Registration for spring quarter just opened up which means it’s time to plan your classes. It can be hard to choose what classes to take, so here are some of the Watchdog staff’s favorite classes!
History 102: History of Civilization – Middle Ages
Polly Good’s Middle Ages class works extremely well for students like me who understand material well but test poorly. The assignments are all based on extremely interesting historical documents from all around the world during the Middle Ages. Students read the excerpt from the documents and answer brief paragraph-answers regarding their thoughts. There are no quizzes or tests; instead, there are the daily paragraph assignments and three larger essays treated as exams.
Aside from the accessibility for students with test anxiety and/or who are better at grasping larger concepts than memorizing small details, the material covered gives the Middle Ages global coverage. Often, as a history major, I get the sense that people often think of European castles and feudalism when they think of this time period, and with the diversity of topics covered (the Silk Road, the Mongolian invasions, global conquests, and Medieval India, Middle East, Africa, China, and Japan, just to name a few), this notion is greatly challenged. No matter where you are in your personal knowledge of history, I find this class to be fun, fascinating, and greatly informative.
Astronomy 100: Survey of Astronomy
I took this class in the winter of 2020, so the experience is probably quite different since it was online. However, it wasn’t just the planetarium shows that made the class interesting. The content of the course can be separated in two main categories: recognizing night sky objects, and broader knowledge about the history of the universe, and how humans came to know about it.
The observational part of the course is certainly less significant than the knowledge component, but it helps make the material relevant. You learn about different types of stars and nebulae, and then you can find actual examples of them in the night sky. For me personally, it also made the world around me more vibrant. Now, if I’m out on a clear night, I can see shapes and light that are familiar, that have an origin I better understand.
The core content of the course is interesting because it is very broad. It goes from the Solar System in the first few weeks to talking about the origin and future of the whole universe at the end of the class, with pertinent diversions into more specific topics like atomic physics. It is a class you can enter knowing nothing about the Universe, and come out with an understanding of many topics relevant to the disciplines of astronomy and astrophysics today.
Anthropology 208: Language, Culture, and Society
I took this class with Katharine Hunt in the fall and absolutely loved it. Despite being deaf and not being able to understand the auditory nuances of conversation, Hunt made this class accessible for me. Her materials even covered Sign Languages being verbal languages, a notion denied by politicians and teachers for years.
I found this class to also be informative in developing one’s own cultural identity based on their heritage, languages they spoke growing up, hearing, and so forth. This class was rigorous and rather challenging, but I found it incredibly rewarding, intellectually and emotionally.
Philosophy 122: Environmental Ethics
I highly recommend Monica Afuercht’s Philosophy 122 – Environmental Ethics. Above all else, the course is incredibly well designed for this online world we find ourselves in. The weekly readings are chosen with care, and are always interesting. If you find a topic you’re really interested in, plenty of optional readings are provided. Once you’ve finished reading, you have the choice of multiple discussion prompts to reflect on the reading in the areas you’re most drawn to, and the lectures each week help put the core concepts in more concrete terms. This all makes it a class where you really can get out of it as much as you put into it.
On top of that, the material is fascinating. Those with strong feelings about conservation and climate change (on either side) especially will enjoy this class’ deep exploration of how academic philosophy regards the relationship of humans and nature, and how we should act as a result. Your beliefs won’t escape unchallenged.
While not required, I highly recommend taking Tim Linneman’s Philosophy 102 – Contemporary Moral Issues first. Tim is an excellent instructor, and his class will give you a good baseline understanding of how moral philosophy operates that will make the issues of extending it to other creatures all the more interesting.
I can’t promise you’ll use either of these courses in your job, but you’ll definitely use them in your life. If you can find time in your schedule, they’ll definitely be worth your while.