Freshman Seminars 2020 Spring


SOC Title








W 2:00- 2:50p

BS3 3120




W 4:00- 4:50p

SSL 105




F 9:00- 9:50

SSL 155




M 3:00- 3:50p

SSL 159




Tu 9:00- 9:50

HG 2310




M 5:00- 5:50p

CAC 3100B




W 2:00- 2:50p

SSL 129




Tu 12:00-12:50p

SSPB 4206




Tu 5:00- 5:50p

CAC 3100B

Globalization: Good, Bad, Indifferent or Inevitable?

What does “globalization” mean? The seminar will examine its long-term historical origins as well as grapple with more recent worldwide political and economic changes that occurred in the last two or three decades, leading some to argue that “the world has fundamentally changed.” Finally, it will analyze whether in a world of grinding poverty and inequality, international tension and terrorism, severe ecological threats, etc., globalization is good, bad, indifferent or inevitable.

David A. Smith is a Professor of Sociology. He teaches Sociology 3 (Introduction to Social Problems) every year, is a former department Undergrad Director, a current Sociology PhD program Co-Director, and the Editor of International Journal of Comparative Sociology. In 2015-16 he was the elected President of the both the National Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) and the California Sociological Association. His central scholarly interest is in the political economy of the world system, with expertise in Third World development, global urbanization, global commodity chains, and social change in East Asia. He has recently published articles in academic journals such as Review of International Political Economy, Urban Studies, Global Networks, and Social Science Research. His most recent co-eddited book is 21st Century Inequality & Capitalism: Piketty, Marx and Beyond.

Sociology of Death

This course uses discussion and readings to launch a critical analysis of death and dying. Our basic argument is that our deaths are not ours alone. They are deeply social: organized around a thick layer of social institutions. We’ll reflect on the latter and consider the ways that death and dying are constituted fundamentally by social institutions: religious, medical, legal, familial, and increasingly individual.

David J. Frank’s research analyzes the cultural and organizational underpinnings of world society, especially in regards to the environment, sex, and the university. He has a new book (with John W. Meyer) coming out in spring 2020 on the university and the global knowledge society. He holds degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago (B.A.) and Stanford University (M.A. and Ph.D.). Before coming to the University of California, Irvine, in 2002, he served on the sociology faculty at Harvard University.

Women In Film

This freshman seminar is intended to explore the careers of some of Hollywood’s most successful and powerful female directors, producers, writers, and actresses; to analyze how women in Hollywood deal with “a man’s world” in developing self-validation in order to build greater self confidence; to study the lives of powerful and successful female artists and how they overcame adversity; and to compare and contrast how different female film artists approach their art and work process.

Don Hill has worked in the professional theater as an actor, stage manager, production manager, director, producer and union negotiator in a thirty-three-year career spanning both coasts. Mr. Hill has worked on Broadway, national tours, and numerous regional theaters. As the Chair of the Drama Department, Professor Hill teaches stage management and acting. During his fourteen years of teaching at UCI, he has been voted four times as “Outstanding Professor of the Year” for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts by the graduating senior class. Recently Mr. Hill was appointed as a jury member for the Raindance Film Festival in London where he voted on best documentary features films, which then become eligible for Oscars. His productions of Avenue Q and The Pajama Game at UCI won a collective total of twelve StageScene LA Awards, including winning twice for best director.

Exercise as Medicine

This course will focus on how regular exercise improves health, prevents chronic illnesses, and can have a positive influence on disease trajectories. The topics will include the effects of aerobic exercise on mental health (depression and anxiety), type II diabetes, cognitive function, and cancer. The underlying biology responsible for the positive benefits of regular exercise will be developed without a requirement for an extensive background in exercise science and/or physiology.

James Hicks is a broadly trained, integrative physiologist, internationally known for his work on the comparative and evolutionary physiology of the vertebrate cardiopulmonary system. Currently, he serves as the Director of the Exercise Medicine and Sport Sciences Center, a unique multidisciplinary program that promotes scholarly activities and innovative discoveries in all fields associated with exercise, sport sciences, and exercise medicine. Jim has worked as a consultant with the TV and film industry, most notably as the life-science consultant with Disney/Pixar Films on the Academy Award winning film Wall-E. In 2008, he was elected as a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2012 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his contributions to the field of physiology from the University of Aarhus, Denmark and in 2019 was elected to the California Academy of Sciences.

How Comedy Works

In this course, we explore the ins and outs of comedy, learn the elements of what makes a joke funny, and research the various ways we can make people laugh. Comedy can do so much more beyond entertainment, so we will investigate the positive impact it can have on our lives and work.

Joel Veenstra is a professional stage manager, a production manager, a producer, a filmmaker, and a comedic improviser. He has taught comedic improvisation for over twenty years and has performed comedy professionally throughout the United States.

Sex Differences in the Brain

This course focuses on an exploration of the rapidly growing area of sex influences on brain function, exploring both animal and human subjects, and addressing the many biases that exist against the topic.

Dr. Larry Cahill is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior who has been at UCI for thirty-five years.

Beyond Numbers: The Search for Structure in Mathematics

What does untying a knot have to do with math? When is it better to describe complicated relationships via dots connected with lines? What does it mean for two shapes to be different? The answers to these questions will introduce us to novel mathematical structures (e.g., topological shapes and combinatorial graphs), which are often not discussed until well after Calculus. This seminar will provide an intuitive introduction to these structures and will highlight applications in the sciences.

Roberto (Bob) Pelayo started in the UCI mathematics department in Fall 2019. Previously, Bob was an associate professor of Mathematics in Hawaii, where he led several undergraduate research projects, developed a Data Science program, and won multiple teaching awards for his innovative pedagogical style.

Climate Justice

The worst impacts of human-caused climate change will be felt by people with the least power and money. This seminar will explore what we can do to overcome the injustice of climate change. How can you personally use your voice and take action to prevent climate change? What are the obligations of corporations, municipalities, states, and national governments? The seminar will empower students to take concrete steps toward solving a complex global challenge.

Steven Allison is a professor of ecology and Earth system science and the 2016 Climate Action Champion for UC Irvine. His research and teaching examine the interface between microbes, ecosystems, and climate change.

Amazing Inventors in Communications and Computing

One proved he invented the radio prior to G. Marconi. Two claim they invented the telephone prior to A. G. Bell; the US congress passed a resolution declaring one of them as the true inventor of the telephone. One was a genius who invented most of today’s radio technology. He then had to dedicate his life fighting over the intellectual rights of his patents. One was a famous actress who invented and patented a secret communications system. After his subordinates showed a working prototype of the transistor, one established the theory of another kind of transistor which became the most frequently used one. Two built the first popular microcomputer and then the first user-friendly computer. One wrote the first compiler for the first microcomputer kit, dropped out of college, then formed the largest software company in the world. Two envisioned and invented the protocol that built the Internet. Major inventions in communications and computing have changed our lives in substantial ways. Their inventors are highly driven and dedicated people who often risk everything to make their inventions work and get adopted. This seminar will study a number of these amazing people’s stories in depth. Come and understand how those inventions were made and how they transformed our lives as well as those of who invented them.

Ender Ayanoglu is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Formerly, he worked at Bell Laboratories and Cisco Systems.