Western Civilization

Western Civilization Courses

Western civilization courses are offered through the Humanities and Western Civilization Program. These general education courses form a 2-semester interdisciplinary program that critically examines the ideas and values of Western culture from its early expressions in ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel through the modern period.

The presentation of material is both historical and thematic. It offers a guided study of the past to help us better understand the present and envision the future. Influential authors and writings in Western arts and sciences direct attention to the enduring questions of how to lead a satisfying and worthwhile human life. Themes are selected issues organized to focus goals and generate student discussion:

  1. The good life,
  2. Work and economic life,
  3. The citizen and the state,
  4. Knowledge and education,
  5. Intimacy and social life,
  6. Nature and the supernatural, and
  7. Morality and self-realization.

Western Civilization I and II are designated writing-intensive courses by the College and require students to complete 3,000 to 4,000 words of written work each semester in addition to essay portions of midterm and final examinations.

Companion Courses

Students may find these 100- through 300-level courses helpful, either as background to or taken concurrently with Western civilization. Principal courses are marked with an asterisk.

  • *CLSX 148 Greek and Roman Mythology
  • *COMS 332 The Rhetorical Tradition
  • ENGL 300 The Bible, the Classics, and Modern Literature
  • *GEOG 100 World Regional Geography
  • HIST 105 Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern and Greek History
  • HIST 106 Introduction to Roman History
  • *HIST 108 Medieval History
  • *HIST 114 Renaissance to Revolution: Europe 1500-1789
  • *HIST 115 French Revolution to the Present: Europe 1789–Present
  • *HA 100/HA 300 Introduction to Western Art History
  • *HA 150 Western Art History I: Ancient Through Medieval Art
  • HA 151 Western Art History II: Renaissance to Contemporary Art
  • *HWC 110 Introduction to Humanities
  • HWC 304 Masterpieces of World Literature I
  • HWC 308 Masterpieces of World Literature II
  • HWC 312 Masterpieces of World Literature III
  • *PHIL 140 Introduction to Philosophy
  • *PHIL 160 Introduction to Ethics
  • *PHIL 384 Ancient Philosophy
  • PHIL 386 Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
  • *REL 104 Introduction to Religious Studies
  • *REL 124 Understanding the Bible
  • REL 311 Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament in English)
  • REL 315 History and Literature of Early Christianity
  • REL 325 Introduction to Judaism
  • REL 345 Christianity

Western Civilization Requirement

B.A. or B.G.S. students in the College must satisfy the Western civilization requirement by taking two 3-hour courses, Western Civilization I and II. The regular course sequence is HWC 204 and HWC 205. The honors sequence is HWC 114 and HWC 115.

HWC 114HWC 115 (honors). 3 hours a week of lecture and discussion in an integrated format. Membership in the College Honors Program or permission of the department required.

Lectures are presented by faculty followed by a small-group discussion class. Students must enroll in both the lecture and a linked discussion.

HWC 204HWC 205. 3 hours a week of lecture and discussion. Options include a large lecture linked to small-group discussion classes or a small-class format incorporating lecture and discussion components.

Western Civilization Semester Abroad

Qualified students of at least sophomore standing may fulfill both semesters of their Western civilization requirement (as well as 3 hours in history and 3 hours in history of art) by participating in a semester study abroad program in Florence, Italy; and Paris, France. Contact the Office of Study Abroad.

Contact Info

Humanities and Western Civilization Program

Bailey Hall
1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 308
Lawrence, KS 66045-7545
Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Director
Antha Cotten-Spreckelmeyer, Associate Director and Undergraduate Coordinator
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