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8 Classes You Might Have Overlooked

November 14, 2011

Ratik Asokan
8 Classes You Might Have Overlooked

Course registration starts for seniors today and, along with trying to get a three-day weekend and classes that only start after 12:00 PM, you are probably stalking Rate My Professor and frantically trying to schedule a meeting with your advisor in order to decide on your courses for next semester.  Designing a schedule can be a hectic process, but it can be a lot of fun too.  We often forget that we are supposed to choose classes that we are actually interested in and not just go after our next requirement or find the easiest class. Most people think that the average Claremont McKenna College student is probably an econ-gov dual major with a sequence in TNC festivities.  That does not mean that we do not have other interests.  As we all battle it out to get into astronomy and the least boring Econ 50 class, it is easy to forget that the 5Cs are a consortium of liberal arts colleges with a lot to offer and it is time we make use of their diversity. I sent emails to seven different professors, begging them to admit me into their classes claiming that I was an art, music, history, IR and lit major, depending on the class.

Here are a few of the hidden gems out there, outside of CMC, on the Portal that you might overlook otherwise.  They are meant to be different and outside of the sections most students typically look for courses.  These classes might not help with your major or count as a GE, they might be held at the far corners of the 5Cs that you did not know existed, and you might find some extremely “interesting” kids in them.  One thing is for sure, you will definitely enjoy them.

Farms and Gardens

As a proud member of the CMC community garden, this class immediately caught my eye. An Environmental Analysis class taught by Professor Richard Hazlett at Pomona College, this course is all about farming and maintaining gardens.  It is a seminar with one classroom session on Monday evenings.  The class also has a 3-hour outdoor lab at the Pomona organic farm every week.  The course covers both real life field work and a scientific understanding of agriculture and horticulture.  If you want to grow your own food or have a garden some day, this is the class for you.

Professor Hazlett

Class:  Monday - 7:00 PM to 9:50 PM

Farm Fieldwork : Thursday - 1:15 PM to 4:00 PM


Black and White Film Photography

There are a few introductory photography classes taught at the 5Cs.  The black and white class, taught by Professor Auerbach at Pomona, deals with the practical aspects of film photography and developing, as well as focusing on techniques used in photography and the works of famous photographers.  Unfortunately, the course is really popular and hard to get into (especially if you are a CMC freshman… two marks against you). Luckily, there are excellent introductory courses offered at Scripps, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer as well.  These courses work with both manual and digital cameras. Art 143 at Scripps, Digital Colour Photography is a different course but might interest people more interested in modern photography as it deals with editing and computer software. Anyone interested in photography should definitely consider these courses.

Professor Auerbac

Class: Monday and Wednesday - 1:30PM to 4:00PM


Listening To Popular American Music

Before you shy away, this class is not about Nicki Minaj and the pop of today.  Rather, it is analysis of music as it developed in the United States through the 20th century.  The course taught at Pomona by Professor Rockwell studies blues, rock, funk, folk and even rap and pop.  It also has to have Bob Dylan in there somewhere, so I'm pumped.  There are a lot of students who are interested in music, and this class provides an ideal platform for a serious listener to take an interest and focus and analyze.  Besides, wouldn’t you like to get a credit for listening to music?

Professor J Rockwell

Class: Monday and Wednesday - 1:15PM to 4:00PM


Sex, Body and Reproduction

Ok, the third term is a put-off, but otherwise, the course should not be drab.  Professor Chao teaches this class at Pitzer and counts as an anthropology credit.  There has always been a cultural stigma against the open discussion of sexuality and reproduction, this course aims to explore these topics from an academic perspective.  The course catalog describes the class as: “Drawing on historical, ethnographic and popular sources, and examining the cultural roots of forms of knowledge about sex, the body and reproduction.”  The course studies the description of sex and sexuality in medical, historical and colonial discourse.  Anyone interested in the human mind and sexuality would be fascinated by this course.

Those interested should also consider “The American Sixties” and “Writing the body.”


Food and American Culture

A Harvey Mudd College class, Food and American Culture deals with social importance of food in the United States.  This is a really interesting class for anyone that takes their meals seriously (like I do).  The course not only deals with hot-dogs and burgers, but also with ethnic food and the cuisines from minority groups.  The professor explains that: “The course will feature a variety of sources and approaches ranging from traditional scholarly analyses to more hands-on experiences doing field research, cooking, and eating.”

But it is not all saliva-producing, the course addresses issues such as food production and changing patterns of cultivation and consumption and is a good mix of light and heavy matter.  It also deals with changing dynamic of minority and ethnic food and how it is leading to social flux.  A number of CMC students have taken that course and give very positive reviews about it - so it should be as good as it sounds.  Good thing it is after lunch.

Professor H Barron

Class: Tuesday - 2:45PM to 5:30PM


Africana Soccer World Cup 

AF 150 is taught at Scripps and is a course that combines soccer, literature and global culture in Africa.  It is part of the African studies major and involves studying the importance of soccer and the changing culture and economy in Africa.  Soccer (football) fans will appreciate focus on the game and how it affects a continent that is growing through flux.  For all you sports fans, this sounds like a fun and enlightening class.

There are a few other extremely interesting sport related classes taught at Pitzer including “The political economy of world soccer” (which is a must given the current financial and social upheaval the sport is going through) and a history class on the Olympics!  Who said fulfilling your history GE had to be boring?

Professor A Waberi

Class Timings: Monday and Wednesday - 1:15PM to 2:30 PM


Environmental History Of North Africa and the Middle East

When I emailed Professor Khazeni asking him about this course, I learned just how relevant it is for EEP, IR, EA, African Studies and History majors.  Pomona’s History 141 is sure to be extremely eye-opening and challenging .  The course explores the environmental history of the Middle East and North Africa since 1500, exploring the ways societies have shaped and, in turn, been shaped by their natural environments.  It studies the relationship between societies and the environment around them.  Desertification, OPEC, food cultivation and the evolution of cultural geography are sure to be covered in what is definitely a relevant, interesting and serious class.

A word of warning though: this class requires an original research paper (from primary sources) which can be quite challenging, but also highly worthwhile.

Professor A Khazeni

Class Timings: Tuesday - 1:15pm to 4:00PM


Basic Acting : Tools and Fundamentals

I have met so many students who participated in high school theater, but stopped when they came to college.  This class is excellent for students who love acting and would like to have a chance to pursue it at college, without making the massive time commitment that being involved in serious theater productions entails.  There are many good introductory theater classes available at the 5Cs and this is only one of them.  Professor Blumenfeld and Professor Martinez teach two of these classes, so anyone interested will have a decent chance of getting in.

Professor Blumenfeld

Class: Monday and Wednesday - 1:15AM to 4:00AM

Professor Martinez

Class: Monday and Wednesday - 9:00AM to 11:00AM

This is only a short list, and there are many other classes that should be included.  Sure, this list is obviously biased somewhat by my interests, and there are definitely many other subjects and classes that will appeal to all of you.  I simply wanted to highlight a few classes that most people would have missed otherwise and remind everyone that not every class offered is an econ or gov class.  As you select your courses over the next few days, go on the portal, click on all those random links, explore areas you would have missed otherwise and enjoy the next semester.  Sometimes the best classes are the ones that you would never even think to look for.

If you are looking for more options next semester, check out our list of the ten classes you HAVE to take before graduating. Got more hidden gems? Please share them in the comment section below.

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