These classes will change your views

The Cardinal staff weighs in on the courses that made them think a bit differently afterward. 

 

Students Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED)

Student SEED is a dialogue-based course focusing on several different areas of diversity and identity. This class is for you if you’re ready to take your passions for social justice and explorations of self-awareness to the next level. Although an application is required for admittance, this class is unlike any other on campus in that it fosters intimate conversation, productive uncomfortability and a deeper knowledge of social justice. Come prepared to listen, share and push your own boundaries.

Class specs: Coun Psy 325, 3 credits, sophomore standing

Women and Their Bodies in Health and Disease

This class is offered as a natural science credit, and will also change the way you think about the world.While breaking down barriers about societal conceptions of sex, gender, race and ethnicity, the class also provides invaluable information about how the body works—important information regardless of what gender you identify with. This class will stick with you beyond your undergraduate experience.

Class specs: GWS 103, 3 credits, natural science, elementary, open to freshmen

Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies

 Intro to LGBT Studies is the survey class for the LGBT Studies certificate, but in my opinion it was more valuable than most survey classes because you get to dive deeper into the topic in your written work and discussion-—not just regurgitate what was taught in lecture. The class challenges popular understandings of stuff like sex and gender with cultural and historical evidence and provides a safe-space forum for discussion. I particularly liked the freedom that was allowed when choosing paper topics – I wrote one paper about slash fiction. For me, the biggest takeaway was an understanding of intersectionality, the interaction between systems of oppression.

Class specs: Soc/GWS 200, 3 credits, humanities or social science, intermediate, open to freshmen

The American West Since 1850

 This history class covers many topics and people, and it also teaches us that the romance and hope of the West was only experienced by a small number of people. From Indian wars on the plains to Chinese exclusion in California, taking this class was eye opening and engaging. If you have an interest in history at all, and are looking for a worthwhile ethnic studies class, History 462 is for you.

Class specs: History/Chicla 462,  4 credits, humanities, ethnic studies, intermediate, sophomore standing

Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation 

 Nothing like a good ole fashioned American education, right? Although I fully appreciate the value of “The Sound and the Fury” and “Slaughterhouse-Five,” there is arguably nothing more intellectually fulfilling than delving into a genre of literature that fundamentally differs from American. I was unaware how much my perspective could expand until I took Literature in Translation 202: 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature with professor Reynolds. The not-so-subtle dystopian overtones made for refreshing reads and paper theses I was actually interested in developing. To add to it, Reynolds is a hoot, and class discussions were always colorful and stimulating. Do yourself a favor and earn that next vodka drink by learning about its culture of origin.

Class specs: Lit Trans 202, 3 credits, literature,
elementary, open to freshmen

Soil: Ecosystem and Resource

 This is sort of like a science course for non-science folks. If you took chemistry in high school, you’ll be fine. The class is broken up into three parts—the layers of soil, the differences between soil across regions and the more chemical aspects of soil. The instructor, Kevin McSweeney, is an amiable old British gent who adores what he talks about. The tests are all lecture based, so as long as you’re in class you’re fine. The lecture hall is fun—primo view of Observatory, with soil diagrams all along the walls.

Class specs: Soil Sci/Geog/Env St 230, 3 credits, physical science, intermediate, open to students with Soil Sci 301 

Introduction to the Middle East

  This class gives a good overview of a very complicated region. I came out of it being able to actually understand news articles about the Middle East, which is why I took it.  I’m really glad I took it, and I think students should take it if they do not know anything about the Middle East. Professor Loewenstein can at times come off as biased in lecture, so I would suggest students do their own research about the other side of the story after taking the class. Midterm and take-home final. 

Class specs: LCA 266, 3 credits, humanities or social science, intermediate, open to freshmen 

History of Mass Communication

 Professor Baughman offers students a chance to learn about the rise of news media in American journalism. While this might not sound like the most interesting topic UW-Madison has to offer, Baughman’s quirky dance and witty sense of humor will keep you motivated to attend this class every Monday, Wednesday and even Friday. The class requires large amounts of reading, but if you are at all interested in history, they will be quick reads. You will complete one midterm exam, a research paper and the final.

Class specs: Journ/History 560, 4 credits, social
science, advanced, junior standing

Introduction to Cartography

 Maps! Everyone loves em, anyone can make one. However, Introduction to Cartography goes beyond just the simple world of quick napkin-direction maps and shows you how to produce ones that look almost professional. On top of that the class spends a good deal of time teaching the behind-the-scenes logic of cartography and general information graphics. If you have any interests in geography, design, journalism, computer science and, of course, cartography, Introduction to Cartography would do you well.

Class specs: Geog 370, 4 credits, physical science, intermediate, sophomore standing or instructor consent

Introductory Ethics

 This is one of the most intellectually stimulating classes I’ve taken. Claudia Card is an astounding professor and brilliant. She’s a little hard to hear but if you sit up front she easily transfers her knowledge of the material. You learn about a wealth of philosophers and the class expands your thinking on morality.  Although the class is reading heavy, don’t let that deter you because Card reviews everything you need to know in class. Three exams. 

Class specs: Philos 241, 4 credits, humanities or social science, intermediate, sophomore standing 

World Hunger and Malnutrition

 This class gave me a better, more nuanced understanding of why there are people in the world who do not have enough to eat. (Did you know there actually is enough food produced, thanks to technology, to feed everyone? Now do you want to learn why some people, and nations, are left out?) This class counts as biological science, but two-thirds of the class focuses on the socioeconomics of hunger, as well as different policy approaches to combat it. And most imporantly, professor Chavas is darling. 

Class specs: AAE/Agronomy/Nuri Sci 350, 3
credits, biological science, intermediate 

Human Sexuality

 The class is all about sex, which is FABULOUS! Dr. Hyde is an amazing lecturer who easily transfers her expertise in a way undergrads can comprehend. She’s also pretty funny. She wrote the textbook and I definitely recommend reading it. The text isn’t too taxing and will really help with exams. You learn a lot about research on things such as sexuality, birth and gender. Four exams and a paper. 

Class specs: Psych/Soc 350, 4 credits, social
science, intermediate, sophomore standing or instructor consent, not open to students with Psych/Soc 160

Western Culture: Literature and the Arts II

 This class is single handedly one of the best classes to take if you’re interested in art but cannot, or do not want to, take an actual art class. It spans art history from the Renaissance through street art, taking into account painting, sculpture, literature, music and, to a certain degree, dance. Its professor, Mike Vanden Heuvel, is an approachable, mild-mannered expert on each section covered in the class, with a knack for handing an understanding of the subject matter to even the least art-savvy student. This class comes highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the finer side of culture—and is the reason I’m getting a certificate in ILS. A take-home midterm, paper and final. 

Class specs: ILS 204, 3 credits, literature,
elementary, open to all undergrads

Introduction to Media Production

My favorite course at UW-Madison has been Comm Arts 355, Intro to Media Production. This course teaches the basics of all things film making. If you’ve ever seen yourself as a combination of Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay, this is the place to start. The class touches on the principles of screenwriting, camera work and video editing. In the class, students make a short dramatic film as well as a documentary on whatever they want. Instructor Aaron Granat certainly makes the mornings worth it. He may also have an alter ego as Ryan Gosling’s character in “Drive.”

Class specs: Comm Arts 355, 4 credits, intermediate, sophomore standing or completion of Comm Arts 155

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