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.

Animals, Environment, and Religions

Huaiyu Chen, Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Given the globally diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of our first-year students at ASU, this seminar offers them an opportunity of combining their personal experience and intellectual curiosity to understand how various religious traditions across the globe develop knowledge about animals and their interactions with environment and human society and how these religions responded to the challenges that threaten animals and environment. This seminar aims to help students critically engage with the contemporary issues of environmental and ecological crisis from the perspective of humanities, in particular religions and ethics, which can supplement their knowledge of science and technology about animals and environment and therefore enhance their social roles as modern citizens.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Thursday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 27427

AZ Global: Migration, Trade & Diplomacy

Keith Brown, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies
Jamie Edmonds, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Associate Director, 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 (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Wednesday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 24890

Beat Burnout: Career & Academic Wellness

Missy McCrickard, Assistant Director, Career Readiness, Career Services

You started something new, you're in college. Maybe you're living away from home for the first time. Managing your classes, social life, eating schedule and desiring to get a part-time job. On top of all of that, you have family and friends constantly asking you, "What do you want to do after college?" This can feel overwhelming and add to your stress. Did reading all of that make you a little itchy? If so, this is the perfect seminar for you! During this seminar, we will talk through strategies to prevent burnout while at ASU and beyond! We'll start in a meditation every session and talk through burnout prevention, incorporating micro-wellness moments into your everyday life to feel more at ease with school and eventually work. We'll also incorporate how to set boundaries, speak up for what you need at work and in school, and recognize how your body signals you to rest. We will put theory to practice every week. You'll leave with tools that will help you enhance your life for years to come.

Session: A (Jan. 8-Feb. 27)
Day/time: Friday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 32300

Culturally Responsive Healthcare

Roseanne Schuster, Assistant Research Scientist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Pam DeLargy, Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies

Culture, gender, and context shape our understandings and lived experiences of health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, this is not universally reflected in engagements with the U.S. health system. In this course, students will discuss this topic from a cross-cultural perspective and learn about a variety of health services and programs that deliver culturally responsive health care, focused in the Phoenix area. Students will leave this course with an understanding of how to navigate and advocate for appropriate health resources for selves and others. This course is ideal for students recently arrived in the U.S. and those seeking to pursue careers in health.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Wednesday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32307

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 (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Monday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32306

Ethical Dilemmas in Outer Space

Joseph O'Rourke, Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration

Myriad entities, both private and governmental, are developing plans to scatter humanity across the cosmos. As we advance the technology required for the permanent settlement of space, we must also confront the ethical issues that are guaranteed to arise. Key questions blend science, social science, law, and philosophy. What drives our desire to send people into space? How do we decide who leaves Earth? What happens if people in space get sick, or commit crimes, or want to have kids? In this seminar, we will come together to wrestle with these thorny ethical questions that will define our future among the stars.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Thursday, 3-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 27428

Evolution & Complex Adaptations in Nature

Zachary Shaffer, Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Life Sciences

In this seminar, we will explore the ways in which evolution has shaped complex life and complex behavioral and structural adaptations in the natural world: from eyes to ants and beyond! Class sessions will include elements of lecture, active learning classroom activities, computer simulations, and biology lab activities. As part of a culminating activity, students will produce an art piece inspired by evolution and complex adaptations from nature.

Session: A (Jan. 8-Feb. 27)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 32299

Genocide Awareness

Volker Benkert, Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Timothy Langille, Associate Teaching 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 2024. 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. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Tuesday, 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 24887

Let it go: A Journey on Forgiveness

Stetler Brown, Instructor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Joseph Scarpa, Manager, Dean of Students

In this seminar, we will go on an exploration of understanding forgiveness and how it is used primarily in relationships. We will discuss the meaning and the communication behind forgiveness for transgressions against ourselves and one another. Forgiveness will also be explored within various contexts, all focused on the idea of justice. The seminar will ponder difficult questions that come with asking for or receiving forgiveness, including whether it is possible to truly "forgive and forget", or if forgiveness is for the transgressor or the victim. The seminar will primarily be assessed through a portfolio detailing students' journey of understanding forgiveness in their own life and how various perspectives discussed ultimately inform their own.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Monday, 4:40-5:30 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 24889

Living in Space: Know Before You Go!

Cheryl Nickerson, Professor, School of Life Sciences
Jennifer Barrila, Assistant Research Professor, Biodesign Center

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. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Friday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: DHL1-09
Class #: 27426

Queer for Fear: Queering Horror in Media

Gabriel Acevedo, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Queer people are under persecution in many parts of the country, and to this day, for many, queer people are seen as 'the other' or as 'monstrous.' However, queer people have a history of identifying themselves with what is different and what may appear monstrous to others. Horror is a fundamentally 'queer' genre, and horror films and TV shows have historically been obsessed with cultural anxieties regarding differences, the foreign and the Other. Narratives of hauntings, traumas, monsters, and the rising dead center on troubling preconceptions and resisting neat definitions. These narratives present transgressions and the tensions between the familiar and the different. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is contemporarily read as a trans narrative; Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray considers queerness challenging the supposed natural order of things. Bram Stoker's Dracula, too, uses the Count's preoccupation with Jonathan Harker as an expression of his monstrous bloodlust. In the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll's repression of his passionate, animal self can be read as an expression of the closeted experience. In contemporary media, films and characters like Billy and Stu from Scream, Michael Myers from Halloween, Jason from Friday the 13th series, Jennifer's Body, and even Chucky from Child's Play emerge as queer icons. 

This course explores how conjunctions of 'queer,' 'gay,' and 'lesbian' are explored with Horror contemporary visual texts throughout its long and horrifying history, how villains are recurrently queer-coded, and how Horror and Gothic readers and texts can examine differences in both problematic and liberating ways. We will also investigate a range of horror characters and films from the early twentieth century into this decade to investigate how we understood gender and sexual identities and managed the anxieties relating to and intersecting with the genre of Horror. To do this, we will pay careful attention to the film texts, the historical context of their production and reception, their writings through queer and cultural frameworks, media studies, and their importance in pop culture. A primary goal of the course is to help students understand cultural struggles with differences and how and why queer people identify themselves with the - MONSTERS!

Session: A (Jan. 8-Feb. 27)
Day/time: Monday, 2-3:50 p.m.
Location: PVW163
Class #: 25006

Robin Hood and Other Medieval Outlaws

Ryan Naughton, Instructor, English

The legend of Robin Hood 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 discuss stories and analyze films about Robin and his fellow outlaws of Merry Old England.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Monday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: DHL1-09
Class #: 32305

Science Everyone Needs to Know

Kjir Hendrickson, Teaching Professor, School of Molecular Sciences

Whether you're planning on a PhD in a STEM field, a career in the humanities, or a future in fine arts, there are some things you need to know about the way the world works. This course is an entertaining and non-technical approach to science topics everyone is impacted by, reads about in the news, and needs to understand in order to make informed decisions. Topics include evolution, vaccines, global warming, and others as time permits.

Session: C (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Wednesday, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Location: DHL1-09
Class #: 24886

US National Security: Challenges & Change

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 (Jan. 8-April 26)
Day/time: Friday, 3:35-4:25 p.m.
Location: PVW159
Class #: 32308

ASU student visits with classmates outside.

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

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