Learn what Humanities First offers during the first year—and beyond. On this page you can find an overview of the program and a description of this coming year's courses. For more info, check out our Previous Years page and check out our current faculty on our People page.


Humanities First is a new First Year Experience for incoming students to learn about and connect with the University of Washington, our Seattle campus, and the histories and voices of our broader Pacific Northwest community.

Humanities First aims to help students think broadly about human life and to explore the questions that matter—questions about unity, about communication, about who controls the story, and about how this affects our world.  The questions humanities explores are, now more than ever, the questions that count.

Humanities First consists of a series of three courses centered around a common theme, and all of which emphasize collaboration, higher-order thinking, public communication in the form of team Instagram feeds, and professional presentation in the form of E-Portfolios. The Fall class (HUM 101) changes topic yearly. Winter seminars (HUM 102) focus specifically on the voices and histories of the Indigenous Peoples of our area while the Spring seminars (HUM 103) focus on those of the Asian and Pacific Asian populations.

Students may take one or more of the series. Students who complete the entire series will earn the designation “Humanities First Scholar” and will have the opportunity to apply for a Humanities First Internship, where they will have opportunities to develop mentoring and communication skills.


2022 - 2023

In 2022 – 2023, the theme of Humanities First is “Friends and Foes.”  In the Fall, our lecture cohorts are taught by a team of faculty from Art History (professor Adair Rounthwaite), English & CHID (professor Anu Taranath), and Spanish & Portuguese Studies (professor Eduardo Viana da Silva). We will also be joined by Teaching Assistants from the departments of English (Hamza Ahmad), Slavic Languages & Literature (Taylor Eftimov), and Spanish & Portuguese Studies (Sheehan Trippel). Student teams will take the topic of Friends and Foes as encountered in their readings and class discussion, and create public-facing Instagram feeds or digital Zines aimed at their peers. In addition, students will create E-Portfolios that they will use to curate their four-year journey at the UW and convey that journey to the public (many students use these when seeking internships and employment). 

The Winter and Spring seminars will focus on shared texts (Deborah Miranda's Bad Indians in Winter and Frank Abe and Tomiko Nimura's We Hereby Refuse), E-Portfolio development, and public humanities scholarship. Most excitingly, in-class discussions will be further enhanced by a series of in-person field trips throughout these quarters. 

Visit our Field Trips page to learn more about our destinations for this year!

Winter quarter we will explore campus locations such as the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Henry Art Gallery, and the offices of the University of Washington Press. In Spring we will visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle’s Chinatown – International District​, the Kubota Garden, the Suquamish Museum on Port Madison Indian Reservation, and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island.

Students who complete the first year series will earn the designation “Humanities First Scholar” and will have the opportunity to apply for a Humanities First Internship, where they will develop their mentoring and communication skills with the incoming cohort of Humanities First students.


Still curious about Humanities First? Check out our Previous Years page for our past themes, speakers and field trip destinations. Or you can watch our out our "Reimagining the Humanities" Virtual Seminar from January 28th, 2021.