First Year and Pre-Major Program (FYPP)

Winter 2021 Discovery Core II


BCORE 115, 116, & 117, 5-CREDITS


Individual and Societies (I&S) Options:


Individuality & Individualism
B CORE 115A, I&S
Instructor: Jason Lambacher

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times​

An essential aspect of living a good life is discovering a sense of individuality. The struggle to understand our unique identities and the striving to leave a legacy in the world through self-realization and self-creation is difficult, but extremely rewarding. The process of individualization is especially intense and exhilarating during one’s college years, when many of us experience true independence for the first time and begin thinking seriously about our life plans and goals. “Individualism” refers to the moral, political, and ideological positioning of the individual in society, both as a locus of inherent rights and as an object of emancipation. While individualism is an undoubtedly important feature of the modern world, excessive individualism in contemporary society is deeply problematic and closely related to social inequality, weak communities, thin moral obligations to others. What happens to shared rules, values, norms, customs and traditions if we only think about ourselves and our own orbit? This class will explore tensions inherent in becoming an individual and provide an extended meditation on the beneficial and harmful aspects of individualism as a cultural, political, philosophical, and social phenomenon. 


A Brief History of Time
B CORE 115B, I&S
Instructor: Wanda Gregory
See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

What do the television series Doctor Who, H.G. Wells book, The Time Machine, the Hindu myth Mahabharata, and quantum physics have in common? Each depicts ways people have used to explore time travel.  This Discovery II course will allow students to explore time travel from a variety of perspectives: science, technology, history, philosophy, religion, and popular culture. Our interest in time travel continues to grow not only through books, movies, television and popular culture but through science and technology. What makes the idea of time travel so powerful that it resonates in each of us, and to what lengths are we going today to make it a reality?

In this interdisciplinary course, students will have the opportunity to look at the topic of time travel not only through popular culture (television, film, literature, and games) but through philosophy, psychology and through the sciences (quantum physics, human consciousness and computer science) Students will be able to research and explore one or more of these topics building on the skills and topics learned in DC I.

Course materials will come not only from science fiction but from television (Doctor Who, Black Mirror, Russian Doll, Star Trek), films such as The Time Machine, Back to the Future, Time Bandit, Doctor Strange, and Run Lola Run, along with video games and literature. The course will look at the time travel from a historical and philosophical perspective along with offering students the opportunity to explore how science and technology address this subject.

Students will not only be able to hone their research and communication skills but will address themes through group projects and hearing from with local experts and faculty working in these fields.


Remembering Nat Turner: Studies in Historical Memory and Representation
B CORE 115C (I&S) or BCORE 117H (VLPA)
Instructor: Linda Watts

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

In 1831, Nat Turner led an insurrection conducted by enslaved people in Southampton County, Virginia. Ever since, historians have been analyzing this event, and artists have been retelling the story (through poems, songs, paintings, plays, novels, and films). Find out why the event proves unforgettable.


The Science and Medicine of Harry Potter
B CORE 115D, I&S
Instructor: Laura Harkewicz

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

Have you ever wished for a wand that could make an enemy disappear? Have you dreamed of flying across the sky on your Nimbus Two Thousand seeking the golden Snitch? Have you longed for an Invisibility Cloak so you could eavesdrop on a conversation or get the answers to a final exam? This course explores how the magical world of Harry Potter aligns (or does not) with the rational laws of science and medicine. We will investigate topics as variable as flying cars and broomsticks, time travel, magical creatures, potions, the origins of witchcraft, and how magic became science. In the process, we will learn how many things in science from the experimental method to the theory of gravitation to the ethics of modern science and medicine originated in magical philosophies. We will also learn how the fantastic world of Harry Potter can illuminate some of the most interesting work researchers struggle with today as they continue to produce astounding knowledge about the natural world.


The Functions of Sex: Race and Gender in America
B CORE 115E, I&S
Instructor: Jason Morse

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

This course will undertake the cultural studies of sex by researching topics and analyzing texts from multiple disciplines and genres to think about the functions of sex in the gendered production of race in America. Sex is had, used, and exchanged for many reasons for reproduction, for pleasure, for building intimacy, and for securing financial and other forms of well-being. Sex is also a form of power, used as a source of control and manipulation, of moralizing and shaming, and as a form of violence and a legitimization of other violences. Sex and sexuality come to mean many things as part of our socialization, as forms of identity, as ways of evaluating people, and as indicators of normativity and even rationality. They are also the modalities through which race and gender are (re)produced and lived in America. We will inquire into the link between sex and gender as well as the various ways that gender frames the sexualization of race and the racialization of sex/uality.

For these reasons and more, sex has also been the subject, whether explicitly or implicitly, of a LOT of cultural work. This class will analyze the representations of sex in many American cultural forms including fiction, drama, poetry, film, and the graphic novel. We will investigate how sex is used in literary narratives, including the way it is deployed to theorize, challenge, and reinforce U.S. racial and gender formation in different historical moments. We will question what sex does in and to the narratives we read and the ways different cultural forms represent and engage the subject of sex to make claims about the social world and to intervene in the hegemonic and stereotypical definitions that label people. We will sometimes read literary texts against the grain, looking for the ways that the repression of sex in some narratives results in ruptures and contortions of form and content as the unspoken makes itself known and for the assumptions texts make about the functions of sex in relation to the production of race and gender in America.


Disability Representation in Society
B CORE 115G, I&S
Instructor: Mo West

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

This course provides students with introductory knowledge of disability studies (DS), a growing multi-disciplinary field that investigates, critiques, and enhances Western society’s understanding of disability. Students will be introduced to a critical framework for recognizing how people with disabilities have experienced disadvantages and exclusion because of personal and societal responses to their impairments. We will explore how disability activists and scholars have re-conceptualized disability from a more empowering social-political and human rights perspective, as an element of human diversity/variation and a source of community.


Natural World (NW) Options:


All Things…Crows!
Instructor: Ursula Valdez

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

This course focuses exclusively on the life of crows and other corvids (the family of crows, ravens, jays, etc.). This class has been inspired by the thousands of crows that come daily to roost on our campus and by my personal and professional fascination with birds.

This course will cover a thorough exploration of the natural history, ecology and behavior of crows but also will focus on their different associations with human societies. You will learn about the influence of crow species in the PNW and all over the world. We will cover crows’ influence or association with human aspects such as history, literature, culture, mythology, arts and many more.

By the end of the course students should have gained an appreciation for the different species of crows and their natural history and role in human’s life. Along the quarter students will work on specific assignments that will require documentation of issues on crows and other corvids, and develop written and creative pieces about the different topics discussed in class. Throughout, we will analyze information and data on corvids and conduct short projects on behavioral and biological observations. Also, students should become better consumers of scientific information as well as reliable popular sources. Finally, students will use their artistic skills or explore in new ones to produce a creative piece that encompasses what they learned during their research on different aspects of corvids life and their connections with humans.


Our Future as Told in CliFi (Climate Fiction) and CliSci (Climate Science)
Instructors: Dana Campbell and Miriam Bertram

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

Earth is habitable because of its atmosphere. However, over the last 100 years of industrialism, humans have rapidly and dramatically increased the composition of greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses allow energy from the sun to reach earth, but prevent heat from escaping from the atmosphere, so act like a blanket swaddling our planet. Trapped heat raises temperatures on land and in the oceans, with enormous and serious repercussions for life on our planet.

Scientists from all disciplines are now working together to understand the complexities of altering earth’s climate system. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are penetrating every aspect of our lives, including food production, water and energy supply, recovery from climate-related fires, storms and other disasters, and many we do not regularly consider. It’s becoming clear that humans will need to adapt our political, societal and educational systems for living sustainably. We are at a crucial time in determining humanity’s future.

In this course we explore projections of what life may be like in the next hundred years through a new genre of literature, climate fiction (CliFi). We will discuss how this literary mode allows readers to relate, through the experience of protagonists, to future challenges we face as a result of our world’s shifting climate. To complement these fictional projections, students will analyze and interpret available scientific data upon which these CliFi scenarios are based, to build a holistic understanding of how humans affect the world’s climate, how climate affects humans, what climate change means for our own lives and how might we improve stewardship of the earth and its resources for future generations.


Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA) Options:


Democracy and Digital Culture
Instructor: Ian Porter

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

Let’s step back from the fray of the 2020 presidential election and explore what democracy really is and what we can and should do as citizens in a democracy. In this course, we explore democracy and democratic citizenship by examining their representations in media. We will watch films (both fiction and documentary) and read graphic novels, popular press articles, and scholarship on democracy. Throughout our guiding question will be “What does democracy really look like, and how can I make it a reality?” In addition to the theme of democracy, students will learn crucial academic skills, including critical reading strategies, analytical writing strategies, and oral presentation strategies. You will have an opportunity to research something of interest to you regarding democracy and communicate it to the class. And, you will have an opportunity to be creative in your final project, which will ask you to represent democracy by creating an artifact or performing an action. Along the way, we will learn about important student resources on campus that can guide you toward success in achieving your academic, professional, and personal goals.

Front and Center: Images of Women in Theatre and Film
B CORE 117B and 117D, VLPA
Instructor: Deborah Hathaway

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

How are women represented in dramatic literature? To investigate this question, we will begin with Ancient Greek theatre and continue to explore, discuss, and theatrically represent images of women in theatre and film. Using a feminist theory lens, we will look at several plays, watch film clips, and research on the female experience both on and off the stage. We will have the opportunity to identify and discuss your observations of today's women on the stage and in the media. This course will include active in-class discussions, acting and movement exercises, and performance work. Students will also participate in a community-based learning project to further their research process and connect them as a partner to the Seattle theatre community.


Creative Activism: Inspiring Social Change through the Arts
Instructor: Gary Carpenter

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

This course explores a range of research methodologies through the arts and how to utilize them to re-imagine social and personal belief systems and to begin to bridge current social divides.   The arts allow us to actively engage in dialogue with diverse communities in ways that the written or spoken work often cannot.  The arts empower us to create unique spaces for re-thinking beliefs, considering new perspectives and navigating difficult, polarizing issues; they enable us to find our shared humanity. Empathy, creative inquiry, mutual respect and thoughtful social interactions within the classroom, on campus and with the larger local community will deepen our learning in this intensive community- based learning experience.

An examination of the distant and more recent history of tribalism will highlight how it has served our species well at times but also how it more recently threatens our ability to function as a cohesive society of free-thinking individuals.  This course inspires to employ collaborative, socially engaged arts practices to increase compassion and understanding, and to create new paths forward.    

Low stakes group projects will accelerate learning and equip students with the confidence to participate in community based collaborative art projects before designing, creating and implementing projects of their own.   A variety of research approaches will fuel their projects, deepening students’ understanding of this rapidly growing creative field and its applications in strengthening our communities both locally and globally in ways we have yet to imagine. 


The Legal Case
Instructor: Gavin Doyle

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

At its heart, this is a persuasive public speaking class. However, we’re getting at that topic through an introduction to trial advocacy. 

The course begins as a mix of a “Public Speaking” class and an “Intro to Law” course, but the majority of the quarter divides students into legal teams that gather facts from provided documents, assemble arguments, and make a case before a jury of peers. Students will study the fundamentals of evidence law, as well as criminal and civil procedure. 

Then, using mock-case packets, students must organize facts, craft arguments, and effectively communicate their positions as direct- and cross-examinations, and opening and closing statements.


Music and Philosophy
Instructor: David Nixon

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

About half the class will be hands-on: playing music on guitar, learning the basics of music theory and improvisation, learning to use audio recording and engineering software.  Obviously, active participation will be an essential component of the class. You don't need to have any musical ability to take this class.  But you do need to be willing to try new things.  For example, every student will learn to play the guitar.  We will also create, record, and mix a number of original compositions throughout the quarter.  

The other half will be philosophical, and involves a fair amount of reading, writing, and discussion. As philosophers we will ask, What is creativity? And what is music? Does John Cage's infamous 4'33" (a piece comprised of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence) count as a piece of music? Why or why not? What makes bad music bad? What's the connection between music and the emotions? We will also talk about popular music history, trends in music business, and the ways that the internet and the availability of recording technology has shaped music in the recent past.


Democracy & Digital Culture
Instructor: Ian Porter

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

This course explores how digital media technologies channel and shape how we participate in public life in democratic communities. We will deepen and complicate our understanding of democracy as a form of government that, in theory, gives power to the people, and we will analyze the ways that digital media and networked computing become the means, materials, and milieux of public expression and civic engagement in democratic communities. In keeping with the DCII theme of research and inquiry, students will participate in (online) civic action of some kind, and they will conduct research on a topic that relates to the course theme and communicate that research to an audience.

Remembering Nat Turner: Studies in Historical Memory and Representation
BCORE 117H (VLPA) or B CORE 115C (I&S) 
Instructor: Linda Watts

See the UWB Time Schedule for meeting days and times

In 1831, Nat Turner led an insurrection conducted by enslaved people in Southampton County, Virginia. Ever since, historians have been analyzing this event, and artists have been retelling the story (through poems, songs, paintings, plays, novels, and films). Find out why the event proves unforgettable.


Area of Knowledge Key:

VLPA - Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts
I&S- Individual and Societies
NW- Natural World
W- Writing
C- Composition