Jul 15, 2024  
2015-2016 Catalog 
2015-2016 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies


Dr. Jack Herring, Dean

A College Within the University

Founded in 1967, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies is an undergraduate division of Western Washington University. Its purpose is to offer students the opportunity to take an uncommon degree of responsibility for the structure and content of their own education where students design their own degree programs by drawing on the resources of a larger University. The college offers training in writing and research, critical thought and creative expression, independent judgment and scholarship, self-evaluation and narrative assessment.

As a learning community, Fairhaven is defined by five attributes: (1) interdisciplinary study, (2) student designed studies and evaluations of learning, (3) examination of issues arising from a diverse society, (4) development of leadership and a sense of social responsibility, and (5) curricular, instructional and evaluative innovations.

At Fairhaven, students are challenged to bring what they learn to bear on human concerns and crucial real-world problems, to experiment, to discover and to act. This style of education supports the development of certain values, virtues and skills: self-discipline, resourcefulness, initiative, self-development, adaptability, reasonable risk-taking, leadership, sensitivity to injustice, and respect for persons. Fairhaven courses prepare students to listen carefully and engage respectfully in discussion, to value and respect different world views and to appreciate multiple voices reflecting the diversity of experiences in our society.

Fairhaven College is committed to interdisciplinary study and serving a diverse student body in terms of age, ethnic background, academic interest, and life experience. The College is committed to a gender-conscious and multicultural approach to topics, resources and classroom practices. Courses and other learning experiences provide an opportunity to examine the impacts and contemporary and historical roots of race, class and gender relations.

Fairhaven College’s role in the University is not only to provide a learning environment for students interested in self-designed study and interdisciplinary learning, but also to help the University ask questions about teaching and learning. Members of the Fairhaven community collaborate with and learn from colleagues in other colleges both within and outside of Western.

Fairhaven College also administers the curriculum of the American Cultural Studies Program, which offers significant depth in learning about current and historical topics in the diverse tapestry of people who make up the United States.

A Structure for Learning

The structure of learning at Fairhaven College consists of close working relationships between teachers and students; we are known for our practice of student-centered learning. Classes are small and the emphasis is on open discussion and the exchange of ideas. Our classes are interactive; we believe every student is essential to the discovery and creation of knowledge and, hence, to unleashing the full value of an undergraduate education as a tool for enhancing the lives of individuals, communities, and the world, as creative, actively engaged citizens.

In any given quarter, students may select classes offered across the University and/or design independent study projects in consultation with their faculty advisor. Students are encouraged to formulate and carry out independent research projects. Faculty members sponsor and monitor these projects and help students develop the resources necessary to complete them. Field work, practica, internships, and study abroad can also form important components of a Fairhaven education. Students are encouraged to work outside their comfort zone and to find ways to connect their learning with challenges and opportunities in the real world, ways to understand relationships of thought and action, theory and expertise, ways to cultivate opportunities for applying what they learn through campus and community volunteer activities, and through internships.

Collaborative learning is often used together with independent research. Narrative assessments, including a student self-evaluation and written responses from faculty replace letter grades, promoting a more deeply reflective experience and encouraging a student to take full ownership of her/his/their education.

Fairhaven College Learning Goals and Assessment

A culture and pedagogy of self-assessment and reflection have been significant features of teaching and learning at Fairhaven College since its founding as an experimental college. Assessment is valued as an essential part of the learning process.
Students assess their own learning in each course and are also asked to assess the course and the faculty. Students assess their writing skills in the development of a writing plan, and later in their education revisit that plan when they create their college writing portfolio. A cumulative self-assessment, the Summary and Evaluation, is required of all students prior to graduation.

Faculty provide individual narrative assessment of students in each course they teach, and provide on-going assessment of student growth in the advising process. Faculty regularly revisit and respond to outcomes of their teaching through reviewing student self-evaluations, faculty and course evaluations. Faculty peer review of teaching practices happen regularly through team teaching, shared concentration committee mentorship of students, shared advising (often in student Transition conferences) and collaborative curriculum review and college governance.

Beyond supporting students in their individualized learning goals, Fairhaven College has also established a set of goals that we aspire all students to achieve by the time they graduate. These goals are deeply woven into the structure of the core curriculum and are regularly assessed to determine how the core curriculum can be improved.

Fairhaven College Learning Goals

Upon graduation, Fairhaven College students will be able to:

Consider and listen openly to perspectives that are different from their own as they investigate complex issues.

Recognize and trace the development of their own ideas, skills, perspectives and learning processes.

Demonstrate the ability to imagine, problem-solve, and take creative risks.

Articulate the ways in which systems of power, privilege, and oppression shape their experiences as individuals and members of communities.

Develop a sense of personal agency for creating positive social and ecological change within a multicultural and global context.

Effectively communicate complex ideas orally and in writing.

Apply quantitative reasoning to the construction, communication and evaluation of arguments.

Fairhaven Core Curriculum

Fairhaven students complete Fairhaven’s core curriculum in lieu of the WWU General University Requirements (GUR). A student who leaves Fairhaven for another WWU program must complete the GUR. Fairhaven College also offers the opportunity for self-motivated students who have demonstrated exceptional learning skills to design an individualized alternative to parts of the core curriculum through the use of existing course challenge procedures.

The Fairhaven Core Curriculum includes a series of courses designed to widen students’ exposure to various areas of study, to connections among disciplines and to interdisciplinary theory and practice. Its purpose is to help students become perceptive, probing learners who can ask questions and pursue answers with care and confidence. Skills in reading, writing, presentation and analysis are emphasized. Each course deals with methods of knowing and understanding, themes, modes of creativity and practical applications to be found in each area of study.

Elements of this core contribute to its unique character:

  • Courses are conducted in a collaborative seminar format
  • Class sizes seldom exceed 20 students
  • A strong mentoring/advising relationship is established
  • Interdisciplinary studies mirror the shape of complex problems
  • Instruction is shared by all Fairhaven faculty members - artists, scientists, philosophers, lawyers, historians, poets, social scientists, anthropologists, psychologists - who adapt the diverse themes of their disciplines to core studies
  • Evaluation takes the form of narrative assessment

There are core courses in each of the three curricular stages: exploratory studies, concentrated studies and advanced studies, as outlined in the degree-specific requirements. Students need not complete one curricular stage before advancing to the next.

Exploratory Studies (Stage One)

Concentrated Studies (Stage Two)

Advanced Studies (Stage Three)

Degree Requirements

Requirements for bachelor’s degrees awarded by Fairhaven College are as follows:

  • Meet the University Degree Requirements  
  • The Fairhaven Core Curriculum
  • An Interdisciplinary Concentration (the individually designed major), OR the Fairhaven Upside-Down Program, OR other WWU departmental major
  • Completion of at least 25 credits at Fairhaven
  • Completion of at least 50 credits outside of Fairhaven
  • Scholarship and credit standards as prescribed by Fairhaven College


Fairhaven College Degree Option Curriculum Process and Requirements
Interdisciplinary Concentration, BA

Complete all three stages of core curriculum; design an interdisciplinary concentration with a committee and complete specified coursework including FAIR 401A, Senior Project.

Interdisciplinary Concentration with a Law, Diversity & Justice (LDJ) Emphasis, BA

Complete all three stages of core curriculum plus LDJ required coursework; design an interdisciplinary concentration with a strong interest in law, diversity and access to the legal system for under-served communities and complete FAIR 401A, Senior Project.

Interdisciplinary Concentration, BAE

For students seeking the flexibility interdisciplinary concentration, and wishing to apply their degree in the profession of education. Requirements match BA Interdisciplinary Concentration, plus requirements appropriate for the level of professional certification sought by student and approved through Woodring College of Education.

Fairhaven Upside-Down Program, BA

For transfer students who complete a pre-approved technical 2-year degree from a Washington state college and transfer to Western. Students complete stage and three of the Fairhaven core curriculum and a set of appropriate upper-division coursework to complement their previous academic experiences.

Fairhaven College enrollment and completion of University Major, Degree as specified for that Major (e.g. BA, BS, BFA)

Complete stage one and three of Fairhaven core curriculum and all requirements for major as determined by the relevant Department.

Fairhaven Grade Requirements

At Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the A-to-F grading system is not used. Classes and studies are taken on a “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” basis. Academic credit is granted after requirements have been satisfactorily completed and the student has submitted a written self-evaluation of his or her work to faculty instructors. Faculty respond with a written evaluation of the student’s progress. Credit will be entered on Fairhaven students’ official transcripts only if they fulfill their academic obligations.

The official transcript, held in the University Registrar’s office, lists all Fairhaven and other Western Washington University classes completed. A cumulative GPA is not displayed on the official transcript for Fairhaven students. The student-faculty narrative evaluations are held in the student’s permanent academic file and form part of the student’s credentials for applying for employment and for graduate programs. For students enrolled in Fairhaven College a complete record of academic achievement includes both the official transcript and an official set of narrative evaluations to supplement this transcript.

Credits attempted but not completed will be recorded in the student’s Academic History with an NX.  The college does not assign a K grade (incomplete) to Fairhaven students, but instead does not award credit until a class is completed. If a registered class is never completed and no credit is awarded, the incomplete class does not appear on the student’s official transcript. An NX, indicating “no credit awarded,” will appear in the Grade column of the student’s unofficial Academic History.
Students receiving an NX may request a Time Extension Contract from the instructor outlining the terms of work to be completed for the awarding of credit. The maximum deadline for credit to be awarded for an NX class is one year after the quarter of enrollment, pending instructor approval.

Federal regulations require all schools participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs to have a standard of Satisfactory Progress, which applies to all applicants/recipients of financial aid as one determinant of eligibility. Classes receiving an NX will count toward credits attempted in Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress and may affect eligibility for aid.

Fairhaven College follows all other student records policies of Western Washington University found elsewhere in this catalog.

Special Opportunities

Independent field studies abroad or community internships might consume a full quarter’s registration. The Adventure Learning Program (ALG) provides opportunities for selected Fairhaven students to spend 10 months immersed in a cultural environment different than their own while engaging in a scholarly project of their own design. In recent years, ALG grant recipients have lived and conducted research in Madagascar, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, India, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, and Lebanon.

Professional Education. For students wishing to acquire teaching credentials, Western’s Woodring College of Education offers a choice of majors — including certain Fairhaven Concentrations — appropriate to public school teaching. Faculty advise students in the construction of their programs and work closely with the College of Education in helping students to complete requirements.

CIEL Student Exchanges. Fairhaven College is a member of The Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL), a growing network of distinguished, progressive higher education institutions. Through this network, students at Fairhaven College have the opportunity to spend a quarter or semester on one of the Consortium campuses. Visit www.Cielearn.org.

Information on these and other special opportunities can be accessed on the Fairhaven College Website or is available at the main Fairhaven office.

College Admission and Advising

Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies has selective admission and enrolls first-year students, transfer students, and students from other WWU programs fall, winter, spring and summer quarters. New applicants to Fairhaven and to the University complete the WWU Undergraduate Application (available online or in print form). Indicate interest in Fairhaven College in your application. Send the standard application, transcripts, and required test scores to: Office of Admissions, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9009.

In addition to the WWU application, Fairhaven requests a personal statement, two letters of recommendation and an interview (in person or by telephone). For more information or to make an appointment, please call 360-650-6680.

Students currently enrolled in other University programs may apply to transfer to Fairhaven’s program by the quarterly application deadlines. Current WWU students applying to Fairhaven do not need to submit transcript test scores or the WWU Undergraduate Application.

Visitors are welcome, and with advance notice appointments can be arranged with Fairhaven advising and admissions staff, students or other WWU staff.


Students benefit from high quality advising; extensive and intensive advising is a hallmark of the Fairhaven College learning experience for all its students. All full-time faculty members are academic advisors supported by professional staff, and student peer mentoring. Great thought has been given to the design of advising at Fairhaven – multiple advisors and kinds of advising at multiple points along the path from admission to graduation. We provide an organized sequence of required advising engagements with every student. Advising is continuous and embedded in the curriculum.

The role of the faculty advisor is to mentor, advise, question, recommend resources, and ultimately, oversee and approve the student’s satisfaction of degree requirements for graduation. The faculty advisor is a useful resource for facilitating connections for students with other departments and classes on campus; the advisor can also be an influential and important advocate for students seeking internships, study abroad recommendations, exceptions to policies, and graduate school information and references. Faculty advisors review each student’s writing portfolio, facilitate student transition conferences, and are essential mentors in supporting the development of the student interdisciplinary concentrations.

A professional Advising Coordinator oversees the system of advising at Fairhaven. This person advises new students regarding credit evaluation, degree planning, graduation processes, narrative assessment, and programs and services outside the college. The Advising Coordinator regularly reviews the academic progress of each Fairhaven student and works with faculty advisors, support personnel, and students to promote retention and satisfactory academic progress.


JACK A. HERRING (2013) Dean. BS, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; PhD, University of Washington.
BABAFEMI AKINRINADE (2008) Associate Professor. LL.B University of Ife; BL Nigerian Law School, LL.M Obafemi Awolowo University, LL.M. University of Notre Dame, J.S.D. University of Notre Dame.
JOHN L. BOWER (1998) Professor. BS, PhD, Cornell University.
ANDREW J. BROWN (2015) Assistant Professor. BA, Muhlenberg College; MA, Northwestern University; ABD, Northwestern University.
LESLIE CONTON (1980) Professor. BA, Oberlin College; MA, PhD, University of Oregon.
LAWRENCE J. ESTRADA (1989) Associate Professor and Director, American Cultural Studies. BA, University of California, Santa Barbara; MEd, Whittier College; PhD, University of California, Los Angeles.
JOHN V. FEODOROV (2005) Associate Professor. BFA, California State University-Long Beach; MFA, Vermont College.
JULIE A. HELLING (2000) Associate Professor. BA, University of Iowa; JD, University of Michigan Law School.
MARK Y. MIYAKE (2015) Assistant Professor. BA, MA, PhD, Indiana University.
NIALL Ó MURCHÚ (2001) Associate Professor. BA, MA, University College, Dublin; MA, PhD, University of Washington.
HILARY SCHWANDT (2013) Assistant Professor. BA, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; MHS, PhD, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
TANIS S’EILTIN (1992) Associate Professor. BA, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; MFA, University of Arizona.
TAMARA SPIRA (2014) Assistant Professor. BA, Oberlin College; MA, PhD, University of California Santa Cruz.
STAN TAG (1997) Associate Professor. BA, Whitworth College; MA, PhD, University of Iowa.
MIDORI TAKAGI (1994) Associate Professor. BA, Oberlin College; MA, American University; MPhil, PhD, Columbia University.
JOHN TUXILL (2007) Associate Professor, BA, Williams College; MS University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD, Yale University.
JENNIFER WANG (2014) Assistant Professor. BS, MS, PhD, University of Washington.

Faculty specialties. Areas of faculty study and interest include African American and Asian American history, American literature, anthropology, art and art history, civil and international human rights, constitutional and environmental law, creative writing, ecology, economics, history and philosophy of science, Holocaust and mass atrocities, human development, international law, mathematics, multicultural issues and literature, music and society, Native American issues, natural sciences, nature writing, ornithology, performance studies, physics, poetry, political economy, psychology of women, queer studies, scriptwriting, social theory, theater and drama, theory and practice of teaching, transitional justice, video production, women studies, ethics, philosophy of nature, political philosophy, and other areas.

Other members of the Western Washington University faculty from various departments and programs contribute to Fairhaven’s curriculum as teachers of classes, members of advisory committees for concentrations, and as lecturers. Visiting faculty and guest lecturers from other universities, and from a variety of other occupations, also add to the resources available to Fairhaven students.

Other College Information

Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships

Fairhaven students pay the same tuition and fees as students of other colleges in the University. See other sections of this catalog for specific details. Information regarding federal, state and private financial assistance and application procedures should be addressed to: Financial Aid , Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9006.

Fairhaven offers scholarships to selected students. Check the college’s website or the WWU scholarship center website for information.

The Registration Process

University Registration. Registration for Fairhaven College offerings occurs during scheduled University registration periods. Class schedules (timetables) are available online. Registration for Fairhaven College variable credit classes and independent studies is via the Web4U Independent Study Proposal process.

Fairhaven College Students. Credit earned by Fairhaven students taking Fairhaven classes may apply to the core requirements, to the concentration and to the general 180-credit requirement for graduation. Credit earned in other WWU classes by Fairhaven students may apply to the major or concentration, and to the 180-credit requirement for graduation.

Other WWU Students. Fairhaven College credit earned by students affiliated with Western’s other colleges is applied to the general 180-credit requirement for graduation. Occasionally department advisors in other colleges may approve Fairhaven courses as electives for majors. Fairhaven’s courses and studies are open to all WWU students (unless indicated in prerequisites or otherwise).

The Fairhaven College Quarterly Class Descriptions. Available prior to registration in the fall, winter and spring, this publication is available online. It announces schedule changes and additions and describes in detail Fairhaven’s offerings each term. Students are advised to consult the schedule before finalizing their programs.


    Undergraduate MajorUndergraduate Minor



      Fairhaven’s 2014-2015 Curriculum. The courses and studies listed in this catalog will be offered during the 2013-2014 academic years. Additional classes will be announced and described in the Fairhaven College Quarterly Class Description booklet, available at Fairhaven College Office and at http://www.wwu.edu/fairhaven/academics/courses/.

      At Fairhaven, new courses are constantly being developed by faculty and account for about one-half of the course offerings.

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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