Pacific University, a liberal arts college, offers a wide range of courses to students. From political science to sociology to media arts and beyond, students may dabble in courses outside of their major. But what if there was one class that involved professors from several areas of study? This fall, a new experimental, half-semester class was introduced to students that incorporated just that. And both students and faculty have deemed it a huge success.
“The idea was to bring faculty in to talk to students about what they think they should know before they graduate; it was pretty much all over the map,” professor Deke Gundersen said. “It was mostly freshmen but there were some others that were in there. We had about 50 students so we had a pretty good number.” Different professors from departments like economics, computer science, psychology and chemistry came in and lectured on applicable topics such as unemployment rates, why it’s difficult to make environmental changes, plastics and 3D printing. “They maybe started out talking a little bit about themselves and maybe a little bit about the department,
but it was more about what they thought all the students should know before they leave Pacific,” Gundersen said. “What they thought was really important.”
The presentations identified problems and obstacles followed by potential solutions. After the lectures, students were required to write a summary on the presentation. “I loved that the professors that came were from different disciplines because it really showed me other options here at Pacific,” freshman Kelsie Cruz said. “I also loved how Deke had people there that really loved what they did and it showed through the lecture. I was exposed to their passions here at Pacific and I thought it was wonderful.” Gundersen loved hearing the positive feedback from students who then wanted to take classes outside of their initial area of study.
He also enjoyed seeing all the different lecture styles given by professors. But if something could be improved upon, it would be to have the class stretch the entire semester. “I could have easily gotten 15 more [speakers] and from even more disciplines,” Gundersen said. Ultimately, he would like all freshmen and incoming students to take this class. There has even been interest in tying the course into Pacific’s First-Year Seminar and First-Year Experience. “I would definitely recommend it to all students [because] it is seriously fascinating to see how some professors can come in and talk about almost the exact same thing but in a whole new light,” Cruz said. “It was amazing to see the many different perspectives that different disciplines have on a certain subjects. I don’t regret taking this class and I almost would say it’s a must for all incoming freshmen at Pacific to get a taste of what Pacific has to offer.”
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