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We asked our current students to describe the most memorable courses they have taken at Cornell. This page is not meant to be taken as a recommendation for any particular course, but rather as evidence of the benefits of intellectual exploration.
Students took these courses to explore majors, to satisfy college requirements, or simply to try something new and different. Often, these choices were life-changing for them. We hope that you too will be inspired to take some intellectual risks and delve into the rich offerings in the college.
This course changed my life and my perception of the world.
- Asian 1100, Religion, Resistance, and Revolution
When talking about politics and current events, I'm still amazed how much of my knowledge and ability to interpret what's going on comes from this international relations class.
- Govt 1817, Intro to International Relations
The course I have learned the most from during my time at Cornell. The topics were all incredibly interesting, and the lecturers were all fantastic.
- BioEE 1780, Evolutionary Biology and Diversity
Amazing course - Bruce is a great guy who really motivates change. His ideas about citizen participation and the fight against climate change have influenced the way I live my daily life.
- EAS 1540, Intro to Oceanography
Our discussions were phenomenal. We looked at how medicine has been portrayed from all angles and all types of text. It was learning I couldn't have done in any other setting.
- BSoc 2350, Literature and Medicine
My absolute favorite class … so far at Cornell. Not only is the material riveting, from ancient explorers all of the way to modern space exploration, but both professors (Mary Beth Norton and Steve Squyres) are genuinely excited about teaching it….The professors come from different backgrounds: one a historian, the other a scientist. The coolest part of the class was hearing updates and seeing pictures taken by the Mars Rovers that morning!
- Astro/Hist 1700, History of Exploration
The professor was awesome and invited discussion of questions from the class and definitely encouraged humor. When I say it was my most quotable class, I mean nothing else I've ever taken compares. I had fun, we went over a lot of different and interesting subjects, and the professor taught the content very well.
- Ling 1101, Intro to Linguistics
Professor Sierra was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the subject he taught. Not only that, he was part of the course material itself, being a noted Latin American musician. It was an honor to participate in a class with a Grammy-nominee.
- Music 1320, Music of Latin America
College clicked for me with this course. My brain hurt, and I loved it.
- Math 2210, Linear Algebra
I never realized how narrow my understanding of sex and gender was before this class... Truly mind-blowing...
- Anthro 2421, Sex and Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Intriguing and fun... The discussions really piqued my interest and caused me to think critically in Spanish.
- Span 2090: Intermediate Spanish I
The course material challenged the way that I thought about medicine and the human body.
- STS 2070, Intro to the History of Medicine
This class made me realize the incredible diversity of life that exists that we cannot even see. It was probably the turning point in my major sequence - I ended up declaring a microbiology concentration because of it.
- BioMI 2900, General Microbiology
I am a history major … but I loved spending a semester growing mushrooms in labs, learning about which mushrooms to top your pasta with, and which molds would kill you in your sleep. And of course, it captured all 400 students' attention when the professor spent an entire lecture on hallucinogenic mushrooms.
- PLPA Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds
Professor Ganem's passion … shone in his teaching. I could tell that he taught the course because he loved it and that love for the course caused me to love it as well. Professor Ganem's exams, while some of the most challenging I've encountered at Cornell, are also some of the ones I've enjoyed the most (after the fact, anyway). I remember how they tested your ability to react to new situations and use what you learned in a new way.
- Chem 3570, Organic Chemistry
The most passionate, considerate professor I've ever had! He really takes the effort to suggest films relevant to each student's particular interests, and was a tough critic in a very productive way. He sparked a real interest in film and helped me think about not only film production, but also the questions of ethnography.
- PMA 3500: Intro to Filmmaking
My mind was tested like it had never been tested before. I have never thought the same since.
- Phys 1116, Mechanics & Special Relativity
Professor McDaniel really made a huge impact on my academic career at Cornell. During this course... he has taught me to think differently about the world in entirely new ways.
- Span 2240, Perspectives on the Caribbean
Very eye-opening... Allowed me to see how people of different cultural backgrounds view issues in FGSS. Professor was fair and willing to [listen to] different viewpoints, and class discussions were very interesting.
- FGSS 2010, Intro to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Professor Lauren Monroe …cares deeply about every single student and really makes you think about religion in new and profound ways.
- NES 2624, Intro to Judaism
I completely fell in love with philosophy because of this course.
- Phil 2610, Knowledge and Reality
This class made me question my assumptions and reevaluate some of my world views!
- Govt 1313, Comparative Politics
What I learned has remained relevant throughout my entire undergraduate career... It was an interdisciplinary reach I find limitless and absolutely fascinating.
- Psych 2230: Intro to Biopsychology
Absolutely amazing class. Really took me out of my comfort zone and taught me not just the course material, but really how to *think*. Professor Mohanty was also amazing.
- ASRC 2879, Freedom Writes: Literature of Global Justice Struggles
A truly awesome professor… His passion clearly manifests itself in the course and, in turn, made me as a student more excited to take his class.
- Hist 1950, The Invention of America
This class incorporated comprehensive, enlightening readings with thoughtful discussion every time we met. I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar and thought that it really challenged my understanding of the US prison system from its origins to its current status.
- Hist 2422, History of the U.S. Prison
It really opened my eyes to the inner workings of the U.S. government and allowed me to understand why one of the richest nations in the world continues to be plagued by poverty.
- Govt 3012, Politics of Poverty in the U.S.
Professor Mertha is the best professor I have had at Cornell and there was not a single day in this course that the entire class did not burst into laughter multiple times during his lecture! … Through this course I was even inspired to go on the Cornell in Cambodia course that he led and I have come away with so much global knowledge on the East!
Govt 3403, China Under Revolution and Reform
An amazing professor who changed the way I look at biology. He really connects things and his lectures are always enjoyable. He has even received rounds of applause at the end of lecture.
- BioG 1440, Physiology
This was the first (and only) course I have taken which relates both of my majors (classical civilization and civil engineering). Professor Roby is one of my favorite professors because of her background in engineering/science as well as the humanities. I loved the course because it was interesting as an engineer who wants to figure out how stuff works and as a classical civilization major looking at the textual evidence for technology. The course is especially memorable because of the exercise we did in Roman surveying methods outside in the early morning in November.
- Classics 2541, Technology of Ancient Rome
Before classes started in August, I was wondering what this class would look like since it had an "Individualized Instruction" title accompanying it. But the more I came to know it, the more I enjoyed it. The flocks, the cardiopulmonary lab, the comparative anatomy exam with live dissection of 8 animals, the first-hand experience with an ECG, the amiable TAs, Dr. Campbell's availability at all times to expound on concepts and above all the bond you create with fellow classmates are beyond explanation. This is the best course I have taken so far.
- BioG 1445, Comparative Physiology
This class was memorable for the unique and lesser known perspectives and narratives it highlighted... I appreciated that this course delved into the histories of lesser known countries and the instances of political violence that are profoundly significant in retrospect but now known by many, or rarely considered from certain points of view. Professor Case was an outstanding lecturer and I really enjoyed the readings, films, and assignments for the course.
- Hist 2711, History of Violence in 20th-Century Europe
Professor White was fantastic…. There wasn't one topic I didn't enjoy. I'm thinking about majoring in CS now because of it.
- CS 1110, Intro to Python
The instructor for this course... was incredibly kind, patient, helpful, and caring. ... This experience really made me appreciate the dedication that many of the people on campus exhibit, and what makes Cornell such a great place.
- Gerst 2040, Perspectives on German Culture
Professor Minawi's engaged and passionate teaching was the primary thing that made this class memorable to me. … I came out of the class more knowledgeable about the Ottoman Empire in general but also with analytical tools and critical thinking skills that I can apply in other classes and in life.
- Hist 1561, Intro to the Ottoman Empire
A genuinely fun and engaging class. … I felt more like I was following a soap opera about the Egyptian royalty during the Ptolemaic Dynasty, rather than listening to a history lecture.
- Class 2688, Cleopatra's Egypt
This course was originally a shot in the dark for me, but it ended up becoming my favorite class that semester….It is a highly interactive, fun, and comfortable environment and challenged me to think about visual and kinetic aesthetics differently. I also made my closest friends at Cornell during it and, although none of us are dancers, we had an amazing time.
- PMA 2300, Beginning Dance Composition
A survey course covering all the fundamentals of math in computing, everything from logic to graphs and finite-state machines. … Professor Kozen was amazing and legendary. Everything that we learned came from the tip of his chalk, and every statement was derived from a previous statement. Nothing was left up for questions. By the end of the class, you will have learned how to write bulletproof reasoning in your work.
- CS 2800, Discrete Structures
This class morphed my view of Islam from discrete nodes of influence to a continuous blanket of people, culture, and beliefs. Tagliacozzo's class will take you through multiple continents and centuries of Island. ... Because students of very different backgrounds enroll, expect heated discussions and expect Tagliacozzo to brilliantly guide you through the material.
- Hist 1402, Global Islam
Not only was this course interactive, but it also exposed me to resources at Cornell that I would have otherwise not fully taken advantage of. This course met twice a week; one day was devoted to learning the material in a lecture style format and the other day was devoted to hands-on learning in the Johnson Museum of Art. After taking this class … I understand the difficulties artists undergo and through personally trying calligraphy, making pottery, and tasting spices I have gained so much cultural knowledge …. As a statistics major I usually don't have the opportunity to experience this kind of hands-on learning.
- Asian 2285, Material Worlds