Western Intellectual Tradition Minor Program

Add some WIT to your degree

The Western Intellectual Tradition minor adds important quantitative and qualitative value to any major across the university. Prospective employers will recognize WIT as a sign of intellectual ability and breadth of knowledge. Courses in the minor trace the development of philosophical and scientific thought, of literary expression and historical understanding from the beginnings of Western civilization up to contemporary times. WIT exposes students to the crucial ideas that shaped the Western Tradition, and promotes debate about the value and role of those ideas in relation to an increasingly diverse cultural world.

—Prof. John C. Hampsey, WIT Program Director

WIT Minor Program Flowchart

The WIT minor program consists of 28 units (7 courses). Students select courses outside their major from at least two of the following disciplines: English, History, Mathematics, Modern Literatures and Languages, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science (see below for details). Because many of the courses in the WIT program also satisfy General Education requirements, students from diverse majors can complete the WIT minor by adding only a few units to their program.


  • The second quarter of calculus (MATH 142) or the fourth quarter of a foreign language (FR 121, GER 121, SPAN 121), or equivalent.


To complete the WIT Minor, students must complete 12 units from Group A below and 16 units from Group B. Courses used to satisfy the 12 units in Group A and the 16 units in Group B must be chosen outside the student's major and from at least two disciplines in each group.

Group A: Select 12 units
Bold letters indicate course satisfies GE area or other requirements; number in () indicates course units.
Course No. Course Title
ENGL 251 Great Books I: Introduction to Classical Literature C1 (4)
ENGL 252 Great Books II: Medieval to Enlightenment Literature C1 (4)
ENGL 253 Great Books III: Romanticism to Modernism Literature C1 (4)
HIST 110 Western Civilization: Ancient to Renaissance (4)
HIST 111 Western Civilization: Reformation to Twentieth Century (5)
PHIL 230 Philosophical Classics: Metaphysics and Epistemology C2 (4)
PHIL 231 Philosophical Classics: Social and Political Philosophy C2 (4)
PHYS 211 Modern Physics I (4)
POLS 230 Basic Concepts of Political Thought (4)
Group B: Select 16 units 
Bold letters indicate course satisfies GE area or other requirements; number in () indicates course units.
Course No. Course Title
ENGL 330 British Literature in the Age of Belief: to 1485 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 331 British Literature in the Age of the Renaissance: 1485-1660 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 332 British Literature in the Age of the Enlightenment: 1660-1798 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 333 British Literature in the Age of Romanticism: 1798-1832 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 334 British Literature in the Age of Industrialism: 1832-1914 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 335 British Literature in the Age of Modernism: 1914-Present C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 338
or ENGL 339

Introduction to Shakespeare C4 GWR (4) 
or Introduction to Shakespeare 
— London Study C4 GWR (4)

ENGL 340 The Literary Sources of the American Character: 1600-1865 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 341 The Literary Sources of the American Character: 1865-1914 C4 GWR (4)
ENGL 342 The Literary Sources of the American Character: 1914-1956 C4 GWR (4)
HIST 307 European Thought, 1800-2000 D5 (4)
HIST 436 History of American Thought (4)
HIST 451 Medieval Europe (4)
HIST 452 Renaissance and Reformation Europe (4)
HIST 453 Religious Wars and Absolutism (4)
HIST 454 The Age of Revolution and Napoleon (4)
MATH 419 Introduction to the History of Mathematics (4)
PHIL 311 Greek Philosophy C4 (4)
PHIL 312 Medieval Philosophy C4 (4)
PHIL 313 Continental Philosophy: Descartes to Leibniz C4 (4)
PHIL 314 British Philosophy: Bacon to Mill C4 (4)
PHIL 315 German Philosophy: Kant to Nietzsche C4 (4)
PHIL 332 History of Ethics C4 (4)
PHIL 421 Philosophy of Space, Time and Matter (4)
POLS 330 Modern Political Thought (4)
POLS 337 American Political Thought (4)
SPAN 416 Don Quixote (4)

Faculty Advisers
Faculty advisers for the WIT minor program are from a variety of different disciplines in both the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science and Mathematics. 
Name & Dept specialty Email Office
Francisco Fernflores, Philosophy Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Analytic Philosophy ffernflo@calpoly.edu 47-34R
John C. Hampsey, English
WIT Program Director
Romanticism, 19th C. British Literature,  Classical Literature jhampsey@calpoly.edu 47-26S
George Lewis, Mathematics
WIT Program Creator
Undergraduate Mathematics glewis@calpoly.edu 25-302
Jim Mueller, Mathematics Applied mathematics, asymptotic analysis, singular perturbation theory jmueller@calpoly.edu 25-319
Catherine Waitinas, English  Early through 19th C. American literature and popular culture, including theater and mesmerism; Walt Whitman; 17th C. British literature; women writers; poetry and poetic theory; literature and democracy; and literature and religion cwaitina@calpoly.edu 47-25E
John Walker, Statistics Statistical computing, statistical consulting, linear models jwalker@calpoly.edu 25-113


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