Discovery Seminars

College is a time for exploration, self-discovery and personal reflection. The College‚Äôs 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.

Kjir Hendrickson, Teaching Professor, 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 (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 79758

Madalina Meirosu, Assistant Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures

Artificial Intelligence is an increasingly prominent feature of contemporary life: we already use AI in the form of reactive machines, such as chatbots, or limited memory AI, such as the driverless cars roaming the streets of Tempe. This seminar invites students to project themselves into the future in order to explore the manifold implications of building and perfecting "theory of mind" AI such as Kismet or Sophia from Hanson robotics, which (who?) can recognize and mimic human emotions, as well as the hypothetical, more advanced "self awareness AI" which (who?) will actually feel emotions. We will discuss the boundaries between the human and the artificial and consider various ethical considerations when building AI. We will also examine the role of AI in everyday life with an eye to figuring out what fuels the AI boom, and dream ourselves into the future as we anticipate what the trajectory of AI might look like. Each week, a short story, film, or work of art produced over the past few years will provide food for thought and a starting point for class discussion.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 73488

Irasema Coronado, Director, School of Transborder Studies

This course provides an interdisciplinary overview of the complex issues of the US-Mexico transborder region and a survey of Latina/o/x populations across the US. The course will pay particular attention to several transborder issues, including history of the region, culture, media, health and applied social policy; education and the US and Mexican regional immigration policy and economy.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 79756

Keith Brown, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies
Jamie Edmonds, Melikian Center

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 produce audio stories 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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 10:10-11 a.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 79741

Brianna Avalos, Instructor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

In this seminar, we will go on an exploration of understanding how to communicate with friendships and how it is used primarily to initiate, maintain, and dissolve friendships at all stages in life. We will discuss the meaning and the communication behind platonic relationships for ourselves and one another. Friendships will also be explored within various contexts including face-to-face and internet maintenance. The seminar will ponder difficult questions that come with asking what the importance of friendship is, how difficult various life stages can impact one another, and lastly what transgressions and/or dissolution of these interpersonal relationships undergo. The seminar will primarily be assessed through a portfolio detailing students' journey of understanding friendships in their own life and how various perspectives discussed ultimately inform their own.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 68805

Mary Nadarski, Director, Career & Pre-Professional Advising, OSAP - Futures Center

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 discuss what skills and values are necessary as a future practitioner, learn about test prep, and experiential learning, and hear from current students. Gain the insights you need to become a successful candidate for a career in medicine.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Thursday, 10:30-11:20 a.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83937

Terri Hlava, Faculty, School of Social Transformation

Have you ever had a hard day and then pet a cat or a dog, held a hamster, or watched fish swim, and instantly felt indescribably better? If so, then you have experienced some of the magic of the human animal bond! Now come learn how that magic works! Meet horses, working dogs, birds and reptiles (and their human partners) and learn some of the science behind these unique relationships! We'll look at some links between habitat health and human health (including mental health topics too)! This course takes a hands-on approach so you'll meet animals in our classroom and on the field trip! Finally, you'll learn a bit about the differences between various types of literature that document the human animal bond! Come enjoy the journey!

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 79759

Gary Ballinger, Director of Fraternity & Sorority life, Student Connection & Community: Fraternity & Sorority 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: B (Oct. 16-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 83927

Gabriel T. Acevedo Velazquez, Assistant Professor, English

Harry Potter exploded into a global phenomenon with massive contemporary influence. In this course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, its cultural, and literary impact, and implications in pedagogy and identity will be explored through the books, films, and fandom. By taking critical lenses such as race, queerness, feminism, and others to Harry Potter and its impact on modern-day culture, you can expand your cultural literacy, moral reasoning, and analytical skills. We will read excerpts from the books, watch movies, and engage in conversations about the cultural impact of Harry Potter on our identities. As part of your journey, you will take your O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s which seek to guide students to understand connections between Harry Potter, media, pop culture, and identity. Students will also be able to appreciate, evaluate, and question the complex ways in which Harry Potter culture has shaped and reshaped our social world by describing, interpreting, and critically evaluating the Harry Potter fandom. This course also seeks to guide students to engage in conversations of the transformative power of renaissance, construction, and re-construction of the self in society; oppression and social justice; issues of gender, race, and ethnicity; power, morality, evil, and courage; and the magic of love but above all seeks to add to the conversation around how to engage with art and texts that may seem controversial to some.

Session: B (Oct. 16-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 73485

Hannah Araneta, Coordinator, Fraternity and 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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Tuesday, 12-12:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83938

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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 1:25-2:15 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83940

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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Tuesday, 10:30-11:20 a.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83936

Iuliia Inozemtseva, Associate Teaching Professor, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences

Explore the elegance of mathematics across nature, biology, medicine, AI, computer science, engineering, and epidemics. Regardless of your preferred subject, we'll unveil how math is revolutionizing the 21st century, from space, music and medicine to machine learning. Sign up to be amazed in every class!

Session: A (Aug. 22-Oct. 11)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 79760

Miral Mahgoub, Associate Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures

The course will offer a survey of compelling Middle Eastern women's literary work that reflects various themes related to the representations of gender Equality. Students will explore the writing discourse about sexuality and examine the correlations between the female narratives about sexuality, the feminist movement, and political liberation movements. Special attention will also be paid to the new waves of female writing that are inspired by ongoing Middle Eastern political Uprisings the Iranian Revolution and the Arab Spring.

Session: B (Oct. 16-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 83928

Susan Nguyen, Senior Editor, Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

In her incendiary essay collection, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Cathy Park Hong reflects : "I have struggled to prove myself into existence." Asian Americans have long been denied complexity and are instead often depicted as flat, two-dimensional characters in media: the model minority, the tiger mom, the heavily-accented punchline, or the hypersexualized Asian woman. Look at the news cycle in recent years and you'll see how these characterizations have fomented anti-AAPI hate, frequently with deadly consequences. 

In this class, we'll explore the work of contemporary Asian authors who are crafting luminous and subversive counternarratives, who reject violent stereotypes and erasure, and who insist on creating more complex stories. Together, we'll read and discuss creative writing that explores Asian identity through the lenses of joy, desire, food, grief, and rage.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Thursday, 12-12:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83939

Matthew Chew, Associate Faculty, School of Life Sciences
Nolina Doud, PhD Student

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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 76089

Avery Nordgren, Health Educator, Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness

Learn more about why Peers are Powerful! During the course of this seminar, students will become a Certified Peer Educator (CPE). When becoming a CPE, students will gain the skills that will make them better leaders, role models, activists, and team members. Peers are one of the most potent sources of influence on one another! This training will cover an array of actionable skills including how to help peers make a behavior change, listening skills, response and referral skills, how to take action, intervene, recognizing the role of diversity and inclusivity, programming and presentation skills, self-care, and group dynamics. Once this course is completed students will be eligible to receive a certificate, membership card, and resume attachment by completing the online test.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83934

Cynthia J Bolton, Associate Teaching Professor, Philosophy

Movies occur in time. But there is no one-to-one correspondence between a moment of time that occurs within the movie to a moment of time that occurs outside the movie. Christopher Nolan, in his films, plays with this discrepancy between the role time plays in a movie and the role it plays in real life.

Philosophers distinguish between the A-theories of time and the B-theory of time. If we accept the B-theory of time, as Nolan does, then there is no objective "now" and there is no objective flow of time. Nolan also plays with the speed of time. While certain events in his films may seem to occur at a certain speed, these events are either much slower or much faster than other events in the same film. Nolan is known for his non-linear story-telling, yet the viewer still knows which events occur before or after other events. In this seminar, we will examine some of the philosophical issues presented in Nolan's films.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 76090

Marisol Perez, Associate Dean of Graduate Initiatives, The College; Professor, Psychology

This course aims to explore the psychological, societal, and cultural factors contributing to body dissatisfaction while providing strategies and interventions for prevention. Students will gain insights into fostering a positive body image and promoting overall well-being within themselves, their community, and ASU.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Tuesday, 3-4 p.m.
Location: ARM147
Class #: 85835

Nicole Gonzalez, Program Manager, Sexual and Relationship Violence Program
Risa Enrique, Sun Devil Fitness and Wellness

Uplifting communities and creating environments where people belong and feel as they matter greatly 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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83935

Laura Turchi, Clinical Professor, English

Shakespeare, social media, and social justice. 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. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Thursday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 73489

Fabio Augusto Milner, Center Director & Professor, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences & Simon A Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center

We will explore the connection between phone dating apps use and the increase in sexually transmitted infections' (STIs') incidence and prevalence. We will begin by studying a simple model for the age-sex structure of the sexually active population and then discuss several ways to model incidence and prevalence of communicable infections, including sexually transmitted ones. Finally we will study a model designed to assess the impact of phone dating apps on incidence and prevalence of STIs.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 79743

Bruce Pagel, Professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

This Discovery Seminar will explore WWII's strategic bombing campaigns in both Europe and the Pacific. We will discuss what the warring parties hoped to accomplish (strategic objectives), the air war's moral and legal implications, the epic personal courage and sacrifice, and what lessons there are, if any, for today's strategic and operational culture.

We will examine President Truman's decision to use nuclear weapons in the Pacific war (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), area bombing vs daytime precision bombing, and the technical evolution in air combat, to include training, tactics, equipment, and doctrine.

We will also focus on key air war leaders, including Generals Spaatz, Arnold, Doolittle, and LeMay among others who oversaw strategic bombing campaigns in Europe and the Pacific.

The "Eight Airforce" story, the "Blitz" and the fire bombings (Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo) will be featured elements in the syllabus, along with the "Doolittle Raid."

Among other learning objectives, we hope students will complete the course with an appreciation for the scale of WWII in terms of geography, operations and tragedy.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 83931

Michelle Glerum, Instructor, English

This Discovery Seminar delves into the multifaceted realm of healing for mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Throughout the semester, we will examine the complexities of trauma, along with their short and long-term impacts on an individual's physiological state. An essential component of our study will be the exploration of healing and recovery processes, as well as the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms involved in resilience and post-traumatic growth. Emphasis will also be placed on the role of social and community support in the healing process. Through a blend of theoretical instruction, workshops, and interactive discussions, students will gain knowledge about creating safe and restorative environments, trauma-informed practices, and the importance of collective healing. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper understanding of the pervasive impact of trauma and the multi-dimensional nature of healing.

Session: A (Aug. 22-Oct. 11)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: ARML1-12
Class #: 68804

Michelle Pina Di Palma, Post-Doctoral Researcher/ Instructor (online MIC 420), School of Life Sciences

"The Force Within: Immunity in Everyday Life," is a seminar series designed for first-year college students interested in how our bodies defend against viruses, bacteria, and other nuisances in our everyday encounters. In this seminar series, students will be introduced to the basics behind how the immune system is involved in day-to-day processes and will answer common questions, such as: Why do we get sick from viruses and bacteria? Why do vaccines protect you from getting sick? What are allergies, and why do they happen? Through interactive discussions and relatable examples, students will gain insights into the immune system's role in common processes that we all experience. This class does not require immunology as a pre-requisite and is meant to introduce very basic immunology concepts to students with a high school-level biology background.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Monday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 83929

Esther Borges Florsheim, Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences
Ana Cristina Roginski, Biodesign Institute

"Scratch beneath the surface of a coffee bean, a red pepper flake, a poppy seed, a mold spore, a foxglove leaf, a magic-mushroom cap, a marijuana bud, or an apple seed, and we find a bevy of strange chemicals. We use these to greet our days (caffeine), titillate our tongues (capsaicin), recover from surgery (opioids), cure infections (penicillin), mend our hearts (digoxin), bend our minds (psilocybin), calm our nerves (CBD), and even kill our enemies (cyanide). But why do plants and fungi produce such chemicals? And how did we come to use and abuse some of them?". In this Discovery Seminar, we will study Noah Whiteman's book, 'The Most Delicious Poison (2023)' through engaging meetings to understand the origins and effects of natural toxins. You will never look at a houseplant, mushroom, fruit, vegetable, or even the past five hundred years of human history the same way again!

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 79744

Charles Ripley, Instructor, School of Politics and Global Studies

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change, and African coups, national security is more important than ever before. Conventional and unconventional crises are rocking the world. But have you ever asked yourself, how can we solve such problems? This seminar not only introduces students to international challenges, but also teaches how to address them. Drawing upon both academic and policy analysis, this course helps prepare students to be future world leaders

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Friday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 76088

Gregory Broberg, Associate Teaching Professor, School of Social Transformation

Do you see law school in your future? Then this seminar is for you. During this short seminar, students will be introduced to the major tasks and deliverables that are required to get accepted into law school. Each session will include hands-on activities that cover such topics as Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) prep, preparing recommendation requests, and the process of selecting the right law schools based on specific interests. Four of the seminars will have real-life attorneys as guest speakers to answer questions and provide advice/guidance. Each student will leave the course with a workbook that includes all necessary planning and preparation.

Session: C (Aug. 22-Dec. 6)
Day/time: Wednesday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 68807

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