Warmer weather, spring break, the NCAA March Madness tournament and summer are all on the horizon – as are new course offerings for University of Arizona students.
Faculty members and program coordinators across campus are introducing a number of new and unique course offerings for students and community members this spring semester.
Sociology 357, "The Pursuit of Happiness," is one of these unique courses set to begin this month. The class, taught by UA sociology professor Celestino Fernández, examines the interplay between individual and social happiness by comparing happiness among ethnic, religious and other social groups.
"I want students to understand that most of popular culture around the notion of happiness is based on myths," said Fernández, also a University Distinguished Outreach Professor and Faculty Fellow. This marks the first time he has offered such a course at the UA.
He added that the act of pursuing "material goods, does not result in happiness, which is what our consumerist culture would have us believe, particularly young people. Basically, the media message is, 'Buy this and you'll be happy; buy a bigger one and you'll be happier.' The research, however, clearly shows that this is not the case."
Fernández said that happiness to him means finding your passion and making that a career, while having other interests to pursue.
"Happiness, like most things in life, if we are lucky to live long and healthy, is about the long haul, the marathon, not immediate gratification."
Other notable courses offered this spring include:
- Higher Education 353, "Youth Physical Activity and Community Sports," examines current research on middle school through college engagement in physical activity along with recent trends in community-based youth sport programs.
- Geography 455, "The Geography and Music of Cuba," explores Cuban politics, race relations and its relationship with the U.S. while focused on the country and its music.
- Environmental Studies 260, "Environmental Studies: Ideas and Institutions," is a new interdisciplinary course centered on key ideas, individuals and institutions that have shaped the discipline and policies in the U.S. and globally.
- Classics 160, "In the Beginning: Roots of Western Culture," spotlights the quest heroes undertakes in search of spiritual or material rewards. Texts discussed will include Homer's Odyssey and Vergil's Aeneid, as well as Star Wars and World of Warcraft.
- Speech and Hearing Sciences 649, "Survival Skills and Ethics," is designed for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in all disciplines. Undergraduates are welcome with permission from the Graduate College and the instructor. The course trains students in successful surival skills around writing, teaching and research.
- Law 389, "Sex, Race, and Power in the Supreme Court," is a series of 13 lectures led by legal scholars related to landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases around issues of race, privacy and the power tribal nations.
Also, Suzanne Knosp's Dance 243, "Creating with Movement and Rhythms," is designed for UA students interested in the relationship between music and dance.
"I love talking about music and dance and sharing my experiences in that realm with students," said Knosp, adding that she "is interested in hearing what students think about music in relationship to dance."
Students will explore these relationships through in-class activities where the goal is to develop an understanding of music notation, the elements of music composition and musical forms and structures, all in relationship to dance. Students also will produce their own scores.
"I hope that my students learn to listen to music in new ways," said Knosp.
The UA's Poetry Center also is offering a series of classes and workshops during the spring with courses taught by visiting and local writers, including UA faculty members, and will be held in the evenings and on weekends.
Cybele Knowles, program coordinator for the center, said that a greater and deeper understanding of the human condition can occur through participation in activites such as these workshops.
"Through reading a book or poem," Knowles said, "you can understand others and express yourself as an individual to the world."