Fall 2024 First-year Interest Group Courses

The FIGs course list for 2024 is complete and reservations will open soon.

Fall 2024 FIG Clusters

FIG #01 The Business of Music

 An examination of the music industry: Past, Present and Future. In the early 2000’s digital technology brought massive change to the music industry. Forever changing how the audience finds, listens to and buys music. It also opened the door to endless opportunities for the artist to build and connect with their audience. In this FIG we will explore the shifts in the music business over the 100 plus year history of the industry. Students will explore how the music industry is conducted today, and examine how digital technology, including AI, will continue to change the Business of Music.

  • Economics 101
  • Music 105
  • Seminar 101
FIG #01 The Business of Music Details

FIG #02 Clean Energy Transitions

A transition from fossil fuels to a clean, efficient energy system is key to reconciling our economic and environmental imperatives. To understand this challenge, you’ll study the nexus of economic, policy, science and technology questions around energy supply and use. You’ll explore the range of degrees and careers available to graduates with majors and minor in Energy. This FIG is open to all first-year and new transfer students.

  • Energy 101
  • Seminar 101
FIG #02 Clean Energy Transitions Details

FIG #03 Climate Change Cognition

In this FIG we will study the basics of modern climate science, the ethical issues surrounding climate change, and how different communities respond to these issues. It also includes embedded instruction in academic skills and use of campus resources pertinent to exploration of the FIG cluster theme. In this FIG we will study the basics of modern climate science, and then investigate the way that different communities talk about and react to it. This will involve an overview of current frameworks related to climate change perception and an in-depth look at a couple of case studies, concluding in a final research paper looking at the thoughts and actions of a specific cultural or social group with regards to climate change.

  • Philosophy 115
  • Biology 101
  • Seminar 101
FIG #03 Climate Change Cognition Details

FIG #04 Cultural Entrepreneurship

 An examination of  Cultural Entrepreneurship through the lens of artists, creatives and non-traditional entrepreneurs. In this FIG Seminar we will explore social innovations that result in shifts in culture, social practice that drives community enhancement, and the entrepreneurial mindset needed to change the way business in the creative space is done. Students in this FIG meet BCOM GUR requirements in Computer Mediated Communications.

  • Computer Science 102
  • Theatre 201
  • Seminar 101
FIG #04 Cultural Entrepreneurship Details

FIG #05 Digital Humanities

Get acquainted with an important emerging field in this FIG cluster! Digital Humanities sits at the intersection of computing and the humanities – using the humanities to critically reflect on our use of digital tools and the social implications of new technologies, while also using web programming and other computing tools to produce and present humanities knowledge in exciting new ways. The courses in this FIG also both count towards a Minor in Digital Humanities. 

  • Humanities 110
  • Computer Science 102
  • Seminar 101
FIG #05 Digital Humanities Details

FIG #06 Diverse Voices/Distinct Voices

Students in this FIG explore the concepts of race, ethnicity and the role of public speaking with a focus on personal empowerment and academic achievement.

  • Communication Studies 220
  • Sociology 269
  • Seminar 101
FIG #06 Diverse Voices/Distinct Voices Details

FIG #07 Environmental Communication

Students in this FIG will look at the portrayal of environmental issues in the media to further understand media's influence and role in addressing environmental and social concerns, especially as it relates to systemic social change, social marketing, digital and physical media. How does the media influence people's perceptions around environmental concerns, such as climate change? What is greenwashing? How can businesses use the media for good?

  • Environmental Science 101
  • Journalism 190
  • Seminar 101
FIG #07 Environmental Communication Details

FIG #08 Environmental Justice

Students in this FIG earn some GUR requirements while examining the connections among environment, politics, economics, and identity. We explore questions such as: How are environmental impacts related to racial and other identity experiences? How can maps help us understand patterns of environmental inequality? Are environmental and economic inequality related?

  • Political Science 250
  • Environmental Studies 115
  • Seminar 101
FIG #08 Environmental Justice Details

FIG #09 Exploring Global Humanities and Religions

This introductory seminar course explores human flourishing through the study of humanities and religion. We consider what it means to flourish and how to flourish through our engagement with various sources—including fiction, non-fiction, and visual art. We also become familiar with campus resources that support flourishing of all kinds. Class time is discussion-based, and assignments are designed to foster the role of self-reflection in personal flourishing.

  • Humanities 121
  • Religion 231
  • Seminar 101
FIG #09 Exploring Global Humanities and Religions Details

FIG #10 Exploring Sociology/Criminal Justice

Sociology is the study of study of how humans behave and interact in groups--including families, religious organizations, schools and peer groups. Students in this FIG explore opportunities, degree emphases and careers associated with Sociology through the study of the American criminal justice system, US History, and a small, integrative seminar.


  • Sociology 255
  • History 103
  • Seminar 101
FIG #10 Exploring Sociology/Criminal Justice Details

FIG #11 Film Studies

Do movies and plays accurately mirror the psychology of human experience, or distort it?

  • Theatre 201
  • Humanities 271
  • Seminar 101
FIG #11 Film Studies Details

FIG #12 Global Citizenship

What does it mean to live as a global citizen? Students in this FIG examine the notion of "Other" through art form, narrative, literature, and film to address the question and other questions of global inequity.

  • Religion 283
  • Global Studies 201
  • Seminar 101
FIG #12 Global Citizenship Details

FIG #13 Language and Reasoning

We can communicate with each other, but how much do we understand about how language works? We can reason about what to do and believe, but how much do we understand about how reasoning works? In this FIG, students in LING 201 and PHIL 120 will explore fundamental questions about the nature of and interconnections between language and reasoning.

  • Philosophy 120
  • Linguistics 201
  • Seminar 101
FIG #13 Language and Reasoning Details

FIG #14 Leading for a Sustainable Future

Students in this FIG will look at the intersection of sustainability and leadership by bringing together ideas on how best to harness ideas for a more just, sustainable future. What are some of the planet’s most pressing environmental and social problems? What are the traits of a good leader, and how can we maximize those qualities to lead and advocate for communities?

  • Urban & Environmental Planning & Policy 202
  • Leadership Studies 101
  • Seminar 101
FIG #14 Leading for a Sustainable Future Details

FIG #15 Marketing for Social Change

A practice that proposes that marketing strategies and tactics can be used as an effective consumer-oriented approach to promoting change and improved well-being for individuals, communities, the environment via the offerings of companies and organizations. In this cluster we will examine the roles of company, consumer, producer, influencer and evangelist. Exploring the notion that marketing as a discipline can be used to generate significant societal and behavioral change.

  • Economics 101
  • Psychology 101
  • Seminar 101
FIG #15 Marketing for Social Change Details

FIG #16 Queer & Trans Thriving

Drawing on psychology, literature and other creative work, LGBTQ+ community organizing, and holistic wellness scholarship and praxis, we’ll explore many perspectives on what it can mean to thrive as an LGBTQ+ person, and barriers to thriving. Students will deepen their understanding of sexual health and the diversity of human sexuality in PSY 116 (Human Sexuality) and study a range of texts by queer and trans authors in ENG 227 (Queer Literature). In the seminar, students will explore resources within themselves, at Western, and beyond to support multidimensional queer and trans thriving. We’ll invite ongoing reflection about what queer and trans thriving means to students as individuals and as people in community.

  • English 227
  • Psychology 116
  • Seminar 101
FIG #16 Queer & Trans Thriving Details

FIG #17 Storytelling

Students in this FIG explore the art, science and power of storytelling across cultures while learning to perform stories themselves and discovering how narrative is central to human identity and communication.

  • Anthropology 201
  • Music 104
  • Seminar 101
FIG #17 Storytelling Details

FIG #18 The Salish Sea

In this FIG, we will experience the Salish Sea through different disciplinary approaches by reading Coast Salish authors and stories of place, learning about regional ecology, digging into layers of geology and history in the area, examining local issues of justice and equity, and more. We will engage in experiential learning activities like walking tours, scavenger hunts, debates, and storytelling.

  • Salish Sea 201
  • English 235
  • Seminar 101
FIG #18 The Salish Sea Details

FIG #19 Voting Rights and Political Power in the United States

Who can vote in America? This question is the most important in American politics and is at the center of national partisan conflict. This FIG situates our current moment within a broader examination of voting rights in the United States. Students will discuss pivotal moments in negotiating access to the vote, exploring themes of race, gender, economic class, and political power. Methodologies from history and political science will provide our critical frameworks. Objectives: 1. Evaluate how who has the right to vote has changed from the time of our nation’s founding to our current moment. 2. Assess the historical and political context behind major voting rights legislation. 3. Research contemporary topics related to voting rights. 4. Enhance academic skills necessary for a successful college career while also becoming familiar with school resources. 5. Learn the value and benefit of a liberal arts education while forging connections with professors and peers. 6. Identify college career goals and create a plan to achieve these goals.

  • History 103
  • Political Science 250
  • Seminar 101
FIG #19 Voting Rights and Political Power in the United States Details

FIG #20 Words and Music

Do we experience different forms of art in the same way? When listening to a piece of music, what does a musician hear? Is it different than how a writer hears it? When reading a text, what does a professional writer notice? Students in this FIG explore these and other related questions via popular music.

  • Linguistics 201
  • Music 105
  • Seminar 101
FIG #20 Words and Music Details

FIG #21 The Patterns in Your Mind

Explore how anthropology, linguistics, and mathematics provide us with tools to discover and describe patterns in the real world. NOTE: Final registration for this FIG will not be complete until the student earns a minimum ALEKS Math Placement Assessment (MPA) score of 35, or appropriate transfer credit.

  • Anthropology 247
  • Mathematics 112
  • Seminar 101
FIG #21 The Patterns in Your Mind Details

FIG #22 Future Woodring Scholars – by Invitation Only

Students explore teacher education and human services programs and professions early in their Western experience while gaining a network of academic and social support from Woodring students, faculty, and staff. Future Woodring Scholars is committed to transformational change that supports increased understanding and respect for differences and similarities among people and cultures.

  • DRR 115
  • Sociology 269
  • Seminar 101
FIG #22 Future Woodring Scholars – by Invitation Only Details