The Tribune’s Guide to Electives

Student Living by

There are hundreds of great electives to choose from this year, but if you’re number 25 on the waitlist, try one of these courses you never knew existed.

CHEM 180, 181, 182, 183: World of Chemistry

Profs: Ariel Fenster, David Nobel Harpp, Joe Schwartz

The founders of the Office for Science and Society team up again for the faculty’s most popular course series. Doctors Fenster, Harpp, and Schwartz combine research, humour, and a bit of eccentricity in every lecture. This fall, students can look forward to a technology course that includes topics ranging from rocket science to lipstick, as well as a course on drugs covering everything from brain chemistry to the dangers of recreational pharmaceuticals. Stay tuned for next semester’s Chemistry of Food, in which the trio debunk food and dietary myths and even teach a cooking lesson.

ECON 316: The Underground Economy

Prof: Robin Naylor

The drug trade, money laundering, and black markets are the focus of this unconventional economics course. One of only a few academics in this opaque field, Professor Naylor focuses less on textbooks, formulas, and outdated theories, and more on his own creativity. Be prepared for blunt jokes and insults, as well as the best economics course at McGill.

PSYC 311: Human Cognition and the Brain

Prof: Michalakas Petrides

Known to say things like “The brain is so simple, really,” Dr. Petrides will teach you basic neuroanatomy and why you think the way you do. He runs around the lecture theatre to simulate how neural networks communicate, and isn’t shy about repeating the complex aspects of cognition. He’s worked with psychology’s most famous amnesic patient, the late H.M., and it’s most famous researcher, the Montreal Neurological Institute’s Brenda Milner. Even better, he shows up to class early and stays late to answer questions rather than hiding in his office.

POLI 244: International Politics: State Behaviour

Prof: Stephen Saideman

When you first walk into Saideman’s class, you will hear popular tunes blasting. This is indicative of the atmosphere and Saideman’s fun and innovative teaching style. The class broadly covers the behaviour of nation states and gives an analysis of the different factors that shape the decisions they make, giving students a basic knowledge of international politics. Saideman has spent time working at the Pentagon and is the author of a number of books on foreign policy.

EAPR 250: Research Essay and Rhetoric

This class teaches the basic-but often ambiguous-rules of English grammar and essay writing. The material is extremely straightforward, and you will see a clear difference in your writing between the beginning and the end of the course. It’s an ideal class to take in first or second year because it will improve your essay-writing skills before you enter upper level courses. Best of all, there is no final, which will lighten the burden of your exam schedule.

PHYS 101: Introduction to Physics

Prof: Kenneth Ragan

This is coming from an Arts student: Ragan does a wonderful job at making physics an enjoyable subject. He teaches lectures in an innovative and lively manner, integrating demonstrations and experiments into his teaching. He is also the well deserving recipient of the 2007 Physics Department Award for Excellence in Teaching.

EPSC 180: The Terrestrial Planets

Prof: Olivia Jensen

This is a great (read: easy) science fulfillment for Arts students. It’s like a grown-up version of grade-three Earth science, complete with lively lectures on the structure of the solar system and volcanoes (although sadly without baking soda volcanoes or papier mâché solar system models).

EDEE 325: Children’s Literature

Prof: Donna Smith

While the syllabus for this class lists at least 10 required books, they’re almost all in large print, with lots of pictures, and written at a first grade reading level. Not only will the course invoke nostalgia for your favorite childhood books, but it will also introduce some new works that have been released since you graduated from Dr. Seuss to J.K. Rowling. Instead of an exam, the final project involves creating your own children’s book, which means investing in some good old-fashioned construction paper, magic markers, and glitter. Who doesn’t want to relive craft time?

MGCR 222: Introduction to Organizational Behavior

Prof: Alfred Jaeger

Professor Jaeger and his talented team of TAs-also known as Course Counselors-coach eager management students on leadership, communication style, and problem solving in this psychology-for-business course. The tutorials consist of a brief overview of the material, games that theoretically relate back to the material, and sometimes even snack time.

INTD 200: Introduction to International Development

Prof: Pushkar

The first half of the course broadly covers major development theories presented in several upper level economics courses, but without the messy graphs and formulas that frighten most Arts students. Professor Pushkar posts detailed lecture notes on WebCT so that students can enjoy-rather than transcribe-his lectures. The course analyses the failures of the World Bank and the future of the developing world, all with a healthy dose of Pushkar’s cynicism. Later in the term, weekly guest lectures from the world’s foremost authorities on development and foreign aid keeps students entertained and informed on up-to-date news.

HIST 301: U.S. Presidential Campaigning

Prof: Gil Troy

Troy wrote the book “See How They Ran: The Changing Role of the Presidential Candidate” on American presidential campaigning and his office is filled with presidential memorabilia, including a devilish-looking poster of Richard Nixon and a John McCain trucker cap. Expect tons of reading but fast-paced, compelling lectures.