Freshman Seminar Program

Winter Quarter 2020 Enrollment Information

Freshman Seminars are open first to all freshman including first-year freshman with sophomore standing during the freshman enrollment period. Incoming freshmen 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 freshman 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 Bioengineering

Medical Technology and the Public
BENG 87 A00
Section ID: 996378
Gough, David (
Location: TBA
Date and Time: TBA
Meeting Dates: TBA

Technologies of various types (genomics, medications, diagnostic tools, devices) are under development and may have important roles in health care. There are technical, scientific an ethical issues. This course includes a brief reading assignment and discussion each week emphasizing student participation, and an essay final. Eight class meetings.

Division of Biological Sciences

Earth's Fragile Biosphere
BILD 87 B00
Section ID: 989470
Saier, Milton (
Location: APM 3880
Tuesdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar will address the consequences of human activity on the Earth's biosphere. Topics include species extinction, global warming, habitat destruction, individual responsibility to future generations, and human values/morals.
The Philosophy of Science and the Science of the Supernatural
BILD 87 A00
Section ID: 989468
Saier, Milton (
Location: APM 3880
Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

This seminar will consider the philosophy of science and the science of faith. Topics to be included are: 1. The Creation Story 2. The Ptolemaic Universe 3. How to explain the supernatural 4. Copernicus and Galileo 5. Kepler's analyses 6. Sir Isaac Newton 7. Darwin and Evolution 8. Koch's Postulates 9. Mental illness 10. The Scientific Method.

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Teaching Science: The Challenge
CHEM 87 A00
Section ID: 998588
Brydges, Stacey (
Location: NSB 3211
Tuesdays, 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Why do so many students seem unable or unwilling to learn science? Is this due to ineffective instruction, or are the difficulties inevitable? How can teaching make science intrinsically stimulating for all students? How can a teaching career be fulfilling and rewarding?

Department of Cognitive Science

How Minds and Groups Make Religion and Superstition
COGS 87 A00
Section ID: 989472
Deak, Gedeon (
Location: CSB 180
Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-10

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

Neural Networks as Models of the Mind
CSE 87 A00
Section ID: 989484
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

Are Prisons Obsolete?
CGS 87 A00
Section ID: 989471
Hankins, Joseph (
Location: TBA
Thursdays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Are Prisons Obsolete? In her book by the same title, Angela Davis argues that they are: that prisons, as a means of fostering healthy societies, fail. This seminar will examine the rise of prisons in the United States, their relationship with slavery and ongoing racial control, how they rely on sexual and gender violence, and the ways in which people resist the logic of incarceration and instead build other systems of social support that are making prisons obsolete.

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Causal Inference in Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making
ECE 87 A00
Section ID: 998180
Kreutz-Delgado, Kenneth (
Location: TBA
Date and Time: TBA
Meeting Dates: TBA

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.

Environmental Studies

God, Satan, and the Desert - $95 field trip fee required
ENVR 87 A00
Section ID: 989487
Herbst, Matthew (
Location: ERCA 115
Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet Camping trip will be February 8-9.

This seminar offers an introduction to cultural and religious perspectives on the desert, which has been viewed as a cursed wasteland, but also as source of enlightenment. This course includes a weekend trip in the desert . Website:

Film Studies

Banned Films
FILM 87 A00
Section ID: 998206
Rahimi, Babak (
Location: MCC 221
Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.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: 998208
Havis, Allan (
Location: GH 144
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. to 12:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7

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.
What Film Could Teach Us About Life
FILM 87 B00
Section ID: 998207
Rahimi, Babak (
Location: MCC 221
Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.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

Piracy in Popular Culture
HITO 87 A00
Section ID: 989488
Hanna, Mark (
Location: HSS 4025
Mondays, 3:00 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet January 6, 13, 27; February 3, 10.

The course explores the depiction of pirates and piracy in the United States in both literature and film following the Age of Sail in the late nineteenth century. We will trace the transformation of piracy from a real terror to American society to the subject of children's stories and dramatic comedies. We finish with a study of modern piracy.

Department of Literature

Vampires in Literature and Film
LTWL 87 A00
Section ID: 989493
Lampert-Weissig, Lisa (
Location: LIT 437
Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-8

How did the legend of the vampire originate and how has it changed over time? What can vampires tell us about our fears and fantasies? We will examine the portrayal of vampires in a series of films ranging from Murnau's 1922 classic Nosferatu to the shows like True Blood and the Vampire Diaries. Students will watch the films outside of class to prepare for our discussions. Visit for more information.

Department of Mathematics

Math in the Movies
MATH 87 A00
Section ID: 989495
Bunch, James (
Location: APM 6402
Wednesdays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet January 8, 15, 22 and 29

Does studying math lead to mental instability and madness, or to social awkwardness and nerdiness? We will view four films and discuss the portrayal of math and mathematicians in them.

Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Bioinspired Materials and Biomimetic Structures
MAE 87 A00
Section ID: 989494
Mckittrick, Joanna (

Natural materials (mollusk shells, antlers, horns, bone, teeth) are strong, tough and light weight. Duplication of these structures using synthetic materials yield composites with superior properties. This seminar will discuss the unique properties of biological materials and duplication methods.

Department of Philosophy

What is Justice?
PHIL 87 A00
Section ID: 989496
Lamey, Andy (
Location: HSS 8025
Mondays, 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet starting January 7 and ending March 9

Modern philosophers often view justice as involving some commitment to equality, but there is debate about how equality should be understood. We will learn about some of the most influential accounts of egalitarian justice by reading selected chapters of Ronald Dworkin's masterpiece, Sovereign Virtue.

Department of Physics

From Quarks to Cosmos
PHYS 87 A00
Section ID: 989497
Fuller, George (
Location: SERF 329
Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

A fascinating interplay of the very small and the very large has governed the evolution of the universe. The stuff we are made of was cooked in the early universe and in the hellish interiors of massive stars. The lion's share of the matter and energy in the universe is in unknown forms that must have bizarre properties
Introduction to LaTeX: typeset your own science/engineering papers
PHYS 87 B00
Section ID: 989498
Grinstein, Benjamin (
Location: MYR-A 4623
Wednesdays, 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 Political Science

Power in Fiction
POLI 87 A00
Section ID: 989499
Strom, Kaare (
Location: RBC 1401
Mondays, 12:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet 1/6, 13, 27; 2/3, 10.

Power is a critical but complex part of politics. This seminar will first discuss how power is understood by political scientists. Students will then read and discuss works of fiction that explore the nature, pursuit, use, and abuse of power in different countries and settings.

Department of Psychology

Sleep and Circadian Rhythms
PSYC 87 A00
Section ID: 989500
Gorman, Michael (

This seminar will introduce students to the 24 hour clock in the brain that times our sleep/wake cycles, influences mood, learning and memory, and can even help predict outcomes of Monday Night Football games.

Department of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Perspectives in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
SIO 87 B00
Section ID: 998179
Sandin, Stuart (
Location: TBA
Date and Time: TBA
Meeting Dates: TBA

The ocean provides countless resources and opportunities for human societies. By exploiting these resources and opportunities, humans continue to change the workings of ocean ecosystems. A growing collection of research efforts are dedicated toward understanding the relationship between human societies and ocean ecosystems. This seminar will provide an introduction to timely issues in research on biodiversity, marine ecology, and marine resource management.
Treasures of the Earth: Minerals, Crystals, and Gems
SIO 87 A00
Section ID: 989502
Cook, Geoffrey (
Location: TBA
Date and Time: TBA
Meeting Dates: TBA

Spectacular specimens and multimedia presentations will introduce students to nature's geologic treasures. Using the mineral kingdom as a platform, students will learn about the fascinating processes and products of the Earth and will gain awareness of their societal importance.

Department of Sociology

Globalization and the Exploitation of Childhood
SOCI 87 A00
Section ID: 989503
Evans, Ivan (
Location: ERCA 115
Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-5

This course examines the evolution of the idea of “childhood” and focuses on the mistreatment of childhood in an era that simultaneously presents children as objects of intense affection while tolerating the often intense abuse of children on a global scale. An examination of slavery, child soldiers, sexual slavery and prostitution, and the sexualization of children in pop culture raises important questions about societal values and the treatment of children.

The Study of Religion

Beginning Meditation and the Four Noble Truths
RELI 87 A00
Section ID: 989501
Verdicchio, Pasquale (
Location: LIT 455
Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet January 10 - February 28

During this seminar we will study one of the basics Buddhist text, the Four Noble Truths, and embark on an exploration of meditation in the context of what is regarded as the Buddha's first teaching.

Department of Theatre & Dance

Auditioning Technique
TDGE 87 B00
Section ID: 989505
Meyer, Ursula (
Location: GH 247
Wednesdays, 12:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.
Meeting Dates: TBA

Learn and practice the art of auditioning. Course will include monologue work, cold-reading technique, interview technique, and dealing with commercial copy. Learn the art of getting the job so you can do the work you want to do!!
Dance Movement Exploration
TDGE 87 C00
Section ID: 999155
Rincon, Patricia (
Location: GH 3449
Mondays, 2:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.
Seminar will meet weeks 1-4

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

Warren College

Drugs for Bugs: From High-throughput Technology to New Discovery
WARR 87 A00
Section ID: 989506
Debnath, Anjan (
Location: Skaggs School of Pharmacy 1182
Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m.
Seminar will meet Jan. 9, 16, 23, 30; Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27; Mar 5

This seminar will introduce students to recent progress in drug development for protozoan parasitic diseases. We will discuss different parasitic diseases, use of high-throughput technology and various other attempts by the parasitology research community to create effective drugs for these diseases.
Space Physiology and Exploration (meeting location is at the School of Medicine)
WARR 87 B00
Section ID: 989507
Hargens, Alan (
Location: MET
Mondays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
Seminar will meet Weeks 1-10

Space Physiology and Exploration will include physiologic adaptations to gravity and adaptations to the microgravity of spaceflight for cardiovascular, bone, muscle and other physiologic systems. Countermeasures to maintain health of astronauts will include radiation protection and various forms of artificial gravity such as centrifugation. Meeting Location: Medical Education and Telemedicine (MET) Building here on the School of Medicine campus in La Jolla.

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