Now that my time in my undergraduate career is coming to a close, I’d like to share some of my favorite courses I’ve taken over the last four years:
Race, Gender and Class (spring 2015): I took my first women’s studies class the semester before and was a little disappointed in the content of the course, but this course was more intersectional talking about how feminist issues span across all (you guessed it) races, genders and classes. It was really thought-provoking and I really enjoyed having discussions (especially at the beginning of class where we talked about recent events from a feminist standpoint) and watching different documentaries.
Conservation of Biodiversity (fall 2016): While I was a bit bummed my credits didn’t transfer after taking an extremely similar course abroad, this class turned out to be great and the professor is one of my all time favorites. Everyday, we would have a lecture that included a small bit on a specific species and its conservation story. Professor Smith really opened my mind to all sorts of different careers out there in conservation and I was always blown away by his travel stories. As a conservation biologist, it’s really easy to get down about the grim future of our planet and its inhabitants, but in a very emotional speech on his last lecture ever (he retired after this past fall semester), he said the most important conservation tool out there is you (I’m welling up just thinking about it!). He is a brilliant professor and a great man (to be honest, if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t have made it to his 7:30AM lectures as often). Not to mention, my now research mentor Rick was the teaching assistant for that course and that’s how I recognized his name and applied to be in his lab, which has also opened so many doors for me!
Environmental Ethics (fall 2016): This class, too, was really thought provoking. I became really interested quite early on in the course. We read so many amazing papers and books in this class, I couldn’t get enough. However, the more I find out about these ethical questions, the more unsure I am about where I stand on these issues. Near the end of the semester, I approached the professor (Ben) about helping with his work or the work of his teaching assistants. This semester, I am doing an independent research project with the guidance of his former teaching assistant and am in a similar ethics class (more focused on conservation than environmental science topics such as climate change) taught by one of his Ph.D. mentees. This is a really interesting field that I would love to work in someday.
Animal Behavior (spring 2017): In addition to her cool accent, Dr. Plowes is a really fun, energetic and creative professor. We basically just learn fun facts about animals and watch David Attenborough documentaries. We entering a unit that particularly interests me: sexual selection. She complements her lectures with the occasional activity, documentary screening and quizzes to check our understanding. Her teaching assistant Andrew also makes the lectures really fun by always throwing in more fun facts.
As you can see, these courses are later in my undergraduate career as my first few years were spent taking general classes. These professors and courses have really shaped what I’ve become interested in as I’m heading out into the real world in the next few months.