Oregon State University

U-Engage Course

U-Engage Students in Classroom

What is U-Engage?

U-Engage is an elective, 2-credit course designed to help first year students explore a current real-world issue or compelling question of interest. In a small class environment, new students built strong relationships with their instructor, peer leader, and classmates while engaging in interactive learning.  Additionally, students gain information about campus resources and support available on campus and how these services can enhance their education.

Check out the awesome topics being offered in Winter 2015!

Coming of Age Through Humorous Narratives: Welcome to Adulthood- Clint Edwards, CRN 39904, MW 4-4:50

Growing up is full of contradictions: love and loss, success and failure, discovery and boredom. Great authors have been laughing about their coming-of-age for years. In this class, we will explore the humorous side of the coming-of-age narrative by reading and discussing memoirists such as David Sedaris, Steve Almond, and Diana Joseph. We will deconstruct the elements of their stories. Then we will draft and create our own humorous coming-of-age stories. Most importantly, we will learn to laugh at the crazy transition between adolescence and adulthood, something many OSU students are in the throes of right now. This class will definitely interest English and writing majors and anyone willing to laugh at life.

Global Warming and You- Ed Brook, CRN 39903, TR 3-3:50

Is the earth getting warmer?  If so, should we be doing anything about it, and what?  This class will examine the historical and geological evidence for global warming, the factors that control earth’s climate and how they may be changing, what the future may hold, and whether or not geo-engineering of climate is a good idea.  Field trips, discussion, data analysis, and investigation of current science will introduce students to the study of global warming, real live glaciers, ocean acidification, programs in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and techniques and resources for research at OSU.  We will also talk about how to get involved in undergraduate research, get your professors to pay attention to you, and achieve your goals at OSU. 

Fall 2014 U-Engage Classes included:

Banned Books: Censorship in the Classroom

Marjorie Coffey, CRN 15236, MW 9-9:50

"Inappropriate." "Profane." "Sexual." "Violent." "Racist." These words have often been used to describe banned books. In our course, we'll talk about censorship and the reasons behind banning and challenging books. By close reading books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Fun Home: A Tragicomic, and Whale Talk, we'll explore the social controversies surrounding these books and their use in classrooms. You'll practice analysis, critical thinking, discussion, and research—all skills you'll need in future courses at OSU.  By researching a banned or challenged book that interests you, you'll learn about OSU resources and have the opportunity to engage your peers in discussion of a social controversy.

Virtual Worlds, Augmented Realities

Beau Baca, CRN 15215, MW 10-10:50

Together we’ll examine fictional and nonfictional representations of cyberspace, challenging each other to think critically about the role of social media in contemporary culture. As a class we’ll consider how digital technologies intersect with everyday habits and with world historical events. Through an examination of literature and film, ranging from William Gibson’s Neuromancer to the Wachowski brothers’ The Matrix, we will discuss issues of privacy and intellectual property. We will also explore other intriguing issues, such as the agents who control our perception of reality and the motivations for constructing alternate worlds.

Demystifying Illusions about Altered States: Folklore, Science, Literature, Media

Robin Pappas, CRN 15609, MW 2-2:50

Do people really achieve altered states of consciousness as a result of substance use? As a class, we’ll explore this question through literary and scientific texts from the mid-nineteenth century through the twentieth century as well as mainstream media.  By looking at how authors describe the phenomena they experience as a result of using substances, we will find new ways to ask questions about topics as diverse as poetic expression, medical ethics, human consciousness, and legal history.  Our investigation will challenge you to understand the ways in which substance use within specific socio-historical moments transforms behavior and self-image.  You will also have opportunities to focus more deeply on your own topics of interest in short research projects.  In addition, our readings and discussion will be complemented by class visits with representatives from the OSU and Oregon communities in areas including allied health, philosophy, and anthropology.

OSU Deconstructed: Building Blocks for Success (3 sections)

Lisa Hoogesteger, CRN 15214, MW 11-11:50

Daniel Newhart, CRN 15613, TR 3-3:50

Chrysanthemum Mattison, CRN 15218, WF 1-1:50

Wanting to look beyond the advice you’ve heard a 100 times about “what you’re supposed to do” in college? Then this course is for you. Together we’ll dig under the surface and analyze the science and research behind the strategies, tools and skills needed for success in college.  We will break apart myths and critically review research on how people learn, why community matters and what tasks and behaviors are the best predictors for getting your degree – and having fun along the way.  Through a series of useful learning opportunities, you’ll understand how to make the most of your unique OSU experience.

Is Your Mother an Elephant? How to Ask the Right Questions and Capture People’s Attention

David Stemper, CRN 15235, WF 9-9:50

Asking a provocative question is a surefire way to capture someone’s interest and a vital step in conveying important information. So how do you do it?  In this class, we’ll explore how parks, zoos, museums, and aquariums use ‘provocation’ to stimulate learning among visitors (many who come to sites not planning to learn) and in doing so promote the conservation of our natural, cultural, and historical resources. If you’ve ever envisioned working as a park ranger, nature center director, exhibit designer, website designer, or if you simply want to improve your communication skills, then this is the course for you. You’ll walk out of this class with experience creating effective presentations, guided tours, displays, and websites, specially tailored for interpretive settings.  Discover why you want your mother to be an elephant!

Money Matters

Lissa Perrone, CRN 15239, TR 11-11:50

What is personal wealth and how do you accumulate it?  Studies indicate that people who understand money matters are more likely to accumulate wealth and reach personal goals.  How does one create wealth and build a “rich” life?  In this class, you will develop a working knowledge about personal finances including banking, payroll taxes, managing credit cards, and budgeting for college.  We will also look beyond the practical skills to examine personal definitions of wealth.  As a class we’ll hear from business leaders on how a business builds value and makes decisions on expending resources.  Through research and activities, students will be asked to reflect on their lives as a business, discover methods for tracking and building value by creating multiple versions of a personal budget, and explore how to assess the results of life choices.

Wilderness, Outdoor Recreation and You

Ty Atwater, CRN 15242, TR 12-12:50

The word wilderness invokes different images and feelings for each of us, fear, excitement, solitude, beauty and more.  This class will seek to examine the question “What is wilderness?” and “How do we as adventurers and recreational users interact with wilderness?”  Join us as we explore the meaning of wilderness in the United States through hands on activities, readings, reflection and field experience.   If you've ever wondered what it takes to be a responsible user of our public lands while still having fun, or asked yourself why these public lands exists for our use then this is the class for you.  A three day, two night field experience in one of Oregon's beautiful wilderness areas will help bring this class to life with all gear and transportation needed for the outing is available as part of the class.  

Adventures in International Service: A Volunteer’s Guide to Doing Good in the World

Dave Kovac, CRN 15240, TR 2-2:50

You have the interest, energy, and motivation to travel and make a difference in the world — to experience a culture while giving back to a your host community. Where do you go? How do you get there? What do you do to ensure that you’re doing good, performing a much-needed service? Our course will help you prepare for any number of international service experiences — whether it be a mission trip, a more engaging study abroad experience, or a community volunteer activity. Explore the complexities of international service from a variety of perspectives and learn how to balance your good intentions with cultural considerations and community–identified needs. Discover your passions, internationalize your OSU experience, and make meaningful contributions to building a better world.

Slime, Circuits, Functions, and Velocity: Helping Expand Love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Richard Nafshun, CRN 15217, MW 12-12:50

Do you have a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM)? Want to spark the same love and skill set in a younger generation? In this class you’ll learn about and then develop hands-on/minds-on activities for local school children at an outreach event at the end of the term. Past activities included the investigation of slime, constructing electrical circuits, exploring velocity and acceleration using carts and photogates, making batteries, designing earthquake resistant structures, robotics, gases, and math games.  We’ll explore appropriate STEM activities, discuss the value of these activities and the benefits of outreach, and examine the concepts your activities illustrate.  Just imagine the value you’ll get sharpening your presentation and communication skills for your future interactions as a scientist, engineer, teacher, curator, colleague, or senator!

Are You Wearing Mold?

Sara Robinson, CRN 17765, F 2-3:50

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, fungi come in a dazzling array of colors that add splashes of red, green and every color in between to a variety of everyday products. From stunning spalted wood floors to vibrant wools, fungi based dyes help bridge the gap between nature and design. In this class we’ll explore the long history of humans hunting, extracting, and using these pigments for dyes and also learn about recent developments that are producing the stickiest, brightest and most useful dyes yet. We’ll also get our DIY fix on by participating in the process. Plan to collect your own native fungi, extract pigments, and dye your choice of materials. Equal parts science, art, design and hands-on activities, you’ll never look at mold the same way again.

Lunar Forces, Marine Zombies, Edible Sea Vampires and Other Curiosities of the Sea

Itchung Cheung, CRN 15234, TR 9-9:50

Can wave energy really solve the world’s energy crisis? Is it worth it to farm the world’s oceans in the name of world hunger or is aquaculture simply killing off too many creatures of the sea? We’ll tackle these questions and others like them while learning about exciting marine research such as fisheries management, marine mammal conservation, marine protected areas, and environmental education. Students will walk away from class having discussed some of the most pressing social, historical and environmental issues connected to human involvement in the marine environment. We’ll also get out in the field and see first-hand the current research being done on the Oregon coast and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Plan to leave this class knowing how to get involved in undergraduate research, the value of experience based education and many of the hands-on learning opportunities available at OSU.

Powered By Orange?

Jay Well, CRN 16300, F 10-11:50

Do you know how much energy you consume on a daily basis?  It might be more than you think.  In this age of climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and access makes utilizing energy more efficiently vital to ensuring the future health of our society and environment.  You’ll need a steady stream of power to keep up to speed in your classes, search for jobs and internships, and keep connected with friends and family, so, what can you do to use energy more responsibly during your time at OSU?  This course will look at the ways we utilize energy on campus as well as explore how OSU researchers are looking at novel ways to help us have a more sustainable energy future on campus and beyond.

Science Myth Busters

Kyle Cole, CRN 15241, WF 11-11:50

Do people only use 10% of their brains?  Do video games cause violent behavior?  Do vaccines cause autism? Do astrological signs determine personality traits?  Is your intelligence determined by birth order?  In this class we’ll investigate a broad range of common beliefs with the goals of learning critical analysis, performing literature research and evaluating scientific data to draw conclusions—important skills for separating fact from fiction, succeeding in college and flourishing throughout life.  Students will be introduced to the concepts underlying several myths and learn how to develop a research question by delving into their own interests on a current topic in this field. 

Food for the World

Sabry Elias, CRN 15612, WF 3-3:50

Global economic and social changes have a significant effect on food sustainability around the world. Education is an essential tool for improving food security systems worldwide. In this class, we’ll examine several big questions including “How serious is the hunger problem in the world?”, “What are the root-causes of world hunger?”,  “What are some creative ideas for securing food for the world?”,  and “What are the departments at OSU that prepare students to take an active part in building secure food systems?”.  Trips to a food bank and an organic community farm will help us get direct experiences to complement our in-class learning. In addition, part of the course will be designated to acquaint you with many of the resources that are available on the OSU campus to help you succeed in your academic journey in the university.

What Are You Eating?

Dale Weber, CRN 15244, TR 10-10:50

Many of us take the food that we eat each day for granted, but do you really know where your food comes from, what goes into making it, and the steps that it takes from production to landing on your plate?  Is it possible for college students to maintain a healthy diet without "breaking the bank" or spending hours preparing meals?  How can one avoid the dreaded "Freshman Fifteen"? In other words, what are you eating and what does it mean for your well-being?  This class will combine group discussions, team cooperative learning and the synthesis and presentation of information related to food and food production.  In addition, efforts will be made to acquaint you with many of the resources that are available to students on the OSU Campus.

Rural Roots

Darr Tucknott, CRN 18416, WF 9-9:50

What is rural?  What are the unique challenges and opportunities that rural communities in America face?  This class is geared for students interested in learning more about rural life and how rural communities may continue to thrive in our increasingly urban society.  We will explore the uniqueness of rural America, including the Corvallis area, and discuss ways that younger generations are finding opportunities to return back to their rural roots. 

Untold Stories: Histories of People of Color in Oregon

Janet Nishihara and Kim McAloney, CRN 18414, MW 4-4:50

Have you ever wondered about the histories of people of color in Oregon or why you haven’t heard their stories?  As a class, we’ll uncover stories such as how slaves were brought to Oregon with the promise of freedom, the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent, the displacement of tribal communities in the name of “progress,” and the exploitation of Mexican labor through the Bracero program.  We’ll use OSU and community archives and talk with local historians and community members to uncover and research the real untold stories.  Authors of some of our readings will join our conversations to help us understand why and how they did their research.  As a class, we will attend campus and community events and possibly visit local historical sites and societies and watch films such as The First Oregonians, Turbans, and Local Color to help explore this subject more.

Latin@ Leaders’ Lessons on Life:  How Their Success Can Lead to Your Success   

Kayla Garcia and Oscar Montemayor, CRN 15237, M 4-5:50

What can we learn from those who have overcome adversity, prejudice, and discrimination?  How did these Latinas and Latinos, who all started out in humble circumstances, manage to succeed and to improve the lives of many others along the way? How can you plan your university experience so that you can follow in their footsteps? Read inspiring stories, get answers to these questions, and prepare for your own success at the university, in your profession, and in service to others. 

Sex and Gender on TV

Kryn Freehling-Burton, CRN 15246, M 4-5:50

What TV shows do you regularly watch? What do these shows (and others) say about women, men, parenting, race, ability, and work? In this class, we will explore social constructions of gender and sexuality and their impact on the ways that TV characters are drawn and what types of stories are told. Focusing on Orange is the New Black and New Girl as our focus shows, we will ask how women are represented on TV and how this varies based on other categories of identity (i.e. race, mother status, sexual identity, etc.).  We will also examine the ways women are involved in the creation of television and how consumers can influence creators to include more women characters and make portrayals of women more diverse. Using academic research and the internet, students will analyze shows and create their own TV scenes together.

Learning Sexuality

Tristen Shay, CRN 15610, WF 2-2:50

What is gender and sexual identity? In this course we will explore the process, conscious and unconscious, that goes into forming identity. Focusing on social messaging received through family, school, and the media we will critically examine how gender and sexual identity is created in all of us and reinforced in modern society. Through basic texts in gender studies and visual culture studies we will identify the process of gender and sexual identity development as it applies to the individual. Over the course of the term you will engage in group discussion, panels, and campus observation activities to gain a deeper understanding of your own identity, as well as the identities of those you will encounter at OSU and beyond.  Particular focus will be paid to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other identities.

Creating Happiness- 2 sections

Judy Neighbours, CRN 18415, MW 9-9:50

Jim Gouveia, CRN 16663, T 4-5:50

Happiness and the pursuit thereof are a constant source of conversation and intrigue. Whether it’s a late night conversation with friends about the “meaning of life”, a boss trying to find new ways to make for better work environments, or a country trying measure the standard of living for its citizens, happiness comes into play. But what makes people happy? How do people who are happy act and think differently than those who aren’t? Can happiness be measured and is it felt the same way by everyone? In this course we’ll use the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology and flourishing to explore these questions.  You’ll also spend time learning more about yourself, discussing the stresses that come with the transition to college and developing the tools you need to find and maintain happiness during your time at OSU.

Is My Family Normal?

Kathy Greaves, CRN 15238, MW 1-1:50

Are families really “going to hell in a hand basket”? Or are many families actually thriving despite significant social, cultural, political, and economic obstacles? How do families thrive in the context of these obstacles and challenges? This course will skim the surface of the 21st century family, its diversity of structure, and its extensive range of experiences. Truth be told, there may not be a “normal” family any more, particularly in terms of the people who make up that family. Gone are the days of the bread-winning father, the home-making mother with their 2.4 kids in a house with a white picket fence. In the last 60 years, families have transformed into something less cookie cutter and more varied. Family types to be explored include single-parent families, cohabiting unmarried parent families, divorced parent families, same-sex parent families, and child-free families.

Discover Yourself in Oregon Politics

Jock Mills, CRN 16661, MW 4-4:50

Oregon State University offers many opportunities for becoming politically active – from campus-based student government, to the local, state and federal political world.  Come to this class ready to explore the various political opportunities open to you as a new student while also learning about a current, complicated issue within the Oregon political system: the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  As a class we’ll interact with elected officials, staff, and political advocates from student government, industry, the state legislature, and the Governor’s office.  By the end of the course, you’ll not only have a much better understanding of how the legislative process works, you’ll also have the skills and political and economic viewpoints necessary to take a stand on the issue of GMOs and explain your stance with political savvy.

Finding Bigfoot

Margaret Mellinger, CRN 15243, TR 9-9:50

Why do stories about elusive human-like creatures living in the wilderness persist through time? Why are there so many television shows and movies about finding Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch? What do these legendary creatures represent in human culture, specifically in the Pacific Northwest? How do various disciplines approach the question of the existence of Bigfoot? What evidence do they use? In this class, we'll approach the Bigfoot phenomenon from multiple perspectives: storytelling, popular culture, anthropology, journalism and science. We'll consider how these different professional and academic communities determine what is valid and true and what is not and how they tend to communicate what they have found. Activities for the course may include a field trip to the McDonald Dunn Research Forest and developing a Bigfoot exhibit for the Valley Library.

Football and Society

Ashleigh Anderson, CRN 15245, WF 10-10:50

The American public has enjoyed professional and collegiate football for decades and its popularity is continually increasing, but recently professional and collegiate football have been the source of several controversial debates. Even President Obama weighed in before the 2012 Super Bowl when he said, "If I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I’d let him play football." Many of the debates surrounding football are being had across society as well, including bullying, head trauma, medicinal marijuana, compensating student-athletes, and creating positive workplace environments. This course will use both professional and NCAA football to examine current hot topics that are relevant to football and society as a whole. Plan to see football through a whole new lens and select a hot-button issue of your choice to analyze and propose a potential solution to as part of this class.

Behind the Torch: Exploring the Impacts of Global Sporting Events in the Developing World

Cari Maes, CRN: 18412, MW 2-2:50

What are the advantages and disadvantages for cities that host international sporting events? Recently, many developing nations have hosted sporting events, such as the Olympics and World Cup, and more will host in the coming decade.  The media often highlights the geopolitics and cultural controversies that evolve alongside the games.  But, what happens when the games end? We will analyze the social and economic impacts on host cities and place sporting events in historical context to determine if we are facing new challenges or revisiting concerns of the past. As a final project, students will assume the identities of host city stakeholders and will write position papers from that perspective. Students will gain skills in persuasive writing and critical media analysis. The course will connect you with on-campus resources for engaging with social justice issues that play out globally and locally.

Sports Media through the Lens of Twitter

Louie Bottaro, CRN 15614, TR 4-4:50

Professional and student athletes use Twitter and other forms of social media to "connect" with their fans on a broad range of issues. In this class we will explore the virtual relationships between fans and athletes, talk about how media figures utilize these communication methods to build their personal brand and how first year students can gain greater skills, involvement opportunities and relate them back to their OSU academic career.

Contact Info

New Student Programs & Family Outreach
A150 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis, OR 97331-2133
Phone: 541-737-7627 | Fax: 541-737-6157

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