Wednesday, July 18

Courses bring real world to classroom


By Donna Wong

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

One year ago – at the dawn of the academic year – the Social
Sciences Collegium gave birth to classes that transcended the
boundaries of any department curriculum.

Now, at the beginning of its second full year, the program
headed by sociology Professor Jeffrey Alexander is giving more UCLA
faculty the opportunity to teach their dream courses with
innovative new methods and subjects.

Using interdisciplinary and multimedia approaches of teaching,
instructors take a look at current events and issues in an attempt
to bring the real world into the university, said Christopher
Campbell, Social Sciences Collegium coordinator.

New courses offered by the Social Sciences Collegium this fall
cover topics from the development of democracy in South Africa to
guerrilla movements in Latin America.

In Alan Emery’s course on democracy development in South Africa,
students will be looking at how work unions are talking with
workers to find ways to share company profits.

Also, they will be looking at the open discussions on racial
inequality taking place in South Africa as nationals attempt to
grapple with racial problems.

"We (in the United States) need to do the same, but no one’s
really talking about the (racial) problems openly," Emery said.

The program hopes to give students the opportunity to get away
from the broad lower division courses and into the study of
specific contemporary topics, Campbell said.

The Collegium courses fulfill GE requirements and are limited
mainly to first and second year students.

And due to restricted enrollments of as little as 20, students
can more easily participate in discussion, Campbell said.

One topic this quarter is how to forge a particular cultural or
religious identity, and still maintain relations to the rest of the
community, instructor Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller said.

In his lecture titled "The Jewish Experience in Contemporary
America", Seidler-Feller will also hit on issues of anti-Semitism
and other prejudices, intermarriage and assimilation.

"We want to know if there are any strategies to sustain a
cultural group’s identity and development," Seidler-Feller
said.

As some courses analyze racial identity, another course this
fall will look at the culture and identity of youth in 20th century
America.

Students will use a multimedia approach with music, fashion,
movie and article clippings from the 1920s and 1950s to find the
connections between today’s and yesterday’s adolescents, instructor
Cynthia Eckert said.

Looking at the role of adolescents in the creation of American
popular culture, students will examine sexual mores and notions of
acceptability.

Students will even look at the pregnancy rates from that era and
see that they are comparable to those of recent times, Eckert
said.

This fall, students have a chance to take a closer look at the
guerrilla movements in Latin America and the experience of racially
mixed persons in America. They can also take a statistical computer
program approach to ethnicity and social class in America.

The Social Sciences Collegium also offers students a volunteer
component where they can go into the field and work, Campbell
said.

Seminar courses are offered in almost every area of study at
UCLA. Some tentative courses being offered this year range from
Freud, fairy tales and feminism, to the psychology of architecture
and even women and gender in the Middle East.

The courses give undergraduate students the chance to work
closely with a faculty member and strengthen their writing skills,
as many of these class are not graded through finals, but lengthy
papers.

Even though the Social Sciences Collegium is the only program to
offer faculty dream courses, all seminars and collegium classes at
UCLA stress creativity and originality – not regurgitation,
Campbell said.

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