Coolest courses offered at USD

Class registration is upon the University of San Diego community once again. For many students, registration is a stressful time filled with planning and panicking. However, it is also an important and exciting time as students are picking classes and professors that they will be spending quite a lot of time with next semester.

It is easy to get caught up in what classes you need to take to graduate, the seemingly endless “class full” or “wait list full” labels popping up, prerequisites that you did not know about, and the extremely popular site, During this hectic time, it is easy to forget why students are going through this: to hopefully enroll in really great classes.

There are many unique and interesting classes that may not be on every student’s radar, as well as professors that seem to “make or break” these classes.

Many students dread core classes as they believe that the subjects are not as interesting.

However, if you think all core classes are created equal, think again. There are plenty of interesting courses you can use to fulfill your core requirements.

Great Moments in History with Molly McClain, Ph.D., is an awesome option for those looking to spice up a dull course load.

Sophomore Ashley Tanga noted that, by bringing history to life, the class connected her to history in a way she didn’t think was possible.

“We would be assigned readings, then we would do role playing for different significant moments in history, like the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party, as well as the Suffrage Movement,” Tanga said. “We were assigned characters and learned about their lives and how each of the events impacted them. It was a really great way to actually connect to historical events, unlike most history classes where you’re forced to memorize random dates and facts and expected to regurgitate it all.”

Another great option for a core class is Exploring Religious Meaning with Joel Gruber.

Having to take three religious classes while at USD may seem overwhelming to many students, especially if the student is not especially religious. However, this requirement is changing to two classes with the new core curriculum being introduced this fall.

Senior Mary Sutton took Exploring Religious Meaning and found it to be one of the most engaging classes she has taken thus far at USD.

“Rather than learning about facts and figures in religious history, [both]Gruber and Exploring Religious Meaning create a space to delve into the underlying connectivity of religion and spirituality,” Sutton said. “It’s a course that ultimately challenges day-to-day thought and dogma.”

This class is also fulfilling for students who are in the process of developing their religious identity. Junior Kiana Dietz said that the professor really made the class enjoyable, as he engaged with the class differently than most teachers she has experienced.

“[Gruber] challenges us to think about our own religious views but not within specific religious theories,” Dietz said. “He encouraged us to pose questions but think of the answers to those questions ourselves.”

In terms of some thought-provoking upper division classes, some are hard to find, especially if it is not in your major or minor, but worth it once you do.

Psychological Factors of Education in a Diverse Society with Michael Campbell is one class that normally slips off people’s radars. Junior Veronica Grosse stumbled upon this class when registering for classes.

“The professor doesn’t give grades because he feels they give students stress, so everyone gets an A if they fill all class requirements, and he makes that clear from the beginning of the class,” Grosse said. “[It is] a class primarily for graduate students getting [their] master’s in education, but it doesn’t fill up fast, as no one really knows about it except graduate students. It was just an all-around great experience, and I recommend the class to everyone who needs a random upper division class for more credits.”

Every student at USD has to take an upper division philosophy class at some point in their college career. But many students don’t know about the intersectionality of philosophy, shown one way through Biomedical Ethics with Gary Jones, Ph.D.

Looking to go into the medical field after graduation, junior Danny Halloran found this class to take an interesting spin on philosophy.

“Biomedical Ethics is teaching me about many aspects of healthcare that are applicable to anyone looking for a future in medicine,” Halloran said. “Dr. Jones has an extensive background within this field, and I feel that I am gaining so much from this course.”

Political science and environmental studies do not seem like topics that normally go together in a class, but there is an upper division political science class called Politics and the Environment with Andrew Tirrell that combines them.

Senior Harison Hawkins is an aspiring environmental lawyer and was excited to have found a class that combined both of his interests.

“Professor Tirrell made this a very interesting class, as it evaluated the complications that arise when these two fields interact with each other,” Hawkins said. “Also, it was especially engaging as we assessed these issues on both the domestic and international landscape.”

If you are a film buff and love to travel, American Independent Cinema in the Communication Studies Department might be the class for you. Eric Pierson, Ph.D., and Roger Pace, Ph.D., take a group of students to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah over intersession every year.

Senior Kyle Dubin went on this trip in January and found it to be one of the biggest highlights of her time here at USD.

“I took the class because I want to go into the film industry, and USD offers very little classes for film or creative outlets. Sundance was the perfect opportunity for me to see what it’s all about,” Dubin said. “My favorite part was hearing the actors and directors talk and answer audience questions after each film. I saw Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ about global warming the day of Trump’s inauguration, and got to hear Al Gore speak as the president was being inaugurated, which was surreal and super empowering. I think any USD students who are interested in creative jobs in the industry or just want to improve their film taste should 100 percent go to Sundance.”

Whether it’s the topics, the professors, or the location, these off-the-radar classes have proven to be favorites for many students. As the registration period rolls around, don’t discount some of the unusual classes USD offers. Although they can be hard to find, browsing through the course catalog is sure to turn up some gems, and make for a more interesting semester.

By Alexis Fahey, Contributor