Oregon State University

U-Engage Course

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.

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Below are the current courses for Fall 2016

Their history, your story: Student experiences at OSU over the years [available seats!]

Kelly McElroy & Tiah Edmunson-Morton, F 10-11:50,
CRN: 18853

OSU students used to wear beanies, vote on the Ugliest Man On Campus, and burn their rook lids. Why have some traditions stuck around and others fallen aside? In this class, we will explore the social history of the university through the traces left by previous generations of students, and compare that past with your experience on campus today – and what you think the future might be like. Try your hand at making mementos to capture your first year on campus and help plan activities for the Fall Family Weekend Open House in Valley Library.


Environmentalism is not a Dirty Word [available seats!]

Amy Hoffman & Renee O'Neill, TR 2-2:50, CRN: 14470

Do you identify as an environmentalist?  At the most basic level all humans are environmentalists because we depend upon the earth for our survival. In this course we will exam the history of the environmental movement, the challenges and issues that face the movement today, environmental justice matters, and the importance of creating an environmentally literate society.  We will discuss relevant readings, learn to nature journal, and take a field trip to OSU’s Research Forest. Students will experience nature through engaging, place-based learning activities, and learn to identify service-learning opportunities on campus and within the Corvallis community. Students will explore both formal and informal educational tools that they will use to educate the public about environmental issues. In teams students will create and lead their own engaging learning activities during an environmental literacy community fair at the end of the term.


The Nature of Change: Geography in a Dynamic World [available seats!]

Demian Hommel, TR 1-1:50, CRN: 18825

Perhaps you’ve heard that change is the only constant? But what does that even mean?  In this course we will look at the nature of change through a geographic lens. We will examine broad, long-term changes that are fundamental to environmental, social, political and economic systems. We will also explore change at an individual, psychological and personal level. How do we understand changes both to our world and to ourselves? Part research endeavor, part introspection, part student-directed learning, will try to understand the nature of change from various perspectives in this course to prepare for the changes the next 4+ years are likely to bring. 


Spiritual Life @ OSU: Walking the Spiritual Path with Practical Feet [available seats!]

Aaron Wolf & Deborah Hobbs, F 10-11:50, CRN: 18989

Come to this class ready to examine many questions including: “How do you find your own spirituality and sustain it?”, “How do you connect your spiritual life with campus life?”, and “What role does service play in the spiritual path?” Through these questions, we’ll explore our individual and collective spiritual needs across the faith and non-faith spectrum.  We’ll also find practical ways to get along with one another and enrich each other's spiritual lives.  Speakers from a variety of paths will join us, and a breadth of practical approaches to spirituality will be explored.  Students interested in religious studies, ethics, philosophy, and psychology are welcome along with those who find spirituality outside of formal paths, including art, science and the outdoors. All views will be respected and all paths will be honored.


Coming of Age Through Humorous Narratives [available seats!]

Clint Edwards, M 4-5:50,
CRN: 14467

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.


Spalting: One Person's Mold, Another Person's Art [available seats!]

Sara Robinson & Sarath Vega Gutierrez, MW 9-9:50,
CRN: 14466

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 wood and other 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 wood art 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. Students taking this class will also learn the intricacies of scholarly literature review, how to best utilize the library, and how to write for artistic as well as scientific outlets.


Slime, Circuits, Functions, and Velocity: Helping Expand Love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics [available seats!]

Richard Nafshun, MW 12-12:50, CRN: 14448

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 include: 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!


Improving Group Work through Improvisational Comedy [available seats!]

 Maura Valentino, WF 3-3:50, CRN: 14764

According to Second City Works “Professional success often rests on the same pillars that form the foundation of great comedy improv: Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration.” In school, work and life, the unplanned and unexpected are the normal.  In other words, life is an improvisation.  The first rule of improv is: “yes, and” meaning you must agree with what other players on stage say and do and then add to it. A key skill involved in this is listening and learning improv will improve students’ listening skills. The “yes, and” philosophy will allow students to develop skills working within an ensemble which is similar to, but different from, a team.  A team implies a leader whereas an ensemble is everyone working together, inclusive to each participant and every idea. Learn the skills to think on your feet and handle what school and life offers. 


Cultural Competence in a Globalized World [available seats!]

Amarah Khan & Allison Davis White-Eyes, MW 11-11:50,
CRN: 14446


This course provides a basic introduction to existing knowledge regarding cultural competence. The course raises the question: is cultural competence attainable or is it a myth? Through cross-cultural engagement and in-person interaction with locally based identity groups; students will be equipped with the skill set to engage in lifelong learning around cultural awareness. As a class, we will build awareness around the nature of globalization occurring around us. The focus is on applying cultural competence as a pathway towards global citizenship so that you can be better prepared for the intellectual and societal challenges facing an increasingly diverse campus/world. The class will help you develop cross-cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills to respond appropriately to the problems and opportunities of both domestic and international demographic changes and globalization.


What am I Doing Here?! Being First in the Family at College [available seats!]

Kim McAloney & Janet Nishihara, F 10-11:50,
CRN: 15241

For those of us whose parents did not attend college, navigating the experience can be an exciting and daunting experience.  For first generation students, it can seem like everyone else knows what they are doing and that they all have a clear plan for how to succeed in college.  This class will explore advice from first generation college students who have been where you are and is taught by instructors who themselves were first generation college students.  We’ll discuss advice that others have shared, hear from campus guest speakers who were first generation when they started college, all with the goal of helping you find your path to success in college.  You’ll leave with a community of support and tools to navigate college.



“In U-Engage, I made a lot of friends, I was able to laugh and I learned a lot about myself.”


Exploring Self and Community through Literature and Film [available seats!]

Susie Brubaker-Cole, TR 10-10:50, CRN: 14474

Our course will explore the trials and tribulations of entering new communities and new adult challenges as expressed through the work of writers and filmmakers.  The course is especially suited for people who enjoy delving into the connections between one’s own lived experiences and those of characters in fiction and film.  How do social and educational forces shape who we become as we experience life transitions?  How do communities help us define who we are and where we want to go?  Through close readings and discussions of literature and film, we will examine the theme of how our sense of self may be interwoven – for better or worse – with our surrounding social and educational communities.  In parallel with these discussions, we will engage in active learning to explore the diverse communities and connections possible at OSU and how these can help you chart your own path as you begin college.


Global Warming and You [available seats!]

Edward Brook, WF 9-9:50, CRN: 14465

We 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 geoengineering of climate is a good idea. Field trips to glaciers and the coast, discussion, data analysis, and investigation of current science will introduce students to the study of global warming, melting glaciers, rising oceans,  programs in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and resources for undergraduate research at OSU.


Closing the Gap—Where Science Meets the Media [available seats!]

Diana Rohlman, WF 11-11:50, CRN: 14471

There is a growing gap between what scientists say and what the public believes. While 88% of scientists believe genetically-modified foods are generally safe to eat, only 37% of the general public believes the same. Why don’t we believe our scientists? Is it because media gets the science wrong? Or is it because scientists do a poor job of explaining the science?  In this class, students will evaluate various information sources and explore common misconceptions that have arisen due to poor science communication. Students will develop their ability to effectively communicate science through written and verbal mediums with various hands-on activities, improvisational techniques, and written exercises.  This is a discussion-based class, using current examples of science communication (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) to structure discussions.


Learning Sexuality [filled]

Tristen Shay, MW 3-3:50,
CRN: 18826

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.


The Possibilities of Fiction: Imagining Better Worlds (and Worse Ones) with Science Fiction & Fantasy [filled]

Beau Baca, MW 4-4:50,
CRN: 16702

Speculative futures, alternate histories, and fantastic worlds –science fiction and fantasy take us beyond the limits of time, space, and what we can know. But these genres aren’t mere escape. Sci-fi and fantasy imagine better worlds, and often worse ones, to make sense of problems and imagine solutions. Works of sci-fi and fantasy make use of unbounded imagination to examine real social problems like climate change, authoritarian politics, and humanity’s sometimes uneasy relationship with technology.


Sex and Gender on TV [filled]

Kryn Freehling-Burton, T 4-5:50, CRN: 15508

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 particularly on Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away With Murder, and New Girl, 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.


 What Are You Eating? [filled]

Dale W. Weber,  TR 9-9:50, CRN: 14464

Most 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 long hours preparing meals?  In other words, what are you eating and what does it mean to your well-being?  This class with combine group discussions, guest lectures, 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 the many resources that are available to students on the OSU campus.


Find Yourself in Oregon Politics [filled]

Jock Mills, TR 4-4:50,
CRN: 14766

Oregon State University offers many opportunities for becoming politically active – from campus-based student government, to the local, state and federal arenas.  Come to this class ready to explore the various political opportunities open to you as a new student while also examining the complicated issue of state legislation regulating the use of antibiotics.  As a class we’ll interact with state legislators, staff in the Governor’s office, and political advocates from student government, industry, and public interest groups.  By the end of the course, you’ll have a much better understanding of how the legislative process works, how you can get involved, and the political and economic analyses necessary to take a stand on environmental and health issues, including those that involve the food regulations.


Unlocking your Story using Visual and Applied Arts [filled]

Susan Bourque & Sarah Payne, MW 10-10:50, CRN: 14447

Discover and expand the ways in which you express yourself and communicate as you foster your sense of well-being through creative pursuits. In this experiential learning class, you will explore diverse mediums of expression: art, design, theater, music, creative writing, digital technology and interactive media as pathways to express an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a world view. Join a community of creative thinkers working to develop and enhance imaginative, aesthetic and/or technical skills for personal growth and successful communication. Gain a familiarity with various campus departments, programs and resources through planned field trips and activities.


Culture, Conflict, and Globalization [filled]

Lauren Plaza, MW 1-1:50, CRN: 14468

How does globalization relate to your world? What is the world system and does it affect you? The objective of this course is to expand students’ knowledge of major world affairs by highlighting different cultures, economies, political systems, international relations, and ways of understanding the world system. The course uses a sociological lens to take students on a journey to understanding why some groups are privileged while others are not. Some of the topics covered in the course will include: globalization, social justice, political systems, causes of world poverty, migration, and inequalities.


Body Image and the Media [filled]

Sarah Kyllo, TR 3-3:50, CRN: 14765

We live in a media saturated world where we are constantly shown how we should look and act through advertising, the internet, social media, television, and a variety of other forms of media.  What does it mean to be a smart consumer of media, and how can you be an advocate for positive body image and self-acceptance in yourself and for others?  This course is designed to increase students’ awareness of the impact that media has on body image, especially for young adults and women.  Topics in this course include, but are not limited to, advertising, cosmetic sales and marketing, plastic surgery, modeling, and positive self-esteem and acceptance.  Films, on-line resources, guest speakers, magazines, journal articles, and class projects will be incorporated.


The Buzz About Bees [filled]

Carolyn Breece & Ellen Topitzhofer, MW 2-2:50,
CRN: 16701

Every blueberry, almond, and carrot you eat was made possible by the work of a honey bee. In recent years, we have witnessed devastating losses of honey bee colonies, which pose a serious threat to our food supply. This course is designed to increase your awareness of the plight of all pollinators and what we can do to support them. In this class, we will discuss honey bees’ biological and agricultural significance, the myriad issues honey bees and other pollinators are faced with today, new discoveries we’ve found through research, and what you can do to support local pollinators. We will tour OSU and commercial apiaries, discuss media portrayal of honey bees over time, hear from experts in the field, and tour the pollinator gardens on campus. 

Exploring Equity and Social Justice [filled]

 Angela Batista & Scott Vignos, M 4-5:50, CRN: 14476

Our society was founded upon principles of social justice, and yet the opposite, social injustice, is both a historical reality and contemporary problem. In this course, we will examine the roots of social injustice, both historical and in our immediate environment, and learn how to contribute to the creation of an equitable and just community at OSU and beyond. In this course, students will explore concepts that have been used to justify the unequal distribution of power, and that have shaped social structures and social consciousness in the United States and Oregon. Students will also learn about how social injustice has manifested in our society, particularly through educational systems, and discuss how social injustice and privilege can impact the communities we live in. To help students identify their interests and potential contributions to the OSU community, we will examine local social justice issues, examining the diverse ways community leaders seek to eliminate inequality, and pursue a just society. The course will conclude with a “Social Justice Idea Incubator” project that will afford students the opportunity to challenge each other and identify meaningful ways to pursue social justice at OSU and beyond.



Money Matters [filled]

Lissa Perrone, WF 10-10:50, CRN: 14475

There is a growing gap between what scientists say and what the public believes. While 88% of scientists believe genetically-modified foods are generally safe to eat, only 37% of the general public believes the same. Why don’t we believe our scientists? Is it because media gets the science wrong? Or is it because scientists do a poor job of explaining the science?  In this class, students will evaluate various information sources and explore common misconceptions that have arisen due to poor science communication. Students will develop their ability to effectively communicate science through written and verbal mediums with various hands-on activities, improvisational techniques, and written exercises.  This is a discussion-based class, using current examples of science communication (articles, blogs, videos, etc.) to structure discussions.


Sports Media Through the Lens of Twitter [filled]

Louie Bottaro, TR 12-12:50, CRN: 14472

Social media permeates all parts of our worlds, including the way we find sports news and interact with our favorite teams and athletes. Twitter, Instagram and other microblogging technologies provide fans with countless opportunities to interact in real time with athletes, sports media analysts and fellow sports fans. These technologies have also lead to a series of major social faux paus and immediate retractions and apologies from professional and collegiate athletes. Which begs the question, should the NCAA or an employer like the NFL be able to tell athletes what they can or can’t say? What does this oversight mean for the larger concept of freedom of speech for all of us?  In this course, students will be charged with investigating and interacting with athletes, teams and sports journalists in class and through Twitter. Through this class, students have had the opportunity to meet broadcasters, documentary directors, former athletes and journalists to gain greater insight in to the various ways stories can be told at 140 character intervals. Students will analyze their own social media presence and how it reflects their values.


Creating Happiness [filled]

Michele Ribeiro, WF 2-2:50, CRN: 20806

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 to measure the standard of living for its citizens, happiness comes into play. What makes people happy? How do people who are happy act and think differently that those who aren’t? Can happiness be measured and is it felt the same way by everyone? In this course we will use the fields of mindfulness, positive psychology and flourishing to explore these questions. You will also spend time learning more about yourself, discuss the stress that come with the transition to college and develop the tools you will need to find and maintain happiness at OSU and beyond.


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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