The year 1912 marked the formation of what was called the University Extension, which later became the University Extension Services, Continuing Education, UW Extension and finally, today, UW Professional & Continuing Education.
The practical mission was to make knowledge more accessible to citizens of the state. The idealistic vision was to strengthen democracy by helping citizens and government agencies become better informed and more able to analyze and express ideas in civic discourse.
Both ideas reflected the sentiments of the Progressive Movement in America at that time.
Courses could be taken by mail, in person during regular hours or evenings and Saturdays in 22 subjects ranging from foreign languages to scientific and applied fields such as engineering, geology, and mining and metallurgy.
Although only 48 students enrolled in the first three months, that number ballooned to 674 by 1917. Of those, 286 had registered to take correspondence courses away from campus.
Later that year, the U.S. entered World War I, and the organization’s emphasis shifted to reflect the changes brought about by the war.
Courses included an intensive evening course in military mathematics, and correspondence courses in navigation. Even the instructor in home economics for the Extension Service became involved, becoming director of the War Kitchen maintained in Seattle by the Food Administration, as the active agent of the UW in wartime food conservation work.
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