Students in REL 348 use materials in the Whitman College and Northwest Archives to investigate possible factors behind the secularization of Whitman College. When Whitman became a college in 1882, it very much functioned as a cog in the engine of an informal Protestant establishment that claimed that without the inculcation of Christian (i.e., Protestant) virtues, students would lack the necessary self-restraint that citizens in a self-governing republic required. After seminar discussions of the secondary sources that survey the social, intellectual, and institutional reasons that prompted universities and eventually colleges to buck the Protestant establishment and its hold upon the curriculum, students focus upon Whitman College and its history, choose topics for archival research, assemble and examine primary and secondary sources, formulate historical questions and thesis statements, and eventually produce a 20 to 25 page research paper. The goal of the course is to help students, particularly majors in Religion, graduate from writing short analytical papers characteristic of Whitman’s first-year Encounters and survey courses in Religion to writing a senior thesis, required of every major in the Religion Department.

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Submissions from 2016

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Marcus Whitman as Missionary and Mascot, Thomas Breeze, Caroline Burnett, and Grace Fritzke

Submissions from 2015

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Empire and Destiny in Walla Walla: The Emergence of Whitman College, Thomas Breeze

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Marcus Whitman as History and Myth: The Evolving Values of Whitman College, Grace Fritzke

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Syllabus, 2015, Rogers Miles

Submissions from 2013

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Resolving Conflicts: Howard Stidham Brode’s Secularizing Influence on Whitman College’s Biology Department through His Opinion about the Relationship between Science and Religion, Alissa Becerril

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Secularization by Americanization: R.V. Borleske, Whitman College, and Muscular Christianity (1882-1947), John Harris Coppinger

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It’s (Not Really) Fun to Stay at the YMCA: The Troubled History of the YMCA at Whitman College, Molly Johanson

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From Conservatory to Department of Music: The Evolution of Music and Morality at Whitman College, Kaitlyn McCraw

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Syllabus, 2013, Rogers Miles

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The Development of Christian Character to the Promotion of Diversity: Whitman's Office of Religious Counselor, Then and Now, Julia Saxby

Submissions from 2011

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Embraced Out West: Whitman’s First Jewish Professor in 1930’s America, Adriel Borshansky

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Committed to Character: Combining Christian Education with Scientific Inquiry at Whitman, Noah Lerner

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Evolution at Whitman College, Doyle McCarthy

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Syllabus, 2011, Rogers Miles

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The Whitman Conservatory of Music: Engendering Morality at Whitman College, Mallory Peterson