Staff Recs: Unusual Courses

CAMS-UA 0180 – Drugs and Kids

Nestled within the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Studies section of the College of Arts and Sciences, this jointly taught course examines everything related to drugs and kids — the two best things in life. From drug consumption rates among different age groups to long-term effects of drug abuse, this course educates students about all aspects of illicit substances and even examines how societal changes, such as politics and diseases, affect drug use rates. Although this lecture consists of around 50 students, both professors incorporate regular discussions during the class while making an effort to know every student’s name. And for those who enjoy a little grading flexibility, only the best two of three tests and best three of four response papers count towards final grades.  — Diamond Naga Siu, Deputy News Editor

LING-UA 1 – Language

I signed up for this class on a whim because linguistics had always seemed vaguely interesting to me, and I’m so glad I did. My professor, Mark Baltin, made an active effort to get to know each of the students’ names, even in the huge lecture. The course gives a brief overview of each of the major branches of linguistics, like animal communication, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. But it’s not just about learning a bunch of obscure vocabulary words — it sheds light on the beauty and universality of human language, which is the one characteristic that distinguishes us from all other animals. The workload is fairly light, with weekly problem sets accounting for 50 percent of the final grade, but you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of how we as humans communicate and think. — Abigail Weinberg, Deputy Features Editor

DM-UY 1123 – Visual Foundation Studio

Visual Foundation Studio makes learning Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign possible in one semester. This course is part of Tandon’s Integrated Design Media program and lets students dive into the world of graphic design. Not only does this class introduce students to well-known artists, but it also provides a collaborative environment where classmates inspire and motivate each other. Students get exposure to different aspects of color, texture, image, typography and just all things related to visual aesthetics. Professor De Angela L. Duff promises her students that she will be the professor to change their lives. Those who walk into the class without even knowing what a portfolio is could very well walk out as the next Andy Warhols. — Polina Buchak, Video Editor

HIST-UA 94 – Espionage and the Making of the Modern World

This whole class is about spies, which is such a cool subject to study. The class itself is an interesting discussion of the evolution of covert action starting with World War II. Through this discussion, the course aims to answer the question: “Is covert action useful?” Like with most history courses, there is a lot of reading involved, but the sources are fascinating and provide additional context to the figures and events discussed in class. The professor, Tim Naftali, is hilarious, enthusiastic and open to questions about any of the course material. You also come away from the class with a new view of the concept of spies, as well as their effect on some of the most important events in world history. — Abbey Wilson, Copy Chief

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 4 print edition.