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Distribution courses to spice up your spring semester schedule


Illustrated by Andrea Gomez

By Nishanka Kuthuru     11/9/21 11:27pm

As the deadline to register for spring semester courses quickly approaches, the pressure to craft the perfect schedule grows. But whether you are majoring in engineering, social policy analysis, computer science or English, somewhere in our time at Rice, we must satisfy all of the distribution requirements. Trying to find and fit three courses in each of the three distribution categories into your schedule may seem daunting, but to make planning a little bit easier, the Thresher has compiled a list of interesting courses without prerequisites that can fulfill some graduation requirements.

Distribution I: 

“These courses, which are broad in theme and scope, prompt students to probe the modes of knowledge, inquiry or creative practice characteristic of the arts and humanities,” according to the General Announcements.

HIST 353: History of Sensation with Lan Li

History of Sensation is a lecture course about the development of theories on the five senses by scientists, medical practitioners, philosophers, and neurophysicists. In this course, students will learn how animal models lead to the exploration of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Take this course to explore the intersection of science and history that may be helpful in understanding broader questions about human life.

“Definitely one of my favorite classes and among the best that I've ever taken. The material is incredibly interesting and really gives you new ideas to consider,” one student wrote in spring 2020 semester course evaluations.

HIST 353 will be offered from 9:00 to 9:50 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

PHIL 160: Moral Problems with George Sher

Gain an introduction to moral and political theorizing in Moral Problems. This is a lecture course that approaches difficult issues such as abortion, war, the duty to vote, justice and the origins of norms. According to past students, this course includes numerous in-depth discussions about the moral problems plaguing society.

“This is the first philosophy course I've taken at Rice, and I don't regret it one bit. At first, I was anxious about taking a philosophy class because I knew it would require a lot of critical thinking. However, I'm really glad I decided to stick with this class,” a student wrote in the course evaluations last spring.

PHIL 160 will be offered from 2:00 to 2:50 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

RELI 219: The Supernatural and Religion with Christopher Senn

If you have ever been curious about supernatural beings and their origins, look no further; The Supernatural and Religion may be the course for you. This is a lecture course that examines the history of the supernatural in areas such as biblical texts, medieval Christianity and modern “paranormal” inquiries.

“This course was very different from your traditional religion course, and I am highly appreciative of that. I think that this course was able to expand my world view significantly when it comes to the supernatural,'' a student wrote in the course evaluations from spring 2019.

RELI 219 will be offered from 10:50 to 12:05 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Distribution II:

Social Sciences: “These courses introduce the theories, problems, methodologies, and substance of the social sciences [in order to] familiarize students with different approaches to the study of human behavior and how individuals interact with and are shaped by cultural, social, economic, and political groups and institutions,” according to the General Announcements.

ANTH 318: Ceramics and Society with Molly Morgan

Take this seminar course to participate in hands-on projects involving the history of ceramics. This course focuses on ceramic artifacts and describing, characterizing and analyzing them. According to the syllabus, small discussion groups will be routinely incorporated to analyze the production and distribution of archaeological ceramics in relation to their social, political, economic and ritual contexts.

“The class is extremely thought-provoking, instills curiosity, and teaches you to think more critically (and in different ways) about the subject,” a student wrote in the course evaluations from spring 2019.

ANTH 318 will be offered from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

ECON 205: Introduction to Game Theory with Marc Dudey

Challenge yourself to take a course that can change your perspective on logical thinking. Game theory is a branch of mathematics that studies decision-making in situations where the outcome for each depends on the actions taken by all. This course was specifically designed to be accessible to students who do not wish to major in economics or mathematical economic analysis. 

“I really, really enjoyed this course… it did a great job teaching game theory in a very engaging manner,” a student wrote in the course reviews from spring 2015.

ECON 205 will be offered from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.

MUSI 379: Creativity Up Close with Anthony Brandt

Take Creativity Up Close to learn about creativity through multiple lenses. This is an interdisciplinary seminar course that examines creativity in terms of neuroscience, psychology, sociology and economics through hands-on projects in oral history, music, industrial design and video. According to past students, this course allows you to explore different creative mediums without having to worry about adhering to a rubric.

“The course structure is really unlike anything else at Rice - there are multiple units that involve hands-on workshops and encourage you to push beyond your comfort zone! Each unit (Oral History, Musical Composition, Engineering Design, Visual Art) had a creative project, sometimes with or without group members, and a guest professor leading the unit,” a student wrote in the course evaluations last spring.

MUSI 379 will be offered from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Distribution III

“These courses are designed to give students a basic knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of scientific inquiry and technological development, and to develop their skills in analytical thinking and quantitative reasoning,” according to the General Announcements.

EEPS 108: Natural Disasters with Melodie French

Have you ever wondered about the conditions that lead to occurences of natural disasters? Natural Disasters is a lecture course that examines the science behind natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes. Explore the fundamental Earth Science concepts and processes in this class. 

“I liked biology in high school and wasn't looking for something too time-consuming, so I chose to take this class and I wasn't disappointed… Overall, this was an interesting class with a semi-light workload — my favorite kind!” a student wrote in the course evaluations from last spring.

EEPS 108 will be offered from 11:00 to 11:50 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

KINE 301: Human Physiology with Laura Kabiri

The human body is a box of mysteries, doing amazing things unbeknownst to the common person. If you want to explore and understand how the body functions, this is the course for you. This is a lecture course that examines the fundamental principles of human physiology with emphasis placed on mechanisms of function and homeostasis control systems.

“[The course] was very interesting and key if you want to understand how the human body functions. It is taught in a way that integrates the material and includes clinical applications, which are really interesting,” a student wrote in the course evaluations from spring 2020. 

KINE 301 will be offered from 9:25 to 10:40 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MATH 115: The Art of Math with Betul Orean Ekmekei

Have you ever considered that math is not necessarily about formulas, but rather about a process of thinking? The Art of Math is a lecture course designed for non-STEM majors who would like to learn more about the nature of mathematics and problem-solving through mathematical thinking. It explores real-world application of mathematics as a way of analyzing the events of everyday life.

“This course is for people who are looking to change their preconceptions about math! If you're someone that very much has a social science/humanities brain like me, then you'll enjoy that this class is slow-paced and geared towards people who aren't the most attuned to math,” a student wrote in the course evaluations from fall 2020.

MATH 115 will be offered from 9:25 to 10:40 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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