When Ezra Cornell said, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study,” he wasn’t kidding. Now that our founder’s words have come true — with seven undergraduate colleges, 80 majors, hundreds of courses offered each semester — those are a lot of options for the well-rounded students of Cornell.
But wait! I only have four years (give or take). At a university as large and diverse as Cornell, there is no way I’ll be able to fit all of these interesting classes into my requirement-filled schedule. As students have been dealing with PeopleSoft since last week, with tomorrow as the last day that freshmen can complete pre-enrollment, this dilemma has surely been on many of your minds.
Next time you find yourself with some extra space in your schedule, check out these classes. You’ve probably heard of some of them — others, maybe not.
10. NS 1150: Nutrition, Health and Society — Are you finally ready to confront what staying up till 3 a.m., eating junk food, and skipping the fitness center for frat parties is doing to your body? NS 1150 allows you to learn about the biological mechanisms that play a part in staying healthy, but you won’t be bored to death in the process. “It was the funniest class I’ve taken at Cornell,” said Isabel Weber ’12. “I mean, how often does your professor cook for the entire class or do a stand-up routine up and down the aisle?”
9. BioNB 3920: Drugs and the Brain — Drugs and the Brain is an introduction to neuropharmacology. The course gives students an opportunity to delve into the uses of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, psychedelics, marijuana and alcohol, including their effects on the brain, of course.
8. AMST 2020: Popular Culture in the U.S.: 1950-Present— “The best part was actually learning about TV shows I watch, music I listen to and things that pertain to everyday life. Half the time we were just trying to figure out an obscure reference the professor made,” said Jess Natale ’12. This class allows students to evaluate the ways in which American values are shaped by popular culture. Course topics range from soap operas and1950s television shows to People Magazine and USA Today, which sounds more like what you do on lazy Sunday afternoons than prelim week.
7. HD 3620: Human Bonding — “In our 20s, we care about relationships. Being able to examine their dynamics was really interesting. I was actually excited to study,” said Christine Boles ’11. The course covers topics such as mate selection, commitment, love, sex and jealousy. Christine’s favorite topic: Steps of a Breakup. In case you were wondering, a breakup is completely one-sided until the seventh step out of nine. Before then, according to Prof. Cindy Hazan, human development, it’s just one person contemplating the breakup, hence, as her teacher pointed out, it can never be mutual. That’s just something people say after the fact. Disclaimer: You might learn more about your relationships than you actually want to.
6. ENTOM 201: Alien Empire: The Bizarre Biology of Bugs — So this class may not be for people who have entomophobia, but even those students will probably find insects somewhat interesting after seeing them through the lens of this class, taught next semester by Prof. John Sanderson, entomology. After all they are the most abundant and diverse animals on earth. This class gives you the opportunity to understand the biology of insects and their interaction with humans beyond that mosquito bite you got from your summer vacation. The course even delves into symbolic representations of insects in culture and religion.
5. ARTH 362: Impressionism in Society — Brothel societies, clandestine prostitution, criminality and class-regulated leisure: Caught your attention yet? Impressionism in Society, last offered in Spring 2009, is so much more than an Art History class. Prof. Laura Meixner’s engaging lectures touch on topics from “Mapping the Female Body” to “Seriality and Poetry at Giverny.” The course is an intersection of art, politics, poetry, gender and race. No wonder it’s cross-listed in three separate departments.
4. PLPA 201: Magical Mushrooms and Mischievous Molds — The course title alone is enough for most students to sign up, but the material is even better. For a lot of people magic mushrooms are just something you experiment with — I mean read about — in your spare time, but fungi are so much more than a pathogen or hallucinogenic chemical. “The lectures are exciting, and the information is really interesting,” said Will Moseson ’12. “We even got to go on a mushroom hunt in a forest in Ithaca.”
3. VISST 2744: Introduction to Gamelan-Indonesian Ensemble Art — You’re probably already intrigued by the title of this course, but what’s it about, you ask? Learning about Indonesia through the lens of art, with some lessons on playing the Indonesian gamelan thrown in as well. Introduction to Gamelan-Indonesian Ensemble Art offers a chance to understand the socio-cultural context for arts in Indonesian history.
2. HADM 4430: Intro to Wines — It’s nearly impossible to talk about interesting classes without mentioning Wines. Then again, there is a reason we hear so much about this class. As Cornell students, we rarely get academic credit for our extracurricular beverage selections. Finally, a class with some practical education: what to know about ordering wine at a restaurant and, of course, refining your palette. But though the course is offered both semesters, spring gets the traffic from all those second-semester seniors — so don’t be surprised if spots in this class go quicker than a box of wine is emptied at an oh-so-classy Collegetown party.
1.FILM 2850: Stardom — Yep, you heard right. Stardom is exactly what it sounds like, learning about the cultural impacts of stardom. “This class is enjoyable because it is a break from traditional courses offered,” according to Trevin Cowman ’10 “Lisa Patti offers great insight during our weekly discussions, bringing to attention ideals most would never even consider when thinking of a ‘Hollywood star’. It’s also a fun course because we get to watch movies every week, analyzing them in terms of the star instead of traditional ways films are analyzed like story, setting, etc. I mean, any class that lets you watch an episode of Entourage has to be a cool class.”
So there you have it, 10 of the most interesting classes at Cornell. Go forth onto your Student Center page, and make Ezra proud.