Cool Courses

From acting to urban studies--and everything in between--CLA's dazzling menu of course offerings gives students a chance to sample or specialize in nearly any field. Here's a look at some new courses, intriguing seminars, and an exciting new major offered this fall.

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A new major: Religious Studies


CLA has offered a religious studies major for more than a decade. The focus, however, has been on biblical and ancient Mediterranean religions. The new major, offered for the first time this fall, is a more comprehensive interdisciplinary study of religion across traditions and time. "Given the reality of the post-9/11 world and the turmoil that a lack of understanding and dialogue among religious groups has brought in various war-torn parts of the globe, understanding different religious perspectives has become an obligation for responsible world citizenship," says Cal Roetzel, co-chair of the Religious Studies Working Group and professor of classical and Near Eastern studies. Roetzel also holds the Sundet Chair in New Testament and Christian Studies. Providing courses in a broad range of traditions as well as the Christian/Jewish tradition can better serve our increasingly diverse students, says Roetzel. "We hope to eventually have options for the academic study of shamanistic religions like those practiced by some Hmong students and their families," he says.

AFRO 3910: Digital Storytelling in and with Communities of Color
We tell stories to preserve memory, build identity, construct meaning, and make connections with others and the world. In this brand-new course, professor Walt Jacobs and graduate instructor Rachel Raimist look at how communities of color use storytelling to write history, learn, entertain, organize, and heal. Through writing, video, photography, sound, and artwork, students are developing digital stories about Twin Cities communities of color.

ENGL 3741: Literacy and American Cultural Diversity
This is one of several service-learning courses that gives students direct experience working at a community organization. Neither internship nor volunteering, service learning is a kind of independent immersion in the workforce, with the opportunity to share insights and experiences with classmates. In this class, students serve as literacy workers for two hours a week outside of class and coursework.

Cool freshman seminars

These small seminars are taught in the fall and spring by tenured or tenure-track professors in topics of their own choosing. Here's a sampling of CLA seminars offered this fall:

HUM 1905: Utopias and Anti-Utopias: Can the real world become the ideal world?
Students explore the ideal society and humanity's potential for good and evil as envisioned by philosophers, writers, and cultural critics, from ancient to modern. The course is taught by assistant professor of humanities George Kliger.

LING 1901: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Language, endanger­ment, death, and revitalization
We're told that more than 90 percent of the thousands of languages that have existed through history will become extinct within this century. What does that mean? What's lost when a language is no longer spoken? Freshmen explore these themes with linguistics professor Nancy Stenson.

Pol 1903: Exploring Constitutional Meaning: From founders to MySpace
Constitutional principles have influenced some of the most controversial issues in American politics, including slavery, equal citizenship, racial discrimination, free speech, and religious expression in schools. Students are examining landmark Supreme Court cases as well as reformers who have challenged the Constitution, such as leaders of anti-slavery societies and women's suffrage groups.

More freshman seminars

Honors seminars for freshmen and sophomores

The University Honors Program is highly competitive. Here are two of the honors courses offered by CLA faculty.

HSem 2051H: The Rules of the Game: Exploring U.S. campaigns and elections
Students monitored the U.S. presidential and some congressional campaigns to assess how political theory and practice converged in 2008. They discussed how political scientists study and understand electoral politics, and also were encouraged to volunteer for a campaign of their choice. Assistant professor Kathryn Pearson is the instructor.

HSem 2053H: Psychology of the Paranormal
Most Americans hold one or more supernatural, paranormal, or pseudo­scientific beliefs like mind reading, fortune telling, psychokinesis, out-of-body experiences, and alien abduction. In this course, students evaluate the evidence for a variety of these claims, using critical and analytical methods. The course is taught by psychology professor Charles R. (Randy) Fletcher.

PHOTO: Kelly O'BRIEN

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This page contains a single entry by CLA Reach Magazine published on February 13, 2009 8:34 AM.

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