An enriched, first-year plan of study for curious, committed, and ambitious students.

A plan of study like no other.

(image: Foundations in the humanities)Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization is an interdisciplinary approach to first-year studies that lets you explore the traditions of Western Civilization from three perspectives, all at the same time: History, Literature, and Philosophy. You'll study the great events that have shaped the world, the great ideas that have changed how we think, and the great books that have defined the human experience. You'll learn all those things you always wanted to know, and what you need to know to succeed.

Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization is for motivated students who want to spend their entry-year reading, writing, thinking, and talking about what it means to be human. Above all, it's for someone like you: someone who has high expectations of yourself and of your school, who values small classes where you know everyone's name, and who is looking for an intensive and challenging learning experience. It's for those who want to improve not just themselves but the world.

The great books. The great ideas

(image: Foundations in the humanities)You and your classmates will study the formation of the Western Humanities as both a mirror of the human condition as well as a catalyst for change. Together we will ask how people have considered the Western world in the past, and how we continue to shape our ideas about it in our own global and multicultural world.

By studying the Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization, you'll discover for yourself the richness and relevance of cultivating a discerning mind. You'll have the chance to observe the humanistic tradition over the centuries, from Classical Antiquity right on through the Twentieth Century (and even up to our own Digital Age!) Alongside the writings of well-known thinkers like Plato, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, and Kafka you'll also focus on figures like Sappho, Aphra Behn, and Franz Fanon whose names might not sound as familiar.

From time to time, we will also have the opportunity to extend our analysis to the fields of art, architecture, and music. More informally, students will have occasion to visit art galleries, theatres, the opera and symphony, and other cultural institutions beyond the classroom.

Pretty much anything.

It provides a solid foundation for an undergraduate degree that could position you to go on to any number of careers: teaching, writing, law, policy, journalism, politics, and publishing, to name only a few.

But King's Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization is about more than providing a means to an end. It will take you far beyond asking the obvious questions about career paths and bottom lines. In so doing, King's Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization will prompt you to consider instead the possibilities of a thoughtful, sustained, and rigorous mode of inquiry, both for yourself and for the world you live in.

Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization fulfils the entrance requirements for three principal disciplines (English, History, and Philosophy) as well as a number of other programs at King's and at The University of Western Ontario.

Admission into Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization requires ENG4U. Since the King’s Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization program is small and limited to 25 students, meeting the minimum admission requirement to King's University College does not guarantee admission into the Foundations program.

Our Award-Winning Faculty

  • Graham Broad: War and Society Studies (PhD, Western)
  • R.A. Ventresca: Modern Europe; Church-State relations (PhD, Toronto). Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada
  • Mark Sholdice: 20th-century Canadian and US political history (PhD, Guelph)

  • Claudia Clausius: Comparative Literature, Art History, Critical Theory (PhD, Toronto)
  • Antonio Calcagno: Renaissance and Contemporary European Philosophy (PhD, Guelph). Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada
  • John Heng: Bioethics, Philosophy of Science, Disability Studies (M.A. Toronto) 

  • Katharina Clausius: Enlightenment opera and literature, music historiography, critical theory
    (PhD, University of Cambridge)

Learn more about the King's Foundations Program

Student Testimonials