I started taking my General Education classes a little late, since in the first two years of college I was trying to finish the required STEM classes for the MCAT exam. Reflecting on those two years, I wish that I hadn’t followed my premed plans so carefully and took more non-science classes instead. Although I picked Genetics and Genomics as my major, I always knew that I have interests in arts and humanities. I was just too focused on my path to consider the option of getting a minor or double major, and while I realized at the end of my third year that I’d love to minor in Art History, I was unable to fit the classes in my schedule.
Anyways, taking GE classes is a great experience to continue your interest or to try something new. When students ask “What GE classes do you recommend?”, the answer is, there are SO MANY different classes that can fulfill the requirements, and it all depends on what sparks your interest. In this blog, I selected five UC Davis GE classes I enjoyed, and I would like to share with you my experiences. All five of them are lower division classes without prerequisites.
AHI 1C – Baroque to Modern Art
The Kiss, Gustav Klimt. (picture from Wikipedia)
GE requirements: WC, AH, VL
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Diana Strazdes
I took this class because of a friend’s recommendation. I didn’t have much knowledge about art history, but Professor Strazdes did such a great job teaching the material from the basics. In class, Professor Strazdes showed power point slides with art works from different times and told stories. In addition to introductions of the artist and the technique, the professor explained why specific styles were popular at a certain period due to social movements and political background. The two midterms and one final were in short answer format with vocabulary definition, work identification, and some comparisons. This class required some memorization, but it was fun, and making flashcards really helped. Also, many works introduced in class are actually exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts, and if you plan a trip to SF, you get to see them in person!
Similar Classes: AHI1A – Ancient Mediterranean Art, AHI1B – Medieval and Renaissance Art, AHI1D – Arts of Asia, AHI1E – Islamic Art and Architecture
CHI 10 – Intro Chicana/o Studies
GE requirements: DD, ACGH, OL, AH, SS, WE
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Lorena Marquez
CHI10, along with HIS17AB and other classes, satisfies the American History and Institutions Requirement. For students who completed the requirement by taking American History in high school, CHI10 is a good introductory class to learn about the history and culture of the Chicana/o group. Professor Marquez was very passionate about the topic, and I really appreciated that she took time in lectures to answer questions and explained every point clearly. We started from learning the ancient civilizations in Central and South America (Aztec, Mayan, etc.), the European colonization, Mexican Civil War, and we ended at WWII and recent Chicana/o movements. Other than the exams (short answer format) and a term project, there were plenty of extra credits option, such as watching a Chicana/o related movie. I watched a documentary film, the Zoot Soot Riot, and wrote a report for that.
Similar Class: CHI50 – Chicana and Chicano Culture
PHI 7Y – Philosophy Perspective on Sexuality
GE requirements: DD, AH
Units: 3 units
Instructor: Adam Sennet
PHI7Y was an online course with a discussion session held once a week for an hour. This course combined philosophy and sexual studies. Topics that were covered included pornography, sexual relationships, sexual consent, and more. We didn’t have to do much work for this class, and I personally think it was the easiest GE I took at UC Davis. The only homework was a two to three page term paper, and the exam and quiz questions were straightforward multiple choices. I enjoyed PHI7Y because unlike the STEM classes, there was no “right or wrong answers” as long as I can logically prove my standpoint. Besides, while the topics can stir up much debated, they are important and relevant to college students.
Similar Classes: PHI31 – Scientific Reasoning, ANT30 – Sexualities, HDE12 – Human Sexuality.
SOC 3 – Social Problems
GE requirements: DD, ACGH, SS
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Ryan Finnigan
SOC3 was one of the pre-health classes recommended by the HPA (Health Professional Advising) office. I took this class and General Psychology (PSC1) during my freshman year, thinking that they might be helpful for the MCAT psychology and sociology section. Professor Finnigan explained important social issues related to poverty, education, and immigration. One memorable discussion was about the Food Desert, a residential area where people with low income consume more fast food due to fresh food not being accessible. From a personal viewpoint, although SOC3 did not cover all topics on MCAT, the class gave me a good idea on current social issues in the United States. The readings of SOC3 were brief and informative. Moreover, Professor Finnigan was very open to discuss about essays ideas and course materials during office hours.
Similar Classes: SOC1 – Introduction to Sociology, SOC4 – Immigration and Opportunity
RST 68 – Hinduism
GE requirements: WC, AH, VL, WE
Units: 4 units
Instructor: Layne Little
The lectures were taught based on Hinduism traditions, epics and stories of various Hindu deities. In the first lecture, Professor Little talked about Ganesha, the male Hindu deity with an elephant head and a pet mouse, and stories of how Ganesha turned into his elephant-head form. RST68 was novel and fascinating, but it was at times difficult for me because I had never been exposed to the religion before. I almost dropped the class, but decided to change the class to P/NP because I wanted to learn more. Professor Little was absolutely the nicest person. He gave us doughnuts (enough doughnuts for everyone to get a second one) at exams, and he was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I recommend this class to students with Hinduism background or students interested in studying other religions/cultures.
Similar Classes: RST1 – Survey of Religion, RST30 – Religions of South Asia
These five classes are the ones that I personally enjoyed. The courses offered and the instructors can vary each quarter/year. If you want to learn more about choosing GE classes at UC Davis, check out this blog: Which GE’s Should I take?
Fourth Year, Genetics and Genomics Major, Class of 2019
BASC Peer Advisor