Struggling with registration? Take a look at these unique gen-ed courses

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Eli Rahamim | The Daily Wildcat

Students studying in the UA Main Library.

As of April 4, registration for the fall 2022 semester is officially underway. This can be a stressful time for students as it can be difficult to finish up current classes while also worrying about the next ones.

However, there’s a lot to look forward to in a new semester, including exciting courses and opportunities. For any students struggling with what to take in the fall, here are a few intriguing general education courses that will suit a variety of interests.

1. Material Science and Engineering 220 - Make it … Green! 3-D Printing and the Environment

This course from the materials science and engineering department gives students the chance to explore the manufacturing process for themselves with the latest technology at their disposal. 

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MSE 220 not only teaches students how to convert designs into real objects with 3-D printers, but also examines the environmental effects of the process. This class blends scientific and creative thinking and will help students to satisfy the gen-ed course requirement for natural sciences.

Professor Douglas Loy teaches this class along with professor Barrett Potter. Fall 2022 is only the second time that it will be taught. This class is especially unique because students will get to put their creative and design skills to the test in a hands-on environment.

“It does include a review of the different 3-D printing processes and techniques, and it includes actual design and 3-D printing for the students,” Loy said. 

3-D printing isn’t just for engineers, given the wide availability of this technology, so this class is designed for anyone to take. It appeals especially to those interested in the environment and compares 3-D printing to traditional manufacturing in terms of waste.

“We thought it would be a nice platform to educate folks about the environmental costs of making stuff,” Loy said.

3-D printing allows for a much more specific and precise way of making objects than traditional methods of production. Loy said that students in the class will have lots of creative freedom and get to design something they really want to make.

“The printers are just amazingly fun to use,” Loy said. 

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2. Public and Applied Humanities 160D4 - Life in the City of Tomorrow: Time Travel, World Building, and Speculative Futures

For any science fiction fans, this is the perfect course to engage with popular media and exercise creative thinking skills. And it works for students with a busy schedule since this class is taught fully online and runs for the first seven weeks of the semester. 

This course will be taught by professor Jacqueline Barrios and satisfies a gen-ed requirement for traditions and cultures. Like other public and applied humanities courses, PAH 160D4 is designed to have students analyze concepts in ways that can be applied directly to real-world problems. 

“You are both asked to do some critical thinking, but you’re also asked to be creative at the same time,” Barrios said.

She said she wants students to engage with media they may already know and love, from “WALL-E” to “Blade Runner,” while considering the problems and solutions of future urban environments in a realistic way.

“There’s a real-world application for some of these imaginative tools,” Barrios said.

The course has several central themes and analyzes recurring science fiction tropes like time travel. Students will also consider how filmmakers and writers develop worlds, and all the small details that go into imagining a futuristic city. 

Barrios wants students to understand that creativity is an important part of academics and requires real work. Students will get to use their own imagination to design elements of a future city, including things like maps, inventions, political movements or short stories.

“Students will be able to do these creative studio assignments all throughout the class,” Barrios said. “All throughout the modules they come up with different parts of the city that they’re imagining for the future.”

Barrios hopes that students will leave the course with an understanding of how speculative thinking can help with modern issues. 

 “When they’re kind of in a particular problem, they can think about future, projective, imaginative ways of thinking to come up with solutions for the present,” Barrios said.

The public and applied humanities department also offers other gen-eds, such as PAH 150A2 - Weird Stuff: How to Think About the Paranormal, the Supernatural, and Other Mysterious Things, which will be taught online or in-person by professor Eddy White. 

3. Russian and Slavic Studies 280 - Sports and Empire: Sport in Soviet & Post-Soviet Eastern European Society

This is another class that lets students explore multiple interests, as it combines sports with culture and politics. This class is taught in the department of Russian and Slavic studies and focuses on the role that sports has played in the region.

RSSS 280 will be taught in-person by professor Benjamin Jens and can help students with their gen-ed humanities requirements. Fall 2022 will be the third time the course has been offered. 

“I’m hoping that students get, first, a bigger sense of how sports and politics interact,” Jens said.

The course begins with the history of sports in Eastern Europe and analyzes the historical role of sports in the Soviet Union. Jens hopes students understand how sports relates to geopolitics and international relations in the region, using famous historical examples like the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The class also looks at modern issues and how sports is currently used by the Russian government to project their image and power. Students will get to explore these ideas for other countries in the region as well and learn about places and sports that may not get as much attention.

“We get a chance to talk about some of the countries we don’t think of as much, beyond Russia,” Jens said. “Lithuanian basketball, volleyball in Ukraine, handball in Bosnia, things like that.”

Students will be able to discuss relevant topics too this year in terms of geopolitics and sporting events, and gain an understanding of Eastern Europe’s influence on the rest of the world. 

“I’m hoping it’s a fun gen-ed about a topic that we don’t always think of,” Jens said.


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