Humanities 101 is the first course in the UW’s premier undergraduate humanities experience.  A 3-credit course that is reserved exclusively for first-year students, Humanities 101 is offered only in Autumn quarter.  This course will count towards your “Arts & Humanities” general education requirement.

Humanities 101 is open to all incoming students interested in learning more about what the humanities are, what they consist of, and how they function in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.  Further, Humanities 101 students develop skills that are distinctive to a humanities education, including the ability to ask critical questions and tackle problems from a variety of perspectives—including perspectives widely different from your own. Learning to think from different perspectives is a powerful and marketable skill central to effective communication, and in this course you will practice addressing different audiences through individual and collaborative projects.

Every year Humanities 101 focuses on a theme. This coming year (2023-2024), it is “Dreams and Nightmares.” Three faculty from different departments teach a portion of the course, introducing students to faculty from across the humanities at UW. Meet the Humanities 101 team:

Jason Groves of German Studies | I am interested in the relation of social life to geology and geological processes, and in particular how those relations are imagined in the literature of Germany and Austria. Dreams interest me as a significant aspect of human experience that I look forward to exploring this Fall.  

Jesse Oak Taylor of English | I study the relationship between human storytelling and the natural environment, using literature to understand how ideas about nature--and humans' place within it--have changed over time. In the Fall we'll be looking into modern myth and climate catastrophe. 

Lauren Poyer of Scandinavian Studies | I am a medievalist and a linguist, and I study stories of the paranormal and of religious revelation at sea in Old Norse sagas. I am excited about teaching this Fall because I think that the theme of “dreams and nightmares” lets us inhabit the middle space between what is and what could be.

Student Workload:

  • Three short reflective essays based on the readings for this class, produced for an audience you are just getting to know—your professors;
  • The creation of a personal website that presents your first-year journey, produced for an audience that will be new to you—future employers and internship directors;
  • Collaborative public digital projects spanning the course of the term, produced for an audience no one knows better than you—your peers


The Humanities First program is generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.