Favorite Undergrad Course?

Submitted by gajensen on July 28th, 2011 at 4:42 PM

The "us vs we" thread, as well as the Amy Winehouse discussion got me reminiscing about my time as a student in Ann Arbor.  
Drugs of Abuse (Psych 436) was brought up, and let me tell you, that was the hardest course for me for whatever reason.  It was worse than Orgo, worse than P Chem, it was just awful.  Yet, I loved the content and have no regrets about loading up on the hardest classes I could take within my concentration (BioPsych/BBCS).

Having said all that, my favorite course was Sleep Neurobiology, or Psych 520, I believe.  This was my first experience with rotating lecturers, as we had about 15 different speakers come in and address the class, including various big names at UMHS and the Chairs of Psychiatry and Psychology, and many visiting professors from other universities!  It resonated with me strongly because, well, everybody sleeps (and poops), and I used to sleep walk and still do snore and talk in my sleep.  I wish I had taken the course my freshmen year so I could have learned the pros and cons of all-nighters and daytime napping.
If all works out, I hope to get my MD and be involved in clinical sleep research.

That's my story, what's yours?



July 28th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

My favorite college course would be tough for me to pin down. The course I'm most happy I took was at a community college in high school and was just generic Intro to Microeconomics. I don't know how much econ I would have gone into without the limited dual enrollment options in high school and now I'll have at least a minor next spring, possibly a dual degree if the stars line up the right way.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:49 PM ^

But I really enjoyed orgo 1&2 and Econ 401 &402. I also hated P-Chem. My least favorite was by far CHEME 342 (I think) heat and mass transfer. Ugh!


July 28th, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

The amazing thing about Dr. Nolta is that she knew who EVERYBODY in her lecture was.  As far as I was aware she had no discussion or lab sections, yet when we met up outside her office to pick up our exams we'd be handed them on a first name basis.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:52 PM ^

EECS 281 (Data Structures & Algorithms) was my favorite undergrad class so far, but I'm only half way done. It was by far the most challenging, yet helpful, class I've taken.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

Ralph Williams class on Primo Levi's work, I believe it was Great Works of Literature (a 300 level English class I think). He has an impressive demeanor, his mannerisms are second to none, and he is one of the most personable and approachable people I have ever met. One really delves into the depths of humanity, good and evil, and the dangers of conformity or willful ignorance in that class.

Intro to American Literature with the now retired Lyall Powers was great. He was a funny guy with a vast wealth of experience. Visiting him during his office hours was truly a fantastic experience.

Any Vincent Hutchings class on American political processes and the electorate is great to. He really organizes the class well. Although, some of the reading is quite tedious.

South Bend Wolverine

July 29th, 2011 at 12:48 AM ^

Can't ever go wrong with Williams.  I had him for Intro to World Religions (REL 201), The Bible in English (ENG 401), Primo Levi (ENG something), and he also guest lectured in Great Books 192 (the Dante lectures) and Jesus and the Gospels (ACABS 221).  The man absolutely defined my undergrad career - even though he & I certainly would disagree on a lot of things, I learned a tremendous amount from him.

NYC Blue

July 28th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

I don't know it was my "favorite" course, but the most interesting I took was Philosophy of Space-Time.  A classic course only offered because the professor wrote a book on the subject.  It dealt with the philosophic implications and underpinnings of relativity and the idea that space and time are not rigid or fixed.

Totally useless, but interesting.  But most interesting were the people in it.  It had the unique pre-requisite of EITHER 3 philosophy courses OR 3 physics courses.  Of the 12 or so in the course, I was the only one who came to it from a physics background (and had never taken a philosophy course).  So I wound up approaching it from a completely different direction than everyone else which made for some really interesting discussion.

Don't recall the course number, it was a while ago (class of '94)


NYC Blue

July 28th, 2011 at 5:11 PM ^

I have to say I have forgotten a lot of the specifics (my most vivid memory is that I nearly failed when I showed up at 4 PM for a 1 PM final, and the professor was kind enough to let me take the exam in his office.)


I dont think we did much chaos theory though.  Certainly we talked some quantum physics, but it was much more about relativity.


July 28th, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

AFAIK, there is no chaos theory in Phil 423. There might be in Phil 420 (Philosophy of Science). As for quantum physics, it's presumably too late, but you might like to know that they unveiled a new Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics course last term.

NYC Blue

July 28th, 2011 at 6:23 PM ^

Missed it by THAT much. ("that" being 17 years)


There are definitely times I miss being a student.  If I had the time, I would definitely take a course like that.


I had a real habit of taking really interesting courses that had little in the way of practical value, but were the best parts of college.  (well, at least within the classroom)



July 28th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

Awesome!  Thanks, I'll check them out.  

I just got done watching the Nova miniseries "The Elegant Universe" which was really fascinating and touched on some things like this.  

Really fascinating how recent developments in theoretical physics are causing physicists to grapple with questions of cosmology and thus interact with philosophy.

BTW one of the guys featured on the Nova program was a U of M prof.  Can't remember his name though.


July 28th, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

Sklar also sometimes assigns stuff from Nick Huggett's collection Space from Zeno to Einstein

The course is not just offered because of his book, by the way---although it did win an award from the APA as the best philosophy book of 1973-74. Philosophy of physics is a serious field, and Michigan now employs 4 professors with primary specialties in philosophy of science/physics.

NYC Blue

July 28th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

Brian Greene (who narrates the series and wrote the book Elegant Universe) is another of those guys that have a real talent of explaining complex physics in a way that makes it interesting.  I have his book The Elegant Universe and another he wrote on string theory and enjoyed them both (and I definitely consider myself a layman when it comes to astrophysics)



July 28th, 2011 at 9:13 PM ^

Greene gave a public lecture in the Chem building auditorium sometime when I was in grad school - probably about 2001, if I remember right. I was about halfway through Elegant Universe at the time (Fabric of the Cosmos hadn't been released yet), and since his talk assumed you hadn't read it, I could actually follow along reasonably well. It blew my mind - that guy is a fantastic speaker.

NYC Blue

July 28th, 2011 at 6:13 PM ^

Yeah, he taught the course himself.  I mentioned somewhere above that not only was he a good teacher, but was a good guy who took pity on a hapless sophomore who could not read a finals schedule correctly


Blue in Yarmouth

July 29th, 2011 at 8:25 AM ^

I would say some of these professors people are talking about read mgoblog because I can not fathom why someone would be down voting these posts. Some people are just pricks!

Edit: This post was supposed to be under M-Wolverines post back near the top. Now that it is here it doesn't make a lot of sense...


July 28th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

Was so bored she drew a big snail, then turned to me and said "what does this remind you of?" and smiled. It was Russian philosophy, or politics, or something. The class I don't remember. The girl I do.
<br>Actually, this is a great summer thread idea. But after awhile, they all blend together. I had a really fun film class. But don't say a movie is the worst thing you ever saw and ask who picked THAT one when it turns out it was your TA's choice.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

Englsih 425 w/ John Rubadeau. The course was pretty good (mostly just a writing workshop) but the professor made it something really special.

Math 295 was really important because it gave me my interest in math, but I don't know if i'd say it was a fun class.

I really enjoyed some of the intro EECS courses (like 280), not because they were fun as much as they impressed me with the sort of skills I'd been gaining.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:56 PM ^

Drugs of Abuse is up there, for me. I'm taking Neurosci 520 this fall, and I'm looking forward to it. Other classes I've really enjoyed are MCDB 308 (Developmental Biology Lab), English 325 (Narrative Nonfiction) with Jeremiah Chamberlin, and... Orgo I. Mmm, science.


July 28th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

John U Bacon's History of College Athletics.  A great class with a great professor, and a moderate amount of work to boot.  A great way to round out senior year. 


July 29th, 2011 at 2:13 AM ^

I also took this class and found it to be easily the most enjoyable undergrad course I ever took.  From well-known speakers, to getting a ton of knowledge about the origins of collegiate athletics, it was hands down one of the most interesting, but complete courses I've ever taken.

John U. Bacon won the Golden Apple for this class and it was the most popular/hardest class to get into when I was in school.

Wolverine 2012

July 28th, 2011 at 4:59 PM ^

Most interesting:

Astronomy 104 with Mario Mateo- I love astronomy and this class wasn't too quantitative.

Entrepreneurship 395 with Len Middleton- Probably the most helpful class I've taken at U of M thus far.

Hardest course:

Accounting 271 and 272- Really tough curve and the course material doesn't interest me.


July 28th, 2011 at 5:15 PM ^

I took Astro with MM also and enjoyed it.  My class was called Alien Skies and I think he still teaches it, for any current Wolverines looking for a good science elective.

I enjoyed Musicology 239, even though most of the material in the course (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque music) didn't really apply to my major (clarinet, which was invented after these periods of musical history).  239 helped spark my interest in medieval and renaissance performance; I performed these kinds of music extensively (not on clarinet) through my undergraduate career.


July 29th, 2011 at 12:10 AM ^

When were you there? I was a clarinet major with Mohler (undergrad) and Shifrin (grad). I loved all my performance classes - lessons, ensembles. Never marched! My favorite academic class was String Methods with Elizabeth Green. Wasn't intending on teaching public school, but everytime I came out of her class I was so pumped I would consider going that route.


July 29th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

2006-2010.  I was there for the epochal transition from Ormand and Chodacki to Gilbert and Burrow.  The studio's come a long way from when I started there in 2006; new freshman have been stepping up their game consistently from year to year.  There have been some rumors about converting parts of Baits II into practice rooms since the SOM is considered a "Historic Building" and as such, can't have its footprint expanded.  I don't know if that's going to happen but I've been hearing about it since 2009.

I would have loved to study with Shifrin.  I actually had 3 different teachers in 4 years of undergrad because of all the professor changes.  I picked up some useful/interesting skills along the way, such as making my own reeds from tube cane and learning the ins and outs of Bb contra and bass clarinet.  I like the direction  the studios are heading in right now; there are a lot of dual studio classes with the two studios and the culture of collaboration in the clarinet studio is robust.

Did you ever play for Revelli?  I love the people who put his recordings up on YouTube; they still sound rock solid after 40 years.


July 29th, 2011 at 8:55 PM ^

You're a youngster! Hope you are actively playing and teaching. I didn't know the Music School is now considered an "historic building" - confirms my old timer status...

I was in the transition from Revelli (he had just retired, so I only had him as a guest conductor) to Cavender to Reynolds. 

It must have been tough going through the clarinet prof transition, but though it would have been better to have one of them for 3-4 years, they all had something to offer. I do like the direction the clarinet studio is going, as I think very highly of  the current faculty.

Great School of Music and a great university. And hoping for a return to greatness for the team!