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Western Kentucky University

Honors College at WKU

HON 380 "Trends Shaping Our Future: Local and Global Perspectives"


What is Honors 380 about?

This new course examines our world as it is now and what it might be like in the future-- from both a local and a global perspective.

In this seminar-style class, we analyze the implications of trends that are likely to play a role in transforming the world over the next thirty to fifty years. These trends include: population/demographic developments; resource use and management issues; environmental change; technological developments (especially in computation, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology/pharmacology); the expansion of digital information; global economic integration; conflict and security concerns; the evolving nature of governance and decision-making processes and organizations.

The overall goal of the class is help students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of our current challenges and opportunities, an informed understanding of our most probable futures, and a clearer sense of their own vision of a preferable future and of how to get there.


Why study the future?

The simple answer is that we study the future so that we can make it better. We study the future not so much to predict it, but to understand what we want and what steps we need to take to move toward our goals. Thinking about the future affects our behavior in the present, which, of course, affects the future. This feedback loop is the key reason why a sustained and careful examination of the future is both interesting and important.


Is this kind of course common?

No. WKU is one of only a very small number of universities anywhere in the world to offer a broad interdisciplinary course examining the future in such a deep and sustained way. HON 380 is a truly unique opportunity for WKU students.


What is a typical class period like?

Every day is different, but in general, HON 380 classes involve discussion and activities, not lectures. Most of our course materials are web-based (videos, articles, and so forth) and we analyze these materials both in and out of class through discussions and individual and group activities.


What kinds of trips or activities do HON 380 students get to do?

Each HON 380 section will take at least one field trip. In the past, similar classes have visited labs and innovation centers here on campus, local businesses like the BG/WC water treatment plant and the corvette plant, the WKU farm, and various sustainability initiatives in and around the campus and Bowling Green communities. Students have also organized a variety of events and activities to engage the larger community in a discussion about the issues raised in the course. Past examples include a panel discussion on the future of being human, a series on futuristic films, and a hunger banquet that focused on global poverty. These kinds of trips and activities are a fun and important part of the class. Each class will help to design their own goals and activities, so this list will continue to grow as new ideas and opportunities emerge.


Are there opportunities to study abroad through HON 380?

Yes! This course is just getting started here at WKU and a lot of interesting study abroad opportunities are being planned for the future. For example, a section of this course will be offered as part of the Toppers at Sea voyage May 30-June 15, 2014. This voyage on the Semester at Sea ship, the MV Explorer, will allow students to study these trends as we journey around the North Atlantic with stops in Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Iceland, Ireland, and England. Registration for this voyage will begin in the fall 2013. Other study abroad versions of the course are being planned, including one in the Peruvian Amazon in the winter term 2015. If you are interested in finding out more about these trips, go to or contact the study abroad office at (270) 745-5334.


Who can take HON 380?

Any student in the Honors College with at least sophomore standing is welcome to take the course. Any non-Honors WKU student with at least 24 hours earned and a GPA of 3.2 or above is also welcome. This course is suitable for all majors.


How does HON 380 fit into my program of study in the Honors College?

HON 380 counts as a 3 credit hour upper division elective. Honors students must take 6 hours in this category (12 hours of honors electives are required overall) in either the thesis or the non-thesis track.


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 Last Modified 2/9/15