Mode of Inquiry Courses

Courses in the Modes of Inquiry are designed to provide breadth in a student's program of study and to prepare flexible and accomplished thinkers for tomorrow's challenges. Because reflection and action in the world involve the integration of various disciplines and approaches, Modes of Inquiry are not identified with individual academic departments and are often shared across disciplines. Willamette aims to develop students' abilities to apply these modes of inquiry in viewing the world, solving problems, and establishing the habits of mind and intellectual framework for a lifetime of learning.

To satisfy the Modes of Inquiry requirement, students take a minimum of five courses which are designated as satisfying the six Modes of Inquiry (some courses will satisfy two Modes of Inquiry). Some courses in the Modes will also fulfill requirements in the major or will fill other needs in your academic plan. You may already have fulfilled one or more of the Modes of Inquiry through your previous college coursework. Consult your Degree Audit to determine which modes remain to be satisfied. Courses that satisfy the Mode of Inquiry requirements are shown in the 'Course Type' section of the Course Schedule.


  • Understanding the Natural World (NW) Courses in this Mode apply the methodology of science to examine the natural world. Each includes a laboratory or field component in which students investigate natural phenomena. In your course preferences you must also choose a lab section.
  • Creating in the Arts (CA) Courses in this Mode seek to provide an understanding of the creative process as a means of discovery, exploration, and self-expression.
  • Examining Values (EV) Courses in this Mode focus on values and the roles they play in human life.
  • Thinking Historically (TH) Courses in this Mode develop our understanding of the temporal dimension of human social existence and of change and continuity.
  • Interpreting Texts (IT) Courses in this Mode develop our skills in analyzing and understanding representations of human experience in textual forms such as literary works, films, music, performances, etc.
  • Understanding Society (US) Courses in this Mode develop our understanding of social phenomena by analyzing and explaining human behavior and social institutions.