Oregon State University

U-Engage Course

What is U-Engage?

U-Engage is an elective, 2-credit course designed to help first year students explore a current real-world issue or compelling question of interest. In a small class environment, new students built strong relationships with their instructor, peer leader, and classmates while engaging in interactive learning.  Additionally, students gain information about campus resources and support available on campus and how these services can enhance their education.

Check out the awesome topics offered in Fall 2015 !

What is Wilderness?                                                                                                                                          

Ty Atwater, T 4-5:50, CRN 16067

What is the purpose of wilderness in our lives? How do we define wilderness and how does that definition help us enjoy and protect it? Whether you enjoy the beauty of the mountains, the rush of white water, the solitude of the woods or the austere beauty of the desert at night this class will help expand your ideas about wilderness and explore wild lands in the United States and the world. Join us as we examine our views of wild lands as they have changed over time, the historic landmarks and figures in the protection of wild lands and how our individual experiences and activities have shaped our views of the wilderness.

Creating Happiness                                                                                               

Michele Ribeiro and Bonnie Hemrick, WF 1-1:50, CRN 14803

Happiness and the pursuit thereof are a constant source of conversation and intrigue. Whether it’s a late night conversation with friends about the “meaning of life”, a boss trying to find new ways to make for better work environments, or a country trying to measure the standard of living for its citizens, happiness comes into play. What makes people happy? How do people who are happy act and think differently than those who aren’t? Can happiness be measured and is it felt the same way by everyone? In this course we will use the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology and flourishing to explore these questions. We will also use our class as a community building opportunity in which we will explore a local park together and give back to our community through civic engagement.  The class will encourage you to learn more about yourself, discuss opportunities that come with the transition to college and develop the tools you will need to find and maintain happiness at OSU and beyond.

Lock ‘em Up: American Criminal Justice and its Resistance                                                                           

Chris Lenn, TR 9-9:50, CRN 14828

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without prisons? The old “do the crime, do the time” attitude has resulted in this reality: over two million Americans are currently incarcerated and the United States is home to the world’s largest prison population. Perhaps, it’s time to update this old attitude. In this course we’ll explore how America came to be the world’s foremost incarcerator by examining the prison system and reflecting on our own relationships to the justice system, beliefs on right and wrong, and what it means to forgive. Those with an interest in philosophy, sociology, political science, law, or the criminal justice system in general may be particularly interested in the topics this course will address.

Body Image and the Media                                                                                                                             

Sarah Kyllo, TR 11-11:50, CRN 14824

 We live in a media saturated world where we are constantly shown how we should look and act through advertising, the internet, television, and a variety of other forms of media.  What does it mean to be a smart consumer of media, and how can you be an advocate for positive body image and self-acceptance in yourself and for others?  This course is designed to increase students’ awareness of the impact that media has on body image, especially for young adults and women.  Topics in this course include, but are not limited to, advertising, cosmetic sales and marketing, plastic surgery, modeling, and positive self-esteem and acceptance.  Films, on-line resources, guest speakers, magazines, journal articles, and class projects will be incorporated. 

Money Matters                                                                                                                                           

Lissa Perrone, WF 10-10:50, CRN 14830

What is personal wealth and how do you accumulate it?  Studies indicate that people who understand money matters are more likely to accumulate wealth and reach personal goals.  How does one create wealth and build a “rich” life? You will develop a working knowledge about personal finances including banking, payroll taxes, managing credit cards, and budgeting for college.  We will also look beyond the practical skills to examine personal definitions of wealth.  You will hear from business leaders on how a business builds value and makes decisions on expending resources.  Through research and activities, you will be asked to reflect on developing a plan for your future as a business, discover multiple ways of building your own personal budget, and explore how to assess the results of financial life choices.

Find Yourself in Oregon Politics                                                                                                                            

 Jock Mills, TR 4-4:50, CRN 15172

Oregon State University offers many opportunities for becoming politically active – from campus-based student government, to the local, state and federal arenas.  Come to this class ready to explore the various political opportunities open to you as a new student while also examining the complicated issue of state pesticide and environmental quality legislation.  As a class we’ll interact with state legislators, staff in the Governor’s office, and political advocates from student government, industry, and public interest groups.  By the end of the course, you’ll have a much better understanding of how the legislative process works, how you can get involved, and the political and economic analyses necessary to take a stand on environmental issues, including those that involve the regulation of pesticides.

Spiritual Life @ OSU: Walking the Spiritual Path with Practical Feet                  

Aaron Wolf and Deborah Hobbs, F 10-11:50, CRN 20588

Come to this class ready to examine many questions including: “How do you find your own spirituality and sustain it?”, “How do you connect your spiritual life with campus life?”, and “What role does service play in the spiritual path?”. Through these questions, we’ll explore our individual and collective spiritual needs across the faith and non-faith spectrum.  We’ll also find practical ways to get along with one another and enrich each other's spiritual lives.  Speakers from a variety of paths will join us, and a breadth of practical approaches to spirituality will be explored.  Students interested in religious studies, ethics, philosophy, and psychology are welcome along with those who find spirituality outside of formal paths, including art, science and the outdoors. All views will be respected and all paths will be honored.

Keep Calm and College On                                                                                              

Gail Baggett and Malinda Shell, WF 2-2:50, CRN 15169

It is said that peace is not the absence of chaos, strife or hard work but finding a place of balance or calm in the midst of turmoil and change.  As the job market becomes more competitive, the pressure to succeed is increasing and more people are experiencing mounting levels of stress which can upset this balance.  While stress is not always bad, chronic stress affects both your mental and physical health.   What is stress, where does it come from, and can it be managed?  Have we created a society that values being stressed out?  In this experiential learning class, students will explore stress and methods of maintaining balance in a variety of ways including beginner’s level yoga.

OSU Deconstructed: Building Blocks for Success- 4 sections                                                 

Chrysanthemum Hayes, MW 1-1:50, CRN 14823

Kerry Thomas, F 12-1:50, CRN 20433

Vanessa Johnson, TR 3-3:50, CRN 15171

Tiffany Fritz, TR 1-1:50, CRN 20398

Wanting to look beyond the advice you’ve heard a 100 times about “what you’re supposed to do” in college? Then this course is for you. Together we’ll dig under the surface and analyze the science and research behind the strategies, tools and skills needed for success in college.  We will break apart myths and critically review research on how people learn, why community matters and what tasks and behaviors are the best predictors for getting your degree – and having fun along the way.  Through a series of useful learning opportunities, you’ll understand how to make the most of your unique OSU experience.

Sense of Place: Flourishing Where We Are                                                                                                          

Cub Kahn, M 2-3:50, CRN 20599

What makes up our “sense of place”? How does place contribute to our understanding of who we are, how we are doing, and where we are going? In this class, we’ll explore geographic, ecological, and human architectural elements of place such as climate, flora, fauna, landforms, water bodies and settlement patterns and how they act as powerful shapers of individual and collective human identity. We’ll engage with these questions through readings, guest speakers, local field trips, and reflecting on the places we come from, and writing about and photographing the place where we all currently live. We’ll also reflect on how nurturing a sense of place can help us adjust to life transitions such as entering college and sustain us, even while informing our choices to sustain the places we inhabit.

What am I Doing Here?!: Being First in the Family at College                          

Kim McAloney and Janet Nishihara, F 10-11:50, CRN 15748

For those whose parents did not attend college, navigating the experience can be a particularly exciting and daunting experience.  It can seem like everyone around you knows what they are doing and has a clear plan for how to succeed in college.  This class will explore advice from various first generation college students and is taught by instructors who themselves were first generation college students.  We’ll discuss advice that others have shared, hear from campus guest speakers who were first generation when they started college, all with the goal of helping you find your personalized path to success in college.  Whether you are a first-generation college student yourself or are excited to learn from other students’ experiences, you will find community and be equipped with tools to navigate college in this class.  

Sex and Gender on TV                                                                                                                       

Kryn Burton-Freehling, M 4-5:50, CRN 14831

What TV shows do you regularly watch? What do these shows (and others) say about women, men, parenting, race, ability, and work? In this class, we will explore social constructions of gender and sexuality and their impact on the ways that TV characters are drawn and what types of stories are told. Focusing on Orange is the New Black and New Girl as our primary shows, we will ask how women are represented on TV and how this varies based on other categories of identity (i.e. race, mother status, sexual identity, etc.). We will also examine the ways women are involved in the creation of television and how consumers can influence creators to include more women characters and make portrayals of women more diverse. Using academic research and the internet, students will analyze shows and create their own TV scenes together.

Learning Sexuality                                                                                                                                              

Tristen Shay, WF 3-3:50, CRN 15170

What is gender and sexual identity? In this course we will explore the process, conscious and unconscious, that goes into forming identity. Focusing on social messaging received through family, school, and the media we will critically examine how gender and sexual identity is created in all of us and reinforced in modern society. Through basic texts in gender studies and visual culture studies we will identify the process of gender and sexual identity development as it applies to the individual. Over the course of the term you will engage in group discussion, panels, and campus observation activities to gain a deeper understanding of your own identity, as well as the identities of those you will encounter at OSU and beyond.  Particular focus will be paid to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other identities.

Understanding the Spaces We Live In                                                                                                         

Kathleen Bryant, MW 4-4:50, 16066

What makes a space inviting and somewhere people want to spend their time? What design elements help foster learning or play or innovation?  Our course will use the OSU campus as a learning lab to look at spaces of interest on campus (Dixon Rec. Center, residence hall spaces, the Valley Library, coffee shops, and other gathering or dining spaces) and gain a better understanding of how space and people interface. Field work/observation exercises and interviewing key people in various spaces (those who work in them, those who use them and those who designed them) will help us gain an anthropologist's point of view of space. Additionally, you’ll get a chance to design or redesign a space of personal interest with no in-place skills in drawing or software design programs. No previous design experience is needed just come ready to use pencils, paper, cameras, and your ideas and opinions to develop a new student-designed space!

Slime, Circuits, Functions, and Velocity: Helping Expand Love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Richard Nafshun, MW 12-12:50, CRN 14802

Careers in STEM fields are expanding rapidly and there aren’t enough people to fill them. How can scientists and science educators take their passion for STEM and use it to spark the same love and skill set in a younger generation? In this class you’ll learn about, develop and then facilitate fun, interactive “hands-on/minds-on” activities for local school children at an outreach event at the end of the term. Past activities included the investigation of slime, constructing electrical circuits, exploring velocity and acceleration using carts and photogates, making batteries, designing earthquake resistant structures, robotics, gases, and math games.  We’ll explore appropriate STEM activities, discuss the value of these activities and the benefits of outreach, and examine the concepts your activities illustrate.  Just imagine the value!

Food for the World                                                                                                                                           

Sabry Elias, MW 4-4:50, CRN 17516

Global economic and social changes have significant effect on food sustainability around the world. Education is an essential tool for improving food security systems worldwide. In this class, you will examine: How serious is the hunger problem in the world? What are the root-causes of world hunger? What are some creative ideas for securing food for the world? What are the departments at OSU that prepare students to take an active role in securing food systems? You will also develop knowledge from direct experiences outside the traditional academic setting through field trips to a food bank and to an organic community farm in OR.  In addition, part of the course will be designated to acquaint you with many of the resources at the OSU campus to help you succeed in your academic journey in the university.

What Are You Eating?                                                                                                                                       

Dale Weber, TR 9-9:50, CRN 14819

Most of us take the food that we eat each day for granted, but do you really know where your food comes from, what goes into making it, and the steps that it takes from production to landing on your plate? And, how do these factors influence what foods are part of a healthy, affordable diet?  In other words, what are you eating and what does it mean to your well-being? This class will combine group discussions, guest lectures, team cooperative learning and the synthesis and presentation of information related to food and food production. In addition, efforts will be made to acquaint you with the many resources that are available to students on the OSU campus.

Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest: Past, Present, Future                                                                 

Anders Carlson, WF 11-11:50, CRN 14826

Glaciers are a crucial part of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. What will become of them in the future? When will they disappear? What will be the resulting impact? Using Oregon Cascade glaciers as our classroom, we will investigate glacier changes over the last 20,000 years, look at their current ‘health’, and use this information to answer the first two questions. We will study possible environmental and economic impacts that glacier loss may have in Oregon, answering the third question. Field trips (including a modern glacier and past glacier landforms), discussion, scientific readings, and data sets will be used. We will also discuss ways to choose a major, utilize the numerous campus opportunities and services, and get involved in academic life and research to reach your goals.

Global Warming and You                                                                                                    

Ed Brook and Christo Buizert, WF 9-9:50, CRN 14820

Is the earth getting warmer? If so, should we be doing anything about it, and what? This class will examine the historical and geological evidence for global warming, the factors that control earth’s climate and how they may be changing, what the future may hold, and whether or not geo-engineering of climate is a good idea. Field trips, discussion, data analysis, and investigation of current science will introduce students to the study of global warming, live glaciers, ocean acidification, programs in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and techniques and resources for research at OSU. We will also talk about how to get involved in undergraduate research, form meaningful connections with your professors, and achieve your goals at OSU.

Are You Wearing Mold?                                                                                                                                    

Sara Robinson, F 2-3:50, CRN 16984

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fungi come in a dazzling array of colors that add splashes of red, green and every color in between to a variety of everyday products. From stunning spalted wood floors to vibrant wools, fungi based dyes help bridge the gap between nature and design. In this class we’ll explore the long history of humans hunting, extracting, and using these pigments for dyes and also learn about recent developments that are producing the stickiest, brightest and most useful dyes yet. We’ll also get our DIY fix on by participating in the process. Plan to collect your own native fungi, extract pigments, and dye your choice of materials. Equal parts science, art, design and hands-on activities, you’ll never look at mold the same way again.

Powered By Orange?                                                                                                                                              

Jay Well, MW 2-2:50, CRN 17515

Do you know how much energy you consume on a daily basis?  It might be more than you think.  In this age of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and access makes utilizing energy more efficiently vital to ensuring the future health of our society and environment.  You’ll need a steady stream of power to keep up to speed in your classes, search for jobs and internships, and keep connected with friends and family, so, what can you do to use energy more responsibly during your time at OSU?  This course will look at the ways we utilize energy on campus as well as explore how OSU researchers are looking at novel ways to help us have a more sustainable energy future on campus and beyond. 

Closing the Gap – When Science Meets the Media                                                                            

Diana Rohlman, MW 9-9:50, CRN 14821

There is a growing gap between what scientists say and what the public believes. While 68% of scientists believe it is safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, only 28% of the public believes the same. How do we begin to close that gap? Science communicators use a combination of journalism, outreach and science to bridge the divide between science, the media, and the public. In this class, students will evaluate various information sources and learn how to more effectively communicate scientific results using campus resources. Students will develop their ability to effectively communicate science with various hands-on activities, improvisational techniques, and written exercises. Not a scientist? The resources shared here will be useful to a variety of majors and careers.

Untold Stories: Histories of People of Color in Oregon                                  

Janet Nishihara and Kim McAloney, TR 10-10:50, CRN 20598

Have you ever wondered about the histories of people of color in Oregon or why you haven’t heard them?  As a class, we’ll uncover stories such as how slaves were brought to Oregon with the promise of freedom, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the displacement of tribal communities in the name of progress, and the exploitation of Mexican labor through the Bracero program.  We’ll use OSU and community archives and talk with local historians and community members to uncover these untold stories.  Authors of some of our readings will join our conversations to help us understand why and how they did their research.  As a class, we will attend campus and community events and possibly visit local historical sites and societies and screen videos to further explore this subject.

The Photocopier is Mightier than the Sword: Zines and Self-Publishing                        

Kelly McElroy, MW 11-11:50, CRN 14800

Zines are hand-made little publications created out of passion to share a message with the world. Individuals have long used self-publishing to share stories not covered in mainstream media. People make zines about eating vegan, about growing up poor, about Miley Cyrus, about being deaf, and about anything else you can think of. In an age of digital connectedness, what makes print such a powerful way to build community? In this class, you’ll read zines, then make and share your own, learning tricks for cut-and-paste layout, mail art magic, and how to share your story. No need to be artsy or craftsy, just willing to try. We will examine the history of zines, focusing on how people of color, queer and trans* people, and other groups have used zines to build community.

Finding Bigfoot                                                                                         

Margaret Mellinger and Beth Filar-Williams, MW 3-3:50, CRN 20399

Why do stories about elusive human-like creatures living in the wilderness persist through time? Why are there so many television shows and movies about finding Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch? What do these legendary creatures represent in human culture, specifically in the Pacific Northwest? How do various disciplines approach the question of the existence of Bigfoot? What evidence do they use? In this class, we'll approach the Bigfoot phenomenon from multiple perspectives: storytelling, popular culture, anthropology, journalism and science. We'll consider how these different professional and academic communities determine what is valid and true and what is not and how they tend to communicate what they have found.

Exploring Self and Community through Literature and Film                                                  

Susie Brubaker-Cole, TR 10-10:50, CRN 14829

Our course will explore the trials and tribulations of entering new communities and new adult challenges as expressed through the work of writers and filmmakers.  The course is especially suited for people who enjoy delving into the connections between one’s own lived experiences and those of characters in fiction and film.  How do social and educational forces shape who we become as we experience life transitions?  How do communities help us define who we are and where we want to go?  Through close readings and discussions of literature and film, we will examine the theme of how our sense of self may be interwoven – for better or for worse – with our surrounding social and educational communities.  In parallel with these discussions, we will engage in active learning to explore the diverse communities and connections possible at OSU and how these can help you chart your own path as you begin college.

Coming of Age through Humorous Narratives                                                                                           

Clint Edwards, M 4-5:50, CRN 14822

Growing up is full of contradictions: love and loss, success and failure, discovery and boredom and great authors have been laughing about their coming-of-age for years. But what does it mean to truly “come of age” and why do so many authors write about it? In this class, we will explore the humorous side of the coming-of-age narrative by reading and discussing memoirists such as David Sedaris, Steve Almond, and Diana Joseph. We will deconstruct the elements of their stories. Then we will draft and create our own humorous coming-of-age stories. Most importantly, we will learn to laugh at the crazy transition between adolescence and adulthood, something many OSU students are in the throes of right now. This class will definitely interest English and writing majors and anyone willing to laugh at life.

Greek Mythology: Queering the Classics                                                                                          

Nancy Barbour, MW 10-10:50, CRN 14801

What can the mythology of ancient Greece reveal about how societies understand race, gender and sexual identity? In this course we will explore the tales of gods, goddesses, heroes and heroines in Greek mythology and interrogate how these stories reflect the variety of human experiences, identities and desires. We will also consider modern interpretations of the ancient myths, such as Clash of the Titans, Disney’s Hercules, and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, in order to gain understanding of the ways historical and cultural contexts influence social constructions of race, gender, sexuality, and other categories of identity. Through academic research and comparative textual analysis, students will create their own interpretation of a myth or mythological figure.

Is Football (and Society) Broke?                                                                                                          

Ashleigh Anderson, TR 2-2:50, CRN 14825

The American public has enjoyed college and professional football for decades and the sport’s popularity is continually increasing, but recently several controversial debates have tarnished football’s image. Are the sport of football, the NFL and the NCAA responsible for fueling societal problems such as bullying, sexual harassment and domestic violence? Should NFL and NCAA officials be doing more to address issues of head trauma, medicinal marijuana use, and the compensation and health of student-athletes? In this course we will use both professional and NCAA football to examine current hot topics that are relevant to football and society as a whole. Plan to see football through a whole new lens and select a hot-button issue of your choice to analyze and propose a potential solution to as part of this class.

Sports through the Lens of Social Media                                                                                                

Louie Bottaro, TR 12-12:50, CRN 14827

Social media permeates all parts of our worlds, including the way we find sports news and interact with our favorite teams and athletes. Twitter, Instagram and other microblogging technologies provide fans with countless opportunities to interact in real time with athletes, sports media analysts and fellow sports fans. These technologies have also lead to a series of major social faux paus and immediate retractions and apologies from professional and collegiate athletes. Which begs the question, should the NCAA or an employer like the NFL be able to tell athletes what they can or can’t say? What does this oversight mean for the larger concept of freedom of speech for all of us?  In this course we’ll explore these questions, analyze the inevitable social media driven controversies that happen during the term and talk as a class about how we can use social media in positive ways that enhance our reputations rather than damaging them.

Contact Info

New Student Programs & Family Outreach
A150 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-2133
Phone: 541-737-7627 | Fax: 541-737-6157

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