Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, November 16, 2012

Freshman Seminars Are Weird

The University of California, San Diego, like many universities throughout the country, offers freshmen students the chance to discuss unique subject matter in a casual classroom setting called Fall Freshman Seminars. These are one-credit classes focused on attempting to answer "outside the box" questions in narrow and unique areas of interest. According to the program description, "The seminars are taught by faculty in their fields of expertise." The benefits of these seminars include smaller class sizes and the chance to engage with a professor about interesting subjects, a rare opportunity for freshmen students who will spend most of their first college year in large lecture halls or being taught by teaching assistants.

A closer look at these Freshman Seminar courses reveals that at the University of California, San Diego, for example, the "topics of intellectual importance" and "critical discussion" might be on trivial subjects and biased in content -- not what students or their parents expect. For example, The Literature Department of this University offers a course called "Zombies: An Unnatural History." It's unclear what that is. The same university offers a seminar called "Reading Television" that discusses "gender, race and sexuality in family drama, sitcom, TV news, and reality TV." The Department of Biological Sciences offers a seminar entitled "Earth's Fragile Biosphere" where students can discuss "species extinction, global warming, habitat destruction, individual responsibility to future generations, and human values/morals.

In the Department of Cognitive Science, freshmen can enroll in a seminar called "How Minds and Groups Make Religion and Superstition." The syllabus promises students the chance to explore questions such as: "How does the human brain accept religious beliefs, even in the face of contradictory evidence?"

I question whether it is worth taking out a college loan and going into debt and then find, when you first step on campus, this is the sort of course you are greeted with.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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