G.E. Quips



 University catalogues can give students an idea of a course’s content but we thought you might like to know what our faculty thinks about teaching their General Education courses! Below are some comments from our faculty to help you understand how interesting these courses can be.

ENG 102 Academic Writing

My first university English class taught me I must be a curious and engaged thinker before I could become a good writer. These skills have benefitted all aspects of my life, and I encourage these same skills in my students. My section of ENG 102 encourages students to look more deeply into assumptions we tend make about ourselves as Americans and then ask some tough questions. How dedicated are we as a nation to equality, education, and personal and environmental health? What level of awareness and participation is required of us as citizens and consumers? Why should we care? These questions drive a dynamic semester-long conversation in which you’ll want to take part!  - Shelley Read

COTH 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry

Western was a huge political awakening for me. My courses and professors encouraged me to deeply consider my personal interests in relation to larger societal issues and problems. I soon discovered my passions! In my COTH 202 course, you will be required to peer out into the world and ask: Who am I in relation to my society? What do I believe in and why? How might I change the world for the better? I believe in allowing you to choose your own topics for investigation, presentation, and writing, and there’s plenty of heated (albeit respectful) class discussion and debate. This class helps you discover that your voice matters.  – Shelley Read

COTH 202 is my favorite course - no joke! It is so easy to answer the question of 'how does this apply to my life, to my future?' in this class.  Rhetoric is the study of how we craft messages according to your own strengths paired with the situation, purpose and audience.  This applies to every communication act - college essays, social networking posts, job applications, asking your parents for money - everything!  As the title of our current text indicates, “everything’s an argument.” The authors go so far as to claim “The clothes you wear, the foods you eat, and the groups you join are everyday things that make nuanced, sometimes unspoken arguments . . . an argument can be any text – written, spoken, or visual – that expresses a point of view."  Here we get to explore the nuances of how to create and critically evaluate the effectiveness of all arguments - a skill that serves everyone who aspires to succeed in this world.  What could be more applicable to your life now and your future? - Courtney Fullmer

ECON 201 Macroeconomics

This is my favorite course to teach.  The public’s understanding of macroeconomics is generally limited.  This course tries to bridge that gap by covering financial crises, speculative manias, monetary and fiscal policy, exchange rates, the history of banking, inequality, and global economic relations.  The course uses historical case studies to contextualize theory and policy.  All of this, I hope, makes the events related to the Global Financial Crisis make more sense.  - Dr. David Plante

GEOG 110 World Regional Geography

 In attempting to study the world in a single semester we run the risk of merely attempting to confirm our stereotypes or superficially addressing problems. I enjoy discovering, and conveying, the tremendous diversity, remarkable uniqueness, and profound similarities in people, places, and factors causing the different parts of the world to look and function the ways they do; sometimes confirming things we already knew, often confounding simple generalizations, and regularly acknowledging that there is so much more that we don’t know than we realized before beginning our study—but can still discover if we put our minds to it. - Dr. Phil Crossley

GEOG 120 Introduction to Human Geography

I enjoy helping students transform their thinking of geography as simply ‘where things are’ into an understanding of geography as a way of looking at the world, explaining how unique combinations of geological, climatic, economic, cultural, historical, and political factors, including both processes of which everyone is well aware and experiences daily and others which are hidden, long gone, or always lurking under the surface.  I hope that students leave the course with a better understanding of why the places they know and visit look the ways they do, and with an increased ability to recognize the patterns indicative of the factors that create the landscapes they see.-  Dr. Phil Crossley

HIST 101 World History to 1500 & HIST 102 World History from 1500

These courses investigate the complexity and richness of the past, from the earliest villages, to the oldest cities, to the greatest empires, to the influences of the most compelling ideas that have shaped our politics and our passions. Whether its revolution or religion, conquest or defeats, liberation or slavery, these courses focus on the immense story of human achievement and failure. - Dr. James Stewart


HIST 126 U.S. History to 1865 & HIST 127 U.S. History from 1865

History 126 and 127 cover quite a bit of ground (including more than two centuries before formation of the United States), but I enjoy the challenge of finding meaning in the rush of events through interpretive frameworks—possible ways to connect and relate facts—and through narrative.  My interest in history began with stories, and though my general education history surveys contain analytical discussion, I still get the most pleasure from weaving together various stories (each one a possible interpretation) and uncovering events that reveal an individual human side to history, even if they are rarely acknowledged in textbooks. - Dr. Wallace Lewis


HIST 254 History of Africa

Africa is sometimes referred to as “The Dark Continent,’ but I share the sentiments of geographer George Kimble who commented, “The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.” In this course we cover a lot of territory, a whole continent’s worth! But do not let that intimidate you; think of it as a grand adventure as we examine the cultural, economic and political developments of the continent  from the emergence of humankind all the way to the emergence of modern Africa.- Dr. Thiessen-Reily

HIST 260 History of Latin America

I fell in love with Latin American History as an undergraduate in a GE survey course.  What other course allows us to talk about the nature of human sacrifice, piracy as an economic system and tortillas as a form of national discourse? Latin American History will challenge your assumptions; will at times frustrate you and may even break your heart but it will rarely if ever bore you!  Dr. Heather Thiessen-Reily

POLS 117 Introduction to Political Ideas

This is the class that made me want to pursue a career in teaching political science when I was an undergraduate myself. This is one of those courses that always surprises students who are usually not interested in politics. It offers students a unique look at ideas and political systems they either take for granted or think they understand, we debate, argue and discuss the ideas of some of the most important minds that have shaped not only the American but also the various other political systems around the world. The course challenges students’ assumptions about the world and how it is organized by asking them to think outside the box, suspend their pre-formed beliefs and just dare to think for themselves.  - Dr. Maria Struble

PSY 100 General Psychology

Am I crazy? Are you crazy? What is normal behavior, anyway? Isn’t ‘normal’ in the eye of the beholder? If an individual’s behavior defies logic, how do we explain it? How is effective research on humans and animals conducted if all of us are unique creatures?  If these questions intrigue you, then a background in psychology will help satisfy your curiosity about the various explanations for human and animal behavior. – Dr. Suzy Coykendall

SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology


CHEM 101 Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry

“I always find it rewarding when after teaching a CHEM 101 lecture, a student approaches me asking questions relating how chemistry pertains to other areas of science or to other topics they covered in another course. I love when my passion for science and chemistry becomes contagious in my general education chemistry course and it sparks a student to want to major in an area of science.” - Dr. Jason Mullins

ART 105 Introduction to Art

 (each Art 105 course has a special focus, below is Professor Hutchinson’s comment about his section of Art 105)

André Malrois said "Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more human world." This course strives to analyze the capacity of art in various two-dimensional forms to enhance, to enrich, and to challenge the human experience and our collective understanding of the world. It also allows students to specifically learn about and to appreciate sequential art in the form of the American comic strip and comic book. Comics are a provocative and versatile art form whose rich history, while often undermined, can be key to our understanding of the Modern world. -  Chase Hutchinson

COTH 119 Theatre and Media Aesthetics

It's really fun to have an opportunity to guide students in their exploration of film comedy.  Not only do we get to watch both classic and contemporary film comedies, but in the class we ask ourselves, what truly makes a good comedy film?  As we consider our individual responses to such an artistic expression as film, its exciting to get students to knock down their subjective barriers and begin to see the powerful comedic principles at work.  When students finish the class, they really come to appreciate what Charlie Chaplin meant, when he say character is supreme and, "All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl." - Dr. Michael Brooks

 COTH 151 Mass Media in America

As a communications scholar, the frenetic pace with which we have embraced all things technological both fascinates and frightens me.  Honestly, I'm not sure which is the stronger reaction! In either case I enjoy immensely exploring the intricate connection between mass media, culture and the human condition.  I have no doubt mass media influences all of us however we choose to pursue success in this life, and I look forward to uncovering the complexities of media and meaning with you! - Courtney Fullmer

ENG 150 Introduction to Literature

The study of literature has always been the most efficient and at the same time fascinatingly complex way into understanding truths about the human condition in all its exhilarating authenticity and ambiguity.  What literature itself teaches us is an alertness to surprising encounters with philosophical clarity, political acumen, religious passion, scientific objectivity, artistic sensibility—and this is just the beginning. - Dr. Kelsey Bennett


ENG 205 Introduction to Creative Writing

I enjoy teaching Introduction to Creative Writing because of the wide range of students in my classes.  Of course there are English majors, but others are studying everything from biology to math to education.  This diversity is revealed through their poems and stories, from tales of finding dragon eggs in China, to verses about cooking the perfect omelet, to stories of bull riders who are secretly obsessed with vampire lore.  My students' imaginations amaze me.  Dr. Teresa Milbordt

 ENG 230 Environmental Literature

Environmental justice literature asks us to re-examine what we mean by environment and sense of place as we consider how environmentalism is linked to race, gender, and class.  Through literature, film, and theory, we discuss issues such as breast cancer, organ trading, the meat industry, endangered Florida panthers, logging and masculinity, and indigenous rights.  Investigating these issues through an environmental justice lens, we will analyze how humans and nature shape and are shaped by cultural imagination. - Dr. Christy Jespersen

ENG 237 Women and Literature

I enjoy teaching this course because we have the opportunity to explore diverse portrayals of women in literature.  These characters range from a woman who made her career in a sideshow, to one navigating the structure of the Catholic church, to a group of women negotiating their identities as Chinese Americans.  The differences and similarities that twine these characters together are fascinating, and make for fabulous class discussions. -  Dr. Teresa Milbrodt

ENG 248 Film Arts: Film as Literature/Literature as Film

Film and literature are the two texts I use most often to help me make sense of this dynamic existence.  Using the techniques of textual analysis and linguistic study, I am able to better comprehend not only my own place in the universe, but the perspectives of others as well.  The combination of WOW! entertainment factor and intellectual inquiry in this class draw me in like a moth to a flame, I hope you experience the irresistible pull as well! - Courtney Fullmer

 ENG 250 Critical Approaches to Literature

This course treats students as beginning scholars making meaning in the Twenty-First Century.  The course invites students to develop their own readings of poetry and fiction by putting texts into conversation with writings of some of the greatest thinkers in the last 100 years. - Dr. Christy Jespersen

ENG 255 Ancient World Literature

Classical texts have provided a wealth of subjects and recurring figures in later periods of literature -- Greek drama is Shakespeare’s literary foundation while mythology is not that which belongs to the past but often informs how we read our own lives.  Texts include Homer’s Iliad, which glorifies the Greek ideal of heroism and tragedy of rage and pride, and Virgil’s Aeneid which foreshadows the greatness of Rome.  The inclusion of the movies Troy, Mighty Aphrodite, and Clash of the Titans reflect how we, in our own modern day, perceive and relate to classical drama and mythological figures. - Dr. Alina Luna

FREN 256 French Literature in Translation

From its early medieval period to modern times, French culture is fascinating, and one does not need to understand French to enjoy it!  This course includes great works of French  literature in English translation from Voltaire (18th century) to the Romantic and Realism periods (19th century) and up through the 20th century to contemporary times.  The course also involves film versions of key works in French literature  as well as music and opera scenes by French composers through the ages.  - Dr. Helynne Hansen

 PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy

Introduction to Philosophy is one of those great courses which can completely turn around the basic assumptions we all have about the world around us.  As we proceed through the different eras in the development of western philosophy, students begin to see the foundations of their own belief systems and basic ideas about reality itself, and -- most importantly -- start to think more critically.  Before it's possible to "change" or "open" our minds, we need to know how we came to those minds in the first place. - Dr. Anthony Miccoli