U offers fun options to intro classes

Liz Kohman

Introductory classes fill the schedules of many first-year students, and while a few of them are necessary, they can be boring.

There are an astounding number of courses available for fall 2001, and attempting to register can be a daunting task. But with a little creativity, freshmen can break out of the introductory mode and find some interesting classes.

For starters, here is a guide to five fun classes that fulfill some sort of requirement for freshmen. Remember, this is not an exhaustive list; to find personal bliss it’s necessary to get cozy with the course guide.

The first class to check out is Hort 1001W: Plant Propagation. This four-credit class meets the biological sciences liberal education requirement, and it’s writing intensive.

But the true benefit of this class is the plants students grow and then get to take home. They can be used to cheer up a sterile dorm room, and best of all, students won’t need to worry about buying birthday gifts or holiday presents.

Education specialist James Calkins has taught sections of this class for four years. He said the class is fun because new and different things happen in the greenhouse every semester – it all depends on the plants and sunlight.

Comic book freaks should check out Phys 1905: Science in Comic Books. This class is a two-credit freshman seminar. Although it
doesn’t meet any liberal education requirements, it does sound like fun and could go toward a minor in comic book studies.

Professor James Kakalios, who designed the course, said he knows more than the average professor about comic books. When he’s not teaching, he works as a science consultant for Wizard magazine.

The course will use situations in comic books as a jumping-off point to discuss science.

“I hope to talk about underlying principles in physics, chemistry and biology, but to do it in a fun manner,” Kakalios said.

The class will give students a chance to laugh at all the stupid comic book writers who couldn’t get their science right.

The artistic types who would like to make their mark on the U, should sign up for GC 1481: Creativity Art Laboratory, Experiences in the Media. This three-credit class meets the humanities requirement and is offered through the General College. It promises students the chance to create a mural, which will be displayed in Appleby Hall.

Students interested in interdisciplinary studies might want to try EE 1701W: Energy, Environment and Society. The course guide advertises this class as a study of energy through the perspectives of history, science, engineering and news analysis.

This class also gets bonus points for meeting three requirements: the citizenship and public ethics theme, the environment theme and the writing intensive requirement.

The professor, Paul Imbertson, has taught this class twice. He said students get the opportunity to study and discuss different view points concerning energy use.

“Energy touches so many parts of our lives,” Imbertson said. “It’s all around us.”

Finally, for pop culture enthusiasts, there’s AmSt 1001W: American Popular Arts and Public Life, 1900-1940. The course examines different cultures in America and explores the values expressed in popular culture and politics.

This four-credit class gets the prize for multitasking. It meets requirements for the cultural diversity theme, the citizenship and public ethics theme, humanities core and is also writing intensive.

For an extra good time, here’s a bonus class that will truly inspire: It fulfills no requirements and sounds like the academic equivalent of underwater basket-weaving, but it’s a course that always fills up and should be fun.

PE 1048, or bowling, is a one-credit class that meets twice a week for 50 minutes. After that much practice, even the bumper bowlers should gain some skill.

Bob Pickert, coordinator of the physical activities program, explained why bowling and other physical education courses are beneficial.

“Students take these courses because they want to get away from the academics and they need to relax,” he said.

So start doing homework early this summer and find some interesting classes. Don’t end up in an academic rut and sign up for all the typical “introduction to fill-in-the-blank” classes.

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected]