Community Health

Housed in the Department of Health and Human Development, Western's Community Health Program is nationally, regionally, and locally recognized, and lives up to its mission:

To provide students with a rigorous and dynamic hands-on educational experience that prepares them to effectively and compassionately improve the public’s health and advocate for social justice through community involvement and collaboration.

The Community Health curriculum teaches students the effect of health promotion and education on individuals and their relationship with their environments. Students learn to approach public health using a social ecological perspective, which considers health outcomes as they relate to factors of individual, social, and environmental influence.

Students take community health-focused coursework and classes from interdisciplinary fields including social sciences (e.g., anthropology, psychology, political science, and sociology), and biological and physical sciences (e.g., anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, and chemistry). Faculty have experience in a wide array of public health topics including but not limited to nutrition, global health, reproductive health, college health, and environmental health.

Prepared for Success

Students graduate from the program thoroughly versed and practiced as health education specialists, and are prepared to succeed on the Certified Health Education Specialist qualifying exam. In fact, Western’s community health students have a CHES examination pass rate higher than that of the national average. Students’ preparation for success on the exam includes knowledge acquisition of public health theory and practice, and extensive participation in individual and team projects that require community engagement and collaboration.

Western’s Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Beyond the Classroom


When students complete their coursework, they engage in a 10-week, full-time, community based internship. The internship program is highly regarded by community partners across Washington state and beyond. Community health students have completed internships with Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Sea Mar Community Health Clinics, Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood, Whatcom County Health Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., and have served abroad in Guatemala, Uganda, Egypt, Australia, and Nepal.


Students interested in participating in research are invited to join community health faculty research projects. Past students have published peer-reviewed articles, presented at national conferences including, for instance, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) and the American Public Health Association’s annual conferences. Students have also successfully competed in and applied for national public health competitions and scholarships.

Community Service

Over the last decade, community health students have contributed more than 100,000 hours of work within communities. This work allows our students to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom while assisting communities in the process.


Careers and Graduate Studies

The community health major is functions as a gateway for students who want to work in any public or global health venue including, but not limited to:

  • Governmental and Non-Profit Agencies
  • Medical Care Settings
  • Worksite Wellness Programs
  • University Health Programs.

The community health major also serves as a preparatory program for graduate or post-baccalaureate training in health promotion/education, public health, and related areas. For instance, some of the program’s alumni go on to earn their Masters in Public Health.


The following is a list of employers of and graduate programs attended by recent Western community health graduates:

  • Bastyr University: Masters in Public Health
  • Doctor of Nursing Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Oregon Health & Science University
  • MPH, University of Sydney, Australia
  • MS, Nursing, University of Rochester
  • Access Living, Inc.: Direct Support Professional
  • Brigid Collins: Prevention Initiative Coordinator
  • Denver Health-Westside Clinic: Patient Navigator
  • Highgate Senior Living: Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Aide
  • New Beginnings: Women’s and Children’s Advocate Relief Worker
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: Community Engagement Coordinator
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: Program Assistant for Staff Education and Nutrition
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital: Family Service Coordinator
  • United General Hospital: Health Educator
  • Whatcom Council on Aging: Community Outreach Coordinator
  • WithinReach: Family Engagement Specialist


Sample Careers

  • Community Health Educator 
  • Tobacco Control Specialist 
  • Sexuality Education Coordinator 
  • HIV/AIDS Educator 
  • Hospital-based Wellness Program Director 
  • Public Health Educator 
  • Substance Abuse Educator 
  • College Health Educator 
  • Injury Prevention Specialist 
  • Curriculum Development Specialist 
  • Health Consultant 
  • Health Information Specialist 
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Coordinator

Department of Health and Human Development - Community Health


The study of Spanish includes instruction in language, literature, linguistics, and culture. Students of Spanish acquire the skills required to not only speak the language, but also to learn about and appreciate Hispanic societies, cultures, and artistic expressions. The guiding principle of the curriculum is that one of the best ways to understand a culture is directly through its language.  

Western’s Modern and Classical Languages Department trains in two areas: language structure and literary analysis. Language structure is taught both holistically and analytically — with multimedia technology, study abroad, language skills courses, and linguistics courses. Literary analysis is an essential component to the curriculum, and the department provides instruction in history and culture, as well as literary theory. 

The Spanish program at Western places a strong emphasis on building a solid grammar and vocabulary base, with an equal emphasis on cultural awareness through culture, film, literature, and linguistics courses.  

The Spanish major also offers a Spanish — Elementary degree. This is a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree with a teacher certification and endorsement in elementary education, which must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in elementary education. See the  Elementary Education  for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements.

The Modern and Classical Language Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.



“What I love the most about my program is learning about language development and working with a range of students who I learn something new from with every experience.”

-Cecilia Guzman, 2015 Outstanding Graduate, Elementary Education. Major: Spanish-Elementary, BAE; minor: Bilingual Education



Beyond the Classroom

Students are encouraged to get involved with extracurricular activities pertaining to their major and interests. Spanish studies at Western offers many ways for students to be involved. Sigma Delta Pi, The National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, encourages interest in Hispanic cultural contributions, and fostering friendly relations between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking nations. Western’s local chapter, Omega Xi, offers opportunities for leadership and service.

For students interested in teaching or enhancing their Spanish-speaking skills, the WELP (Western Language Employee Program) program gives students first-hand experience teaching Spanish to speakers of other languages. The experience serves as a valuable tool in building cultural awareness. Other local volunteer opportunities for tutoring, teaching, or assisting with Spanish are available through the Spanish Program Volunteer Opportunities

Many of our students participate in the Cultural Ambassadors Program in Spain: North American Language and Cultural Assistants in Spain. Through this program, students who have graduated can spend nine months in Spain as teaching assistants in schools.

Students are also welcome to the weekly Spanish Table for Spanish conversation with peers, professors, and pizza. 


“Studying abroad made learning the language and the material real. After speaking with people in situations where Spanish was the only shared language, I retained the language and vocabulary I heard and utilized in a lasting way.” 

-Nick Shriner


Careers and Graduate Studies

Students in the Spanish program graduate with career and continued education plans from locally (Bellingham) to all over the world (Spain).

Sample Careers

  • Interpreter 
  • Foreign Correspondent 
  • Foreign Service Officer 
  • FBI Agent 
  • Educator 
  • Foreign Diplomat 
  • Travel Writer 
  • Communication Consultant

Department of Modern and Classical Languages

Physical Education and Health P-12

Western’s Physical Education and Health P-12 program provides concentrated study of Physical and Health Education. Completion of requirements leads to Teacher Certification in P-12 Physical Education and Health (Health and Fitness). The program is unique, in that it consists of Physical Education pedagogy with practicum experiences at the elementary, middle, high school, and college levels in diverse teaching environments which allow our students concentrated time to develop teaching strategies while working with children and adolescents in their schools.

The Physical Education and Health P-12 major leads to an endorsement in Health and Fitness and must be accompanied by the Secondary Education Professional Program offered through Western's Woodring College of Education.

Western's Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Beyond the Classroom

Students in the program participate in teaching practicums but are also encouraged to join clubs or volunteer in order to make connections with other peers and professionals. 

“Western's Physical Education and Health program is intended to prepare highly qualified and determined students to become professional educators, and through my experience it has done much more – not only has it helped me build an outstanding professional background, but I have found a network of friends and mentors, have become confident in my future career choice, and have learned a tremendous amount of valuable information.”

–Nicole Akaran, Student

Sample Careers

  • P-12 Physical Education Teacher
  • Health Education Teacher

Department of Health and Human Development - Physical Education

Industrial Design

Industrial Design is a process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production.  It is a mixture of applied art and applied engineering.

Western Industrial Design students learn problem-solving methodologies, product research, drawing skills (both by hand and by computer), three dimensional model-making techniques, materials, manufacturing processes, ergonomics, design theory, and marketing principles. These skills are applied in the design of many new and innovative products which eventually comprise the student’s portfolio.

Western’s Engineering and Design Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.

Emily Bartlett
Industrial Design Student

“I love this ability to make things—all things! Industrial Design teaches a combination of engineering and art—something that functions deserves to be beautiful.”

Western’s program has a strong reputation in the profession and is NASAD accredited, the only national accrediting association for Industrial Design. The program values hands-on learning about manufacturing processes and materials, not just theory, and offers access to state-of-the-art machines. Students are provided work spaces in a studio environment where they can accomplish their assignments and complete projects.

The facility also has a well-equipped shop for teaching with both wood and metal machinery, and a walk-in paint booth. Additional facilities within the Engineering and Design Department are available to students as they enroll in the respective support courses. These labs include CNC machining, rapid prototyping, FDM 3D printing, injection molding, composite materials, electronics, and soft-tooling labs. 

Beyond the Classroom

Industrial Design students often join the Western chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA). IDSA provides opportunities by putting on design events, inviting guest speakers, and arranging job shadows with different design firms around the country. 

Internships are strongly recommended as part of a student’s plan of study. Students generally participate in a summer internship. Industrial Design majors have recently interned at:

  • PreCor
  • IDEO
  • Specialized 
  • Fujifilm
  • Bose 
  • Intel 
  • Sonosite
  • Tabar
  • Tether, Inc.
  • General Electric

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Bachelor of Science degree program in Industrial Design prepares graduates to begin work as practicing designers in corporate, consulting, or entrepreneurial positions. Industrial Design is a highly competitive and professional service of creating and developing concepts that optimize function, value, and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both the user and the manufacturer.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Astro Studios (San Francisco, CA): Designer 
  • Blendtec (Provo, UT): Designer 
  • Boeing
  • Bose
  • Burn Design Lab 
  • Burton
  • Code and Theory (Manhattan, NY): Junior Industrial Designer 
  • Dakine
  • Fluke
  • Freerange PDX (Portland, OR): Designer 
  • Intel
  • Michael Courtney Design (Seattle, WA): Junior Designer 
  • Microsoft
  • Nike
  • Oculus
  • Pensar
  • Specialized
  • Tabar
  • Tactile
  • Tether 


Sample Careers

  • Industrial Designer
  • User Experience Designer
  • Director of Product Development
  • Staff Designer
  • Design Consultant
  • Research and Strategy
  • Entrepreneur

Department of Engineering and Design

Humanities—Religion and Culture

The study of humanities focuses on how cultures change. The humanities include the disciplines which study philosophy, religion, history, literature, and the arts. Western's Humanities — Religion and Culture major provides scholarly, non-sectarian study of religions. Students study religious beliefs, practices, arts, identities, and institutions; they study how religions have influenced and been influenced by historical changes in other aspects of society and culture. Learning how to understand people of different religions helps students exercise leadership in settings of religious diversity and conflict. 

The concentration includes the study of religious tradition in both a broad survey of Western culture and a focus on one non-Western culture. Students study the origin, history, and methods of the academic study of religion as it has developed in modern Europe and North America.

The Liberal Studies Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“We encourage the objective study of religion and culture. But because religions pose moral questions, the study of religion allows for a second type of inquiry as well, one rooted in a subjective, evaluative response. Religious studies is the ultimate interdisciplinary adventure.” 

-Holly Folk, Faculty

Beyond the Classroom

The small size of classes and seminars in the Humanities program encourages close relationships between students and faculty. Students conduct independent research on topics of their own choosing. Working closely with faculty, students learn to formulate problems clearly; to consider and evaluate different methods and concepts; to do efficient and thorough research; and to write clearly, concisely and effectively.

"The texts and critiques of others have shaped my views. I am able to engage in a form of mental dialogue that challenges my own opinions, as well as others’. I am able to contextualize information and history, as I have been given a rough understanding of various chains of events that have led up to the development of various topics, like the foundation of Islamic civilization, the academic study of religion and the beginnings of Christianity." 

-Vivian Kwan, Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Humanities — Religion and Culture major is particularly helpful for students who plan careers in education, and the ministry or graduate study in religion and has proved to be excellent preparation for professional careers in teaching, law, library science, archive administration, and for research and administrative positions with businesses and non-profit organizations. 

Graduates have gone on to a variety of professional graduate schools, including law, library and information science, and conflict resolution. Students who have done excellent work in the department have succeeded in graduate academic programs in literature, history, and the study of religion.


Sample Careers

  • Attorney 
  • Teacher 
  • Professor 
  • Librarian 
  • Writer 
  • Business Administrator 
  • Historian 
  • Non-Profit Organization Administrator 
  • Congressional Aid 
  • Research Assistant 
  • Editor 
  • Lobbyist

Department of Liberal Studies

Human Services

The field of Human Services is broadly defined by the objective of meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving overall quality of life. The Human Services major attracts students with a strong commitment to social and economic justice, human dignity, self-determination, and the desire to support change through direct and indirect service delivery. Human Services students have a variety of interests, including social service, education, advocacy, criminal justice, international studies, and a shared desire to bring about positive change.


“My major requires its students to complete three quarters, a total of 360 hours, of internships in the community. It's been great to develop important job skills and build on my resume, as well as staying active in the community.” 

-Nicole Proctor, Student

Human Services is a unique major that combines academic study with professional internships. The three quarters of required internship are key parts of the curriculum, allowing students to engage with the community, while adding to their academic experience through applied practice. The program is offered in Bellingham, Everett, and through Distance Learning (online classes), and is designed to meet National Standards in human services education as outlined by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education. 

The Department of Health and Community Studies is part of Woodring College of Education.

Beyond the Classroom

Human Services internship activities include community outreach, grant writing, event planning, program coordination, advocacy, field organizing, client interaction, and mentoring. Interns often provide direct services with a variety of populations, including veterans, children, youth and families, people with disabilities, the elderly, and students and staff in educational institutions pre-K through college. Students have the opportunity to work with organizations that focus on a wide range of issues, community health, homelessness, domestic violence, chemical dependency, youth and family work, foster care, and more.  

Recent Internships:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Bellingham Food Bank
  • Bellingham Fire Department
  • Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services


"I wanted to interact with others directly and have work I could easily see the meaning in. Human Services has guided me towards experiences that have been more and more fulfilling."  

-Melanie Patterson, Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

Thousands of Human Services program graduates are currently working in meaningful positions in nonprofit, government, and community-based services.

Roles of Recent Western Graduates:

  • Executive Assistant to Leadership Team: Alzheimer’s Association
  • Impact Coordinator: AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Youth Chemical Dependency Counselor: Catholic Community Services
  • Housing Coordinator: Compass Health
  • Clinical Support Specialist: Downtown Emergency Service Center
  • Adoption Advisor: Seattle Humane Society
  • LGBTQ Youth Advocate/Homeless Prevention Specialist: Skagit YMCA
  • Women’s Support Advocate: Womencare Shelter

Human Services graduates pursue graduate studies all over the country, most frequently in programs such as: 

  • Social Work
  • Law
  • Adult and Higher Education 
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Psychology
  • School Counseling


“The Human Services program has a more than 45-year history of close engagement and collaboration with community partners. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, with our students providing much needed services for our partners while adding to their academic experience through applied practice.”  

-John Korsmo, Professor

Sample Careers

  • Children, Youth, and Family Services
  • Veterans Services
  • Mental Health
  • International Relief
  • Rehabilitation Counseling & Disability Services
  • Corrections & Law Enforcement
  • Community Development & Organizing
  • Faith-Based Services
  • Human Resources
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Non-Profit Organization Administrator


Department of Health and Community Studies


In high school, students often are given the impression that the study of history simply requires memorization of names, dates, and other facts about events in the past. At the college level, however, the study of history facilitates the development of research, analytical, evaluative, and interpretive skills. The study of history involves a careful search through existing evidence to determine what happened in the past, but understanding how and why that evidence was created and then saved stands at the center of the discipline. It’s all about asking tough questions.

That’s why the History major at Western prepares students for many different careers. Due to the quantity of reading, writing, and discussion, History majors have strong communication and analytical skills, which are valued by all employers, including businesses and government agencies. History majors learn how to locate and access a wide range of sources, to analyze evidence, including textual and visual sources, to evaluate competing interpretations, and to develop and support their own interpretations. They can help make sense of the kinds of challenges faced by almost any organization or business.

Beyond the Classroom

Students often get involved with the National Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta. Phi Alpha Theta offers many fun and scholarly activities to participate in through the chapter. Involvement with the chapter is a good way to expand your knowledge of history and the association with the honor society is a great way to make connections for future opportunities in history. 

The History department encourages students to find internships and explore their passions. Recent student internships include: 

  • Friedman Rubin Trial Lawyers: Investigation Intern 
  • Skagit County Public Works: Records Intern 
  • WA State Archive: Northwest Regional Intern

Careers and Graduate Studies

Liberal Arts and Sciences majors show some of the highest gains in critical thinking and analytical skills, the skills employers consistently say that they want most. History majors, in addition, learn to think about other cultures past and present, an important career skill in an increasingly diverse world. In short, History majors’ skills prepare them to be effective citizens, lifelong learners, and to have successful careers. Some choose to work in history-related fields such as teaching, library science, museum studies, or public history. The vast majority of History majors, however, go on to successful careers in business, government, and the nonprofit sectors. Studies show that History majors have some of the largest gains in earning over time because of their impressive skills.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Google
  • Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: Processing Archivist 
  • Skagit County Public Works: Records Assistant 
  • United States Postal Service 
  • King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: Legal Administrative Specialist 
  • Friedman Rubin Trial Lawyers: Investigator 
  • CEP Felipe II (Madrid, Spain): Language/Culture Assistant 

Western graduates who pursue graduate studies are doing so at such schools as: 

  • University of Maryland: Library and Information Science (MLS) 
  • Western Washington University: Archival Studies and Records Management (MA)

Sample Careers

  • Foreign Service Officer 
  • Attorney 
  • Museum Curator 
  • Government Official 
  • Journalist 
  • Business Manager 
  • Social Studies Teacher 
  • FBI/CIA Agent 
  • Librarian 
  • Archivist 
  • Historical Preservation Specialist


German studies aims to learn about a culture in depth through both language structure and literary analysis. The department provides instruction in history, culture, and literary theory to impart skills to future foreign language teachers so that they may similarly enable elementary school students to begin the acquisition of foreign languages.

Western’s German studies program is one of only two programs nationwide to be recognized in 2013 as a “National Center of Excellence” by the American Association of Teachers of German — the governing body for German instructors at all levels. German studies at Western is the only undergraduate program at a public university in the United States with this designation. 

The German — Elementary major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in elementary education. See Elementary Education for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements. 

The Department of Modern and Classical Languages is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The student centered support of the German faculty at Western does not end in the classroom! The professors support and advise students on opportunities to study abroad, scholarships, and work opportunities.” 

-Andrew Erickson-Lapidus, Student

Beyond the Classroom

Gain a global perspective through study abroad programs to numerous Austrian, German, and Swiss universities as well as direct exchanges with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Universität Duisburg-Essen, and Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. Students may enroll at the host university for a semester or whole academic year and will receive credit toward the German major or minor. 

Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as the German Table (Stammtisch) at Rudy’s Pizzeria in downtown Bellingham, the intramural German soccer team, and the German Club. The faculty also regularly organizes special events. Recent highlights include outings to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and a Rammstein concert in Tacoma, WA Western’s version of German Day, “German Rocks”, with an evening dance party, and presentations by Microsoft on the advantages of having a foreign language degree in the business world.

“Whether raising money and walking together for Relay4Life, teaching underprivileged youths German at Compass 2 Campus events, weekly Stammtisch dinners, creating a soccer team, attending a Rammstein concert, theater-nights, or even dancing together at the “German Rocks!” event through Radio Goethe, one thing is certain: our department never has a dull moment.” 

-Valeria Fisher, Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

Knowledge of the German language and culture opens up doors for students to apply for competitive grants for research and study in Germany, such as those from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service). Since 2009, our German students have won 17 nationally and internationally competitive scholarships for studying, teaching, and working in German-speaking countries, including the following: 

  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) 
  • Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships 
  • German Academic Exchange Service Graduate Scholarships 
  • German Academic Exchange Service RISE (Research Internship in Science and Engineering) 
  • German Academic Exchange Service University Summer Grant 
  • German Academic Exchange Service Bundestag Internship

Sample Careers

  • Elementary Teacher

Department of Elementary Education


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