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.

"Just Like Magic": Harry Potter Culture

Gabriel Acevedo, Assistant Professor - English

Harry Potter exploded into a global phenomenon with massive contemporary influence. In this class, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its cultural impact will be explored through the books and movies. Whether you’ve never read the series, you’ve never seen the movies or you re-read them every summer as a child, taking a critical lens to Harry Potter and its impact on modern-day culture, can expand your cultural literacy, moral reasoning, and analysis skills.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Wednesday, 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 80764

Autoethnography: Writing Your Life

Sarah Amira De La Garza, Associate Professor – Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Did you know you are full of insight into the world and our lives? Autoethnography uses our own experiences and creative writing to study culture and society. This class teaches this creative research skill, and you’ll learn to write a good autoethnographic essay, and even a poem or two!

Session: A (Aug. 18-Oct. 7)
Day/time: Friday, 4:10 - 6pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 88172

Designing Community Change

Sean Kenney, Education Manager – Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics
Elizabeth Grumbach, Co-Instructor

This seminar will encourage and empower students to implement change. We will use the framework of design thinking and design justice to explore solutions to emergent crises on local and global levels. We will explore how community-based research projects can illuminate the relationship between power and social justice in order to design inclusive, ethical futures.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 88186

Drugs, Needles, and People

Phillip Scharf, Assistant Vice President - EOSS

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 an 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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Wednesday 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 93821

Global South: Urbanization and Inequity

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

Have you heard about the Global South? More than 90% of the global population growth 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.

Session: B (Oct. 12-Dec. 2)
Day/time: Friday 2:00 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 88176

Innovation 101

Minu Ipe, Managing Director – Design Institute
Paul LePore - Co-Instructor

So you think innovation is just for rocket scientists and software engineers? Think again! The truth is everyone has the capacity to invent, to design, and to create new solutions. Whether you are studying the sciences, the humanities, or the arts, you are able to do things you could never before imagine through innovation. In this course, you will have the opportunity to explore your own creative and innovative potential and decide how you want to make an impact in the world. Over seven weeks, you will learn how innovation occurs, what it really means to have an innovation mindset, and de-bunk the myths of innovation that bind us. Most importantly, you will discover the innovator in you.

Session: A (Aug. 18-Oct. 7)
Day/time: Wednesday, 4 - 6pm
Location: ARM 147
Class #: 90238

Launching Your Leadership Journey

Kate Vawter,  Program Director – University College

LIA 194 is a one-credit hour course designed to assist students in developing strategies for success on their personal leadership journeys. LIA 194 is designed to jump-start your collegiate career and prepare you to be a leader at ASU and beyond. In this one-credit course, you will dive into leadership theories, explore your personal strengths, and begin practicing the strategies of successful leaders. The course employs dynamic in-class activities, collaborative learning, homework assignments, projects, and reflective writing.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Monday 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 80765

Life Extension: Science & Social Effects

Sean Dudley,  AVP and Chief Research Information Officer – Knowledge Enterprise

With prominent medical research universities such as Stanford and Harvard now addressing life extension as a specific research interest, we will explore the emerging ethical and social dimensions of this topic and also discuss the specific details of related current and historic scientific work.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Friday 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 93822

LiveWell@ASU: Introduction to Wellness

Sydney Holmes, Health Educator - Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness

Learn about the 8 dimensions of wellness as it relates to holistic wellbeing and identify resources available to you through the LiveWell network at ASU.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Wednesday 4:40 - 5:30pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 80766

Making a Career with a Humanities Major

Jeffery Cohen, Dean of Humanities – Dean's Office

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. 18-Oct. 7)
Day/time: Monday, 2 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 80759

Past Lives: Writing Historical Fiction

Courtney Fowler, Instructor – English
Kathleen McNamara, Co-Instructor

Craft an original work of historical fiction. Read and discuss works by bestselling authors and conduct research to write characters, settings, and dialogue that bring worlds to life. Consider ethical implications of depicting history and embrace the challenges of evoking another time and place through the eyes of your protagonist.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesday 4:30 - 5:20pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 93825

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: A (Aug. 18-Oct. 7)
Day/time: Friday,  2:00 - 3:50 P.M.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 93816

Re-imagining Borders: US-Mexico & Beyond

Irasema Coronado,  Director and Professor – STS

People tend to think of borders as fixed lines in the sand and rarely realize that borders are fluid realities. This course provides an interdisciplinary overview of the complex issues of the US-Mexico transborder region and how borders are in motion and multiplying across the world. The course will pay particular attention to several transborder issues, including history of the region, culture, media, health and applied social policy.
Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3:00 - 3:50pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 96818

Social Media Explorations of Shakespeare

Laura Turchi, Clinical Professor - Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Wednesday 2:30 - 3:20pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 80763

Sociology of Summer Camp

Paul LePore, Associate Dean - The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesdays 4:30-5:30pm
Location: ARM 147
Class #: 90239

Spanglish & Reggaetón: Latinx Media!

Thomas Shalloe,  Instructor – Spanish
Norma López - Co-Instructor

This seminar proposes a look at the diverse cultures and use of language throughout the Latinx communities of the United States and the issues facing them by analyzing their cultural production such as Film, T.V. and Media, Literature, Music, and Art. Some topics to be discussed include the History of the Spanish-speaking U.S., Spanglish and language, Immigration, Afro-Latinx influence on Music like Salsa and Reggaetón.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Monday 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 93820

Speaking OUT: LGBTQ+ Youth & Their Allies

David Boyles,  Instructor – 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 to TV to YouTube to events such as Drag Queen Story Hour as well as political organizations that center LGBTQ+ youth such as GLSEN and the Trevor Project and in political discussions around issues such as conversion therapy, trans participation in school sports, and the teaching of LGBTQ+ history. Drawing on the disciplines of rhetoric, political science, cultural studies, and queer studies, will discuss how this increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ youth has changed our cultural conversations.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Monday, 4:40 - 5:30pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 93823

Stories Behind Great Science Discoveries

Kjir Hendrickson,  Principal Lecturer – SMS

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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Thursday, 4:30 - 5:20pm
Location: PABLO105
Class #: 93826

The Human Animal Bond: Magic & Science!

Terri Hlava,  Instructor – Justice Studies and Disabilities Studies

Join us as we explore the magic and the science of the human animal bond in teaching and therapies! Meet working animals and their humans! Learn how this unique bond happens, helps, and heals! Course culminates in a visit to Odysea Aquarium where we debate ideas of justice surrounding animals and humans!

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Friday, 3:35 - 4:25pm
Location: PVW163 
Class #: 93819

The Interdisciplinary Science of Swearing

Instructor: Rachel Bristol, Teaching Faculty – 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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Thursday, 3 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 88187

The Law of Armed Conflict & War Crimes

Bruce Pagel,  Professor of Practice – SCETL

The course will cover the history of the law of war, jus ad bellum (UN Charter, War Powers Act), jus in bello (Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocols), and cover specific topics like drones, cyber warfare and detention. It would include a review of the Nuremburg Tribunals, Military Commissions and the ICC.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Thursday 4:30 - 5:20pm
Location: PABLO101
Class #: 93827

The Many Faces of Latin America

Charles Ripley, Instructor – School of Politics and Global Studies

This course introduces students to the exciting world of Latin American studies. From conflict and migration to the diversity of cultures and indigenous rights, it covers a broad spectrum of historical and topical subjects. Dr. Ripley draws upon a unique experience living and researching throughout the region and brings this personal expertise to the classroom. This is a course you will not want to miss!

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Friday 2:30 - 3:20pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 93818

The Rabbit Hole: Conspiracy & Narrative

Anna Muldoon,  Research Professional – Biodesign Institute

We will explore the structure, patterns, and history of conspiracy narratives to better understand how they come to be, spread, and change over time. We will examine current and past conspiracy theories to understand the similarities and differences over time and understand how they move through societies.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Thursday 3:00 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 88189

The Real Judge Judy: Courts In Action

Gregory Broberg, Lecturer - Justice & Social Inquiry

This course takes you behind the scenes of a real courtroom. Together, we will explore the law through the eyes of our local Tempe court. In-person court/jail visits and judge “chats” will show first-hand how justice is delivered in real-time. We will also throw in some law school preparation tips.

Session: C (Aug. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30 - 5:20pm
Location: PABLO101
Class #: 94676

The World of King Arthur

Ryan Naughton, Instructor – 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. 18-Dec. 12)
Day/time: Tuesday 3:00 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW163
Class #: 88188

Wildlife in the City

Kevin McGraw, Professor – School of Life Sciences

What animals live around us? What equips them to tolerate or thrive in human-dominated environments? Where are they likely to be found? We will review the scientific aspects and community implications for coexisting with wild animals.

Session: B (Oct. 12-Dec. 2)
Day/time: Monday, 2 - 3:50pm
Location: PVW159
Class #: 88175

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