One of the common misconceptions I’ve heard about college is that GE – general ed courses – are the worst classes you’ll take. The point is to take classes that are not in your field of study, which to me, aligns really well with Viterbi’s “Engineering Plus” catchphrase. If you’ve read my other blog posts, you’ll probably know that I’m a Thematic Option student (and if you don’t know what that is, you can read all about my experience here). Even as a TO student, I do have to take some regular GE courses.
This semester, I am taking ENST 150, which is a class about environmental science. I’ll be completely honest, I knew nothing about the environmental impact of the day to day things that I do, and how I can lower my carbon footprint. I’ve been able to learn not just all about that, but also learn about environmental policies around the globe. So for me, it’s a cool way to learn about a lot of disciplines that otherwise, I’d never have the opportunity to. Though it is an 8 am lecture twice w week that takes attendance (I know 🙁 ), there are multiple sections of most classes, so you can definitely try to optimize your schedule so you don’t have to be up with the sun. It also definitely helps to have cool teachers – and the cool thing is that a lot of these professors are super excited about sharing knowledge on the subjects they teach. For example, my ENST professor is a PhD in International Relations and Political Science, and she has a really strong interest in the environment. So, the class is mainly concentrated on domestic and international environmental policies. Most of the professors just want to spark some interest about their passions in the students that take the class, which is really awesome! The flip side of this is that if you know you’re not interested in a subject, you’re not going to get much out of a GE that’s in a subject you hate. So, definitely talk to people who have taken the class or check out old syllabi to see what the class is about.
My favorite GE (of the two that I’ve taken) has been MUSC 200 in Broadway Musicals with Professor Parmer Fuller. I learned so much about the history of Broadway, learned so many show tunes, and got to take a class with the coolest professor ever. Every week in class, we’d study a new musical that we watched on our own time – we’d learn about themes, and we focused a lot on the diversity and lack of diversity in Broadway shows. We learned about the types of characters that show up, composers and lyricists, and why it was so critical that some of these artists composed/wrote/sang the songs that they did. I honestly did not know anything about Broadway before – I’m just a huge fan of all kinds of music. I’d never actually watched a full-length musical before, other than Les Miserables and La La Land, and I really eenjoyed those two, so I figured I might as well take the class. I came out with such an appreciation of musicals as an art form.Meet Suveena