In a school as large as Rutgers with so many different classes offered, scheduling can become super overwhelming – especially if the classes you’re interested in get filled before you can register (RU Screw, anyone?). Here’s a list of some of our favorite courses that we’ve taken over the past few years, for anyone who needs to fill a spot in their schedule – or for anyone who’s interested in a class that you won’t feel compelled to use as your daily online shopping or napping period.
Musical Cultures and Industries
As someone who was accepted into other colleges as a music industry major, one of the things I was disappointed about when I came to Rutgers was that they did not offer the same program. But I knew that we had some professors with prestigious music industry backgrounds, I just had to search a little more to find them – and eventually I did. I took Musical Cultures and Industries last fall with Professor Vivien Goldman, who had worked with everyone from Bob Marley to Flava Flav. (Yes. She launched his video career, and she was the one to introduce Bob Marley to The Clash.) She wore fishnets to class and was easily the most punk adult I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. We learned a lot about genres of music I’d never been exposed to, different musical movements throughout history in the industry, and had a whole unit on Punk Culture. Easily the most interesting course I’ve taken so far.
Consumer Media Culture
I took this class as a freshman and was a little nervous to find I was in a hall full of seniors, but this ended up being a fascinating course offered through the Communication school about marketing, advertising, and the psychology behind attracting a consumer’s attention in different retail settings. It forced me to become very self-aware of so many things I had previously ignored, like how the layout of the mall is meant to make us stay in there longer and be more easily distracted, and the various subliminal messages placed into print advertising. Even if you’re not a communication major, you’ll learn very interesting concepts that will stick with you and help you be a smarter consumer in general.
Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyonce
I just registered to take this course next semester, but…a class about Beyonce. Need I say more? As one of my favorite female powerhouse artists, I’m ridiculously excited to be learning about the politics that have stemmed from her music and the ways we can look at her as a strong female figure in society. A class that incorporates pop culture into lessons about feminism and women in the music industry is something I think just can’t be beat.
Eating Right: The Ethics of Food Choices and Food
I took this class as a freshman just to fulfill my 21st century challenges requirement, but it ended up being very eye-opening in terms of forcing me to really evaluate what I was eating and the current state of the food industry in America. We learned a lot about the use of pesticides and organic and fair trade food, which really ended up impacting my food choices in the long run. It was not that challenging of a course in terms of the workload yet definitely taught me a lot.
Intro to Media Systems
I took this class with Camille Reyes as one of the mandatory prerequisites to declaring my Communication major, and I thought it was awesome. We learned a lot about the history of radio and the progression of media in general, which is pretty cool to contrast to how far we’ve gotten now with the use of social media and other technology outlets to broadcast news. Professor Reyes has worked in venues and out in the field before and was a great professor – the exams were material we’d learned in the slides and some material out of the textbook.
Intro to Linguistic Theory
This is a really cool class that satisfies an SAS requirement (Quantitative Reasoning/QR), which is amazing for me since my motto for existence is “math? maybe not today. Or, y’know, ever.” We learned the basics of linguistics (which is the study of how humans learn/produce/engage in their native language) like phonology, morphology, syntax, set theory, etc. I’m not going to explain those, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. BUT Carrie Brownstein, leading lady on Portlandia and guitarist for rad lady-punk bands like Sleater Kinney majored in linguistics (specifically sociolinguistics) in college, and I think that makes it good enough for us all.
Print 1A- Screenprinting
I started taking this class because I love art and I’ve always been interested in learning how to print. This is probably the easiest introduction to the art of printing, (and the messiest) but that makes it more fun. If you have room in your schedule it’s a great elective. It’s really straightfoward, you learn how to physically screenprint within the first couple of classes and then the rest of the semester is more about experimenting with subject matter. Every instructor will run their class differently, but as far as assignments go, we had 5 projects for the whole year, and so far only a few “homework assignments” which were just article-readings. I had a grad student as the instructor, Justin Roykovich, who was/is super cool, and really hands on. He’s graduating (sadface) but all of the faculty members I’ve met from the printmaking department seem awesome, so no matter who ends up teaching your section, you should be good!
PROTIP: The sections of Creative Non-Fiction are all different classes, teaching different kinds of non-fiction writing, so go to english.rutgers.edu to read the descriptions and choose the one you really want. The Fall 2014 options are: “Writing about People, Place, & Performance”, “The Poetic Essay”, and “The Personal Narrative”. Last fall semester I took “Personal Narrative” with Kate Ellis. We began learning to write about ourselves by imitating writing like the Lives column in the New York Times, and once we hit our stride she let us write about literally whatever we wanted, with one story being due a week. We then each took turns reading the stories out loud, and the group gave critiques. (P.S. this class is usually a pretty small one, especially by Rutgers standards, I think we had MAX 12 people in the room at a time). We would revise and then move on to the next person, until we had new stories. Professor Ellis is very smart but a little spacey so heads up for that. You’ll have to be a little more self-sufficient, and your print credits will take a serious hit, but honestly the class was really valuable, just as a way to start getting comfortable with writing about real life, and learning how to tell your own stories. I definitely recommend it.
Finance for Entrepreneurship & Small Business
The title can seem a little ‘meh’, and it only satisfies a requirement if you’re trying for the RBS-offered Entrepreneurship minor, but to be honest if you have room in your schedule, I’d take it anyway. Ed Hubbard (who I had, and who teaches both sections this upcoming semester) is literally the best. I’ve had a few really preoccupied professors since coming here, and I get why, usually they’re serious players in their academic fields. Professor Hubbard, who has been CFO for a few pretty significant companies, and run his own business on top of that, always made time for us. His class is a pretty standard lecture class, but he mixes it up with clips of the TV show Shark Tank (if you haven’t watched before, clips of it are on Hulu) and short group exercises, which break up the time really nicely. Exams are only slightly above average difficulty, but if you go to class and participate, you should do just fine. The final project, a complete financial analysis presentation of a startup company, makes you apply everything you learned and puts it all together in one package. I could take mine and start a bookstore (the startup I chose) tomorrow, and you have to admit, that’s kind of empowering.
Shakespeare’s Jacobean Plays
Okay, yeah yeah I know, Shakespeare is not exactly a ‘sexy’ class. But seriously, Professor Ron Levao is the best lecturer I have ever had. He looks like a cross between John Lennon and a Stanley Kubrick character from the 70’s and starts every class by clipping on his own shirt mic. He raises the projectors, preferring to lecture without visual aid which, in this increasingly technological world, is arguably the most confident thing I’ve seen anyone do. Ever. He’s funny, engaging, and is somehow ridiculously intelligent/well read yet completely unpretentious at the same time. There are only three exams and no homework, he does not take attendance, and there are no iClicker shenanigans, which is nice when you’re really not feeling well and you need to take a day guilt-free. That being said, he basically gives you the exams in class discussions, and is a highlight of my day. This Fall 2014 he teaches Shakespeare Elizabethan Plays which is the same class, with different books.
Emily & Isobel