Discovery Seminars

College is a time for exploration, self-discovery and personal reflection. The College’s Discovery Seminars are small, discussion-based, one-credit courses exclusively for first-year students that help you uncover new topics of interest in a supportive environment. 

Discovery Seminars offer:


Small classes

You'll learn from some of our top faculty and administrators in classrooms of 25 students or less. 


Diverse topics

You'll explore some really cool topics like writing historical fiction, designing community change and transformative scientific discoveries.


New friendships

Courses are taught in residential halls, so you'll meet new friends living nearby.


Complementary studies

You'll discover new career avenues by exploring interdisciplinary topics that complement your field of study. 

Explore seminar topics.

A Buffet of Topics In Food Chemistry

Kjir Hendrickson, Principal Lecturer, School of Molecular Sciences

From the sensory experience of eating all the way through the processes of digestion, absorption, and utilization of nutritional molecules, chemistry is integral to our relationship with food. This class covers chemical aspects of taste and smell, why we need the nutrients we do, how fad diets impact health, and many other fascinating aspects of food chemistry.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Thursday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32077

Boundaries & Beyond: Healthy Connections

Kimberly Frick, Director, Sexual and Relationship Violence Program

Boundaries play a critical role in enhancing relationships with ourselves, each other, and our community. Setting boundaries is a skill that takes practice and requires self-awareness about personal growth. This course will start by exploring our relationship with ourselves so that we can determine our strengths and weaknesses around boundary setting and develop a personalized action plan to improve our relationship well-being. Learn about the various forms of relationships and how we can work together to create a community where safety, equality, and respect is the norm. The culminating project for this course will be implementing a community conversation for other first-year students around healthy relationships and boundary setting with the goal of spreading the knowledge you have gained in this course across ASU.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Monday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 27760

For the 'Gram: Sociology of Social Media

Marcella Gemelli, Senior Lecturer, Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

This course will use sociological concepts to examine ideas about the self, relationships, interactions, reality and society in the world of social media. We will also evaluate how communication technologies are created and utilized: who creates them and for what reasons, who uses them and why. We will engage with important questions: How does social media shape how we experience our social world? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? What is the future of social media and what does that mean for society? We engage with social media every day! Let’s take a deep dive into what that means for us on an individual and societal level.

Session: A (Jan. 9-Feb. 28)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 27916

Genocide Awareness

Tim Langille, Senior Lecturer, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Volker Benkert, Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Several studies indicate that awareness of the Holocaust and to an even larger extent other genocides is declining in the US. As a result, lawmakers around the county and in our state have mandated that the Holocaust and other genocides be taught in schools. This seminar will explore how we can study different genocides without creating hierarchies of suffering and how we can create awareness for genocide in schools and universities to address the recent mandate. The seminar will coincide with Genocide Awareness Week, the nation’s largest public-facing conference, held at ASU in April 2023. Students will have the ability to meet with activists, politicians and scholars at the conference and explore small independent projects around Genocide Awareness.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 27758

Ghost in the Machine: Paranormal Media

Lisa Han, Assistant Professor, Department of English

From the telegraph to the television, media technologies have a long history of association with ideas of the paranormal and with paranoid delusion. This course examines this relationship between media, electronics, and a pervasive culture of doubt around new media technology. Beginning with 19th century mediums, divination, telepathy, and hauntology, we will trace ideas about media’s power and connection to the paranormal into modern day concerns about electronic contamination, implantation, and mediated astrology.

Session: B (March 13-April 28)
Day/time: Monday, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32064

It's All Greek to Me: Exploring Greek Life

Gary Ballinger, Director, Fraternity and Sorority Life

Have you always wanted to unravel the mystery of Greek Life? This seminar will explore the history, challenges, and social movements of fraternities and sororities in the United States from their founding until today. The course will discuss the formation of early student organizations on college campuses, and how they changed to meet the needs of students, act as support systems for various underrepresented student populations, and at times been a thorn in the side of college administrators.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 27757

Legal Fiction: Lawyers in Popular Culture

Emily Rap, Assistant Director, Undergraduate Studies

What does it mean to be a lawyer?  Drawing from true crime, fiction, and film, in this course we will investigate the different (and sometimes contradictory) ways the figure of the lawyer is portrayed in popular culture.  We will examine the role of the lawyer as archetype in our collective consciousness and ask what popular representations can teach us about the place of lawyers in our contemporary society.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Wednesday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 27761

Living in Space: Know before you go!

Cheryl Nickerson, Professor, School of Life Sciences

Humans are ready and willing to accept great risks to go where no one has gone before.  However, knowing that no humans can survive in space for a long time without the proper science to support their health and well-being, do we have sufficient and sound biological information to support prolonged space habitation?  During space missions, humans experience a wide range of stressors and hazards, including reduced gravity, high levels of radiation, distance from Earth, isolation, and confinement.  As new commercial spaceflight companies (think Elon Musk/SpaceX and Jeff Bezos/Blue Origin) enable flight opportunities for public space travel, access to space is no longer limited to professional astronauts, and you could be the next space travelers!  This class will introduce students to the changes that occur to the human body in space and the different types of research being done to keep astronauts and other space travelers healthy during their voyage in space, including to the moon and Mars.  Students will learn from world experts about the different types of research being done to keep humans healthy and productive as they live, work, and travel in space. The course will culminate with a trip to an ASU Space Life Sciences and Human Health Laboratory on the Tempe campus to interact with world experts in spaceflight biomedical research who have flown multiple experiments on the International Space Station.  In addition to face-to-face interactions with these ASU space biomedical scientists, students will be able to see and handle actual flight hardware that has flown in space.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Friday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 32075

LGBTQ+ Cinema and TV in Pop Culture

Gabriel T. Acevedo, Assistant Professor, Department of English

With national conversations around 'Drag Queen Story Times,' 'Don't Say Gay' in Florida, and Anti-trans national bans, how do young adults reflect and mobilize different ideas of gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ+ identities in pop culture, specifically in Films and Television? This course will look at LGBTQ+ films and TV and how they frame, approach, and represent adolescent experiences with queerness and sexuality. We will talk about how adolescence, queerness, and sexuality have changed over time in media and pop culture, how LGBTQ+ young adults are visually shown, and how representations of gender and sexuality are connected by identity, race, ability, class, and others. In addition to learning how to engage with representations and misrepresentations of queerness in these films and shows, we will also determine the extent to which LGBTQ+ experiences and conversations can unlock unprecedented, crucial, and important cultural movements for young adults and teens.

Session: A (Jan. 9-Feb. 28)
Day/time: Monday, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32057

Making the Mind-Body Connection

Linda Luecken, Professor and Interim Dean, Social Sciences

Why do some people get headaches when they are stressed? Why do students get colds during exam week? Can yoga lower blood pressure? Explore the science behind mind-body connections: how thoughts, behaviors, and stress can affect physical health; psychological and biological responses to daily stress; and applications for managing stress and improving mind-body health.

Session: B (March 13-April 28)
Day/time: Wednesday, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32065

Math is everywhere! STEM, culture & more

Iuliia Inozemtseva, Lecturer, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Discover the beauty of mathematics in biology, medicine, AI, computer science, sports, music, engineering and epidemics spread. No matter which subject is your favorite, we will show you how math is changing it in the 21st century: from music, medicine to machine learning. Come and blow your mind away with each class.

Session: A (Jan. 9-Feb. 28
Day/time: Wednesday, 11:50 a.m.-1:40 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32059

Robin Hood and Other Medieval Outlaws

Ryan Naughton, Instructor, Department of English

The Robin Hood legend has captured the imagination for over 700 years. He and his Merry Men have appeared in stories, movies, and video games. But Robin and his followers aren’t the only famous outlaws of medieval England. Join me as we read and discuss stories and plays and watch and analyze movies and video clips about Robin and his fellow outlaws of medieval England.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Thursday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32078

Rocks from Space: History and Pop Culture

Devin Schrader, Deputy Director, Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies

Meteorites (rocks from space) are time capsules of Solar System history, frequently appear in pop culture, and have had significant impact on life on Earth. In this class, we’ll explore what meteorites have to tell us about our Solar System, how they’ve influenced life on Earth, how they are portrayed in pop culture, learn reasoning and analysis skills, and get a hands on look at meteorites. We will explore how meteorites and asteroids are represented (and misrepresented) in movies and television shows such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Witcher, Star Wars, Superman, James Bond, The Expanse and more.

Session: C (Jan. 9-April 28)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 27759

Transformative Learning in College & Life

Ron Broglio, Associate Director, Institute for Humanities Research

What if the most important part of university is personal transformation? Sure, we learn facts and details of our majors, but so much more happens than is evident in a grade and credits on a transcript.  Rarely do we learn how to learn. This seminar explores transformational learning for university and for life. It provides applicable habits for success inside and outside the classroom, explains learning structures, lets you determine the best ways you learn, and helps you understand how your own mind works and thinks. The class is a set of exercises and explorations in knowing by doing, process based learning, and narrative identity formation (the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves). We become most alive when we unlock and activate our potentials.

Session: A (Jan. 9-Feb. 28)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 27917

ASU student visits with classmates outside.

Add a seminar to your schedule.

Upcoming Discovery Seminars and course availability are listed in the ASU course catalog.

Enroll in a Discovery Seminar.

Additional resources