Students Walking Outside

Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) is an interdisciplinary department that integrates ideas from the arts, sciences, and humanities. We position our students to ask questions that matter, think critically about education, and creatively express their understanding through innovative coursework and independent thesis projects.



  • The Comparative History of Ideas Department (CHID) is a unique interdisciplinary undergraduate department at the University of Washington. We encourage students to be the agents of their own education. Through close collaboration with faculty, staff, and local and international organizations, CHID offers students the creative freedom to tailor their education to their own interests and professional goals.
  • CHID students have gone on to postgraduate studies in the humanities and social sciences, as well as professional careers in a wide variety of fields including law, medicine, environmental education, and new media.
  • CHID offers a wide range of study abroad programs, all of which offer rigorous and collaborative experiences for students and faculty alike. Each year, CHID sends over 100 students abroad.
  • CHID’s academic adviser is a recipient of the UW’s 2009 Distinguished Staff Award for her extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to the University.


Undergraduate majors


CHID offers a major and a minor in the Comparative History of Ideas and works to maintain its identity as an intimate learning community. As an interdisciplinary department, CHID encourages students to explore different academic disciplines to gain an understanding of how diverse styles of inquiry engage experience and knowledge. Similarly, the program’s international orientation emphasizes an understanding of different cultural, political, and social contexts. Additionally, CHID foregrounds an intersectional approach to learning, highlighting the convergences of class, environment, race, gender, sex, ability, and other vectors of difference.

CHID’s commitment to project-based learning culminates in the senior thesis, which helps students develop their own interests and increase the depth of their scholarly engagement. The processes of arriving at a research question, connecting with UW faculty on shared research interests, performing research, and writing are each integral parts of this capstone experience.

A CHID student working with Roma and non-Roma youth on an art project at the UW’s Rome Center during a study abroad in Italy
A CHID student working with Roma and non-Roma youth on an art project at the UW’s Rome Center during a study abroad in Italy


Autumn 2023

  • 117 Undergraduate majors
  • 10 Undergraduate minors

Degrees Awarded

Autumn 2022 - Summer 2023

  • 50 Bachelors of Arts degrees

Selected Student Awards

Since 2015

  • 1 Beinecke Fellowship
  • 2 Fulbright Scholarships
  • 1 Presidents Medal
  • 2 Arts & Sciences Dean's Medals in the Humanities
  • 2 Bonderman Fellowships
  • 28 Mary Gates Fellowships
  • 12 Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities Recipients
  • 7 Husky 100 Awards
  • 4 MacNair Scholars
  • 5 Gilman Scholars
  • 2 ScanDesign Fellowships
  • 1 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • 1 Washington NASA Space Grant 
  • 1 National Society of Leadership and Success Award
  • 4 ECO Endowed Scholarship, Live Your Dream Awards
  • 1 Tomodachi Kakehashi Inouye Scholarship
  • 2 Seeding Change Fellowships for Asian American Organizing and Civic Engagement
  • 1 Zesbaugh Scholarship 
  • 1 Rotary Young Professional Sponsored Exchange for Osaka, Japan
  • 1 National Defense Medical Center Cancer Epigenetic Fellowship in Taiwan
  • 1 Davis-Putter Scholarship for Peace and Justice
  • 1 Natured Based Early Childhood Education Award for Trondheim, Norway
  • 1 Klamath Tribes Higher Education Scholarship
  • 1 IHEAL Trans Research Project 
  • 1 Kathe and Ragnar Steene Scholarship
  • 1 Martin and Anne Jugum Scholarship in Labor Studies 
  • 1 U.S. State Department YSEALI Young American Entrepreneur 
  • 1 Gorton Leadership Fellowship with National Bureau of Asian Research
  • 1 Cybersecurity and Critical Energy Infrastructure Award, Canada
  • 1 Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship
  • 1 INCIGHT Disabled Student Scholarship


CHID’s faculty represent a broad range of disciplines within the academy. CHID faculty come from the departments of English, History, Jackson School of International Studies, American Ethnic Studies, Program on the Environment, and Mathematics. CHID faculty have taught in the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities (SIAH) 10 times.

Faculty honors include:

  • 1 MacArthur Fellowship
  • 1 Marguerite Casey Foundation Freedom Scholar
  • 2 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships
  • 3 UW Distinguished Teaching Awards
  • 1 UW Arts and Sciences Alumni Distinguished Term Professorship
  • 2 Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau
  • 2 Fulbright-Hays Awards
  • 1 Fulbright Specialist
  • 1 Giovanni and Amne Costigan​ Endowed Professorship in History
  • 3 Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professors in Western Civilization
  • 1 Solomon Katz Distinguished Lectureship in the Humanities
  • 1 Harlan Hahn Disability Studies Award
  • 3 Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards
  • 1 Joff Hanauer Honors Professorship


CHID’s study abroad and study away programs are distinguished by their academic rigor, interdisciplinary scope, and emphasis on relationality. Students pursue complex intellectual questions through engagement with scholars, artists, political leaders, activists, and other community members. Students are encouraged to think about studying abroad/away as a reciprocal, collaborative experience, rather than as a consumptive act of tourism or extraction. Students in CHID’s study abroad programs are therefore asked to think critically and reflexively about the process and politics of studying abroad and away as a crucial part of the learning experience. 

Over the past three decades, thousands of students have participated in CHID programs in the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bosnia
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Czech Republic
  • Faroe Islands
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand/Aotearoa
  • Norway/Sápmi
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Romania
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine
  • Viet Nam
 Faculty, staff, and students in Mexico for CHID’s LGBTQ Communities, Public Health, and Migration in Mexico program.
Faculty, staff, and students in Mexico for CHID’s LGBTQ Communities, Public Health, and Migration in Mexico program.


A key component of the CHID Department is the cultivation of new connections both within the University and between the University and outside organizations, including nonprofits, schools, and businesses, both regionally and globally. Our core faculty hold shared appointments in History; the Jackson School of International Studies; Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies; English; the Program on the Environment; American Ethnic Studies; and Mathematics. They also have adjunct and affiliate appointments in American Indian Studies, Anthropology, and Geography. CHID housed the Disability Studies Program’s first classes on campus and continues to cross-list all Disability Studies permanent course offerings. We also currently co-sponsor the Critical Animal Studies Working Group, an innovative interdisciplinary campus project.

CHID students have also worked with a variety of local organizations in which they conduct independent and public-facing research. Many of our international programs incorporate an Engaged Community Learning component, in which students are required to work with local community groups, non-governmental organizations, or school groups that deal with the issues covered in the academic portion of the program.


Department of Comparative History of Ideas
Box 354300
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-7333

last update: January 2024