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College of Arts and Sciences

Following curiosity leads students through A&S requirements

By: Alisha Gupta
A&S Communications
April 21, 2020

A new system of requirements is simplifying the process for incoming students this fall in the College of Arts & Sciences. Many students find that the requirements expand their worldview and introduce them to topics and concepts they would not have encountered otherwise.

Courtney Harris ’22, for instance, appreciated her Introduction to Sociology class. Taken to fulfill the social & behavior analysis requirement, the class “opened [her] eyes so that [she could] better understand different parts of our daily lives that may be overlooked.” She said she felt “so fortunate to have been able to take this course.”

“I have been able to gain tools to better analyze race relations in my intersectional and intercultural studies of Spanish, Africana and Latin American studies as I study race in both national and international contexts to help me better service minority and underserved populations in the healthcare system,” Harris said. 

“It was a great way to not only fulfill the requirement but also was a refreshing break from all of the science coursework that I normally have as a biological sciences major.”

Under the new curriculum, students must complete courses that satisfy 10 distribution requirements. Courses can satisfy two distributions simultaneously. Previously, students had to complete four courses in science and quantitative reasoning and five courses from four of the five distribution categories. Students also had to take a course focused on an area other than the United States, Canada or Europe to fulfill a geographic breadth requirement and a course on a historical period before the 20th century to fulfill a historical breadth requirement. The new curriculum still requires students to take a broad array of courses, including a foreign language, first-year writing seminars and physical education classes, but the new system simplifies the process.

To satisfy the language arts requirement, Valerie Odonkor ’22 took an English class, Icelandic Family Sagas. The class analyzed Nordice folklore.

‘It was really cool and taught me a lot of cool stories, which have influenced a lot of present day movies, music and more,” she said. “It taught me about a history I never would have come across otherwise.”

Also to satisfy the language arts requirement, Caroline Kleiner ’20 took a course in performing and media arts, Sitcom Jews: Ethnic Representation on Television and on Stage. 

“Sitcom Jews was pretty memorable to learn more about how Americans/American Jews are viewed by other groups, but also a great opportunity to find more shows to binge,” she said. “A highlight was discussing Tiffany Haddish’s bar mitzvah.” 

Lucas Reyes ’21 took a class on Latinx literature to satisfy the first-year writing seminar requirement. He said he has “carried every lesson from that class with [him] since.”

“I've never encountered another class quite like it. The professor was this rambunctious fiction writer who taught us to appreciate elements of hip-hop in Latino novels, poems and short stories,” Reyes said.

Jesus Ruiz ’20 took an anthropology class, The Natural History of Chimpanzees and the Origins of Politics, in order to fulfill the physical and biological sciences requirement. He found the class incredibly interesting, as he learned so much “about evolution and how chimps are able to give us clues as to how our behavior evolved.”