2021 Viking Launch Courses

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Student working outside on a laptop enjoying the fall weather

Click on the "+" to display each Viking Launch course description!

*Due to the condensed one-week timeline, Viking Launch students only take ONE (1) Viking Launch course. You will be in class approximately 5 hours per day.

2021 Viking Launch Registration is CLOSED.



An introduction to marine and estuarine science, this course blends classroom learning with field experiences at local marine habitats. We plan to work and learn at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, one of the premier marine biology research sites on the west coast, if conditions permit it. Join Professor Deborah Donovan in an exploration of the field of marine biology and the coastal resources of the Salish Sea.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $90

Instructor: Dr. Deborah Donovan

Is it true that we use only about 10% of our brain? Of course not! Weighing approximately 3 pounds, the human brain may be our last and most complicated biological frontier. So effective and efficient are the brain’s 100 billion neurons that, as long as things are working properly, we rarely stop to think about how this complex mass of tissue gives rise to our every thought, action and perception. However, when brain function is impaired people’s lives can be dramatically altered. This course will introduce you to behavioral neuroscience in Western’s state-of-the-art neuroscience research facility, where you will learn about the role that the nervous system plays in normal and abnormal behavior, thought and emotion. Lab activities include a sheep’s brain dissection, to help you learn about brain-and-behavior relationships hands-on!

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $10

Instructors: Dr. Janet Finlay/Dr. Michael Mana

Interested in taking chemistry?  Concerned about your skills or experience with chemistry?  This course is designed to help you confidently enter the general chemistry series (CHEM 161-163) by focusing on foundational concepts and strategies (e.g. dimensional analysis, atomic structure, basic laboratory technique, and stoichiometry).  Get off to a strong start in the sciences at Western by working closely with experienced faculty and other science interested students.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $0 (no fee)

Instructors: Dr. Steven Emory and Dr. Elizabeth Raymond

Explore the “ekphrastic” relationship between creative writing and other forms of art (music, sculpture, painting, glass, etc.) in this intensive, 5-day format. This course introduces you to elements of craft necessary for creative writing; to the process of imagining, generating, revising, and editing texts; to the electronic broadside form.  Course activities include discussion, response, pre-writing, drafting, workshop, revising, designing, publishing, and virtual & self-directed field trips through WWU’s outdoor sculpture collection and other sites.  Students need to available with reliable connectivity for synchronous activities each day with peers and faculty.  A detailed schedule and information about required online meetings and materials will be available by September 7, 2020.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Nancy Pagh

Explore and engage with some of our region's most exciting community gardening and farming projects. Get your hands dirty alongside community leaders who are using healthy, local food to address pressing social issues like unemployment, depression, and climate change adaptation. We will learn about projects on campus, around town, and in the surrounding countryside. Ready to work outside, get inspired, explore, and play? 

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Faculty: Travis Tennessen Center for Service-Learning

In this course we will explore local environmental issues through research and field observations, with a special focus on the Nooksack River watershed, and examine the impacts of our energy, waste, transportation, and water-use choices. We will discover how WWU, governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals are working together to help solve the problems associated with environmental change, and opportunities for taking action in your new community.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Katie Fleming

Interested in learning about the history of Bellingham’s local volcano? In this class you'll learn about the origin, geology, and hazards associated with this active volcano, and discover how geologists study volcanoes. The class will some engaging lab and classroom activities.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Dr. Bernard Housen

Everyone’s a photographer, right? We can all take photos on our phones and post them to Instagram or Tumblr. Now, delve further into photo practice, history, creative meaning, and ethics through presentations, photo assignments, visits from photographers, field trips, and in-class production in a design lab. To prepare you to do profile, stop motion, and self-expression projects, we will cover SLR cameras and do a tutorial on Photoshop. A field trip to a local magazine publisher (possibly remote) will discuss editorial decision-making in publishing outdoor photos as narratives, as well as the career of freelancing; a second field trip to a local newspaper (again, possibly remote) will cover how to make ethical editorial choices in local coverage. This course helps you build media literacy, as we will discuss design standards and visual creativity. The material covered is useful to prospective Journalism majors as well as any student who wants to learn how to produce photos with an understanding of the technical and creative aspects of photography, as well as the history and ethics of photo practice.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Sheila Webb

Are you considering business as your academic and professional pursuit but unsure as to which area to study or where to begin? This course is designed to introduce students to the College of Business and Economics (CBE) help students explore and understand the distinct areas of study and professional practice that business has to offer. The course will include a survey of the primary disciplines in business as offered at WWU in the CBE. You will become acquainted with Accounting, Decision Sciences, Finance and Marketing, Economics and Management. Students will learn from experienced faculty, meet department teams and have the chance to visit local businesses. This course is a great way to understand the opportunities offered at the CBE and get a head start on planning your degree in business at Western.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Lucas Senger

The quest to develop scalable, affordable sources of renewable energy represents one of the greatest challenges facing the next generation. This class explores the science behind renewable energy and the prospects and problems that need to be overcome. The class consists of a combination of lectures on topics including biofuels, wind and wave power, nuclear power and solar cells, as well as a field trip to a local energy generation facility. A laboratory component includes activities such as the fabrication of student-made solar cell devices and biodiesel. Students will also learn about instrumentation and facilities available to student researchers in the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC).

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Instructor: Dr. Tim Kowalczyk

¡Bienvenidos a Western! If you’re thinking about studying Spanish at Western, join us for a hands-on exploration of the campus community and the Bellingham area. Our focus will be on developing vocabulary and improving your conversational Spanish skills by actively engaging with all of the opportunities that Western has to offer, whether that’s figuring out how to navigate campus resources, spending time outdoors, or learning about Spanish-speaking communities in Whatcom County. You’ll practice Spanish while learning about Western and Bellingham and, depending upon your prior experience with the language, be ready to start with either Spanish 104 or 201 in the fall quarter.

Note:We recommend that students have 2 or more years of high school Spanish—or 1 year and travel experience and/or native fluency—in order to register for this course.

Course Fee (will be applied to your fall quarter bill): $15. The course fee is tentative based on a potential field trip. Fee will only be charged if actual field study takes place and can hopefully be confirmed once we have a better idea of fall COVID restrictions in late summer.

Faculty: Kirsten Drickey

Exploring the outdoors is a fantastic way to explore who we are as leaders—even for those who don’t have any outdoor excursion experience—as it provides a context and metaphor for learning about leadership and the challenges leaders face. This course is designed for students who want to develop themselves as leader by exploring the outdoors in a team-oriented cohort led by an instructor and peer mentors. By collectively and cooperatively working together in these adventures (at WWU campus facilities and in Whatcom County), students will learn about leadership styles, explore personal values, and inclusive, effective communication. Activities are designed so that the student only needs safe walking or hiking shoes and comfortable clothes (and a sense of adventure!). No experience is needed for basic lessons and experiences in, hiking, sailing, ropes courses, or other activities.* Transportation is provided.

* Activities will be selected based on instructor choice, teaching goals, weather, student abilities, and other factors.

Course fee: $0 (no fee)

Instructor: Stephen Magnuson

*Course is currently full. If you would like to be added to the waitlist for a course that is full, please use the "+" to expand the course description and then click on the "Waitlist" button. (You will essentially enter your information as if you are registering for the course, but you will not be asked for payment information.) If a student cancels, we will notify the first student on the waitlist. There are no guarantees that a spot will open up, so we strongly recommend that you register for your second choice course so that you are assured a spot in the Viking Launch program.

Still have questions about Viking Launch?

Please email us at VikingLaunch@wwu.edu and someone will get back to you.