Tips From Fellow Students

Looking for a good elective? Following our own belief that Honors students are often the very best resource for other Honors students, the Honors Program staff has collected recommendations of Honors students' favorite non-honors courses. Below is a handbook with course recommendations and comments from other Honors students regarding what they loved about the course and who else might be interested in such a topic.

Have you taken an amazing non-honors course lately that you would recommend to other Honors students? Email Laura at laurah13@uw.edu and let her know. She'll add it to the handbook.

Course:
ART H 491 / ARCH 457 - 20th C Architecture
Professor:
Meredith Clausen
Related to:
Architecture, art history
Comments:
Prof. Clausen is passionate about her work and it makes all of her courses absolutely fantastic! While they are usually only 3 credits, she always offers the option of a 2 credit independent study for the price of an additional research paper. This class explores the history of architecture from the roots of Modernism (1920s) through post-Modernism (1980s), if you have any interest in architecture or art history, you'll love this class.

Course:
ART H 493 / ARCH 459 - Architecture Post-1945
Professor:
Meredith Clausen
Related to:
Architecture, art history
Comments:
Like ART H 491, Prof. Clausen offers her students the option of a 2 credit independent study / additional research paper. All of Prof. Clausen's courses are interesting, engaging and amazingly thorough. This course in particular deals with the dynamism of architecture in the post-World War II era, primarily in the United States and Europe.

Course:
CHID 205 / ENGL 205 - Method, Imagination and Inquiry
Professor:
Leroy Searle
Related to:
CHID, Philosophy, History
Comments:
This is probably one of the most influential and applicable courses I have taken in college. The course examines the history of inquiry as it has shaped Western culture and literature using texts by Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Thomas Kuhn and William Faulkner - just to name a few! The reading is rigorous, but definitely manageable and you'll find that what you learn in this course will influence and enrich your future classes.

Course:
HIST 291 - Science and the Arts in Early Modern Europe
Professor:
Simon Werrett or Bruce Hevly
Related to:
Philosophy, history
Comments:
When I took this course, I was fortunate enough to have both Prof. Werrett as our professor and Prof. Hevly as a substitute for several weeks in his absence. This class traces the history of the artisan and the relationship between art and science from Ancient Greece with Hero of Alexandria to post-modernism and the integration of art and technology. If you like history, you'll love this class!

Course:
CSE 190M: Web Programming
Professor:
Marty Stepp
Related to:
Computer science, web development, information technology
Comments:
If you liked CSE 142, I highly recommend this course. Marty makes it really interesting and fun, and I cannot stress enough how relevant and useful the material is. You learn a lot, and it consists almost entirely of practical, real-world skills. It introduces you to XHTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, and PHP, and you learn enough of each to be able to make a really nice website by the end. I used what I learned to build a great website for a student group I'm in AND line up an internship during autumn quarter for the following summer.
The course is a good deal of work, but the assignments are fun. (I thought it was a lot more work than CSE 143, but I'm one of those oddities who thought 143 was hardly any work at all, so you might want to get a second opinion.) Outside of required courses in my major (CS), these were probably the most useful four credits I've ever taken. 190M is only offered in the spring as far as I know, so plan accordingly.

Course:
Dance 250
Professors:
Elizabeth A Cooper, Juliet Mcmains
Related to:
Dance, History, Different cultures
Comments:
For dancers and non-dancers alike, this class was a great way to explore different cultures, how they affect each other, and how dance fits into all of this. There is a weekly dance practicum in the style you are studying, weekly short essays, daily readings, and a final paper. This class was, by far, one of the most fascinating and fun classes I've taken here.

Course:
Intro to Drawing (ART 190)
Professor:
David Brody
Related to:
Art, drawing, architecture
Comments:
Why it was amazing: I'm not an art major and have very little previous art experience, but this class instantly became my favorite! David is very patient, encouraging and highly intelligent. The entire drawing process is carefully broken down into comprehensible lessons and assignments. The mediums we used were pencil, charcoal and ink. We drew both from life (still life and nude models) and from our imagination. Also, the small class size is a huge plus!

Course:
Modern Irish History
Professor:
George Behlmer
Related to:
Roots of conflict in Northern Ireland
Comments:
I took Modern Irish History (HSTEU 376), with George Behlmer for ad hoc credit over winter quarter. I would recommend it to ANY honors student looking for an ad hoc opportunity or just a fun elective. The course focuses on the roots of the conflict in Northern Ireland. There is what I would call a moderate amount of reading for the course, and one major paper, but mostly the class is lecture-based. Professor Behlmer is one of the best lecturers I've ever heard, and the material covered is a sad but fascinating part of history that gets overlooked in most general survey courses. Like I said, I would recommend this course to anyone, but especially to history majors or non-majors who happened to be history buffs.

Course:
Aeronautics and Astronautics 101: Air and Space Vehicles (5)
Professor:
Eberhardt
Related to:
General interest in aeronautics and astronautics - how airplanes fly and what are many of the considerations for space travel
Comments:
I'm an airplane and space nut. I've never had much coursework with it or direct exposure, and it's not directly related to my major or is a requirement through the Honors program. I just wanted to take it. It was so interesting to me that I remembered almost everything the professor said and set the curve on all the tests! Trust me, I NEVER did this before, and NEVER have since - not even close!!
This class would be a good choice for incoming freshmen. You get to use flight simulation, build rockets, check out UW's wind tunnel and so much more. (It's really easy too! shhh!)

Course:
Anth 475: Medical Anthropology
Professor:
Janelle Taylor
Related to:
Pre-med
Comments:
I had no background in anthropology at all, but I love medicine and listening to patient's stories. This class is just reading tons of patient's stories and thinking about doctor-patient relationships. All of the material is in one big course reader and the tests were in-class essays. Our discussions were great, and there were some grad students from the public health program, so there was a lot of insight. I recommend this class to anyone pre-med.

Course:
Astronomy 101: Astronomy (5)
Professor:
Chris Laws
Comments:
Astronomy 101 can be a great class for incoming freshman. It's a science course that is typically taken by juniors and seniors in non-science majors. As such, it has great topical material AND broad curb appeal -- if taught by the right professor. The teacher makes or breaks the class. Night classes are a better bet for finding a good professor -- they are generally lower on the totem pole, younger characters with lots of passion and time for students. My professor was Chris Laws, and I loved the class because there was a lot of essay writing and high expectations, and because I always harbored a love of astronomy. In any given quarter, a student should take at least ONE course he/she really loves (material wise), ONE that is hard (maybe an academic weakness), and ONE that he/she will be good at. I've never been sad with a quarter that filled these requirements for me.

Course:
Art History 202: Survey of Western Art-Medieval and Renaissance (5)
Professor:
Karen Matthews
Related to:
Art and/or history
Comments:
Prof. Karen Matthews. A great, professor, although if I'm not mistaken she was a visiting lecturer. Her insight and broad array of knowledge not only about art but general historical facts made the class very fulfilling. This may be a good class for incoming freshmen: not a huge homework load, just memorizing of information regarding art works. The class was so great that I even contemplated majoring in Art History (which is, by the way, a competitive major in UW), but my final grade was lower than I had expected. It is a class in which you definitely get out however much effort you put in (Memorize all the required information!) I was also intrigued in art history studies because of the professor's stories of great trips she took while studying art history, and the wonderful experiences she had encountering firsthand many of the great masterpieces we studied in class.

Course:
Art History 203: Modern Western Art (5)
Professor:
Kolya Rice
Related to:
Liberal arts, European history, writing
Comments:
The professor was amazing--he kept everyone awake and interested in a dark room on spring time afternoons with his running commentary on each work of art and made sure to connect the art to social/political/religious events of the time. The sections were full of great discussions, and I loved the subject.
I would recommend this class to an incoming freshman - the work load was definitely manageable. The class also made me consider an art history major.

Course:
Biocultural Anthropology 201: Principles of Biological Anthropology (5)
Professor:
Leila Portor
Related to:
Biology, people
Comments:
It was fun learning about evolution since its not a subject taught deeply in public schools. Learning about human evolution in particular allowed me to understand myself and others. This was a good prep class for Bio 180 because it covered genetics and DNA.
This class moved very fast, but an incoming freshman could probably handle it

Course:
Biology (BIOL) 100: Introductory Biology (5)
Professor:
Linda Martin-Morris
Comments:
This is an AWESOME class for non-majors looking for a natural world. It's affectionately nicknamed "drugs for thugs" and teaches students to be well-informed about the medical choices they make and also well-informed citizens in the world today when we're constantly bombarded with scientific information. Non-science majors are often at a loss when it comes to scientific issues in the news, and knowing some biology is important when it comes to making medical decisions - both personal and political. The strength of this class really lies with the professor. Linda is very knowledgable, both about science and about the way it should be taught. The lectures are really interactive and interesting, the labs are great...it's the class I looked forward to every day! It's especially good for people who don't think they're into science, because the material is presented in an understandable, yet not over-simplified way. Learning about how drugs (legal and illegal) operate from a biological standpoint is really fascinating, and Linda does a great job teaching it.I absolutely LOVED this course and recommend it to...well, everyone!

Course:
Biology 118: Survey of Physiology (5)
Professor:
Tolga Bilgen
Related to:
physiology
Comments:
This was an awesome course for students who are not necessarily biology/science majors but are still interested in physiology and anatomy. He was a great, animated professor and made it a very engaging course. A little bit of science background would be good; I took it fall of my freshman year and had only taken AP biology before. I think it would be a great class for incoming freshman

Course:
Chemistry 162: General Chemistry (5)
Professor:
Joe Norman
Related to:
Chemistry, sciences
Comments:
I realize that most Honors kids probably took Honors Chemistry series, but I'm glad to have been in Norman's class. He made Chemistry alive and fun, and I personally found him very engaging and loved him. Incoming freshman might not be able to take it without fulfilling pre-requisites. Definitely brought back to me the enthusiasm that I once had for science and made me realize that I do want to pursue chemistry.

Course:
CHID 370: The Cultural Impact of Information Technology (5)
Professor:
Phillip Thurtle
Related to:
technology, culture
Comments:
After four years here at the UW, this class stands out prominently. The theme was to study the impact of information technology on people both communally and individually. The curriculum and professor challenged me intellectually and emotionally, as we asked questions that have yet to be fully formulated and understood within the wider academic world. We focused on the rise of computers in our society, the effects of mass communication technologies, and ideas of cyberneticws within social theory. On a more personal note, I was forced to examine my own connection with these tecyhnologies, and how they have shaped my perceptions of the self and the world. The final project was hands-on, and provided me with an excellent opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge we learned. I recommend this course whole-heartedly.

Course:
Chinese Language (5)
Professor:
Bi
Related to:
Chinese
Comments:
Chinese language with Bi, heritage or non heritage, because Bi will whip you into an awesome Chinese speaker. You start out scared of her, but by the end, you will love her. Best language teacher ever. Tough, but excellent.

Course:
CLAS 205: Bioscientific Vocabulary Building From Latin and Greek (3)
Related to:
words, vocabulary, science
Comments:
A very easy class unless you have trouble with memorization, but for science students it's very applicable, especially for general knowledge It's fun seeing words, and breaking them down into their roots, prefixes, and suffixes and knowing what those mean. Yeah, it's kind of nerdy but fun nonetheless.

Course:
Classics (CLAS) 210: Greek and Roman Classics in English (5)
Professor:
Various Professors, TA: Robin Greene
Related to:
Ancient Greek and Roman mythology and history
Comments:
Classics 210 is an interesting class to take paired with more intensive honors or science classes. It does have a reading load that comes along with it, but it includes standard epics (Iliad, Metamorphoses etc.) that are frequently read in high school. It's an exciting introduction/review of Greek and Roman myth because each professor from the department lectures on the areas of their interest. I loved it, the professors, and my TA; I'm going to be majoring in Classics because of it!

Course:
Comparative Literature (C LIT) 270: Introduction to Film (5)
Professor:
Jennifer Bean
Related to:
film, analysis
Comments:
I really enjoyed this class simply because I love to watch movies. It exposed me to some history about film and how to look at film as an art form, not just entertainment. It also put me in the director's and critic's chair, since part of the class was to take a picture and develop a film idea around it, and analyze a specific scene from any movie, and how it achieved its effects on the viewer. The best part about this class is that if you enjoy movies, you can do it. There are also movie screenings most weeks, so the student gets to see and talk about many different styles of film. It's not a large workload by any means, you just have to be a little creative. I think that a freshman would enjoy this class since it isn't a heavy workload but still is very informative, plus you get to watch good movies for credit.

Course:
Comparative Literature (C LIT) 323:Literature of Emerging Nations (5)
Professor:
Francisco Benitez
Comments:
I loved this class. Prof. Benitez is a fun professor who really strives to make students understand and appreciate literature that they're not normally exposed to. The books we read were eye- opening and captivating. Be warned, most of the novels ended tragically, as Benitez said on the first day. I would recommend this to anyone who wants something different from science-type courses and for humanities majors who are interested in reading books from parts of the world typically forgotten. We read novels from the Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, India, Viet Nam, and Sudan.

Course:
Computer Science and Engineering 142: Computer Programming I (4)
Professor:
Stuart Reges
Related to:
engineering, science
Comments:
It does not require previous programming experience and is excellent for those who want to get a sense of what programming is all about. Plus, many engineering and science majors require/recommend that you take this class.
Comments #2: It's a great intro computer programming course for anyone who is analytical and it's a great help for anyone in math and science.

Course:
Dance 101: Introduction to Dance (5)
Professor:
Hengda Li, Chalie L. Livingston
Related to:
Dance, moving around
Comments:
I took the morning session and it was a great way to wake up and get energized in the morning. It was an easy and fun class with light homework. Also, I got 2 different dancing styles.
This class would definitely be a good choice for an incoming freshman. This class is a great example of atypical classes one can take at the U. Also, this class usually taken as an elective (not a major requirement) so you get to meet people from different class levels.

Course:
Earth and Space Sciences 101: Intro to Geological Sciences (5)
Professor:
Professor Swanson
Related to:
science, space, earth
Comments:
I took Geology 101 with Professor Swanson, just to explore a range of interests. I am not planning to take any more geology classes, but this one was very interesting and has made me look at the world in different ways. We learned so much about how complex the seemingly simple Earth is under the surface, and all of the factors that contribute to how it forms above the surface. By studying the surface, geologists can get a great picture of what the Earth was like at any point in time, and events that were once lost in the past can be brought to light. Professor Swanson made a 500-person lecture surprisingly personal! He often ran into the middle of rows of students to ask people questions or get opinions, and was always so excited about what he was talking about that you couldn't help but be as well. Lab was once a week, and although it was not exactly the highlight of my Tuesday mornings, I enjoyed the hands-on experience that we got by examining specific rocks and coming to conclusions about them depending on where and when they were collected. Labs were worth 10%, the midterm 40%, and the final 50%, which is a bit harsh, but the tests were generally easy if you at least took at look at the practice one that he posted online. Also, there was a weekly optional extra-credit field trip to fun places like Mt. Rainier or local parks. Professor Swanson really put a lot of effort into his class.

Course:
Earth and Space Sciences 106: Living With Volcanoes (3)
Professor:
George Bergantz and Kerry Cooper
Related to:
Volcanoes, earth
Comments:
I learned so much about volcanoes. They are absolutely fascinating. We saw a lot of videos of Hawaiian lava flows...that was really cool. And just in general knowing about the earth we live on and the volcanoes that are present here in the NW in our backyard.
It's a great class for freshmen. I took it during my fall quarter, freshman year. It's not easy but it's not too hard. This class will not count towards any of the honors requirement but it's a good class to take for fun and to have a balanced load of classes with two other hard classes.

Course:
Earth and Space Sciences 205: Access to Space (5)
Professor:
Co-taught by Bob Holzworth, Walt Harris, and Tim Chinowsky
Related to:
Science, space
Comments:
I loved this class because it was very hands on and gave us, the students, the chance to see how research projects are developed and then implemented in the space & atmospheric sciences in particular, but also to the sciences in general. We were put into teams and had to brainstorm something to observe and take measurements on that would change as a function of altitude, and with help from TAs and group mentors, figure out how to design and build the experiment. Then we launched our experiments on a high altitude weather balloon at Moses Lake. I loved the class so much that it started getting me thinking about engineering as a possible career path.
The class is designed for non-science majors, and the required background info is taught in the class. However, I did find my previous knowledge of some physics and math to be helpful. High school physics would definitely be enough though - so I think it's fine for incoming freshmen with a good science background, especially honors freshmen. Plus, the class is really fun and there are field trips!

Course:
Economics 200: Introduction to Microeconomics (5)
Professor:
various
Related to:
Economics, business
Comments:
This microeconomics class introduces you to economics. After taking this class, I wanted to invest my money to see how much I could make. The class really puts you into a economic mindset. Since this class applies to everyone, I recommend taking it. Also, take it with a TA as opposed to the big lecture. It's a much smaller class setting, and more discussion oriented.
This class would be suitable for incoming freshmen. The primary prerequisite would most definitely be a strong interest in the course material detailed on the online syllabus.

Course:
English/CHID 205: Method, Imagination, and Inquiry (5)
Professor:
Leroy Searle
Related to:
science, inquiry in science, philosophy, some ability to write is necessary
Comments:
There is great potential for personal interaction with the professor, who was knowledgeable about both science and English, and the class as a whole was very science oriented considering it's offered by the English department. Fully engaged learning is not required all the time, and there's no pressure to have to contribute to class discussions. Grading is based on attendance, and 3 writing pieces (2 essays and a 'commentary') with A LOT of prompt choices for these pieces, which means you can choose to learn in depth about the topics that interest you, and completely ignore the boring stuff.
This class would be a good choice for an incoming freshman. I took it my first quarter at UW. It's an easy, non-specific class, and a good way to ease into the UW system. Also, it's a good way to get some area of knowledge credit (or possibly ad hoc honors credit). It is extremely interesting, particularly to those who either like science or aren't sure what they like.

Course:
English 316: Post-Colonial Literature (5)
Professor:
Laura Chrisman
Related to:
English, Literature, Post-Colonialism
Comments:
This class has fascinating subject material (and I asm a bio/soc major) focusing on a number of novels from post-colonial Africa. A phenomenal teacher, small class and well-facilitated discussions made this perhaps the best non-honors course I have yet taken.

Course:
English 352: American Literature: The Early Nation (5)
Professor:
John Griffith
Related to:
thinking analytically about reading, class discussion, English as a topic (not as a course requirement)
Comments:
I loved this class because it focused solely on discussing the text in a scholarly manner, and not on more trivial things like how to grammatically write an essay. Also, it challenged me to read classics (such as Moby Dick) that I would never read on my own. It was what the epitome of English was for me: focusing solely on analysis and discussion.
I took this course as an incoming freshman, and really enjoyed it because of its small class size. Also, we didn't have to write any essays, which was a plus. Most of the students that took this course were upperclassmen, which might be hard on freshman.
This class gave me hope that not all classes were held in huge lecture halls, and that some courses at the UW focused not on majors, or requirements, but on discussion and learning. This course really challenged me (we were doing 100+ pages a day of reading), and showed me just how much I could do-nothing was impossible.

Course:
Environmental Science and Resource Management (ESRM) 315: Old Growth and Forest Management
Professor:
Professor Jerry Franklin, TA: Andrew Larson
Related to:
forest ecology
Comments:
Professor Franklin shares his wealth of experience conducting field ecology on old growth forests and his time spent applying these concepts in public policy settings in Washington D.C. and in Washington State. His great enthusiasm and passion for old growth forest ecology rubs off on students in the classroom and in the field. We visited scientifically and politically remarkable sites on the west end of Olympic Peninsula and in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southern Washington. Andrews adds a wealth of field experience and an exceptional ability to convey ecology to the gambut of students - whether it be undergrads in economics, ESRM, Environmental studies, or graduates from the Evans School of Public Affairs.

Course:
Finance 350: Business Finance (4)
Professor:
Siegel
Related to:
business
Comments:
I recommend Finance 350 with Siegel - or any class with Siegel. He is an amazing, smart professor. I loved his class. Basics for finance, something every college student should learn a little bit about. This class lays the foundation for stocks, interest, risk, etc.

Course:
French 201: Intermediate (5)
Professor:
Loic Mainguy
Related to:
French
Comments:
He is a French grad student studying English literature, and so he knew how to teach college students in a fun way, since he was just one himself. We practiced speaking by writing and performing skits, and watched movies that are popular among French teenagers to practice listening. I learned a lot in that class, and because of him, decide that I want to do a double-major with French. I also want to study abroad in France and do Peace Corps in a French speaking country, and he would be good to talk to about where to go and what to do.
I would recommend this class to anyone who is interested in French and needs a fun class in their schedule.

Course:
Geography (Geog) 123: Introduction to Globalization (5)
Professor:
Matt Sparke
Comments:
Here is a course I HIGHLY recommend for anyone interested in what is going on in the world today in terms of countries economic relationship and how corporations are increasingly influential. topics included neoliberal ideology and its effects, the balance of payments crises, effects of transnational corporations, etc. I'm not sure when Professor Sparke will be teaching again (I think he's going to Italy...) but he w as a very lively, funny and caring professor. People should be warned that it is a 500 plus lecture, but Matt makes it very interesting. I wish all business students were required to take this class, so they could learn how the never ending search for the lowest price is leading to worker abuses and global inequality.

Course:
Geography 479: Race, Ethnicity, and the American City (5)
Professor:
Mark Ellis
Related to:
urban studies, geography, race studies, political science, economics, American history, genome ethics
Comments:
This class made me decide to become a geography major. In addition, it challenged my notions of race, class, poverty, justice and other big issues. Also, it introduced me to the US Census, and the politics thereof, which is fascinating.

Course:
History 111: The Ancient World (5)
History 112: The Medieval World (5)
History 113: Europe and the Modern World (5)
Professor:
Robert Stacey and various
Related to:
history
Comments:
HIST 111/112/113 series is offered as an honors course with section, but is still great for students who have never taken a European history course or have an extensive interest in the field. Though largely dependent on the teacher, this course series can enhance any study abroad by enhancing individual understanding of the modern western world on the other side of the Atlantic puddle. The history department is a great place for any science student to dabble in if they seek a true liberal arts education to compliment a "hard" science degree. My professor was Robert Stacey, a fantastic mentor and resource if a student can track him down and pin him in one place for more than 10 minutes!
This class would be suitable for incoming freshmen. The primary prerequisite would most definitely be a strong interest in the course material detailed on the online syllabus.

Course:
History 152: Introduction to African History, c. 1880-Present (5)
Professor:
Lynn M. Thomas
Related to:
History, Africa
Comments:
I'd recommend the class for a couple of reasons. First, the teacher, Lynn M. Thomas is absolutely excellent. Secondly, its just a really interesting topic, particularly for those who haven't been able to learn a lot about Africa up until now or want some background on contemporary African issues. I think anyone could take this class, freshman or otherwise. The course load is reasonable (map quizzes, exams, a couple of papers) and it gives you a lot of food for thought.

Course:
HISTAA 225: History of American Slavery
Professor:
Stephanie M. H. Camp
Related to:
American History, Race Relations, American Ethnic Studies
Comments:
This is a absolutely fascinating class that traces the history of the slave trade from the African continent, through the middle passage to the Americas, where it became one of the most violent, shameful, and yet defining aspects of our country's history. Professor Camp brings a lot of passion and knowledge to the lectures, and the brutal reality of our history painfully illustrated through the use of first hand slave narrratives. One of the most disregarded facets of US history, this class should be a requirement for all students!

Course:
HSTEU 376: Modern Irish History
Professor:
George Behlmer
Related to:
Medieval history, interest in current events in Northern Ireland, Irish history dating back to Celtic times
Comments:
Even though this was the hardest class I've ever taken, it was absolutely fantastic...I loved coming to class every day and listening to George Behlmer speak about a subject that truly empassions him. If you have that same nagging, unexplainable obsession with Ireland (or Irish accents...you hear a lot of them), then TAKE THIS CLASS! The books he assigns are very interesting, even the dry textbook, and his lectures are fascinating...I wish I could take it again. I wouldn't, however, recommend it for incoming freshmen, as it would probably scare them away. Also not recommended for people who are looking for an easy class.

Course:
History of the Americas (HSTAA) 235: The American People and Their Culture in the Modern Era: A History of the USA Since 1940 (5)
Professor:
Nikhil Singh
Related to:
American History
Comments:
I took this class as an incoming freshman; Professor Singh is a great and very engaging lecturer. It provides a solid foundation of recent years of history which most history classes in high school seem to run out of time to cover.

Course:
History of the Americas (HSTAA) 302: The First Century of Independence (5)
Professor:
Robert McKenzie
Related to:
American History
Comments:
The course covers the historical period from the mid-18th century through the Civil War, focusing primarily on the drafting of the US Constitution and the decades following. I took the course from Robert McKenzie, and it is his skill as a professor that causes me to recommend the course so strongly. He is well-organized and professional, yet extremely entertaining (just to indicate what I mean, I had the class five days a week at 8:30 and never missed a single class). All in all, the course is packed with interesting information and one could not find a teacher more qualified than McKenzie. I would not recommend the course for freshman, however. McKenzie is a tough grader, and a student would do well to have some experience writing college term papers.

Course:
HSTAS 402 History of Medieval and Mughal India
Professor:
Purnima Dhavan
Related to:
History, Interest in South East Asia
Comments:
An analytical history of the Indian subcontinent from the late 12th century through the early 19th century. Professor Dhavan includes a quiz section in this course, which is rather unusual for upper division history courses. This was great for discussing readings and historical figures and attacking some of the common perceptions of Indian historiography. The readings were diverse and interesting and the class focused on topics from warfare to art. The two hour lectures were always lively and entertaining. I would recommend this course for anyone looking for a fun class in the history department or who has an interest in South East Asia.

Course:
Humanities 103: Dante: Medieval Man in the New Millennium (5)
Professor(s):
Mary O'Neil (History) and Donna Yowell (Italian Studies)
Related to:
Italian, literature, European history
Comments:
This class took Dante's "Divine Comedy" in-depth in both its historical aspects and its literary aspects. Since I love literature and history, it was a perfect fit. I learned about the Italian language, Dante's poetry and imagery, and Dante's time period and life experiences.
This class would be a good choice for incoming freshmen if they are willing to dive into analyzing literature.

Course:
International Law and Arms Control SIS 425
Instructor:
Professor Christopher Jones and Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.
Related to:
International relations, affairs, and a legitimate analysis of front-page issues like Iranian nuclear policy and progress.
Comments:
This is wonderful course on arms control over the last 60 years. It covers in depth the history of weapons of mass destruction and national and international attempts to regulate and limit the use of these weapons. The primary instructor, Ambassador Graham, served as special envoy to the NPT in 1995, and was instrumental in American efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons technology. As a result, he is intimately familiar with the debates regarding arms control and has a plethora of anecdotes involving the most powerful figures of our time. The reading is heavy, but the lectures are fascinating and student participation is encouraged. The class is based on several response essays and a term paper which gives students the freedom to explore subtopics of their choice.

Course:
International Studies (SIS) 201: Introduction to International Political Economy (5)
Professor:
Mary Callahan
Related to:
International affairs, economics, history, political science, politics
Comments:
There is an honors section offered for this course, but even without the honors section it was one of my favorite classes ever. This class significantly impacted me because Dr. Callahan is one of the most inspiring and enthusiastic teachers I have ever had and you can learn so much from her lectures that the texts really are supplemental. Her teaching also solidified by desire to pursue the international studies degree. The class provides intriguing and historical explanations for why the world exists as it does and Dr. Callahan relates current events back to prior occurrences in a seamless fashion. This class is relevant, challenging, and definitely worth taking. I would recommend this to incoming freshman that are prepared for the workload, which is significantly greater than most other courses. Only offered winter quarter.

Course:
Linguistics 200: Introduction to Linguistic Thought (5)
Professor:
Ogihara
Related to:
psychology, general linguistics, anthropological linguistics, history, human communication
Comments:
I found this course to be intellectually stimulating, as well as enjoyable in its reinforcing exercises and discussion section.
This class is not challenging, but engaging, and would be a wonderful stepping-stone for a freshmen student.
Linguistics 200 helped me to better understand the connections, evolution, and theology of languages, which in turn benefited my study of foreign language, particularly my Japanese minor. And because the professor I took the course with is Japanese, his use of Japanese language in exercises and examples was a plus.

Course:
Management 200: Introduction to Law (5)
Professor:
Todd Bergstrom
Related to:
Law
Comments:
I think every student can benefit from taking this course even if they are not planning on pursuing a career in that field. I found it interesting because it gives a good overview of the law. Many aspects of it are directly relevant to students, such as laws concerning financial aid and tenant rights. I took this class with Todd Bergstrom, who is a part-time lecturer. He is a deputy King County Prosecutor and his personal experiences with the law made the course particularly engaging.

Course:
Management 320: Business, Society, and Government
Professor:
Professor Gautchi
Comments:
Very discussion-based (as in, he barely lectures, he just asks hard/awkward questions that the class debates/argues about for the entirety of the two hour-long class) and extremely applicable to all fields. This is a must-take for understanding how businesses can and do affect everyone's lives.

Course:
Mathematics 125: Calculus with Analytic Geometry II (5)
Professor:
Nikiforov
Related to:
Math
Comments:
If you feel you aren't quite up to date with derivative calculus there is an overview that is helpful even if it’s brief. Gives great examples in class, but do the homework and ask the TA all questions especially for the example problems. This is a class where you won't do homework and then the night before it's due you end up doing 4 hours of problems. Study for the quizzes and make sure to do the practice midterms and finals.

Course:
MechE/ChemE/Envir 442: Renewable Energy (5)
Professor:
Malte
Related to:
environment, renewable energy, engineering
Comments:
You need a background or willingness to try your hand at basic engineering, physics, general chemistry, and Excel. Covers design principles and practical issues of hydroelectric, wind, tidal, solar heating, solar PV, and biomass energy. Weekly calculation-based homeworks, one midterm, and a final. The course was by no means perfect, but I got a lot out of it, and it's great to know that such classes exist.

Course:
Medical History and Ethics (MHE) 485: Concepts of the Body in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century America (3)
Professor:
Berryman
Related to:
People who are interested in pop culture, beauty, sports, piercing/tattooing, American culture, or just like to learn about random things in a visual way.
Comments:
It was like watching The History Channel! Lots of visuals, really interesting topics, fun to see where our notions of beauty in American society originated.
This would be a great class for freshmen, especially because it has no prerequisites.

Course:
Music 316: Music Cultures of the World (5)
Professor:
Ter Ellingson
Related to:
music, cultures, history, Asia
Comments:
This class focused on music from different parts of Asia. It was completely different from any other course I've taken at the UW. It was a lecture-style class, with video recordings, listening examples, and live guest musicians as supplements. Attendance at one appropriate concert was mandatory, and grading was based on a map quiz, a midterm, and a final. Even though it is a 300-level class, I would encourage interested freshmen to take it - Professor Ellingson was very knowledgeable about the subject matter and the lectures were engaging and fun to attend.

Course:
Music 331: History of Jazz
Professor:
Marc Seales
Related to:
music, jazz, history, cultural tendencies, politics
Comments:
It should be noted that Marc is a professional jazz musician. While the class was one of the larger classes I have taken at the UW; the exposure to the many different forms of jazz, the demonstrations, and the passion with which the class was taught made this class one of my favorites! Students who take this course should be ready for a heavy load of reading (about jazz of course) as well as listening (again, to jazz!!). And if it isn't obvious, students should have an interest in music, art, jazz, history, cultural tendencies, politics... ok, maybe this course would be great for anyone!

Course:
Music Ensemble (MUSEN) 302: Symphonic Band or 309: Concert Band
Professor:
Tim Salzman
Related to:
Concert band is great for any student that already knows how to play a band instrument(s) (woodwind, brass, piano, or percussion), and would still like to play and perform concerts in college without the pressure of auditions.
Comments:
The professor listed is Tim Salzman, but the music doctoral students are the ones who actually conduct and they're a lot of fun.
I loved this class because I was able to keep playing flute (my instrument) without having the pressure of auditioning & cuts and its Wednesday evening time fits well in to an otherwise busy class schedule.
This class would be an excellent and easy complement to the schedule of any musical incoming freshman.

Course:
Music History 212: Intro to the History of Western Music III (3)
Professor:
Larry Starr
Related to:
Music and/or history
Comments:
This music history course deals with Nineteeth and Twentieth century composers. Prof. Starr focuses on individual representative pieces, such as Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, to bring to light the evolution of music and the historical influences that led to these changes and innovations. He gives lively and animated lectures that are bound to wake up every student in the morning. There are a few essay assignments, which are all very interesting and promote further investigation into each student's interested area of studies. Student should be interested in music and/or history. There is a pre-requisite of MUHST 211 and, prior to that, MUS 120, so incoming freshmen would probably be unable to take the class. This class definitely fueled my enthusiasm for music history.

Course:
Oceanography (OCEAN) 210: Ocean Circulation (3)
Professor:
Paul Quay
Related to:
weather, oceanography
Comments:
This class gives you the basics of ocean circulation. It is very interesting because it deals with weather and how the ocean and its currents control much of the weather. Paul Quay, the professor, is very good and a great teacher on the subject.

Course:
Philosophy (PHIL) 322: Modern Philosophy (5)
Professor:
Ann Baker
Comments:
She is really funny and personable and even though the class was around 200 students, she knew almost all of our names and there was a good mix of lecture and discussion in the lecture, and of course discussion in the section. The material is also really interested and pretty good reading

Course:
Philosophy (PHIL) 250: Introduction to Epistemology (4)
Professor:
William Talbott
Comments:
I thoroughly enjoyed this class with Professor Talbott. It is a smaller class and challenges the way we think about reality/ knowledge. Professor Talbott is really fun and incorporates a lot of discussion in his class.

Course:
Political Science 203: Introduction to International Relations (5)
Professor:
Jonathan Mercer
Comments:
This class was interesting because it introduced me to the main ways that political scientists look at the world. The historical backgrounds of political thought and how they are applied to real-world events. The best part of this class was that it took this theoretical background and used the different theories to "explain" modern events, from WWI to Rwanda. It was a bit heavy on reading, but only out of a course pack. The class would be perfect for a freshman who still doesn't really know what they want to do, because if politics or international studies is an interest, this class will help them decide whether they like it or not. It certainly helped me in that regard.

Course:
Political Science 204: Introduction to Comparative Politics (5)
Professor:
Stephen E. Hanson
Comments:
Before I took this class I thought Political Science was all about "politics," but from the very first day Steve Hanson broadened the topic to one exploring the roots of human nature and how different theories of human nature have been shaping history. Hanson is a charismatic and genuinely interested professor as well as extremely good at bringing complex issues into great clarity--on the few occasions that I slept in too late, I was upset, not because I'd missed facts for the test, but because his lectures were more engaging than anything else I was taking.

Course:
Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology (5)
Professor:
McLaughlin, Nina Parker-Cohen
Related to:
psychology, sociology, biology, anthropology, political science, economics
Comments:
Professor McLaughlin had a sincere desire for her students to learn the course material. She provided extremely thorough notes about the concepts on which we would be tested along with examples to make those concepts more concrete and real. Cute, bubbly, and funny, she was easy to listen to & kept the class awake by involving individual students in her demonstrations of concepts. I also appreciated the fact that she played movies as a supplemental learning tool to break from the monotony of daily note taking.
I recommend this for incoming freshmen - it's a great intro class and overview to psychology as a major. One warning: The class is HUGE (located in Kane) with over 600 students. Although I did not find the class size intimidating as a freshman during fall quarter, some could find it overwhelming.
I especially enjoyed this class since psychology is my forte and I hope to make my career in psychiatry. Nevertheless, among academic subjects, psychology is usually thought of fairly positively and most people enjoy learning the basic psychological principles this course will cover.
This is a good class for freshman simply because it is a 101 course that provides an easy five I&S credits and the subject matter is interesting. The course is a definite GPA booster, and I would recommend it for fall quarter, since incoming freshmen often take hits to their GPA from harder courses.
I actually switched into this class *after* I had decided that I wanted to major in psychology, but this class confirmed that I had made the right choice. I should note that this class is for everyone, not just hard-core psych students.

Course:
Psychology/Biology 409
Professor:
Samuel Wasser
Comments:
This is a really great class, and actually very similar to an honors class that is being taught right now (221 B). Professor Wasser is really funny and the lectures are really interesting, and also the reading material is fast-paced and interesting, especially The Triumph of Sociobiology.

Course:
RELIG 201 Introduction to World Religions: Western Traditions (5)
Professor:
James Wellman
Related to:
History, religion
Comments:
Prof. Wellman is quite possibly the most intelligent person I've ever talked to in the sphere of religion. He not only knows what he's talking about, but he treats the subject with all of the care, sarcasm, and wisdom that it requires. It's a really fascinating introduction to a topic that's really important in our current politics, society, etc. This class would be a great choice for an incoming freshman.

Course:
Scandinavian Studies 367/ Sexuality of Scandinavia
Professor:
Ia Dubois
Related to:
Students interested in other countries and cultures, body image (U.S. and Scandinavia), sexual education, myths about Scandinavian free love, films/plays/books of scandinavia, sexual interactions, LGBT issues, prostitution, feminism, masculism, gender roles, fun professors with endearing accents, realizing how sexually conservative the US is, seeing the world through different viewpoints, anything related to sex, learning Swedish words for parts of the body/sexual acts, etc.
Comments:
This is a great class for a student who needs to pick up a few extra credits without dramatically increasing their workload. Although the amount of time/energy you will need to put into the class is minimal, the amount learned is enormous. Ia is Swedish and very knowledgeable in her subject area - she is equally familiar with the history of sexuality in Scandinavian countries as she is with current legislature and issues facing people today. She is constantly learning more about the subject and every lecture seems fresh and interesting because she is so excited about what she's teaching you. The class takes the form of 2 two-hour lectures per week, during which you'll hear Ia lecture, see guest lecturers (other UW professors, representatives from Planned Parenthood, etc.), and view clips from Scandinavian films. All in all, this is a great class and I'd recommend it to anyone. I think the class can be summed up with a quote from Ia the first day of class: "This is going to be a very fun course for all of us, because, you know, sex in the spring...it's nice!"

Course:
SCAND 381/ HSTEU 381: History of Scandinavia Since 1720 (5)
Professor:
Terje Leiren
Related to:
The only interest that I had in the class was learning about the history of part of the world that I had never learned much about before. I think the class can be interesting for a student with any interest as long as that student is curious enough to learn something new.
Comments:
I really loved the class because the professor was really knowledgeable about the subject (he grew up in Scandinavia himself) and really took an interest in interacting with the students and making sure that they really learned something, not just facts and dates. Plus, I took it because I had never heard much about Scandinavian history and thought it would be a good introduction. It's a small class so students get to know the professor as well as other students.
Though this class is a 300-level class I don't think freshman should be intimidated. Unlike regular freshman introductory classes, this class is able to get pretty detailed rather than focusing on just the major points of Scandinavia. The professor is really quite friendly and willing to help and the small class size really makes it a good transitional class for incoming freshmen. I took the class my first quarter at UW during my Freshman year and found it to be challenging but not overwhelmingly so. I strongly recommend it.

Course:
International Studies (SIS) 200: States and Capitalism (5)
Professor:
Resat Kasaba
Comments:
There are a lot of honors students already who take international studies but even as a nonmajor, my favorite non-science, non-honors class was SIS 200. It's taught by Resat Kasaba and is great for thinking about why the world is the way it is today - economically, politically, and socially. It made me add on an international studies minor!

Course:
Sociology (SOC) 316: Sociological Theory (5)
Professor:
Stevan Pfaff
Comments:
Although this is a very large class the reading material is excellent (I actually kept the books) and Professor Pfaff is a really good lecturer.

Course:
UCONJ 501: International Health (1)
Professor:
Daniel Hunt
Related to:
Medicine, biology, international affairs, public health
Comments:
This was a fascinating course because it presented speakers of highly diverse backgrounds, including MDs, PhDs, and RNs. The speakers shared distinct and sometimes contrasting perspectives on the role of medical professionals in international affairs. The class made me reconsider the role of American professionals abroad and whether we should try to work in other countries and if so, how to conduct ourselves and our projects to best benefit the people we want to help.
Excellent choice for incoming freshman; it's only one credit and generally offered in the fall.

Course:
Women Studies 435: Gender and Spirituality (5)
Professor:
Kate Noble
Related to:
Gender issues, spirituality
Comments:
This class is a unique and amazing experience. Rarely in an academic setting will you be allowed to delve into your own sense of spirituality within the classroom. This class will teach you a lot about yourself, others, and humanity in general. I definitely recommend this course for freshman, though I don't know if they can come into the class as a non-major.

A unit within Undergraduate Academic Affairs
211 Mary Gates Hall : Box 352800 : Seattle, WA 98195-2800
206.543.7444 : 206.543.6469 FAX
uwhonors@uw.edu
Creative Commons License Unless otherwise noted, all public content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License