The course guide can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. The Michigan Daily has selected some of the most interesting, quirky and unusual classes for Winter 2014, ranging from the science behind wine to the culture of the Cold War. Whatever you’re looking for — whether it’s filling that last natural science credit or learning how to develop film in a darkroom — we have you covered.
CLCIV 125, Section 1: Cleopatra
Instructor: Arthur Verhoogt
Date/Time: TuTh 12 to 1 p.m.
This course focuses on reconstructing Cleopatra from a historical viewpoint, going beyond popular perceptions and discovering the Roman, Western European and Egyptian versions of her while letting students build their own perspective on the Egyptian queen. The intended audience is any student interested in the ancient world.
The course has been adapted from a broader, three-credit course. Greek Prof. Arthur Verhoogt said his motivation to build a course around Cleopatra was because of the interest in her in his larger courses.
“I’m a specialist in papyrology, so I study the papyri from Egypt, and specifically the ones from the Roman period,” Verhoogt said. “I’ve always done courses with the papyri themselves, but I have noticed that everybody always comes back to Cleopatra. And then I thought yes, you think you know Cleopatra, but you don’t know half of it, so let’s look at what else is there.”
The course is graded based on attendance, participation and several short writing assignments. It can be taken only pass/fail.
Philosophy lecturer Gary Krenz, a special counsel to University President Mary Sue Coleman, will apply the writings of John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle to evaluate the University through a case study approach. The course’s intended audience is students who are interested in thinking systematically and philosophically about the human experience in the context of academic life.
“Ethical inquiry is deeply embedded in what we as human beings do — or at least it should be,” Krenz wrote in an e-mail. “In this respect, your college years are a wonderful laboratory for exploring your personal ethical beliefs, for thinking about how we engage ethically with the communities we're a part of and the institutions we belong to. I hope the course will facilitate such examination and engagement for students.”
The course is graded based on one final paper, participation, online homework and quizzes.
“Buildings, Cities and People, Architecture and Modernity” will explore the evolution of architecture from its past linkages with elitism to its current associations with democracy and industry. It will also examine the problems that have arisen from rapid industrialization and physical development.
Claire Zimmerman, associate professor of History of Art, said the class is usually composed of two main constituencies: undergraduate architecture students and a mixed group of students from other academic areas.
“I try to use these two constituencies to help each other,” said Zimmerman. “The architecture students need to know how the rest of the world sees the built environment, and the non-architecture students need to understand what it is that architecture can do to the built environment.”
The course includes a day trip to Detroit and will also use buildings on campus to illustrate thematic concepts. It is graded based on section participation, midterm/final assignments, a short field trip report, two short writing assignments and quizzes.
A classic natural science standby for non-science majors, AOSS 101 functions as an introduction to the concepts leading to spaceflight, space exploration and space environment — teaching students complex problem-solving skills and how to grasp big-picture ideas.
“These concepts are taught with the backdrop of space exploration, so we can examine some cool topics like space travel and the future of the human race,” Moldwin wrote in an e-mail interview. “It was a way to introduce a broader audience to systems thinking while we explore rocket science and engineering.”
The course is structured around mini-lectures and small group discussion, as well as take home “dorm room” experiments. It is graded based on regular homework problems and exams.
Sustainable Engineering Principles is a newly revised course focused on the scientific, economic and social impacts of progressive engineering techniques —examining resource consumption, life cycle assessments, pollution generation and several other metrics. The first half of the course is meant to introduce the principles of engineering that will be used in the case study-focused second half of the course.
“Undergraduate engineers have been disengaged from sustainability in their formal required and technical elective coursework since I arrived at U-M in 2000,” Skerlos wrote in an e-mail. “This course was a reaction to that. With this revision, we open up the class to everyone and introduce sustainability topics which include some of the past environmental engineering topics but focuses much more on technological sources, economic decisions, and assessing engineering choices holistically — encompassing material choice, manufacturing methods, use, and disposal.”
CEE 265 will have three exams, quizzes and homework.
“Much Depends on Dinner” is an introduction to Food Studies and will expose students to uncommon research about food and evaluate the claims about what is more “authentic” or “healthier.” Students will discuss some of the major debates about food in the U.S. ranging from family meal planning to the obesity epidemic.
Margot Finn, a lecturer in the American Culture department, said while related courses in Anthropology or Biology discuss food, this course will offer a broader range of perspectives.
“The goal is to get them to really evaluate the evidence and the reasoning that can lead people to sometimes diametrically opposed positions and then decide for themselves what makes the most sense,” Finn wrote in an e-mail interview.
Grades will be assigned using a class blog/reading responses, reading quizzes and four essay assignments.
This course welcomes non-English majors who wish to discover the answers of what it means to be “haunted.” Students will get a broad-range of styles of literature and learn how to analyze prose fiction by reading a variety of short stories and novels, including House of Usher, Beloved and House of the Seven Gables. Students will also watch classic horror films like “The Shining,” The Haunting” and “Rebecca.”
The grading system is based on four essays and shorter writing assignments.
Students will have the opportunity to experiment with classic photography principles in the only functioning dark room on Central Campus. Those who take the class will learn how to develop film, print images in the recently renovated dark room in East Quad Residence Hall, scan film and use digital print. Color film techniques will also be taught for the first time.
By the end of the course, lecturer Seder Burns said students should be able to produce photographic and aesthetic artwork that expresses their personal views and how to develop photographs in dark rooms.
Required materials include two textbooks, a 35mm camera, photo paper and film. Grades will be based on quizzes, creative assignments, successful completion of assigned major and minor projects, a midterm and a final exam.
This mini-course is for all students who have an interest in astronomy, but want hands-on experience in observation. Unlike other astronomy courses, the mini-course is taught entirely in the Angell Hall planetarium, which gives the most experience in navigating the sky.
Students will learn how the sky moves, how to find latitude and longitude in the sky, learn how to locate satellites and discern the phases of the moon.
There are no required textbooks, only online reading and observing log sheets. Grades are based on two tests, two take-home quizzes, naked-eye observations, daily quizzes and talks about astronomy.
Mapping Moby Dick is offered by the Institute for the Humanities and is designed to give students new and progressive ways of researching in a digital landscape. Students will be analyzing Herman Melville’s Moby Dick not only by reading the novel, but also by making maps of where Ahab and his ship travel as he traverses the Pacific Ocean. The course will also be co-taught by Justin Joque, data visualization librarian at the Stephen Clark Library, and Rackham student Patrick Tonks.
“This course is unique in the way we'll focus on mapping in particular as a way of engaging with a literary text,” wrote Tonks in an e-mail interview.
The map will be plotted using visualization software. Students will complete one project throughout the mini-course.
Students will get a chance to explore Cold War culture through mediums including film, TV and video games, studying favorites such as “James Bond,” “I Love Lucy,” “The Bourne Trilogy,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Star Trek.” This class is open to humanities and non-humanities majors alike.
“We start in ’45 and then go into the culture of the 50s,” said history Prof. Penny Von Eschen. “It’s literally around spies, sex and sci-fi, because the idea of sexuality being deeply tied to communist subversion is all over the place in American culture. We look at how a lot of those tropes get challenged in the 60s and how some of that classic story starts to fall apart.”
The course will also be collaborating with the LSA Winter 2014 theme, “India in the World.” It will include a new unit on Cold War relations with India and Pakistan and cooperation between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence networks.
Grading typically revolves around two exams that involve general identification of concepts discussed in class and a final digital project.
UC 250, Section 1/AMCULT 205, Section 1 Genes and Society: A Global View
Instructor: Alexandra Stern
Requirements: HU, must have sophomore standing
Date/Time: TuTh 2:30 to 4 p.m.
This 20-student seminar is part of the Sophomore Initiative and is aimed toward second-year students interested in learning more about genetics from a global perspective. The instructor will use a wide variety of readings and films to cover topics including the history and issues of genetics, and related conditions such as Down’s syndrome and Huntington’s disease.
The course is one of four new sophomore seminars offered winter term, all of which have to do with an aspect of global health. Stern said the 80 students from the four courses would participate in shared sessions throughout the semester.
“One of the instructors in the smaller courses will lead these big common sessions,” said American Culture Prof. Alexandra Stern. “That way these students will learn even more perspectives on how to approach global health, how to study it, how to think about issues of global health disparities or ethical issues and so on.”
Grading in this class will be based on four short paper assignments and a final creative project.
In this discussion-based course, students will explore the science behind wine and its health effects on humans. This new first-year seminar covers everything from how to develop a hypothesis to the reasons behind Beethoven’s deafness. The class is open to anyone who wants to explore and engage in analytical thought.
“Science is so much fun, and wine represents a part of our social lives, nutrition, and diet,” Chemistry Prof. Ruthann Nichols said. “A lot of wine production is local, and there’s a lot of history. I put the two together and thought, alright, here’s the topic.”
Grading will be multi-faceted and related to discussion, presentation and mastery of readings and exercises done throughout the semester.
ARABAM 235, Section 1/WOMENSTD 235, Section 1/AMCULT 235, Section 1: From Harems to Terrorists: Representing the Middle East in Hollywood Cinema
Instructor: Evelyn Alsultany
Requirements: HU, RE
Date/Time: MW 4-5:30 p.m.
This film-based course explores how American views of Arabs and Muslims have changed over the last century, particularly in the face of different political environments. Students will watch a film from each decade starting with “The Sheik” in the 1920s, moving forward to movies including “The Mummy” and “Road to Morocco” — traveling all the way to the present decade.
“Ultimately, students get a language to talk about representations,” said American Culture Prof. Evelyn Alsultany. “My hope is that students leave with an actual framework for analysis so that they can watch any movie past or present about Arabs, not just the 12 movies we watch in class, and be able to understand them and talk about them and analyze them.”
Assignments include a weekly film viewing with notes, participation, two exams and a creative final project. The final project involves students becoming producers of media by creating a piece such as a five-minute film or a blog.
This mini-course asks two questions: First, what are the implications of size in biology? Second, how can we understand the behavior and functioning of organisms that are extinct? The class is aimed at anyone intellectually curious with a solid background in reasoning and logic, but is not limited to students with a science or math background.
“We use dinosaurs, but we’re interested in some processes that affect not just dinosaurs but organisms in general,” said geological sciences Prof. Tomasz Baumiller. “What I’d like to do is have people think more broadly about organisms. I’m not trying to perpetuate some silly notions about dinosaurs; I’d like to place them in a family of other living things.”
Grading will be largely based on one exam, with opportunities for extra credit. These opportunities include a trip to the Hall of Evolution at the Ruthven Museum and one-question quizzes during lecture.