The First-Year Seminar: Self

Your first-year experience in the “Self” seminar, which we at E&H call CORE 100, will help you develop a foundation for critical thinking and learning at the college level as you begin to take responsibility for your own education. This will be your first experience in the E&H liberal arts core curriculum, and you will have an opportunity to explore your own identity, learn how to find reliable information as a student and a citizen, and gain skills that will help you be successful in college and beyond.

Please read the course descriptions below to determine which topics for the “Self” seminar interest you most. We will do our best to place you in one of your top four choices!


This course is designated for all students accepted into the Honors Program.

Instructor: Professor Matthew Kelly

How Long to Sing This Song?: Culture & Community

In this course, we will dig into the complex concept of culture and examine what it has to do with things such as power, place, politics, identity, and faith, among others. We will utilize particular forms of cultural expression as we seek to understand how shared practices, representations, languages, and customs shape how we understand reality and ourselves. Our study will be framed by a series of significant questions that will prompt us to consider our own story and our own place in the world as human beings.  

Instructor: Dr. Scott Sikes

Painted Faces: Love, Death, and Identity in Chinese Drama

For centuries the Chinese stage resounded with raucous tales of heroism, romance, and murder. These tales were often adapted from popular narrative accounts, local traditions, or historical events, and were performed by traveling troupes in venues ranging from the poorest tea houses to the estates of the wealthy. Some plays, such as the bloody Orphan of Zhaowould be translated into Western languages as early as the first decades of the 18th century, inspiring European writers such as Voltaire. Others, like the Story of the Western Wingand The Peony Pavilionbecame popular romances and represented the power of passion to transcend class and even death itself. In this course, we will explore several of these classic plays as both texts as well as performative traditions. We will learn both about staging these plays (venues, costuming, role types, musical performance, etc.) as well as about their composition and development. In addition, we will explore the social issues highlighted in these famous works such as gender, family, class, and social expectations. What can we—thousands of miles and centuries apart—take away from these classic tales of love, revenge, and the miraculous?

Instructor: Dr. Lucas Wolf

A Starbucks Society

What began as a single coffee house in downtown Seattle has grown into a global phenomenon that has changed the way the world views and consumes coffee. This course will bring an in-depth analysis to what’s behind the now everyday phrase: “Meet me at Starbucks.” We will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives, such as the powerful business strategies used to build a global empire; the socioeconomic and environmental impact of the company and its products; health factors and other issues related to coffeehouse fare; and the use of space and visual stimulation to produce an atmosphere for relaxing, socializing, and retailing.

Instructor: Dr. Tracy Lauder

We Don’t Need Another Hero

The Hero’s Journey has long been a foundation of the stories we tell ourselves, especially in the Western world. The Hero’s Journey has not always held up well, however, especially in the way it treats anyone who isn’t the “typical” hero. This course will first look at how contemporary novels, film, and television have historically dealt with the Hero’s Journey and will then turn our attention to works that question, reframe, or completely upend the assumptions inherent within that framework. The course will include a closer look at the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes, as well as films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Matrix, and Edge of Tomorrow. Novels will include Circe and Parable of the Sower.

Instructor: Dr. Jenn Krause