As the new school year approaches, we're probably all starting to think about what fall quarter at SCU will entail academically. For those who are looking to add/drop a class, here's a list of my favorite, easy but completely transformative classes that I have taken throughout my two years at SCU. They're perfect for all kinds of majors and include everything from Core requirements, intro business classes, or if you want to explore something new!
1. For RTC 1 (Core requirement)
Course name: RSOC 10: Asian Religious Traditions
Professor: Thomas Nguyen
This class gives you an overview of different Asian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Growing up Christian, this class influenced my spirituality and faith and today, I have found ways to incorporate components of all the Asian religions in my everyday life. Besides the engaging material, the coursework is very manageable. Half of this class consists of watching documentaries (Not gonna lie: some of the docs were outdated and boring BUT overall they're worthwhile enough.), there's one midterm and final, and for participation points, you have to write a one-page summary of the reading every day. But only 5 people would get called on each day to share and Nguyen was super chill about the summary. (So technically you could get away without doing the homework, at your own risk.)
Bonus points: Sometimes Nguyen will bring Vietnamese coffee for the class!
2. For Spanish majors & minors
Professor: Rose Marie Beebe
It's no secret that Profesora Beebe is one of the best professors in the Spanish department. She's been teaching at SCU for nearly 40 years and damn, she knows how to make someone fall in love with a Spanish class! As a Spanish major, I've taken 3 of Beebe's classes including the major requirements SPAN 100 and SPAN 101 as well as one of her electives, SPAN 121. Some of the readings were incredibly dense and hard to understand, however, in class Beebe makes the boring material exciting (the energy this woman has at 8 am is the same at 2:15 pm and INSANE) and becomes so invested in all the characters! It's like every chapter was a telenovela for her! Beebe truly cares that all her students do well in class and will encourage people to participate and engage in class daily without you feeling super overwhelmed or put on the spot.
Tip: I believe Beebe now only teaches once a year so if you see her name on the schedule, don't wait! Her classes fill up fast!
3. For sustainably focused students looking for hands-on research experience
Course name: ENVS 95: Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project (SLURP)
Professor: Stephanie Hughes
SLURP is a two-quarter class offered in the winter and spring open to anyone interested in making a sustainable impact on campus (There's one freshmen-only class and another section for upperclassmen). In small groups, you assess problems on campus related to sustainability, and then you and your group come up with a project idea that addresses them. In spring, you have the option to apply to CSIF and get funding to have your idea become a reality on campus! SLURP allows you to make connections with Stephanie, who serves as your mentor and really cares about helping you in whichever way possible, as well as fellow students (One of my partners is now one of my good friends!). It also gave me experience and confidence in talking with campus faculty and staff, due to the countless meetings required for our project. Finally, this class only meets once a week for an hour so it's a low time commitment. (However, the number of hours for outside work depends on your project.)
4. For those who want to fall in love with learning a language (Core requirement)
Professor: Nina Tanti
Whether you've taken French for years or are just getting started, I'd highly recommend French with Madame Tanti. I took FREN 22 with her and served as her TA for over a year so I'm pretty familiar with her teaching style and she is THE BEST. Madame mainly teaches lower division French classes (FREN 1-3) and makes class SO fun. She's quirky and has that stereotypical bizarre language teacher vibe but she is SO energetic and passionate about the French language and culture. You also are required to practice speaking French with your classmates. Not only do your French oral skills improve (hopefully) but you get to know your classmates well, and by the end of the quarter, you're somewhat friends. Coursework is mostly busy work but as long as you demonstrate effort, Tanti will like you and give you an A.
5. For Spanish majors & minors who need Upper Division electives
Course name: SPAN 110: Advanced Conversation
Professor: Lucia Varona
SPAN 110 was easily one of my favorite language classes I've ever taken due to how Varona structured the course. The class had no textbook and the syllabus was essentially organized by us students and tailored to our interests. Varona cared that we were engaged in the material and gave us the freedom to choose the course topics which is how we ended up learning about diverse subjects like women and gender in Latino cultures, the field of Artificial Intelligence, and bilingual education. Ultimately, SPAN 110 made me realize my love for the Spanish language and culture and inspired me to change from a Spanish minor to a major. It also gave me the confidence to finally practice my Spanish outside the classroom!
6. For Civic Engagement (Core requirement)
Course name: ENVS 22: Intro to Environmental Studies
Professor: Christopher Bacon
Bacon is unbelievable. He worked in the Peace Corps and is a strong advocate of environmental justice both on a global and local scale. From working with coffee farmers in Nicaragua to doing research on air pollution in San Jose, these are just some of the accomplishments on his resume (which could go on for pages). Bacon brings his experience from the real world to the classroom and shares his stories, which makes class entertaining! Before ENVS 22, I wasn't 100% set on my major. Yet this class made me realize that I was in the right field (and inspired my friend to pick up an ENVS major too). In ENVS 22, you learn about environmental topics and issues from an interdisciplinary approach using ecological, economist, and political perspectives. Lectures are super interesting and cover a variety of topics from trees and plastic water bottles to lawns and french fries!
Tip: I've also heard raving reviews about his ENVS 155: Environmental & Food Justice class and food justice is his specialty so really you can't go wrong.
7. For business majors (BUSN requirement)
Course name: BUSN 70: Contemporary Business Issues
Professor: Robert Finocchio
Again, another amazing and experienced professor. Although Finocchio's lectures can be a bit dry, he brings his experience from the working world and his travels to the classroom, which makes the material more relevant and fascinating. Seriously, this man has been to Antarctica and Afghanistan! And his last lecture is a real treat. I don't want to spoil it for anyone taking his class, but let's just say Finocchio cares about teaching character and ethics just as much as balance sheets. Overall, Finocchio's coursework is doable too; he outlines the problems on the midterm and final in class, so they're no surprise.
Tip: The people in your Mike's Bike's group can make or break your performance and grade in the simulation. Choose wisely.
8. For Cultures & Ideas 3 (Core & ENVS requirement)
Course name: ENVS 50/ANTH 50/POLI 50: World Geography
Professor: Carolyn Trist
Contrary to its name, this class is NOT more than learning about maps. So, I absolutely DESPISED this class initially and dropped the class immediately. Trist spoke way too fast, I couldn't hear her soft voice in the big lecture hall, and her lecture slides had too much text I didn't know what was important. Then, I begrudgingly enrolled again spring quarter, wanting to complete all my ENVS lower division courses asap. People said she was an easy grader so I thought I'd stick it out for a quarter (they were right).
My thoughts on the class didn't change until studying for the midterm. Trist still talked a million miles per minute, but studying for the exam, I was able to put together pieces of history and connect all that we had learned. After, my perspective completely changed. It's awesome because I now understand the history of present-day issues and the conflicts that led up to them as well as complex issues like the formation of Al-Qaeda! By the end of the quarter, you truly appreciate your status as a U.S. citizen and this is definitely one of those classes that "gives you a global perspective." Overall, the coursework is very light including 3 pass/fail assignments, a group film project, and a final that's not cumulative.
Tip: You don't need to buy the textbook. Just go to the review sessions (and stay the whole time!) and ask questions for clarification. Trist explains everything clearly and you'll pass the exams with flying colors.
9. For those who love or hate art
Department: Art History
Professor: Tobias Wofford
Freshman year, I mistakenly signed up for an art history class for my C & I (my eyes saw the abbreviation ARTH and mistook it for ANTH), but it was serendipity. Before, I despised going to museums and looking at art wasn't my idea of fun. What made this class amazing was Tobias' passion for the subject and the energy he brought to every lecture. By the end of my two quarters of C & I, I was ready to pursue an art history minor! Also, Tobias is one of those approachable teachers and despite his wealth of knowledge, he'd always ask your opinion and insights. (Which made going to his office hours so fun. Plus, he gave me recommendations for museums and tacos in SF!) Wofford left SCU a year ago but said he might be back, so keep your eyes peeled!
I'm grateful for the variety of courses I've been able to take at SCU and hopefully, you can find a class or two to fit into your schedule, even if it's not related to your major/minor in the slightest. My tip for all the classes above is to GO TO OFFICE HOURS! It's so fun getting to know your teachers outside the classroom and they have a lot of real world experience and advice that they're willing to share. Good luck fall semester, Broncos. See ya soon!