by Genny Boots, News Writer

A new term brings new classes, and students at Pacific Lutheran University have plenty of new courses to choose from.
Each year, departments offer the same type of courses and introduce brand new courses.

These newly designed courses are not included in the course catalog or given wide attention. While on Banner, the online registration site for students, courses listed with an “ST” in the title or with a 287 or 387 course number indicate a course hasn’t been offered before. This allows professors or departments a chance to test out a new class.

For the fall, political science professor Kaitlyn Sill will teach a course titled “Marriage Equality in the Constitution” (listed under POLS 287). Within the Women’s and Gender Studies department, professor Jennifer Smith will be offering a special topics class titled, “Intro Into Trans Studies” (listed under WMGS 287), examining the cultural and political difficulties around being transgender.

These special topics courses are proposed by faculty and often reflect their own interests and focus, similar to many January term courses.

“Marriage equality in the law? When I was a college student 15 years ago that wasn’t being discussed,” said Director of Academic Advising, Hal DeLaRosby. “I mean there were people interested in it, but it wasn’t a wide conversation as it is now. Why not have a topic that is of contemporary interest?”

A “special topics” course can be offered up to three times under such label before it must be either admitted into that department’s curriculum or reconfigured.

While several individual classes are fresh to PLU, this upcoming fall will also feature a pilot series of “linked courses.” These are classes that are sequential, so all students signed up in a fall course will automatically be signed up for a related course in J-Term or spring. This has been done in the past with First-Year Experience Program Writing 101 classes and 190 Inquiry classes.
Progression classes – or, classes with two parts over the course of the year – allow students to bond with each other and their teachers which helps students grow, DeLaRosby said. Students don’t have to start over with a whole new process every semester, which helps professors go right into teaching in spring.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the religion department is offering a linked course series with professors Crawford-O’Brien and Llewellyn Ihssen. These two classes satisfy PLU’s global religion credit and Christian religion credit, but are geared toward students in the pre-health, nursing and social sciences departments. Both courses offer religious perspectives of health, healing and wellness.

In the fall, students can sign up for RELI 230 with Crawford-O’Brien and are automatically placed into the spring course with Llewellyn Ihssen. The concept of linked courses is continuing to be piloted at PLU, and is similar to cohort classrooms used by the School of Education and the School of Nursing.

For now, these courses are experiments to increase learning opportunities for students.

“I hope that students find that the new classes interesting, fascinating and to their benefit to try out,” DeLaRosby said.

Although registration week has ended, Academic Advising is still available to answer questions and shift student class schedules at advising@plu.edu or by appointment in Ramstad Commons. Fall term begins September 8.

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Samantha Lund was the Editor in Chief at The Mast, a student-run newsroom within Pacific Lutheran University, in 2015-16. Lund created Mast Magazine in 2015 to give students a forum for long form news pieces. She could be found writing for Pacific Lutheran University's Marketing and Communication site plu.edu or interning at MOViN 92.9's morning talk show in Seattle. Other places to find her content include: Alaska Airlines blog and website, The News Tribune and The Bremerton Harald.