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 Whole New World: 90's Disney Film Era

Gabriel Acevedo Velazquez, Assistant Professor of English Education, Department of English

In 1992, Beauty and the Beast stood taller than most films, becoming the first animated movie to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. It remains a crown jewel from a period of creative rejuvenation and transcendence that dominated American pop culture for a decade and still echoes like a particularly catchy melody 31 years after the triumphs began. Beauty and the Beast emerges from the most popular era of the Walt Disney Company: The Disney Renaissance. The films of the Disney Renaissance have ingratiated themselves into modern movie culture, redefining what children's films could be. The works of Disney Renaissance's animation, beginning with 1989's The Little Mermaid and carrying on through Tarzan in 1999, are considered a major winning streak for Disney, helping to build the company into the juggernaut it is today. Intersecting a vibrant animation style, classic literature stories, and a Broadway sensibility to animated filmmaking, Disney's Renaissance uniquely crafted a signature touch of magic for the global conglomerate. In this course, we will consider the role of these movies in textual and cultural analysis and the value of film in understanding cultural and generational capital. We also will hone our knowledge of the cultural studies framework through close attention to race, gender, sexuality, class, queerness, and ability on screen and behind the scenes at Disney. Through in-depth analysis of the ten representative Disney Renaissance films, students will better understand Disney, American media in general, and the generational impact of this era of filmmaking on our cultural identities.

Session: B (Oct. 11-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 85241

AZ Global: Migration, Trade and Diplomacy

Keith Brown, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies
James Edmonds, Program Coordinator, Melikian Center: Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies

Arizona has a rich history of global connection, through immigrant communities, sister-city relationships and international trade. In this seminar, students will develop research and presentation skills including oral, archival and digital history methods, and GIS/Storymaps and sound recording and editing, to develop stories that explore how the local and the global connect across the 48th state. In particular, students will have the opportunity to work either with their own family histories, or with members of Arizona's heritage communities or international organizations including Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations or the state's multiple sister city organizations.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 10:10-11 a.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94256

Drugs, Needles and People

Mary Nadarski, Associate Director, Academic Services, The College

So you want to be a doctor? Have you ever thought about going into healthcare? Are you curious what medical school and careers in healthcare might look like? Come find out first-hand what you need to do as undergraduate to be prepared for a successful career in medicine and other healthcare professions. We will tour medical school facilities, interact with current healthcare professionals, acquire skills to be prepared for the MCAT (the medical school entrance exam), and learn from current ASU upperclassmen who are on the journey to medical school. Gain the insights you need to become a successful candidate for a career in medicine.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Friday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: ARML1-72
Class #: 88597

Environmental Justice Across Borders

Irasema Coronado, Director, School of Transborder Studies

All people have a right to live in a clean environment and access resources to sustain their health and economic well-being. How is it that certain groups of people are denied this basic right? This course will examine how poor indigenous, immigrant and marginalized communities are adversely affected by larger systems of power and privilege that create unjust environmental exposures to environmental hazards, air and water pollution, pesticides and other contaminants. We will use transnational case studies that focus on various geographic locations and include local, state, national and international communities and how people have organized to demand environmental justice.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Monday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 94280

Games, Utopia and the Good Life

Shawn Klein, Teaching Assistant Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

What would you do in Utopia? In his classic *The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia*, Bernard Suits argues that with all our needs and wants instantly and perfectly satisfied, we would play games. Playing games, surprisingly, seems to get at something important about finding meaningful in one's life. Through a close reading and shared inquiry of this text, we will explore Suits’ account of the nature of game-playing and its role in a meaningful life.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94262

Human Animal Bond Science and Magic!

Terri Hlava, Instructor, School of Social Transformation - Justice Studies, Disability Studies, and Social Pedagogy

Have you ever wondered how your dog knows just when you feel stressed, or how watching fish swim can reduce someone's blood pressure? Come investigate these and other fascinating questions, and ask the experts who bring animals to our classroom each week! Learn the benefits of having therapy animals in hospitals, elder-care facilities, and schools, and meet the human (and non-human) practitioners who provide these therapies! Join us on field trips, meet even more animals and the people they partner with, and have fun learning about the important connections we share with other species!

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Friday, 10:10-11 a.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94257

Leadership 101: Want to be a leader?

Mary Flora, Leadership and Programming Coordinator, Fraternity & Sorority Life

You join a club! You start a club! You lead the club! These phrases are said to you several times while exploring ASU, but what do they really mean? In this course we will discover your leadership style, your interests outside the classroom, the Student Organization resources at ASU and how to apply all this post graduation. Whether you have already joined an organization or are just dipping your toe in the college experience, this course will help you navigate your involvement at Arizona State!

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Friday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94289

LGBTQ+ Youth in Pop Culture and Politics

David Boyles, Instructor, Department of English

Until recently, the experiences of LGBTQ youth have largely been absent in political conversations and pop culture representations. But that has changed dramatically in the past decade. This course will examine the increasing visibility of LGBTQ youth in pop culture from comics and TV to YouTube and events. In addition, we will examine political organizations that center LGBTQ youth in political discussions around issues such as conversion therapy, transgender participation in school sports and the teaching of LGBTQ history. Drawing on the disciplines of rhetoric, political science, cultural studies and queer studies, we will discuss how this increasing visibility of LGBTQ youth has changed our cultural conversations.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 79667

LiveWell@ASU: Introduction to Wellness

Michelle Quispe, Health Educator Sr., Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness

Join us to learn about the 8 dimensions of wellness as it relates to holistic well-being: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, financial, occupational, spiritual, and environmental. We will explore how each dimension intersects with one another to guide students through their well-being journey. Each section will include an overview of resources available to students at ASU.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Thursday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 85252

Making a Career with a Humanities Major

Jeffrey Cohen, Dean of Humanities, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

From resumes and internships to interview skills and graduate school planning, this seminar will help you to lay the groundwork of your future career from day one at ASU.

Session: A (Aug. 17-Oct. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 79665

Nature and Media

Matthew Chew, Faculty Associate, School of Life Sciences

People typically experience a lot more of the natural world through curated and mediated content than by direct experience. With today’s technology, you can be anywhere on Earth by clicking a mouse or a remote while rarely going outside. Maybe you only know what you’ve been shown. Conversely, maybe you consider yourself an outdoors person. We will examine a variety of nature media—such as podcasts, blogs, and YouTube videos—to analyze their messages and themes surrounding nature. We will also spend time outside, investigating what it takes to really see the natural world (even on campus!) and thinking about how to best deliver our experiences technologically to others.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 79669

Peers are Powerful: Mentoring & Growth

Avery Nordgren, Health Educator, Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness

Learn more on why Peers are Powerful! Through this course students will gain the skills that will make them a better leader, role model, activist, and team member. Peers are one of the most potent sources of influence on one another. We will focus on broad student development, while discussing peer opportunities where an array of actionable skills will be enhanced. Examples of skills that will be covered; leadership skills, listening skills, response and referral skills, how to take action, recognizing the role of diversity and inclusivity, presentation skills, and self-care.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: ARML1-72
Class #: 79668

Pleading the Case: Life as An Attorney

Gregory Broberg, Associate Teaching Professor, School of Social Transformation

What makes a great legal case? In this fast-paced seminar, you will learn how to plan your law school career, get a first-hand perspective of the legal system, and work directly with a local Phoenix-area attorney (and ASU alumni) to brief three specific cases. This introductory seminar is perfect for anyone considering a law school career.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 88602

Poetry as Protest

Jennifer Conlon, Instructor, Writing Programs

When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?' versed poet Amanda Gorman at the presidential inauguration. Through wars and social movements, poetry has long been a language of resistance and empowerment. In this seminar, we will read and discuss poetry in conversation with U.S. histories, identities, politics, and pop culture.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Friday, 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94263

Public Health, Communities, & Well-Being

Kimberly Frick, Director, Sexual and Relationship Violence Program, ASU Health Services

Uplifting communities and creating environments where people belong and feel as they matter greater impacts physical and mental well-being. This course explores public health practices aimed at preventing health disparities at the population level in order to enhance thriving for individuals so that they can develop meaningful relationships and contribute to community well-being. This course will prepare students to have a better understanding of the various pathways to engage in public health, and will provide students with the opportunity to contribute to initiatives here at ASU that are designed to increase belonging, reduce loneliness, and prevent harm.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Monday, 10:10-11 a.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94255

Rocks From Space: History and Pop Culture

Jemma Davidson, Assistant Research Scientist, Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies, School of Earth and Space Exploration
Devin Schrader, Associate Research Professor, Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies, School of Earth and Space Exploration

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 (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 85251

Soc of Summer Camp

Paul LePore, Associate Dean, Student and Academic Programs, The College

Each year, more than 11,000,000 kids (and adults) attend one of the 12,000 summer camps operating in the United States. Camps are a big business, grossing more than $2.8 billion annually and employing more than 1.5 million staffers. Lots of famous people were former campers - Bob Dylan, Julia Roberts, Mark Zuckerberg, and Denzel Washington, just to name a few. For many, summer camp provides some of the most poignant memories from childhood and adolescence. So why do camps work and how might you look at what happens at camp to understand and enhance how other complex organizations operate? Using a sociological lens, we will explore the history of camps in the US, watch some classic camp movies, learn key social science research skills (so we can interview people about their own camp experiences), and culminate our course with a weekend trip to a camp in the valley.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Location: ARM147
Class #: 86518

Social Media Explorations of Shakespeare

Laura Turchi, Clinical Professor, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Study, Department of English

To re-imagine the 'Shakespeare' students might have studied in high school, we'll look at Shakespeare plays as they appear in social media (as well as on Broadway and in Hollywood). Students will collect and share images, memes, tweets, and TikToks as we interrogate how and whether these plays still matter.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 88599

Stories Of Great Scientific Discoveries

Kjir Hendrickson, Teaching Professor, School of Molecular Sciences

Scientific discoveries are the product of their times, their social contexts, and the experiences of their discoverers. This seminar is a non-technical approach to some of the great discoveries in the history of science, the stories of how they came about, and their impact on the world.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94288

The Global South: Urbanization & Inequity

Sarbeswar Praharaj, Associate Director and Assistant Research Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning

Have you heard about the Global South? We expect that more than 90% of population growth in the world over the next 30 years will take place in cities of the global South. This seminar will explore the Global South's geographical compass and provide an overview of the growth of cities in this region. We will explore the concepts of mega-urbanization, fast cities, and smart cities emerging from the Global South and question their sustainability and equity. Come find out how you can develop an international understanding of cities to appreciate the diversity of urban cultures, aesthetics, and people.

Session: B (Oct. 11-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Friday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 85242

The Interdisciplinary Science of Swearing

Rachel Bristol, Teaching Assistant Professor, Psychology

This course examines the origin, sound, and grammar of curse words, how they vary across cultures and change over time, the developmental, psychological, and physiological effects they have on us, and where profane language lives in our brains. We will include perspectives from linguistics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Monday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: ARML1-72
Class #: 94281

The Science & Application of Kindness

Bethany Bustamante Van Vleet, Teaching Professor, School of Social and Family Dynamics
Denise Bodman, Teaching Professor, School of Social and Family Dynamics

Kindness will be explored through academic literature, film, and, most importantly, action! We will examine factors that encourage and hinder kindness and the benefits of kindness. The study of kindness will expand beyond classroom walls as students take the lead in organizing one or more class service projects.

Session: A (Aug. 17-Oct. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 94291

The World of King Arthur

Ryan Naughton, Instructor, Department of English

When he pulled the sword from the stone, King Arthur became a legend. For over 1,000 years, that legend has been retold in stories, films, TV shows, and video games. We will investigate these and other sources to find out where the legend comes from and why it continues to be popular.

Session: C (Aug. 17-Dec. 1)
Day/time: Monday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 94287

Wildlife in the City

Alexis Dollion, Postdoctoral researcher, School of Life Sciences
Kevin McGraw, Professor, School of Life Sciences

In this seminar course, you will learn individually (through personal observation, reading, and writing) and with peers (through discussion) about human-wildlife interactions. We will view these interactions through the lens of ecology (who is interacting?), behavior (how do they interact?), evolution (what beneficial or harmful selection pressures are exerted on animals?), sociology (how are humans benefitting or harmed?), and conservation (who’s most important in these interactions?). I hope you see the natural and urbanized worlds around you differently after taking this course, as you infuse your own thoughts, experiences, and visions into our class wide considerations of the who/what/where/when/how/why’s of human-wildlife interactions. 

Session: A (Aug. 17-Oct. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-11
Class #: 88594

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