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Black Lives Matter, Spanglish and Meditation – Interesting courses to look out for this year

This year, you can enroll in some standard courses like Political Science 101: “Modern World Governments,” or Music 125: “Understanding Music” or even History 101: “Western Civilization.” Or you can go bananas with your financial aid and reach for more obscure choices such as Poli-Sci 346: “Terrorism and Weapons Proliferation,” Music 281: “Music of the Woodstock Generation,” and History 410: “Sex in America.”

The university offers an abundance of bizarre and fascinating curricula that you wouldn’t expect as part of your typical degree audit. There are plenty of courses none of us have the time (or the dough) to enroll in, but they’re still there for the taking. Here are some excellent alternatives to make your schedule miles more interesting for the 2015-16 year.

Anthropology 199: “Anthropology and Aliens”
What goes on: Explore topics of anthropology through the study of science fiction in various forms such as print, film and television. In addition to understanding and applying basic concepts of anthropology, students will evaluate science fiction before the 19th century, along with science fiction during and after the Industrial Revolution, the Space Age and more.
When it’s offered: Spring 2016
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: N/A
Prerequisites or course fees: None
What instructor Philip Scher says: “This class explores how anthropology and science fiction — or, more broadly, speculative fiction — have been linked together historically as each explores ideas about culture and society. Thematic questions addressed in the class include: what is an alien? What is ‘the human’? Could science fiction be possible without anthropology?”

Cinema Studies 230: “Remix Cultures”

What goes on: Take a unique look at our modern notion of creativity and what it means to take inspiration from others. Learn how the current state of intellectual property and copyright law conflicts with modern artists and how to navigate the legal minefield.
When it’s offered: Fall 2015
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 4
Prerequisites or course fees: None
What instructor Dr. Andre Sirois says: “In our culture we think of creativity as a singular effort. This course explores the notion of ideas as a collaborative effort, built from our present culture.”

Cinema Studies 399: “United States Indie Cinema”

What goes on: Explore the meaning of indie cinema through the study of the creation and industry of indie film in the United States. Starting with Slacker (1991), professor Daniel Steinhart guides the class through recent decades, ultimately leading to the examination of modern television shows such as Transparent (2014). Students will critically think about, and learn to define independent cinema in terms of production, distribution, story, and style.
When it’s offered: Fall 2015
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 2
Prerequisites or course fees: None
What professor Steinhart says: “This class is a chance to consider how indie cinema has provided a vibrant space for people who are often marginalized by the Hollywood system. So we’ll be looking at movies by filmmakers who are female, queer and people of color. And for students interested in filmmaking, the course will introduce some of the novel ways that filmmakers get smaller-scale movies made and out into the world.”

Comparative Literature 370: “Comics, Colonialism, and Images of Empire”
What goes on: Analyze cultural representations through the graphical narratives of Tintin, Babar, Frank Miller’s “300,” Joe Sacco’s “Palestine” and Ari Folman’s “Waltz with Bashir.”
When it’s offered: Winter 2016.
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Prerequisites or course fees: None
What professor Michael Allan says: “The classic conundrum of Babar is the classic story of colonialism. Babar is an elephant who learns to walk on two feet and is ‘civilized’ after his encounter with an old white woman. He returns as a king to his people and trains them all on this ‘civilizing mission.’ In the character arc of the story, a noble savage takes on trappings of civilization and returns to his camp – that classic anthropological cliché.”

Japanese 199: “Japanese Popular Culture”

What goes on: Break down modern Japanese popular culture, from manga to emojis. Get a clearer picture of the pop culture trends that can influence our lives, all the way from Tokyo.
When It’s offered: Fall 2015
Credits: 3
Hours in class per week: 3
Prerequisites or course fees: None

What professor Alisa Freedman says: “People see so much Japanese food and culture around them and want to know why this stuff has globalized. Why is it that when we think of Japan, we think of ‘Hello Kitty’?”

Journalism 412: “Understanding Disney”

What goes on: Analyze the scope of the massive Walt Disney empire, which covers properties from ESPN to Lucasfilm, theme parks to its own radio station. First homework assignment is an analysis of your personal relationship to Disney.
When it’s offered: Every term
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 3 hours, 40 minutes
Prerequisites or course fees: Journalism 201 “Media and Society” with a grade of mid-C or better.
What associate professor Daniel Steinhart says: “Disney owns Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm. This year, we have Inside Out, The Avengers, and Star Wars VII, so it’s actually a really interesting year to look at how Disney continues to remake itself by acquiring all these big companies.”

Journalism 412: “How to Watch TV”

What goes on: Understand and talk intelligently about what you are watching on television. Everyone in the class will watch FOX’s fall program “Scream Queens” and discuss the show in class throughout the term as students track their own thoughts and responses in a viewing diary.
When it’s offered: Fall 2016
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 4 hours
Prerequisites or course fees: Majors only
What Dr. Erin Hanna says: “Media studies students learn how to talk and think critically about all aspects of the media, which is a fantastic skill set for anyone who wants to come out of college as a well-rounded thinker.”

Linguistics 201: “Language and Power”
What goes on: Where do our beliefs about language come from? Who decides what kind of language is good or bad is something we don’t often think about. Study the power of language in an environment that encourages open discussion.
When it’s offered: Fall 2016
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 4 hours
Prerequisites or course fees: None
What professor Melissa Baese-Berk says: “The goal of this course is to help students find new ways of looking at language in the world around them. Language surrounds us, and whether we know it or not, we have a lot of beliefs about language. As a class, we examine these beliefs and where they come from.”

Physical Education Aquatic 380: “Scuba: Underwater Digital Photography”
What goes on: Students will learn both advanced diving skills and advanced photography techniques all in a modest 10-person class. The class meets once a week at the Eugene Skin Diver Shop and also includes a weekend outing for a nice break from being around campus.
When it’s offered: Fall 2015, Winter 2016
Credits: 1
Hours in class per week: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Prerequisites or course fees: PEAS 368 (the basic scuba course in which one earns an open water certification). $285 course fee. Students must also bring their own mask, snorkel, fins and signal tube. Underwater cameras are provided.

Physical Education Mind-Body 101: “Meditation I”

What goes on: Meditate, sit quietly, learn the proper etiquette behind the practice (body alignment, mental focus, relaxation, breathing pace) and take a mind vacation in this beginner-friendly class.
When it’s offered: Fall, winter and spring terms
Credits: 1
Hours in class per week: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Course fees: $60
What instructor Kelly Merrill says: “Students can get stressed very easily and meditation is a great tool to help balance that energy. It’s a wonderful asset that the university provides. Everyone is coming to class to connect with a deeper part of themselves, create a sense of calm, bring balance to mind and body.”

Physical Education Outdoor Pursuits 285: “Wilderness Survival”

What goes on: Learn what proper clothing is and master how to survive out in the elements with lessons in outdoor safety, how to make or find shelter, and how to treat unclean water in this classroom-based course.
When it’s offered: Fall, winter, spring terms
Credits: 1
Hours in class per week: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Prerequisites or course fees: $84
What instructor Michael Strong says: “Search and rescue statistics show that it’s the first 50 hours that are the most significant for your well-being and your survival. This course is designed around the fact that if you go on a day hike you should prepared if something goes wrong and you have to spend a day or two out there. If you do everything right, you’re going to be found.”

Physical Education Outdoor Pursuits 385: “Backcountry Cuisine”

What goes on: Master “leave no trace” ethics behind outdoor cooking and baking.
When it’s offered: Every fall term
Credits: 1
Hours in class per week: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Prerequisites or course fees: $94 fee; PEO 285: “Wilderness Survival”
What instructor Dustin Dawson says: “There’s no doubt that anything you make in the backcountry tastes way better than in the front country. When you have a fresh-baked pizza in the backcountry, it’s pretty amazing.”

Political Science 399: “Music And Politics”

When it’s offered: Winter 2016
Credits: 4.
Hours in class per week: 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Prerequisites? None.
What Professor Anita Chari says: “Its about translating music into a sense of individuality in a culture and what it says about our relationship to a society. Everybody interacts with music, so it’ll be interesting to a wide variety of students.”

Political Science 407: “Black Lives Matter”
What goes on: Centered around Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, this seminar will focus on the social movement and connect its principles to the multiple instances of police abuse, redlining, income inequality, student activism and the history of segregation in America.
When it’s offered: begins Winter 2016.
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 2 hours 40 minutes
Course fees or prerequisites: None
What professor Daniel HoSang says: “A lot of what the course is about is trying to show students the relationships between these events so we don’t just see it as an individual conflict between two people, but it’s connected to structures. If you think about it in that web. Together with students we figure out what the connections are between why this happened and what can be done to address it.”

Psychology 330 “Thinking”
What goes on: Critically evaluate your own and other people’s thinking. Explore the psychology of thinking through intuitive thinking, decision-making, problem solving, making judgments, and creative thinking.
When it’s offered:  Fall term. Sept. 28 – Dec. 4
Credits: 4
Hours in class per week: 3 hours.
Prerequisites or course fees: None.
What instructor Dr. Catrin Rode says: “I believe that learning about how we think, judge, make decisions, respond to disasters is one of the few academic topics that teach you something fundamental about psychology but also about the way we operate in the real world.”

Spanish 248: “Spanglish”
What goes on: Students will learn about the historical relationship between the Spanish and English languages as well as of the role of negative perceptions of the Spanish language and culture. The class mostly focuses on oral skills and is taught in English, Spanish and Spanglish for an authentic look into bilingual life.
When it’s offered: Once a year – offered in the winter 2016 term.
Credits: 4 credits.
Hours in class per week: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Prerequisites or course fees: SPAN 103 or SPAN 112
What Instructor Claudia Holguín Mendoza says: “In this class we abandon the idealized notion of a ‘100% target language’ immersion experience and move towards a more realistic view of a group of learners as an emerging bilingual speech community in which it is natural to use two languages.”

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Emerson Malone

Emerson Malone

Podcast producer with The Daily Emerald and student research fellow with the UO-UNESCO Crossings Institute.