12 College classes to understand the here and now

12 College classes to understand the here and now

In today’s fast-changing world and competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to have a solid grasp on the biggest and most consequential topics of our current moment — the evolving political landscape, the environment, social movements, education, science, technology and pop culture. Easier said than done, we know.

Fortunately, classes in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences allow you to gain broad skills and useful knowledge about a wide range of diverse issues. Whether you’re a current liberal arts & sciences major or just looking to learn more about an interesting subject, these 12 College classes will help catch you up to speed on issues that matter right now.

BIOL 225 Biology – Evolution and the History of Life

You don’t have to be a STEM major to be fascinated by big scientific questions about our existence: How did life begin? What did it look like in the past? And how did we get to our current evolutionary moment? In BIOL 225, science enthusiasts and laypeople alike are invited to explore their curiosity about the origins of life, its changes through time and where it’s going.

This introductory course for non-majors focuses on the significance of the history of life and the fossil record for our understanding of evolution. Key events in the history of life are considered, including the origins of life, the eukaryotic cell, and humans, and also various mass extinctions. The focus is on general scientific and evolutionary principles and mechanisms that can be extracted from the study of the fossil record. It also uses the lessons of the fossil record to consider the prospects for our own species. Satisfies: Goal 3 Natural Sciences (GE3N), N Natural Science (N)

GIST 139 Global & International Studies – The Global Cold War

One needs only to glance at current headlines for proof that the lingering effects and international tensions of the Cold War conflict are still being felt today. And right now, we’re seeing them play out in real time on the global political stage. For those looking to expand their global perspective and interested in taking a deep-dive into the turbulent Cold Water era, its root causes and myriad enduring legacies, look no further — GIST 139 is for you!

This course provides an immersive introduction to the global Cold War and its legacies. It explores how the contest between capitalism and communism unfolded not only in the United States and the Soviet Union, but also in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Through interactive lectures, discussions, and role-playing games, students will learn to “think globally,” gain an understanding of imperialism, nationalism, and decolonization, and discover how the Cold War shaped culture, economics, politics, the environment, and the international system in ways that remain relevant today. (Same as HIST 139.) Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

HIST 150 History – Introduction to Food History: Around the World in 8 Dishes

The late American chef and world-traveling TV personality Anthony Bourdain once noted that “food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable” — a sentiment that many food historians are sure to echo. From imperialism and appropriation to globalism and cross-cultural influence, there’s more to any given meal than meets the eye. In HIST 150, you’ll begin to unpack the histories of culinary creations around the world and gain a better understanding of food’s intimate, multifaceted relationships to various cultures. (No meal-prep or kitchenware required!)

Foods and drinks such as chocolate, coffee, curry, and olive oil have changed the world in ways that transcend national boundaries; this course follows their stories tracing routes of imperialism and globalization while attentive to the impact of these foods on indigenous peoples. Each week offers new foods and new discoveries drawing from cases globally to ask why people choose certain foods, what that says about their culture, and how foods and drinks have changed historically. Besides learning how food can be a window to history and gaining an introduction to the interdisciplinary methodology of food studies, this course will help you understand the consequences of what you eat in terms of your own body, the environment, and communities a world away. Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

WGSS 319 Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies: History of Women and Diversity

Take a journey through the history of being female in America in WGSS 319. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of women in the country, as well as the critical influence of social factors like race, sexuality, ethnicity and class.

This survey course explores the history of being female in America through a focus on the ways differences in race, sexuality, ethnicity, class, and life cycle have shaped various aspects of women’s lives. Themes to be explored could include, but are not limited to: social and political activism; intellectual developments; family; women’s communities; work; sexuality; and culture. (Same as HIST 319.) Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41), H Humanities (H)

PCS 120 Peace and Conflict Studies – Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies

Philosophers, historians, artists and countless others have grappled with the concepts of war and peace throughout recorded human history. No matter the lens through which one examines the issues, one thing’s for certain: There are no easy answers. In PCS 120, you’ll take a closer look at the causes of violence in societies, the ramifications of conflicts and efforts to counteract and prevent instances of harm.

An introduction to the content and methods of peace studies. Peace studies is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to the study of war and peace. Building on and integrating the work of various fields of study, the course examines the causes of structural and direct violence within and among societies and the diverse ways in which humans have sought peace, from conquest and balance of power to international organizations and nonviolent strategies. Satisfies: Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H), H Humanities (H), HT Historical Studies PC (HT)

AMS 365 American Studies – Angry White Male Studies

“Lone wolf” attackers. “Toxic masculinity.” Online bullying and harassment, racist demonstrations and conspiracy theories. The image and often destructive actions of the “angry white male” are forces that loom large in contemporary American society and politics. In AMS 365, you’ll chart the origins of the idea of the angry white male, its evolution and connections to rights-based movements.

This course charts the rise of the “angry white male” in America and Britain since the 1950s, exploring the deeper sources of this emotional state while evaluating recent manifestations of male anger. Employing interdisciplinary perspectives this course examines how both dominant and subordinate masculinities are represented and experienced in cultures undergoing periods of rapid change connected to modernity as well as to rights-based movements of women, people of color, homosexuals and trans individuals. (Same as HIST 364, HUM 365 and WGSS 365.) Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

HUM 300 Humanities – Indigenous Food & Health

Hungry for some more food knowledge? We know a course that’s sure to satisfy your appetite. In HUM 300, you’ll explore topics and examine a variety of diverse media, cultures and historical periods to better understand the rich histories and significance of food and health issues within various indigenous cultures and communities.

An interdisciplinary course, focusing on different topics and drawing on diverse media, cultures, and historical periods. Humanities-based, this course, depending on its topic, may include the arts, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. May be repeated for credit with different topics. Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

DANC 580 Dance – Movement for Social Justice

Looking to ignite your social activism? Interested in exploring ways to build community and spark positive change at KU and beyond? In DANC 580, you’ll examine your complex roles in the social ecosystem, learn dances and songs of resilience and share your lived experiences with others.

A study of current developments in dance with an emphasis on performance or research.

THR 380 Theatre – Popular Culture: Instagram

With over one billion monthly users, Instagram is everywhere. It’s social influence is vast, far-reaching and, for better or worse, unavoidable. And for aspiring public figures looking to make a name for themselves, carving out a unique space on the platform is often seen as an essential step to gaining status as an influencer. In THR 380, you’ll go beyond the selfies, scrolling, likes and hashtags to dig beneath the surface and learn about the social media giant’s significance in contemporary popular culture.

Interdisciplinary examination of popular culture oriented around a specific genre or theme. Objects of study may include popular forms of live performance such as musicals or vaudeville, as well as media-based performances (radio, television, film, internet). Specific topic to be studied changes as needs and resources develop. Satisfies: Goal 3 Arts and Humanities (GE3H) , H Humanities (H) , HL Literature & the Arts PC (HL)

AAAS 323 African & African-American Studies: Introduction to Black Education in the US

Equity, justice and fairness are frequently brought up in discussions of education as ideals that institutions must strive for. The realities, however, are far more complex. In AAAS 323, you’ll explore the rich history and current issues surrounding the experiences of Black Americans in the US educational system.

Lecture and discussion course in African-American area of current interest. Satisfies: H Humanities (H)

SOC 160 Sociology – Social Problems & American Values

Why does progress seem to take so long, and why do many of society’s most pressing problems persist still today? Despite countless strides that have been made in American society over the years, ranging from instances of gradual change for the better to momentous leaps forward, we can all likely agree — There’s a lot more work to be done. In SOC 160, you’ll analyze the roots, competing explanations for and ongoing issues related to America’s enduring problems and policies aimed at addressing them.

This course is designed to explore competing explanations for the causes of, and cures for, the enduring problems of American society. The course critically analyzes dominant definitions of social problems, the political and economic roots of these problems, and the public policies aimed at reducing them. May not be taken by anyone who has already completed SOC 306 or its equivalent. Satisfies: Goal 4 Outcome 1 (AE41), Goal 5 Outcome 1 (AE51), Goal 1 Outcome 1 (GE11), S Social Science (S), SF Public Affairs PC (SF)

EVRN 385 Environmental Studies – Environmental Sociology

An inescapable conclusion that’s underscored within the vast body of research on climate change is that society and the environment cannot be viewed as two separate, unrelated entities. Instead, as recent crises have made abundantly clear, the two are inextricably interwoven in ways that will require society to quickly reimagine its relationship with, and future as part of, the natural world by putting big plans into action. In EVRN 385, you’ll discover why environmental problems are social problems by exploring society’s impact on the environment.

This course invites students to study society and its impact on the environment. Environmental problems are social problems. This course will address such items as social paradigms, theories, inequalities, movements, and research. (Same as SOC 385). Satisfies: S Social Science (S)

For more information, check out KU’s schedule of classes. Ready to discuss options? College of Liberal Arts & Sciences majors can schedule an appointment with their advisors at collegeadvising.ku.edu. Explore more Cool Classes