WSU Tri-Cities to offer course on Hanford history

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A history course at Washington State University Tri-Cities is being overhauled with a local focus to better engage a growing freshman student body.

Five professors will teach "Hanford: An Interdisciplinary Team-Taught Freshman Seminar" this fall, a news release said. The course will use local history, culture and development to teach students about global issues, while also covering time management and study skills to help freshmen adjust to college.

"The opportunity to look at Hanford from an interdisciplinary perspective is unique," said Vice Chancellor Mike Mays in the release. "Our students have a rich opportunity to benefit from this location and study of the Hanford area."

Kate McAteer, a clinical assistant professor of biological sciences, received a $5,000 grant from the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment to turn the History 105 "Roots of Contemporary Issues" course into the new seminar course.

It will put freshmen into a lecture hall setting twice a week followed by smaller group discussions with a faculty member once a week. There will also be field trips to the new Hanford Reach center in Columbia Park and the Hanford site.

Freshmen are making up a larger portion of WSU Tri-Cities' enrollment. Last fall's freshman class of 135 students was the most since the campus became a four-year institution in 2007. University officials have said the preliminary enrollment tallies have this fall's freshman class eclipsing that record.

Required courses often fail to inspire and draw in students, McAteer said. Tying learning to the Hanford site, which has had a major effect on the region's economy for decades, should lead to deeper understanding by students on local and global matters.