15 Courses to Consider for 15W

By Margarette Nelson, The Dartmouth Staff | 11/3/14 7:00am

It’s the time of term again, when the layup lists are circulating and you have consultations with your dean and/or besties to determine the perfect combination of classes for next term. If you are looking for a perfect third class, look no further. A senior selecting courses for the last time just scoured the ORC and did all of your work for you.

Full disclosure: I’m not the biggest fan of loading up on pure layups just for the sake of having no work. The one reputed layup I registered for what was possibly the most boring class I took at Dartmouth. Afterward, I swore to myself that I would never take a class again just because it was supposed to be easy.

That being said, some of these courses are easier than others. But don’t take Dinosaurs if you don’t like dinosaurs!

1) ENGS 12 (10A) Robbie — Design Thinking (TAS)

From the ORC:

“A foundation course on the cognitive strategies and methodologies that form the basis of creative design practice. Design thinking applies to innovation across the built-environment, including the design of products, services, interactive technology, environments and experiences.”

While the projects can take up a lot of time, students generally find the assignments interesting and rewarding based on Course Picker feedback. Last year’s A median doesn’t make the course any less appealing either.

2) SPEE 20 (10A / 2A) Grushina / Compton — Public Speaking (ART)

From the ORC:

“This course covers the theory and practice of public speaking. Building on ancient rhetorical canons while recognizing unique challenges of contemporary public speaking, the course guides students through topic selection, organization, language and delivery. Assignments include formal speeches (e.g. to inform, to persuade and to pay tribute), brief extemporaneous speeches, speech analyses and evaluations.”

It’s the kind of course that results in “good for you” comments from your elderly extended family members when they ask you what courses you are taking, because the words “Object-Oriented Programming” mean nothing to them.

3) EARS 4 / BIOL 6 (10A) Peterson — Dinosaurs (SCI)

From the ORC:

“The goal of this course is to teach the basic principles of science in general, and evolutionary biology in particular, using dinosaurs as exemplars. We will focus largely on the evolutionary patterns and processes that underlie dinosaur biology, including their phylogeny, behavior, physiology and their extinction.Other covered topics include the fossil record and the notion of "deep" time, the construction of the tree of life and mass extinctions.”

The only review on course picker said the following:

Sounds like someone doesn’t know the meaning either “Triassic Period” of “non-major course” (as in you don’t get major credit. It’s objective).

4) WGST 10 (10) Yessayan — Sex, Gender and Society (CI / SOC)

From the ORC:

“This course will investigate the roles of women and men in society from an interdisciplinary point of view. We will analyze both the theoretical and practical aspects of gender attribution-how it shapes social roles within diverse cultures, and defines women and men's personal sense of identity. We will also explore the changing patterns of relationships between the sexes and possibilities for the future.”

This class serves as the pre-requisite for the WGST major and has generally good reviews on Course Picker, highlighting the discussion and interesting readings aspects of the class.

5) SART 15 (10A / 2A) Thompson / Lee — Drawing I (ART)

From the ORC:

“In this introductory course, major and non-major students will explore the issues of mark, line, scale, space, light and composition. Students will develop a critical facility to discuss the work presented in class. Although the majority of work will be from the observed form, such as still life and the human figure, non-observational drawing will also be emphasized.

The course carries an A / A- median and offers a break from cramming over lecture notes. That being said, it can take a lot of time.

6) MUS 2 (11) Vanoni — The Music of Today (ART)

From the ORC:

“From Sonic Youth, They Might Be Giants, Battles, Peter Schickele/PDQ Bach, John Zorn, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Ligeti, Xenakis, Tan Dun, Christian Wolff, to Indonesian Quran Reciter Maria Ulfah, this course investigates the sound and ideas of punk/alternative/experimental rock bands, the avant-garde Jazz phenomenon, comic music parody, American and European minimalism, experimentalism, complexity and ethnic fusion in contemporary classical music.”

The course has received mixed reviews on Course Picker, but the course is now taught by visiting music professor Gabriele Vanoni. Chances are some of the topics will expand upon the pop culture knowledge you already have.

7) PSYC 23 (11) Wheatley — Social Psychology (SOC)

From the ORC:

“This course is an introduction to contemporary psychological theory and research on social behavior. Specific topics include self-presentation, nonverbal behavior, interpersonal relations, conformity, persuasion, aggression, altruism and group dynamics. Within these contexts, emphasis is placed on the importance of both personality and situational factors as determinants of social behavior.”

Don’t let the layup reputation fool you, this course has a B+ median. Note that PSYC 1 is a prerequisite.

8) SOCY 2 (10A) Smith — Social Problems (W / SOC)

From the ORC:

“The purpose of this course is to subject the coverage of modern social problems to an in-depth, critical analysis. We will attempt to answer such questions as: ‘how does a social problem become defined as such?’ and ‘what are the causes or sources of various social problems?’"

The class carries an A- median and had a maxed out enrollment in 14W. Course picker reviews mention manageable workloads and having profound realizations about society.

9) GEOG 2 / INTS 18 (2A) Adams, Butterly (INT or SOC)

From the ORC:

“This course will examine the epidemiology and social impact of past and present infectious disease epidemics in the developing and developed world. The introduction of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa will be considered from political, ethical, medical, legal and economic perspectives. Lessons from past and current efforts to control global infectious diseases will guide our examination of the high-profile infectious disease pathogens poised to threaten our health in the future.”

“Easy and super interesting — what more could you want from a 3rd class?” — Course Picker review. Well, there you go.

10) INTS 15 (11) Wohlforth — Violence and Security (INT or SOC)

From the ORC:

“Violence and Security is a multidisciplinary introduction to scholarship on the causes, consequences, and possible prevention of armed violence between groups. The course addresses the trade-offs created by different political solutions to the problem of security, and features a group simulation exercise to explore the challenges faced by governments and non-governmental organizations when they seek to ameliorate it.”

One of the core courses for the International Studies minor, taught by government professor William Wohlforth of GOV 5 fame, the class looks at a range of conflicts from World War II to the Rwandan genocide.

11) EARS 2 (11) Osterberg — Evolution of Earth & Life

From the ORC:

“By examining how the biosphere has interacted with key geochemical and geophysical processes over this time, this course investigates how the evolution of the biosphere and geosphere has been a synergistic process throughout the entire history of the Earth that continues today.”

Another reputed EARS layup with a triple-digit enrollment and an A- median.

12) GEOG 6 / INTS 16 (10) Fox — Intro to International Development (NW / INT or SOC)

From the ORC:

“Focusing on the regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia, we examine how development meanings and practices have varied over time and place, and how they have been influenced by the colonial history, contemporary globalization and international aid organizations.”

This is another core course for the international studies minor, this time cross-listed in the geography department. The class is taught by geography professor Coleen Fox, whose lectures (albeit for another Geography class) were among some of the most interesting I’ve had.

13) FILM 46.03 / SOCY 49.13 (11) Evans — Sci & Rel in American Media (W, SOC)

From the ORC:

“The public life of science and religion seems to be characterized by intractable conflict. In this course we examine case studies from current controversies over stem cell research, reproductive genetics, environmental policy, human origins, and sexuality. We will examine ‘science and religion’ as a defining confrontation in the development of American democracy, and consider how the American public sphere shapes possibilities for political participation.”

It appears that this is the first time this class is being taught, but the topic is fascinating. For those that struggle to sit through a 10A or 2A (I hear you), it’s a film class at a normal time!

14) AMES 12 / CHIN 10 (12) Blader — Intro to Chinese Culture (LIT / CI)

From the ORC:

“The aim of this course is to provide students with a basic knowledge and appreciation of Chinese culture. We will examine the evolution of Chinese culture and identity from the earliest Chinese dynasties, dating back more than 3500 years, to the present day. Through readings of literary texts in translation, students will be introduced to topics in language, history, literature and art, philosophy and social and political institutions.”

A quick search in my inbox brought up the 12S layup list (the forward chain indicated the origins were from an oh-so-wise ’14 baseball player) with this class at the top. Be warned though, find something else if the topic doesn’t interest you.

15) HIST 1 (11) Bonner / Musselwhite— Turning Points of American History (W

From the ORC:

“Students in this course will analyze and evaluate a very select number of ‘pivotal moments’ over the past four centuries of American history. As an introduction to historical thinking and argumentation, the course will combine close scrutiny of documents from the past with an awareness of interpretive issues of contingency, determinism and historical agency raised by leading contemporary historians.”

Although supposedly a layup, the class had 29 students and a B+ median last winter and can be used for major credit.

So what am I taking next term? I’ll never tell — even though course enrollment priorities put me at a huge advantage, it’s still too much of a risk.


Margarette Nelson, The Dartmouth Staff