign policy by providing eight diplomacy and interdisciplinary fellowships for honors undergraduates. Students selected into the program will receive merit-based scholarships underwritten by the challenge gift and matching donations to participate in a community-based, research-intensive fellowship or a diplomacy research project. 

“This generous gift will plant the seeds for a truly innovative model in undergraduate research to blossom at the Wilkes Honors College and across the University,” said Justin Perry, Ph.D., dean of the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.  “It embodies how the power of students’ intellectual discoveries can transcend academic boundaries in multiple ways, while bridging the gap between the daily life of the ivory towers and its surrounding ecosystem.”  

Beginning in the next academic year, three Honors College students will be the first cohort to take part in the pilot phase of a two-year interdisciplinary fellowship program, focused on three areas of significance to the South Florida region and beyond: data science and artificial intelligence, marine conservation and environmental science, and healthy aging and public health. These areas naturally align with FAU’s strategic research priorities and strengths.

Five Honors College students from the Leon Charney Diplomacy Program will be selected as Research Forum scholars, spending a semester to focus on foreign policy and world affairs. The Leon Charney Diplomacy Program, which trains students in world affairs, dispute resolution and debate, was established in 1996 and is a unit of FAU’s Peace, Justice & Human Rights Initiative. To date, the program has won 45 national and international awards for academic excellence. 

Morton, director of the Leon Charney Diplomacy Program, will play a leadership role in providing talks and summer workshops for all students. 

“Thanks to this remarkable donation, the Honors College has the opportunity to launch a research forum that will greatly benefit its students and faculty,” Morton said. “We are all excited about this new initiative.”  

A key objective of the Morton Research Forum is to wed FAU’s research enterprise with the needs and goals of constituencies in South Florida.  The program will feature partnerships with select companies and organizations and provide new channels for disseminating student research.

The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at FAU is the nation’s only university-affiliated, free-standing honors college. Located in Jupiter on the John D. MacArthur Campus of FAU, this close-knit, residential, highly-selective liberal arts and sciences college offers a distinctive all-honors curriculum and is surrounded by world-renowned scientific research institutes, where undergraduates benefit from unparalleled access to research internships. The college recently received a second consecutive top rating in a nationwide review of 50 public honors colleges.

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