Freshman Seminars 2017 Winter

SOC Title








Sat 9 am-2:50 pm





Mon 10-10:50 am

SSL 119

INEQUALITY & SOC B is second of a three-part, integrated series.  See description below.




Wed 11-11:50 am

HIB 55




Tue 10:30-11:20 am

DBH 1422




Mon 2-2:50 pm

SSL 119




Tue 12-12:50 pm





Fri 10-10:50 am

HH 100




Wed 12-12:50 pm

DBH 1420




Tue 2-2:50 pm

DBH 1420




Mon 1-1:50 pm

DBH 1420



DO, A.

Tue 10-10:50 am

DBH 1420




Wed 2-2:50 pm

DBH 1420




Mon 5-5:50 pm

CAC 3100B




Wed 4-4:50 pm

DBH 1420




Mon 3-3:50 pm

HG 2310

Sustainable Horticulture!

In a hands-on course at the UCI Arboretum, students will learn the basic techniques of plant propagation and how to maintain and raise plants. In addition to the propagation of plants for ornamental indoor and outdoor purposes, students will participate in ecological restoration using native plants and will discuss the sustainability of various kinds of horticulture. The class will visit a local xeriscape exhibit at the Irvine Ranch Water District and will see how native and non-native drought resistant plant species can be used in a water-saving landscaping setting. At no cost, they will also have the opportunity to attend a full day symposium and its seminars sponsored by the Arboretum and the Master Gardeners of Orange County that is held quarterly at the Arboretum. Besides the plants they propagate, students will be given a free plant at every class presentation or event!

Peter Bowler is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Inequality & Society B (Space, Race and Communities)

Policymakers, politicians, and citizens alike debate the causes, manifestations, and consequences of inequality in America. Along the way, the nature and workings of human perception and morality, communities, the American dream, and current economic, political and social systems are implicated. Designed to provide an empirical and theoretical basis for thinking about inequality, this course examines a range of manifestations of inequalities in the U.S., including, for example, a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few; disparities in health, education, incarceration, and other dimensions of human welfare are organized around race and ethnicity; and a small number of people exert a huge political influence on American democracy while others remain figuratively and literally disenfranchised. These and other types of concerns are discussed in this integrated freshman seminar series.

This freshman seminar is the second of a three-part integrated series on inequality and society as seen from different disciplinary perspectives. Completion of the fall quarter seminar (Inequality & Society A) is not required to enroll in the winter offering in the series. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take this offering and the next course in this series (offered in Spring 2017).

Maria Rendón is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Planning, Policy, & Design.

Plato’s Search for Beauty and Poetry

What is beauty? A physical appearance? What we perceive of another person’s soul and character? When we read poetry, do we search for meaning or for emotion? We will explore these questions under the guidance of Plato, the first and (for some) greatest philosopher of the Western tradition.

Ermanno Bencivenga is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy.

“What is it with this kid?” – 30 years of research on ADHD and what do we know?

This seminar will review the last 30 years of seminal research on the etiology, presentation, and treatments of ADHD. Topics to explore will include the role of maternal mental health, alternatives and complements to medications (i.e. animal therapies, mindfulness based strategies, and physical activity), nicotine and cannabis abuse risk, and the biological basis of children’s health and well-being.

Sabrina E.B. Schuck is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine

Know your Neighborhood! Exploring Neighborhoods in American Life

Neighborhoods are spaces of daily life that can shape human behavior and life outcomes. The meaning and significance of neighborhood, however, varies among people and may conjure images of friendship, isolation, security, danger, wealth, poverty and more. In this course, students will explore the various meanings of neighborhood, examine their own neighborhood, and learn about policy approaches to address neighborhood effects. The class includes readings, activities, and discussion.

Victoria Basolo is a Professor in the Department of Planning, Policy, & Design.

Shakespeare: Reader’s Theater

We will read Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” out loud as a class, working through the play from beginning to end and seeing scenes from movies and filmed performances as points of comparison. We will explore the languages of love, the role of music, the theme of twins, the uses of wit, and other themes in what is arguably Shakespeare’s most beautiful, funny and touching romantic comedy. We will schedule a field trip to a theater in Los Angeles or Pasadena for a live performance of Shakespeare, and we will also view one or more streaming performances of Shakespeare at the Barclay Theater (through Illuminations). We will also arrange a special viewing of UCI’s copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Julia Lupton is a Professor in the Department of English.

Educating Instead of Medicating in Public Health

The goal of the seminar is to learn how to think healthy and increase the level of health literacy.
Students will enjoy reading and discussing health topics that address many issues in which they are interested in or are involved with. This seminar will transition students from passive, memorization-type learning, to an active, analytical and critical learning style with practical application for personal and public health.

Zuzana Bic is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention.

The First 100 Days in The Whitehouse: Presidential Transitions

How do new presidents take the helm of the ship of state? We closely monitor the first 100 days of the new president and put it in an historical perspective. What have other presidents done? What are notable successes and failures? Do the first 100 days serve to predict how successful the president will be?

Charles A. Smith is a Professor in the Department of Political Science.

The Universe’s Hidden Dimensions

What is the true nature of spacetime? What are the fundamental building blocks of matter and what holds these constituents together? Revolutionary landmark developments in modern physics have changed the way we answer these questions. We will take a journey through some of these remarkable ideas, from Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s General Relativity, developed in the early twentieth century, to the “Standard Model of Particle Physics,” which is currently being used by particle physicists. We will then go beyond the Standard Model and introduce more speculative ideas, such as string theories and extra dimensions. Through this journey, we will get a glimpse of how particle theorists and experimentalists work to identify and confirm the law of nature. No prerequisite for this seminar, except for a curious and inquiring mind.

Mu-Chun Chen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Ancient Journeys

This freshman seminar will focus on narratives of journeys in Ancient Greek Literature, from Homer’s “Odyssey” to Apollonius’ “Argonautica” and selections from the ancient novels. Such narratives have had an immense influence on contemporary narratives of the idea of a journey, the making of a hero and notions of travel in space and time (from Harry Potter to Star Wars). It will seek to analyze the idea of the adventure, of the fantastic, rhetoric and storytelling of journeys and will further approach questions about identity of self (storyteller, participants and ‘heroes’ of journeys) as well as cultural identity. What does it mean to describe a place that does not exist (utopia, its different forms, eu-topia, dys-topia etc.), what is the role and meaning of ‘monsters’ from a cultural and psychoanalytical point of view? How does a journey define one’s identity, how does it become the vehicle for cultural identity? How do journey and adventure intersect and what critical perspectives can we use to make more meaning of such narratives? Each session will ask students to compare and think with contemporary parallels (from film, fiction or video-games and, even, Pokemon hunting) and analyze those in conjunction with the ancient materials discussed in class.

Andromache Karanika is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics.

Neural Technologies – A new way to cure paralysis?

Neural interface technologies are systems which convert nervous system activity into the control of external devices. This essentially allows a person to directly mind control computers, robots, and other devices without the need to generate any movements. Such technology can potentially help people with severe paralysis to control assistive or prosthetic devices to interact with their environment again. They can even help people who have lost senses to regain them. This seminar will introduce the fundamental concepts in biology, neuroscience, and engineering underlying these neural technologies. There will also be live demonstrations and hands-on interaction with neural technology devices as part of the class. Finally, it will explore how neural interface technology can become a tool to restoring movement to people affected by paralysis.

An Do is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine.

Short Stories

Edgar Allan Poe claimed that short stories were superior to novels because, unlike novels, short stories can be read in one sitting. Further, a great short story can, according to Poe, achieve something a novel cannot: a unity of effect in which no detail, sentence, and indeed word, can be overlooked. Analyzing a short story, then, requires a special set of skills. In this class, we will read and closely study various short stories, one per week, written by authors from around the world such as James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Eudora Welty, and Ryunosuke Akutagawa, among others. A typical day in class will involve focused discussions of the assigned story for the week. The analytical abilities that you develop in this class, regardless of what you decide to major in, will help you to succeed in your other college courses and beyond.

Jerry Won Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English.

Want To Be A Star?

Identify what success means to you and develop your critical thinking skills. Create strategies and action plans to achieve your goals and examine what stops you. Explore a research process on how to find a mentor. Learn the art of how to become unstoppable in going for what you really want in life. Develop greater self-esteem by getting in touch with your personal power and achieve a higher level of self-love and acceptance.

Donald Hill is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama.

The Sociology of Death: An Introduction to the Social Experience of Death

This course uses a single text (a classic work by the French historian Philippe Ariès) to launch a critical analysis of death and dying. Our basic argument is that death and dying are not only biological (a termination of functions) and individual (a final curtain) phenomena but also social. Death and dying are windows to life and living. Topics include good deaths and bad deaths, dead bodies and dead selves, the living dead, and life after death (ghosts, mediums, Día de los Muertos, etc.).

David J. Frank is a Professor in the Department of Sociology.

Spanish Worldwide
This “fun course” studies the history and contemporary usage of Spanish worldwide. Special emphasis is placed on Latin American dialect varieties (including Mexican, Cuban, Argentinean, Colombian, and USA Spanish). By taking this course students will gain a better appreciation for (1) how and why a once very marginal tongue has become one of the world’s major languages, (2) the extent to which Spanish dialects differ today, and (3) how Spanish evolved from Roman times into what it is today. No prior knowledge of spoken or written Spanish required.

Armin Schwegler is a Professor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.