The First-Year Sequence consists of discussion-based seminars in which careful reading, spontaneous orality, and audacious inquiry are encouraged. Students often manifest their understanding in experimental or creative forms of expression. The several sections of each are uniquely shaped by the people in the room. They coalesce, however, around common conceptual pursuits, such as the nature of justice, power, and love; the processes by which humans make decisions and determine values; and the relationships between the individual and the human and non-human communities inhabited. In addition to allowing students to better understand their own values and principles, these courses also provide the first-year cohort with opportunities to shape their own unique community.
Across three quarters, first-year Honors students complete four courses. They enroll in HNRS 101 and HNRS 103 concurrently in their first quarter at Western; HNRS 104 in the second; and either HNRS 105 or HNRS 106 in the third. Students are encouraged to connect these courses to work undertaken beyond Honors, in Western’s seven colleges. Incoming Honors students must complete the First-Year Sequence unless otherwise discussed with Dr. Linneman. By taking the full sequence, students complete the (BCOM) General University Requirement for graduation in addition to the (HUM) and (ACOM)/(BCOM) credits that are attached to the individual courses.
Intended as a common experience for all students in the WWU Honors Program, “The Big Picture” is a lecture series grounded in an emergent, transdisciplinary field known as Big History. Students join leading scholars from across Western’s Bellingham campus as each contributes questions and evidence to create a metanarrative of human existence in its cosmological and ecological contexts. By emphasizing wonderment, collaborative ways of knowing, and evidentiary synthesis across academic disciplines, HNRS 101 introduces new students to the intellectual community that awaits.
In HNRS 103, taken concurrently with HNRS 101, students encounter and contemplate artifacts and textual materials created before the onset of modernity. Although the course emphasizes worlds created in the Global North (North America and Western Europe), students pay close attention to their interconnectedness with worlds created elsewhere.
In their second quarter at Western, students build on their work in the fall term by completing HNRS 104. Because it focuses on artifacts and textual materials created during the modern period, different concepts, problems, and nuances emerge. Students are invited to think comparatively about modernity and pre-modernity.
Spring Quarter (pick one)
In the third and final quarter of their first year, students choose between HNRS 105 and HNRS 106. Both courses use the rubric of “Postmodernity” to home in on human experiences that academic discourses have, historically speaking, subordinated and silenced. By communing with those whose lives and creations represent a marked departure from the dominant relational structures, values, and institutions of the Global North (North America and Western Europe), students are invited to revisit, reconsider, and recontextualize material from previous quarters.
Students who choose to enroll in HNRS 105 will emphasize the experiences, worlds, and creative productions of those in the Global South (locales outside of North America and Western Europe). Whether focused on people in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America, HNRS 105 upends many of the values, assumptions, and metanarratives that students encountered in HNRS 103 and HNRS 104.
Students who choose to enroll in HNRS 106 will emphasize the experiences, worlds, and creative productions of those who have been mis- or under-represented in the Global North. Whether focused on people in North American or Western Europe, HNRS 106 upends many of the values, assumptions, and metanarratives that students encountered in HNRS 103 and HNRS 104.