Skip to main content

First-year Seminar Program

Spring Quarter 2020 Enrollment Information

First-year Seminars are open first to all first-year students including first-year freshman with sophomore standing during the first-year student enrollment period. Incoming first-year students with sophomore standing should use the campus Course Pre-Authorization system to be cleared to enroll in a seminar and then use WebReg to enroll in seminars during your enrollment time.

Early enrollment is encouraged due to the small class size.

Visit the Schedule of Classes to see enrollments (select all departments and 87.) Use WebReg to enroll in seminars during your enrollment period.

Sophomores may enroll directly in first-year seminars by using WebReg after the freshman enrollment period and if seats are available.

Please use the campus Course Pre-Authorization system if you have an enrollment question.

Please use the Virtual Advising Center, VAC to contact the advisor of the department or program offering the seminar for all non-enrollment questions.

Department of Anthropology

Discover Anthropology
ANTH 87 B00
Section ID: 10107
Goldstein, Paul (
Location: TBA
Date and Time: TBA
Meeting Dates: TBA

The seminar introduces students to the various disciplines within anthropology, library and laboratory resources, faculty research and mentoring opportunities in the department.
Genetic Mesearch: Promise and peril of personalized genomics
ANTH 87 A00
Section ID: 8955
Non, Amy (
Location: SSB 269
Tuesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This course will explore the science and ethics behind the new trend of direct to consumer (DTC) genetic testing, where individuals can learn about their personal genetic ancestry and medical risks through sending in saliva samples to companies like and 23andme. We will discuss issues surrounding accuracy, value, transparency, and privacy of personal genetic data. In addition to understanding ethical concerns, this course will provide tools for students to become informed consumers

Department of Bioengineering

Introduction to Bioinstrumentation
BENG 87 A00
Section ID: 10215
Omens, Jeff (

This course will explore biomedical instrument design in a hands-on laboratory setting. The goals of the course are to design, test, and document a biopotential amplifier/recording system, specifically for recording and analyzing the human electrocardiogram (ECG) with a working prototype hardware/software system.

Division of Biological Sciences

Can Biology Research Help the Climate Change Crisis?
BILD 87 A00
Section ID: 7974
Mcdonnell, Lisa (

What biology research has been going on to develop more tolerant agricultural crops, mitigate disease pathogens, and understand how climate change is changing biodiversity? We will explore a range of biology research, including genetic technologies, to understand how work in biology is addressing these questions.

Department of Cognitive Science

How Minds and Groups Make Religion and Superstition
COGS 87 A00
Section ID: 7978
Deak, Gedeon (
Location: CSB 272
Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Why do humans, individually and in groups, attribute natural events to supernatural agents? How does the human brain accept religious beliefs, even in the face of contradictory evidence? We will examine how cognitive, developmental, and cultural factors work together to cause humans to believe in the supernatural.

Department of Computer Science & Engineering

Errors and Failures: What went wrong?
CSE 87 B00
Section ID: 7979
Howden, William (
Location: EBU3B 2154
Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

What went wrong? Why did a 50 million dollar rocket blow up on its first launch? How did a surgical procedure result in accidental death? What causes errors and how can we avoid them? The course will take a case-oriented approach. Students will discuss both given examples and their own personal errors. Suggested solutions will be considered.
Neural Networks as Models of the Mind
CSE 87 A00
Section ID: 7980
Cottrell, Garrison (
Location: EBU3B B220
Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

We investigate how neural networks can be used to model how we see, read, remember, and learn. We use simple demonstration programs that implement these models. We teach a neural network to recognize faces, facial expressions, and gender. We also get some insight into the latest trends in neural networks, Deep Learning.

Critical Gender Studies

Gender and Sexuality in Popular Culture
CGS 87 B00
Section ID: 7977
Wesling, Megan (
Location: Women's Center Conference Room
Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 2-9

We will talk about how sexuality is constructed in television, film, and advertising. Students will have opportunities to propose shows or films for discussion.
Who Cares?
CGS 87 A00
Section ID: 7976
Hankins, Joseph (
Location: TBA
Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 2-9

When does the pain of another matter to us? Whose pain might matter, whose pain might we ignore? How do we learn to care? In this seminar we will discuss the labor of caring - for other humans, for life forms beyond the human, for the environment. Who has to do it, who doesn't, and what kind of politics might be built out of compassion? Meeting Location: LGBT RC, Conference Room

Education Studies

Introduction to Educational Robotics
EDS 87 A00
Section ID: 8957
Eguchi, Emi (
Location: PCH 440
Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Seminar will meet 1 day - April 18th

What is an educational robotics? What can I (student) learn from doing robotics? How can it help me (student) obtain various skills and subject knowledge? This seminar introduces you to educational robotics as a learning tool. It provides opportunities for you to experience robotics as a learning tool. This seminar is for those interested in learning how physical computing can provide different kinds of programming experiences for its learners.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Causal Inference in Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making
ECE 87 A00
Section ID: 7981
Kreutz-Delgado, Kenneth (

Most current machine learning approaches used today ignore the cause-and-effect aspects of situations of interest. They are designed to passively infer states of the world, not to predict outcomes of intentional interventions in important domains such as medicine, ecology, and business, among others. The seminar will involve a chapter-by-chapter directed reading of the book, "The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect", by Judea Pearl, at a pace of approximately one chapter per week. T

Film Studies

Banned Films
FILM 87 B00
Section ID: 7983
Rahimi, Babak (
Location: MCC 221
Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar examines the relationship between law, politics and cinema and why governments have banned certain films throughout history. We will examine films such as This is Not a Film, Sweetness of Spirit, Battleship Potemkin, LAge dOr, The Bohemian Girl, Clockwork Orange, Goldfinger and others.
Cult Films of 1950s-2000s
FILM 87 C00
Section ID: 9324
Havis, Allan (
Location: GH 144
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Cursory look at enigmatic cult film classics from 1950 to today. Basic aesthetics and ideas of cult films will be celebrated. Films will probably include PSYCHO, THE WICKER MAN, ROAD WARRIOR, BLADE RUNNER, DELICATESSEN, RUN LOLA RUN, HAROLD & MAUDE.
Fantasy, Sci Fi, & Horror: the Last 60 Years
FILM 87 D00
Section ID: 9325
Havis, Allan (
Location: GH 144
Thursdays, 12:00 p.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

An entertaining and analytical survey from the 1950s to today of memorable and strange feature films probably including THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, PSYCHO, RUN LOLA RUN, ROAD WARRIOR, BLADE RUNNER, METROPOLIS, DARK CITY, and THE RING. Technical achievement, visual power, and personal nuance will be emphasized.
What Film Can Teach Us About Life
FILM 87 A00
Section ID: 7982
Rahimi, Babak (
Location: MCC 221
Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar is about how film can reflect and change our lives. We will discuss movies such as: I Love you, Beth Cooper,American Beauty, Sliding doors, Seventh Seal, Happiness, La Dolce Vita, Taste of Cherry, Do the Right Thing, Christmas Story and others.

Department of History

Chinese History Through Film
HITO 87 C00
Section ID: 8958
Pickowicz, Paul (

What surprising aspects of modern Chinese social and cultural history can we learn by exploring documentary and feature films produced in the hundred years from 1920 to 2020? This seminar will introduce students to key films housed in the excellent Geisel Library Chinese film collection.
Ming China in Short Stories
HITO 87 B00
Section ID: 7985
Schneewind, Sarah (
Location: HSS 6008
Mondays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

We will read dramatic and amusing short stories from the Ming period (1368-1644) along with short scholarly articles related to them, and discuss what they reveal about Chinese society, government, religion, economy, and ideology. We will meet emperors, officials, and beggars; wives, prostitutes, and go-betweens; monks, nuns, and Daoist mystics; and gods and ghosts.
What Is Socialism? (And What Isn't)
HITO 87 A00
Section ID: 7984
Patterson, Patrick (
Location: HSS 4025
Mondays, 12:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet March 13, March 20, March 27, April 4, April 11 (Weeks 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)

Socialism has recently become a very hot topic in American politics -- something that people are fighting for and fighting against. Conservatives, libertarians, and others on the political "right" continue their long tradition of rejecting as "socialism" a wide range of policies they do not like. But many progressives and others on the "left," inspired by Bernie Sanders and like-minded activists, have recently started to embrace this term -- a label that many had long tried to run away from.

Department of Literature

Asian Horror
LTCS 87 A00
Section ID: 7987
Nguyen, Hoang (
Location: LIT 455
Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 3-6

The course looks at the explosion of horror and thriller films in Asia in the new millennium. We will focus on the role of the vengeful female ghost and the concept of the "monstrous feminine." Titles may include Ringu, Dumplings, The Eye, Nang Nak, The Housemaid, and Memento Mori. Students will learn foundational skills in film analysis.
Love at First Sight
LTCS 87 B00
Section ID: 7986
Nguyen, Hoang (
Location: LIT 455
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 3-6

The course looks at the relationship between love and time in contemporary romantic comedies. It examines rom-com relationships that follow traditional life courses and those that reject romantic chronology altogether. Films may include Beginners, 50 First Dates, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I Give It A Year, and Weekend. Students will learn foundational skills in film analysis.

Department of Mathematics

Topics in the History of Math: A Dangerous Mathematical Theory
MATH 87 A00
Section ID: 8960
Bowers, Adam (
Location: APM 7321
Tuesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-10

Can an obscure mathematical idea lead to political revolution? Amir Alexander's book "Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World" discusses the historical impact of the theory of infinitesimals and frames it in the social and political context of the time. How were the Jesuits involved? And what does it have to do with Thomas Hobbes? We will read and discuss the book in order to find answers to these questions. The book is written for a general audience, so no tec

Department of Music

Chamber Music Up-Close
MUS 87 A00
Section ID: 8961
Curtis, Charles (

This seminar will focus on two concerts in the Camera Lucida chamber music series, on April 20 and May 18. Students will meet with Artistic Director and cellist Charles Curtis once before each concert, to listen to and discuss the upcoming program, and once afterwards, to reflect upon the music after the live performance. A fifth meeting will take place earlier in the quarter to introduce basic concepts. Attendance at the concerts is mandatory.
The Condition of Music
MUS 87 B00
Section ID: 9349
Curtis, Charles (

How do we explain the extraordinary effect that music has on our personal lives? Is music a "universal language?" Do "all of the arts constantly aspire to the condition of music?" Participants will share listening experiences, short readings, and philosophical discussion on the nature of music.

Department of Physics

Introduction to LaTeX: typeset your own science/engineering papers
PHYS 87 A00
Section ID: 7988
Grinstein, Benjamin (
Location: MYR-A 4623
Thursdays, 2:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

LaTeX is the standard mark-up language for professional typesetting of scientific and engineering documents (from papers to books). This is a hands on seminar, covering from LaTeX and editor installation to producing a document with tables, figures and equations. Students have a choice to work on their laptops or use computers in the computer lab.

Department of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

An Introduction to Volcanoes
SIO 87 A00
Section ID: 7990
Cook, Geoffrey (
Location: YORK 3030
Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Students will be introduced to the fascinating world of volcanoes using a combination of hands-on activities, analogue demonstrations, and a wide variety of multimedia including videos, photos, and computer simulations.
Rocks that Rock! An exploration of exciting, unique and otherwise fascinating Earth materials
SIO 87 B00
Section ID: 9352
Cook, Geoffrey (
Location: YORK 3030
Mondays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Students will learn about rocks, the rock cycle, and the myriad of Earth materials that make up the planet and solar system. Exciting hand-specimens and multimedia presentations will enhance and augment the presentation.

Sixth College

Make ‘Em Laugh: A History of Funny Ladies from Lucille Ball to Ali Wong
CAT 87 A00
Section ID: 8550
Bronstein, Phoebe (
Location: PCYNH 240
Wednesdays, 11:00 p.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-5

From I Love Lucy to recent to Ali Wong and Sarah Silverman, this course will examine the often unruly and always hilarious ladies of comedy. We will talk about humor as both culturally and historically located, inflected by ideas about race, class, gender, and sexuality. Potential screenings will include (but are not limited to) I Love Lucy; Baby Cobra; I Love You America; Spy; The Mindy Project; and The Marvelous Mrs. Mazel.

The Study of Religion

Spirituality and Politics: Student Activism at UCSD
RELI 87 A00
Section ID: 2953
Rahimi, Babak (
Location: LIT 437
Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar explores the relationship between religion and politics at UCSD. It primarily looks at the 1960s counter-culture and the rise of the student movement in the context of new spiritual discourses, some of which expressed political ideas for radical change. Students are expected to be involved in group projects on campus.

Department of Theatre & Dance

Architecture and Design of UCSD campus
TDGE 87 A00
Section ID: 7993
Guirguis, Mark (
Location: GH 102
Mondays, 10:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar will introduce concepts and ideas of architecture and design. The class will involve many site visits where students will observe and analyze various buildings here on campus. This will also be a glimpse into the history and future vision of the built environment of UCSD.
Dance Movement Exploration
TDGE 87 B00
Section ID: 7992
Rincon, Patricia (
Location: Galbraith Hall 320
Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

An introduction to dance movement and understanding your body; a contemporary approach to dancing and its many genres as an expressive medium and form of communication. No dance training necessary. Prerequisites: none

Thurgood Marshall College

Women of Color Activism: Pinayism
TMC 87 A00
Section ID: 7994
Amorao, Amanda (
Location: TMCA 127
Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-10

In this first year seminar, students will engage with the critical theory and social activism that emerges from the lived experiences of those who identify as Filipina American women. The course will emphasize connecting with local activists; the final assignment will be a collaborative community project.