As a college student, the opportunities to take a class just for the hell of it do not come around very often. In the event that you have an empty spot for extra credits, there are plenty of classes at Western that cater to different interests. Here are a few that could fill the winter schedule void.


FAIR 255Y Folk Music Experience

If names such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seger and Joan Baez spark an interest, then this Fairhaven class might be a perfect addition to a student’s schedule.

The Folk Music Experience class, which has been taught by Marie Eaton for the past 10 years, is based around prominent figures and movements contributing to the evolution of folk music in America.

The class is offered every quarter, from noon to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The class is through Fairhaven, but is open to all students during phase two of registration.

There are two primary objectives for the course, Eaton said. The first is to help students build a better understanding of the historical context of various kinds of folk music.

"Music doesn’t just appear out of nowhere," Eaton said. "It’s in a cultural context, so we read a book, watch videos and listen to the discography of the American folk music experience."

The other objective is to give students the opportunity to learn about folk music and then come together and play it, Eaton said.

The class meets twice a week. On Mondays, the class focuses on the historical and cultural context. It is spent mostly discussing, listening and reading, Eaton said. On Wednesdays, students bring a song they want to teach to other people – typically from the genre or person the class is currently studying – along with a paper explaining its author and context.

"And then, we sing them!" Eaton said.

As a professional musician for most of her life, Eaton described herself as a singer-songwriter, with her roots in folk music. Teaching the Folk Music Experience class helps her learn with the students, Eaton said. She enjoys learning more about people she has listened to over her life.

"For example, we’re going to do Johnny Cash [winter] quarter," Eaton said. She explained that she knew a little bit about Cash, but there are other aspects about him that contributed to American folk music.

"The net casted is broader than just the personality, he’s the primary focus – his lineage, where did he come from, whose shoulders did he stand on as he’s learning to write music and who did he influence [will be covered]," Eaton said.


EDUC 201 Compass 2 Campus

Youth Mentoring 1

Every fall quarter, a few hundred fifth-grade students from around Whatcom County come and tour Western’s campus.

Students taking the Compass 2 Campus class act as mentors for the elementary school students throughout the quarter.

Communication, leadership and mentoring skills are the primary objectives of the course, said Cyndie Shepard, founder of Compass 2 Campus. 

The course has a major service-learning component; the students are in class for the first three weeks and then they are out working with children in Whatcom and Skagit County for the remaining seven weeks of the quarter.

Shepard, wife of Western’s President Bruce Shepard, founded the Compass 2 Campus 10 years ago while living in Green Bay, Wis. The Shepards moved to Green Bay for Bruce’s new position at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and Cyndie had left her grade school education career upon doing so.

In search of places where she could volunteer her time with children, Shepard was brought to one of the elementary schools in downtown Green Bay, which was a low-income, high-risk elementary school, Shepard said.

While touring the school with the principal, a fifth grade boy was being sent home. While the principal went to call the boy’s mother, Shepard sat down, talked to him and calmed him down.

"I asked him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and the boy got a frown on his face and said, ‘I’ll probably end up in prison just like my dad’," Shepard said. "It just kind of broke my heart, a little 10-year-old boy thinking he was automatically going to go to prison."

After this incident, Shepard asked the principal what the university and her could do to help kids like the one she had just met.

The principal told Shepard that the school needed role models, and that college student would set good examples for the younger children.

Shepard then collaborated with one of the university’s trustees to create Phuture Phoenix – the original manifestation of Compass 2 Campus.

Now at four universities, Compass 2 Campus is a course for students who like to work with kids, Shepard said.

"[It’s] because I truly believe that we miss a lot of the kids that are potentially college students, maybe because their [parents are] making low income, maybe their parents didn’t go to college or they don’t have the kind of encouragement that they need to be able to go to college. I really believe that our college students are wonderful encouragers. That’s the reason I love teaching the class."

Each quarter, except summer quarter, there are five sections of the 201 course, which Shepard said could possibly become a GUR in the future.

There are no prerequisites or restrictions on the class, but it is required that the student has transportation to the schools at which they do their service learning.

The class meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8a.m. to 9 a.m.; Tuesday and Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; or Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 5p.m.


CLST 450 Gladiators and Christians

Diane Johnson, a professor at Western, is always frustrated with popular culture’s depiction of ancient Rome. Men wearing armor, the constant swinging of swords, orgies, the ever-present colosseum, beating of slaves and commitment to power is not what Rome is all about, Johnson said.

The Gladiators and Christians class, which is a new class being offered winter quarter, is through the classical studies department.

Johnson has designed the course as a way of showing students the reality of ancient Rome.

The idea for the course came from Johnson’s students constantly entering classes with preconceptions of ancient Rome from movies and television, she said.

The title – Gladiators and Christians – fits the course because those are the two classes of people that commonly come to mind when discussing ancient Rome, Johnson said. Gladiators fighting each other and Christians being eaten by lions were Johnson’s examples.

Each week of the class is devoted to an aspect of the city of Rome, Johnson said.

The class will go through and analyze facets of the city, such as what the buildings looked like, where the bookstores and restaurants were, what the roads looked like and how it felt to walk down the streets.

The course will also allow Johnson to discuss the religion in ancient Rome.

The ancient Roman empire, which began around the birth of Jesus Christ and ended around 400 A.D., transitioned from worshipping their own gods to the acceptance of Christianity.

On top of the class offered in the winter, Johnson will be conducting a study abroad trip to Rome to discover and learn the aspects of the class first hand.

"I’m looking forward to opening [students’] eyes to an ancient reality that they think they know from popular culture, and I don’t think they do," Johnson said.

This course is for adventurous students; Gladiators and Christians will give students the opportunity to look at places they have never seen before, and sample ways of life they have never thought about, Johnson said.

The class is not a GUR and has no prerequisites or restrictions. It is a part of the classical studies minor. The course is only offered winter quarter on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.