The William O. Douglas Honors College (DHC), is a flexible course of study for undergraduate and transfer students at Central Washington University (CWU). Honors complements all majors and is accessible for students at all levels of education. Our curriculum offers passionate learners an opportunity to navigate through CWU surrounded by other engaged peers and faculty members.
The motto of the Douglas Honors College is sapere aude (dare to be wise). Through interdisciplinary discussion, faculty mentoring, peer support systems, and events targeted for mindset growth, the DHC pushes students to do just that: to dare to be wise. Equipped with crucial skills and life experiences, DHC graduates are well prepared to achieve their goals in today's evolving culture and economy.
Our Honors History
In the fall of 1975, Dr. Warren Street ideated and founded the William O. Douglas Honors College (DHC) in order to provide an honors option for CWU students. The original curriculum of the Honors College consisted of the most rigorous courses already offered at CWU, and a weekly "Douglas Colloquium," which included a four-year “Great Books” course series. The first colloquium met in January of 1978 — four faculty and six students discussed Homer's Illiad.
At first, students were expected to read a book per week but faculty quickly realized that the pace must be slowed to something more reasonable. A continual revision of the hallmark “Great Books” curriculum extended over the next 25 years. After existing nomadically for many years, the DHC found its place in Hebeler Hall, December 2018.
After two decades of growth, the enrollment in the DHC began to shrink during the first decade of the 2000s. The “Great Books” curriculum had fallen out of favor and the program was no longer serving the needs of the majority of students. For this reason, a university-wide committee was empaneled to complete a revision of the curriculum. In September 2009, the DHC inaugurated a new curriculum with a focus on interdisciplinary seminars that fulfilled CWU General Education requirements. This new DHC curriculum has revitalized the Honors College; each year the DHC admits 50 to 60 students.
The titular honoree of our program, William O. Douglas, was the longest-serving Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. A Yakima notable, Justice Douglas was a staunch supporter of environmental and human rights. We maintain his legacy by committing to four pillars: civic engagement, leadership, critical inquiry, and undergraduate research.
"The liberties of none are safe until the liberties of all are protected."
Yakama Nation Land Acknowledgement
Central Washington University acknowledges the people who have been on this land since time immemorial. The Ellensburg campus is on lands ceded by the Pshwanapum and other bands and tribes of the Yakama Nation in the Treaty of 1855. The Yakama people remain committed stewards of this land, cherishing it and protecting it, as instructed by elders through generations. We are honored and grateful to be here today on their traditional lands, and give thanks to the legacy of the original people, their lives, and their descendants.
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