Here’s hoping all of your holds are lifted and your prerequisite requirements fulfilled, because next week yet another round of course registration is scheduled to begin. If you’re still unsure of what electives to take, or just want to branch out, here are five tried and true courses that students have enjoyed in the past.
ASTR 1010: Introductory Astronomy: Stars and Galaxies, David A. Weintraub
This class begins with the history of how people tried to map out the skies and students study religious texts, books and concepts from astronomers. Throughout the semester, Weintraub mentions notable figures who have contributed to the field of astronomy, such as Annie Jump Cannon, whose cataloging work was instrumental to contemporary stellar classifications. Students taking the class will also learn about the mathematical foundations of astronomy.
“[Weintraub] finds a way to pare down the vast amount of knowledge about astronomy into something that is bite-sized for students,” Zac Romick (’19) said. “It expanded my knowledge about the universe and about how stellar systems work. Astronomy frames humanity differently about stars and star systems.”
Students can take this class with a lab to fulfill the AXLE Mathematics and Natural Science lab requirement, or just to dive deeper into the subject.
ENGL 3215: The Art of Blogging, Amanda G. Little
The Art of Blogging teaches students valuable lessons about journalistic history, good writing practices and current events. With Little’s guidance, the students in this class start a blog on a topic of their choice and write posts every week. Little is a professional journalist who has extensively reported on topics such as climate change. One past student, Catherine Lambert (‘19), is an engineering major but decided to take this class because she enjoyed being part of her high school newspaper.
“Having the knowledge [to write professionally] and that sort of [journalistic] perspective was really helpful,” Lambert said. “Anyone who is passionate about things and wants to spend a lot of time on it can take the class.”
To enroll in the class, students must send a sample of their writing directly to Little and will be taken off the waitlist if chosen.
ME 3890: How to Make (Almost) Anything, Kevin C. Galloway
In this class, both engineering and humanities students have the chance to learn how to create designs using computer-aided design platforms and then bring them to life with the Wond’ry Makerspace’s high-tech tools. Another major part of the course is focused on learning human-centered design, which is a problem-solving process for tackling real-world challenges in multidisciplinary teams. Galloway curates clients with real challenges and assigns them to groups of students. Students in the past have created a proof-of-concept tool for detecting head motions for a girl with motor stereotypies, designed a wick-setting tool to speed up the process of making candles for Thistle Farms and redesigned a pooper scooper for a dog daycare facility.
“I’m throwing students into the mix [so they can learn] by doing and [try] to understand how to work together as a team,” Galloway said. “My goal is that everybody has unique experiences, and from those unique experiences, have really good stories to share.”
There is a low barrier of entry to use the tools in this class, so students with humanities majors are welcome to enroll. Students are picked on a lottery basis, with a 50/50 split of engineering and non-engineering students.
MUSL 1650: History of Rock Music, Jennifer M. Gunderman
Gunderman designs lectures that are centered around different eras of rock music. Since she has worked with nine-time Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow as the keyboard player in Crow’s touring band, she has ample experience in the field of rock. One interesting project that has been assigned in the past was attending a music concert and writing about it as a music critic.
“Just having someone with that amount of experience and knowledge in the world of music changed the whole class for me,” Lucus Cheng (’20) said. “I learned to appreciate rock music. There’s a lot of hard work and passion that goes into rock music.”
Students learn about and listen to famous artists such as the Beatles, making this class a prime choice for students who’d like to learn more about the music industry while in Music City.
“It’s hard to have a bad time in this class,” Cheng said with a laugh.
SOC 3621: Criminology, Laurie E. Woods
In this class, students will learn about everything from what crime rates mean to how crime portrayal on television isn’t always accurate. They’ll listen to lectures on crime theories, discuss about crime issues in the media and read books such as Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. Woods has 21 years of experience in law enforcement, so she shares her experiences and thoughts about the justice system with her class. However, she’s not the only person who shares.
“Students share their experiences—we talk about what’s real and what’s televised,” Woods said. “It’s good for people to know how the [justice system] really works. [This class] helps you understand how the real world works.”
There is a diverse range of majors in the class every year, not only sociology majors but also other majors that think that this class would be a nice change of pace and relevant in today’s society.