Curriculum corner

Despite talk of budget cuts, swelling classes and disappearing instructors, the UW is offering more than 50 new courses this quarter. These are a few unique courses now available to students.


Honors Interdisciplinary Study I

“I Am Charlotte Simmons”: An Interactive Health Seminar based on the book by Tom Wolfe.

Centered on the life of 18-year-old college freshman Charlotte Simmons, this book-based course is intended to facilitate awareness of health and wellness issues on college campuses.

Eating disorders, sexual discovery, the worship of student-athletes and date-rape are some of the subjects students in this seminar will discuss from a variety of social, technical and artistic perspectives in order to ultimately understand what this work says about the human condition, said Clarence Spigner, the course instructor.

This class is a seminar, focused mostly on discussion-based learning. Spigner said that he “will only guide the discussions and not dictate the content. The students will lead [the discussions], since the novel is about them.”

Spigner has worked with undergraduate students before, though he is a graduate-level professor. He hopes this course will help students better communicate their own issues with health and well-being.

“I’m very familiar with the teaching style and with undergraduates. Still, much of the subject matter is intense,” Spigner said.

While this writing course is only open to students in the Honors Programs, it does fulfill 5-credits worth of VLPA, I&S or NW graduation requirements.

“I hope to offer ‘I Am Charlotte Simmons’ every fall quarter for the Honors College, but that may depend on how well this maiden voyage succeeds ... or sinks,” Spigner said. “Actually, I have high hopes.”

CHID 222:


Taught by Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) department director Phillip Thurtle, Biofutures is a 5-credit class that aims to show how new discoveries in biology affect our future.

As part of the “Gateways to CHID” program, Thurtle aims to tackle the future of biomedicine and biotechnology from a variety of perspectives, including the artistic, political and cultural practices associated with our rapidly progressing technology.

The CHID department, “recently diversified its curriculum, allowing [it] to offer a handful of new classes this year,” Thurtle said. “I hope students get a good sense of how research in the humanities and sciences complement each other.”

With no prerequisites, this course counts for both I&S and NW credit.

Intergenerational Roots: A Mixed Heritage Family Oral History Project

Offered through the School of Social Work, Intergenerational Roots: A Mixed Heritage Family Oral History Project forgoes papers and exams to explore the history of mixed-heritage families directly by interviewing people of mixed race.

Instructor Theresa Ronquillo hopes that the course will teach students new skills in art, public relations, history, interviewing and event planning, as well as to help students understand the issues faced by the mixed-heritage community.

“I consider this very much a student-driven course, so while I am here to provide structure and guidance, my expectation is for participating students to take on the challenge and just go with it,” said Ronquillo.

Open to all students, this 1-credit course takes no more than 12 students per quarter.

Ronquillo hopes to work with students who have, “a willingness to learn new skills and [to] develop [and] engage in a creative, dynamic learning community.”

Taken over three quarters, this class is designed to be continuous, culminating in an oral history art exhibit at the end of the year. Each quarter can also be taken individually.

“Fall quarter will focus on student outreach, curriculum development and networking with potential university and community partners,” said Ronquillo. Winter and spring quarters will be more focused on interviewing, community art and event planning.

Reach reporter Laurel Christensen at news@dailyuw.com.

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