About Viking Launch


2-credit program: September 13-19, 2015
1-credit program: September 13-18, 2015
Non credit program: September 13-18, 2015

Purpose of the program

Viking Launch is designed to provide incoming freshmen a strong, focused start up to college life at Western. Research demonstrates that freshmen are most apt to succeed when they are socially and academically integrated within a campus community, when they are prepared and ready for their courses, and when they attend classes with an eye to their future goals and plans. Viking Launch is designed to help students successfully achieve these advantages before fall classes begin.

About the Seminars

Viking Launch students will complete a preparation course or thematic seminar that will prepare them for careers in education, environmental science, law, marine biology, pre-med and other professional fields. Students will choose from 1- or 2-credit seminars. These seminars are graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U).  

First Year Experience (FYE)/Pre-Medicine Preparation Seminar

Interested in a career in medicine or a related health or science field? Consider a Viking Launch preparation seminar to get you ready for the gateway courses these fields require. Most health science programs expect students to complete a year of general chemistry and two quarters of calculus as soon as possible. Viking Launch preparation seminars provide engaging hands-on introductions to these classes designed to prepare you for a successful first quarter. Unsure if you are ready for chemistry? Don't worry. The preparation seminar is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory so that you can explore the subject without the stress of high pressure grading. The pre-medicine preparation seminar includes:

  • FYE Chemistry 197: Introduction to Chemistry (2 credits)
    Introduction to general chemistry concepts in an intensive, 5-day format. The course is designed to assist students as they enter the General Chemistry (CHEM 121) by focusing on foundational concepts and strategies encountered in chemistry. The course provides instruction in: dimensional analysis, atomic structure, basic laboratory technique, and chemical bonding. The course serves the mission of helping students negotiate successfully the academic and personal opportunities and challenges of their first year.
    Faculty: Dr. Steven Emory

Visit Western’s Career Services website for more information and advising information on pre-med.

First Year Experience (FYE) Thematic Seminars

Explore topics, majors, career paths or interests in various subjects. Thematic seminar offerings include:

  • FYE Geology 197A: Mount Baker Geology (1 credit)
    Examine the origin and geological history of Mt. Baker through classroom lectures, lab, and field work. You'll learn about the geology and hazards associated with this active volcano, how geologists study volcanoes, and explore the history of the Earth's magnetic field that the volcanics of Mt. Baker have recorded. Course work includes classroom, lab and an excursion to the Mt. Baker area.
    Faculty: Dr. Bernard Housen

  • FYE Biology 195: Marine Biology (2 credits)
    An introduction to marine and estuarine science, this course blends classroom lecture and study with field experiences and research at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, one of the premier marine biology research sites on the west coast. Join Professor Deborah Donovan in an exploration of the field of marine biology and the coastal resources of Shannon Point.
    Faculty: Dr. Deborah Donovan

  • FYE English 195: Creative Writing by Design (2 credits)
    Explore the “ekphrastic” relationship between creative writing and other forms of art (music, sculpture, painting, glass, etc.) in this intensive, 5-day format. This course introduces you to elements of craft necessary for creative writing; to the process of imagining, generating, revising, and editing texts; to the electronic broadside form; and to Adobe’s InDesign software for creating a publishable work. Course activities include reading and analysis; pre-writing, drafting, workshop, revising, designing, and publishing; and field trips through WWU’s outdoor sculpture collection and the Museum of Northwest Art in beautiful LaConner, WA. Leave the course with your eBroadside published on the Museum of Northwest Art webpage.
    Faculty: Nancy Pagh

  • FYE Environmental Studies 195: Environmental Impact and Sustainability (2 credits)
    Explore climate science through research and field observations with a special focus on the Nooksack River watershed, and examine the environmental impacts of our energy, waste, food and transportation choices. Discover how local schools, governments, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals are working together to help solve the problems associated with climate change and take action by participating in a service-learning project with Western’s Office of Sustainability. Document your experience with photographs, field audio and writing to create a culminating presentation.
    Faculty: Riley Grant

  • FYE Journalism 197A: Introduction to Design and Photography  (2 credits)
    Everyone’s a photographer, right? We can all take photos on our phones and post them to Facebook or Tumblr. Now, delve further into photo practice, history, creative meaning, and ethics through presentations, photo assignments, visits from photographers, a field trip, and in-class production in a design lab. To prepare you to do profile, stop motion, and self-expression projects, we will cover SLR cameras and do a tutorial on Photoshop. A field trip to a local publisher will discuss editorial decision-making in publishing outdoor photos as narratives, as well as the career of freelancing. This course helps you build media literacy, as we will discuss design standards and visual creativity.  The material covered is useful to prospective Journalism majors as well as any student who wants to learn how to produce photos with an understanding of the technical and creative aspects of photography, as well as the history and ethics of photo practice.
    Faculty: Sheila Webb

  • FYE Materials Science 197A: Introduction to the Science of Renewable Energy (2 credits)
    The quest to develop scalable, economic sources of renewable energy is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Explore the science behind renewable energy while gaining a deeper understanding of the prospects and problems that need to be overcome. The class consists of a combination of lectures on topics including biofuels, wind and wave power, nuclear power and solar cells, as well as field trips to local energy companies. A laboratory component includes activities such as the fabrication and testing of student-made solar cell devices.
    Faculty: Dr. David Patrick

  • FYE Psychology 195: Neuroscience (2 credits)
    Is it true that we use only about 10% of our brain? Weighing in at approximately 3 pounds, the human brain may be our last and most complicated biological frontier. So effective and efficient are the brain’s 100 billion neurons that, as long as things are working properly, we rarely stop to think about how this complex mass of tissue gives rise to our every thought, action and sensory perception. However, at times things do go wrong and people’s lives are shattered by disorders affecting the brain. This course will explore behavior neuroscience in Western’s new, state-of-the-art neuroscience research facility to investigate the role that the nervous system plays in normal and abnormal behavior, thought and emotion. Examine brain structure and function during brain dissections and observe brain-activity monitoring techniques in action.
    Faculty: Dr. Janet Finlay/Dr. Michael Mana

  • Spanish 197: Spanish Language and Culture (2 credits)
    ¡Bienvenidos a Western! If you’re thinking about studying Spanish at Western, join us this summer for a hands-on exploration of the campus community and the Bellingham area. Our focus will be on developing vocabulary and improving your conversational Spanish skills by actively engaging with all of the opportunities that Western has to offer, whether that’s figuring out how to navigate campus resources, spending time outdoors, or learning about Spanish-speaking communities in Whatcom county. You’ll practice Spanish while learning about Western and Bellingham and, depending upon your prior experience with the language, be ready to start with either Spanish 104 or 201 in the fall quarter.
    Note: We recommend that students have 2 or more years of high school Spanish—or 1 year and travel experience and/or native fluency—in order to register for this course.
    Faculty: Kirsten Drickey


First Year Experience (FYE) Community Service Learning

For the first time this year, Viking Launch students interested in discovering Bellingham through community service can choose the following non-credit seminar.

  • FYE Digging Into Bellingham: Growing Community Through Food (non-credit)
    Explore and engage with some of our region’s most exciting community gardening and farming projects. Get your hands dirty alongside community leaders who are using healthy, local food to address pressing social issues like unemployment, depression, and climate change adaptation. We will walk, bike, and bus our way to projects on campus, around town, and in the surrounding countryside. Our finale will be a two-night retreat to Growing Veterans farm, which empowers military veterans through food production. Ready to work outside, get inspired, explore, and play? Sign up today!
    Faculty: Travis Tennessen


About Other Activities

Recreation activities including team building exercises are scheduled with Outdoor Center staff on campus. The award-winning Wade King Student Recreation Center will be open for students to use state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Day long and/or afternoon recreation programming is also planned.

A community service-learning project is planned for all Viking Launch students in the 1- or 2-credit seminars.  

College success workshops will be offered in effective study skills, academic reading, note taking, personal finances, career planning and healthy living, providing students with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for academic success before fall classes begin.

Residence life staff will offer meet and greet opportunities with other Viking Launch participants and orient students to campus life.

Page Updated 08.11.2015