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A Selection of Open Spring 2022 Courses (#1174)

Topics/tags: Registration, Grinnell, advising

The Cut/Close/Balance process for Spring 2022 just finished. From what I can tell, it was messier than normal. More introductory courses over-enrolled. More courses overall over-enrolled. The mix of over-enrolled courses changed a bit.

From my quick overview, most of my advisees did okay. Many lost one course but had a backup. Unfortunately, a lot of the lost courses were what we might call breadth courses: Introduction to American Studies, Introduction to the Studio, Introduction to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies.

I assume I’m not the only advisor with students in this situation. And I expect that some parents are also thinking about what their children might take. So I thought I’d put together a short list of open courses that students might find of interest. They aren’t in a particular order; mostly they are ones that came to mind or that I found in looking. Those of you looking for my broader comments about the CCB will have to wait for a future musing.

On to the open courses students might consider.

First up is CSC-105, The Digital Age. As I say regularly, computers are changing the world, for both good and bad. I’d say that all liberal arts students have some obligation to learn something about computing. CSC-105 is the department’s broader intro to computing and issues related to computing. It also includes a bit of Python, a useful programming language that we don’t otherwise cover in the Grinnell CS curriculum. Plus, it’s taught by the amazing Liz R [1]. Folks should consider it!

There are twenty-plus slots available in ECN-111, Introduction to Economics. For better or worse, economic principles seem to govern what happens in the US and across the world. It’s probably a good idea to learn more about them.

Every liberal education should include some study of the creative arts. While Introduction to the Studio and Drawing are both closed, there are certainly other ways to explore and understand the arts. Students can take ARH-103, Introduction to Art History. Since the class is balanced, they’ll need a note from the professor, but I expect that won’t be a problem. There’s also a special topic on the Art of India. There are many benefits to knowing about art; I know I can get joy in every city I visit by visiting museums [2].

Of course, other arts are available. Slots are available in THD-111, Intro to Performance Studies, and THD-202, Theatre History II, if you want to reflect on the theory and practice of performance. Slots are also available in THD-117, Introduction to Acting, if you’d like to develop those artistic skills [3]. There’s also a one-credit special topic entitled Tap is Music. What’s the description?

Hoofing and tap dancing continue to live at a nexus, however marginalized, of American culture and consciousness. We - as musicians, dancers, actors, performers, thinkers, artists, humans, and as institutions - have much to learn from tap dancing. When a discipline is divided a wholeness is lost: tap reunites what was once one. This course explores facets of tap dance fundamentals, musical collaboration, and cultural contexts and awareness, through rehearsal, reflection, experimentation, and performance. Dates: January 25-27 and April 26 to May 5. Short course deadlines apply. Prerequisite: None.

Tap transitions us to music. There are a few slots available in MUS-112, Music Theory. There are a few more slots available in MUS-116, Music, Culture, Context. As someone who does not know nearly enough about music, I’ll say I’m always amazed at the depth with which my offspring discuss music and that I expect that courses like this help build that depth. And, in case you didn’t realize it, some 200-level music courses don’t have prerequisites. For example, you could take MUS-201-01, Music, Gender, and Sexuality or MUS-201, Opera: Death, Drama, Desire [4], or MUS-202-01, Sonic Activism. Gender, Sex, Desire, Activism. These are things Grinnellians love. Or love to talk about. The courses seem to be great opportunities. It looks like Sonic Activism also includes a performance component.

Every description of modern liberal education of which I am aware includes understand the other as a key goal or component. While there are many ways to understand others, religion plays such a role in many people’s lives that developing some knowledge of religion and religious beliefs can provide insight. REL-103, Studying Religion: Middle East, REL-104, Studying Religion: India, and REL-105, Studying Religion: East Asia all have room. For those with second-year (or above) standing, REL-214, Christian Scriptures, REL-240, Religion is Everywhere, and REL/HIS-268, Islam and Gender are all valuable opportunities. There are also three special topics courses open to those with second-year standing or another religious studies course: REL-295-01, Gender Relations in South Asia, REL-295-02, Pilgrimage/Voyage/Journey, and REL-295-03, Reckoning with the Holocaust. I suppose HIS-100, The Prophet Muhammad, might also provide a related insight into an important culture (or, more accurately, important cultures).

Language can be another way to understand the other. This spring is the first term in recent memory in which slots remain open in LIN-114, Introduction to General Linguistics. Since third-years and seniors cannot pre-register for LIN-114, I assume this course will fill quickly.

Given the horror of modern American politics [6] and the historical popularity of Political Science at Grinnell, I’m surprised to see that there are still slots available in POL-101, Introduction to Political Science. I’d hope everyone would want to take that.

Speaking of science, some might want to explore the physical, natural, or mathematical sciences. While Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, and Statistics are all full, room remains in PHY-131, General Physics I. As I said, it’s a weird year. The spring section of PHY-131 is taught in workshop style; rather than separating lecture and lab, workshop-style physics focuses on active learning methodologies that incorporate lab-like activities throughout the course.

Careful study of language and literature not only provides insight into other cultures but also helps you develop your skills. About fifteen slots are available in ENG-120, Literary Analysis. I’m pretty sure that ENG-120 is one of those multi-topic courses. Let’s see … ENG-120-01 and ENG-120-02 are Globalization and Modernity in Anglophone World Literature; ENG-120-04 appears to focus on E. Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. You can read their descriptions in the schedule of courses. Since ENG-120 is balanced, instructor permission is required to add it.

You can’t start a new language in the spring. At least I don’t see first-semester introductory language courses on the schedule; I’ll admit that I didn’t look that hard. But if you know a language and didn’t continue it in the fall, you might continue it in the spring. Most languages have a few slots available.

There are a few more courses that have a few spaces. But the courses above should help most students broaden their education. Consider taking one or more of these great courses. Review the schedule of coursesfor more details.

And don’t forget to consult with your advisor!

[1] No relation. The R’s also have different subsequent letters.

[2] I realize that this sentence doesn’t quite fit. I’m too lazy to figure out a better location.

[3] Hmmm. I seem to have switched from third person to second. Oh well.

[4] Since JWB has used up her D’s in the course title, you can be sure you’ll do well [5].

[5] That was one of my traditional mediocre jokes.

[6] Is horror too light a word?

Version 1.0 of 2021-12-21 .