"Take everything you thought you knew about the American West and throw it out the window..."

So says Taylor Rondestvedt '15. Read what she says about this history course—her favorite, and check out a sampling of favorite courses of other Wellesley students (and actually a few alumnae).

Students' favorite courses

History of the American West: Manifest Destiny to Pacific Imperialism (HIST 244)
This was a history class I took my sophomore year, and it was incredible. Take everything you thought you knew about the West and throw it out the window. The discussions were incredible and my understanding of American history changed completely. The same professor taught a class on the American South, and it was the same situation. As a history major, I'd never focused on American history, so these two courses were the most incredible reintroductions I could have asked for. Other courses I have loved are American Conservatism, Francophone Africa, Gender and Sexuality in 20th Century Europe, Macroeconomics and Historical Commodities and Empires.... But in all honesty, I've never had a bad experience in class or with a professor! —Taylor Rondestvedt '15, History; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Empathy, Perspective-Taking, and Moral Judgment (Phil 345-1)
One of my absolute favorite classes at Wellesley! We sat around a long oval table, discussed and debated philosophy, and ate food. I was so impressed by the interesting arguments and points that my peers articulated. I definitely came out of the class thinking in a different way. —Neha Doshi '15, Economics; Hixson, Tennessee

BOW—The Three-College Collaboration among Babson, Olin, and Wellesley Colleges— and cross-registration opportunities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University are opportunities that are unique to Wellesley alone.  — Cindy Coffee '16, Architecture; Amityville, NY.  See also Sustainability Certificate Program with Wellesley, Olin, and Babson; Engineering OpportunitiesArchitecture 

History of Education (EDUC 212)
Professor Barbara Beatty is a phenomenal professor! Her lectures were always engaging, but it was mainly a seminar class and, as one of two first-years, it was awesome learning from the upperclasswomen and seeing how amazing, articulate, and interested they were in the topic. It made me think that maybe one day I will be as composed and intelligent as they are! It also made me rethink the way my K-12 education affected who I am, what opportunities I received, and how if I had been born just 10 or 20 years before, my outcome could've been much different. —Imara McMillan '17, History; Chicago, Illinois

Survey of 19th Century Russian Literature (RUSS 251)
I never thought I'd stumble upon the Russian Department, but I'm sure glad I did. This class has opened my eyes not only to the beauty and caliber of Russian literature but also to the rich, mystical Russian culture. I plan to read pieces like Evgeny Onegin and Anna Karenina multiple times throughout my life. Also, Professor Hodge is AMAZING.  —Grace Hu '17, Math and Computer Science, Hillsborough, California

The Body: Race & Gender in Modern and Contemporary Art (ARTH 316)
I'm an art history major, and this was an art history seminar; but one of the things I liked about it is that it was cross-listed with Africana Studies so students from a wide range of majors were allowed to take the course, even if they didn't have a large art history background. ARTH 316 is taught by one of my favorite professors at Wellesley, Professor Greene, who is great about integrating modern technology into the classroom. Sabrina Giglio '15, Art History and American Studies, Pacific Palisades, California

Weapons, Strategy, and War (POL3 379)
My favorite course so far is called "Weapons, Strategy, and War" in the Political Science Department. It is taught by Professor Stacie Goddard (see article on Professor Goddard overseeing a student's independent study in Sierra Leone) and I am having such a blast (pun intended)! Part of the reason I chose to take this course was because I wanted to learn about warfare—something that's a big part of any country's past and present (including mine, the Philippines). I will often hear that women have no place in discussing or learning about violence or weapons or even political science, which is upsetting to me because if we only have one "perspective" about weapons, strategy, and war, then the decision-making process is skewed and uninformed. This course has a military history bent to it, a field I have never studied before and have never considered the most interesting until now—thanks to such an engaging and interesting professor. Mara Palma '15, Political Science; Easthampton, Massachusetts

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Anatomy of Evil (WRIT 146)
One of my favorite courses was my writing course with Professor Cain. The topic was focused on Macbeth, but in addition to reading the text, we also analyzed various film interpretations. We discussed the effect of lighting and music within the films, and we also acted out parts of the play. The course culminated in a research paper. I thought this course was valuable in that it allowed me to explore my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and it exposed me to various types of writing styles. Writing Program—Seraphina Oney '16, History; Claremont, CA

First-Year Seminar: Routes of Exile: Jews and Muslims (HIST 115)
I took Routes of Exile: A Story of Muslims and Jews throughout North Africa and Middle East, which is a first-year seminar. I loved this class because we examined history from many perspectives. We looked at film, music, literature, politics, religion, and culture to inform our understanding of these two groups, Muslims and Jews, in a particular moment in time in a particular region. The class was discussion based, so we read a book or watched a film each week and sat in a circle and discussed it. It was a great introduction to discussion-based classes as well as a window into the Middle Eastern Studies Department.—Adele Watkins '17, Philosophy, Minneapolis, Minnesota (See also video on First-Year Seminar)

Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment (POL2 204)
The objective of this course was to explain the spectrum of development faced by countries around the globe, and the process of reaching this point from the political economy perspective. It was a miracle to find a course at the beginner's level in the Political Science Department that was absolutely specific to what I want to do with the rest of my life. Professor Hajj's approach to the topic was fresh and engaging and her ability to delve into these deep and often unpleasant topics with good humor made the alarm ringing at 7:45 am absolutely worth it. —Lamisa Hossain '17, Political Science and Economics; Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fundamentals of Chemistry with Lab (CHEM 105)
This is the class that truly made me understand the difference between a high school and college course. Professor Mala Radhakrishnan encouraged us to go beyond a basic understanding of chemistry, and to really think about why atoms act the way they do—often with the help of Mala's poetry and analogies! —Houda Khaled '16, Biological Chemistry; Philadephia, Pennsylvania. For more on Professor Radhakrishnan; hear her read "The Radioactive Dating Game" at bit.ly/chemistpoet.

Alumnae/staff's favorite courses

Behind the scenes: When Lauren Dennis, associate director of admission and Wellesley alumna, asked some students to share a brief paragraph about their favorite course at Wellesley, she provided them with two examples of her favorite Wellesley course. Her enthusiasm was contagious, inspiring other alum/colleagues in the Admission Office to want to share theirs well. Here they are: 

Intro to Video Production (ARTS 165)
I never thought of myself as "artistic" (hello, science nerd) but I loved this class! It changed the way I view everyday life and taught me that trying new things and taking a few risks can be fun and so beneficial. It was really interactive so getting to see all of the different ways my classmates interpreted an assignment (viewing everyone's videos each week and then critiquing them) definitely broadened my thoughts. Also, now my own travel videos and photos are pretty awesome. Lauren Dennis '02, Associate Director of Admission

Psychology of Creativity (PSYCH 334)
This was the first time I was expected to formulate and defend my own theories. No textbooks, no right answers, just a group of about eight people around a big table talking about competing theories. It was kind of scary at first and I was so worried about saying something "wrong" but it taught me a lot about being a critical consumer of information, applying emerging research or knowledge to an existing field, making arguments, being flexible when hearing other evidence, and asking the kinds of questions I needed to make up my mind for myself. (Great skills to bring to lots of different fields, not just psychology!) Surprisingly, this was also the first time I appreciated that studying a topic never truly ends because fields constantly change and evolve - I'm never going to know everything about it and I can never say, "I'm done with this topic now." We're constantly learning, experimenting, revising what we know, which is something that has really helped me in my (non-psychology) career. Lauren Dennis '02, Associate Director of Admission

Acting Shakespeare and Shakespeare Part II: The Jacobean Period  (THST & ENG, 315 & 244)
For me, these two courses go hand-in-hand. Without the other, I wouldn't have been able to fall in love with the works of Shakespeare as much as I did. The ability to truly understand the nuances in Shakespeare's text, and then bring it to life on stage were eye-opening. I credit Diego Arciniegas and Yu Jin Ko for giving me the ability to fall in love and understand Shakespeare at the root level. Victoria George '05, Senior Assistant Director of Admission

Intro to Computer Science (CS 110)
Admittedly, when I began my undergraduate work as a non-traditional student (Davis Scholar) I took the "easy" route, opting to major in English. Writing had always come fairly easily to me, and having been introduced to the rigor of coursework at Wellesley, I believed sticking with what I knew best was the safest path to "success." While taking Intro to Computer Science, I quickly learned I couldn't have been more wrong! This class opened my eyes to the world of technology in so many fun and interesting ways, and it required me to work harder then I had ever had before as I was so new to the subject. Professor Jennifer Stephan not only taught our class real-world marketable skills, but also instilled in us the belief that women CAN succeed in science and technology. By the time I took this course, it was too late to change my major; however, the tech-bug bit me so hard that I've spent my time building a career in technology post graduation. Sharon Lecuyer '09, Admission Information Systems Analyst

Beats, Rhymes and Life: Hip-Hop Studies (AMST 315)
Taking this course was one of the highlights of my experience in the Wellesley classroom. Not only does Professor Michael Jeffries bring the discussion of my favorite genre of music to life, but also he helped me realize the potential to combine things I am passionate about outside of the classroom with academic discourse. I had some understanding of the roots of the hip-hop culture, but I was blown away by what came with closer examination of the movement. What's more, it really spoke to me as a history major to delve into the storied past of the music that has so deeply influenced my life. I concluded my work in the course with a final paper on the "Video Vixens" in Tupac Shakur's "How Do You Want It" music video. I've followed Professor Jeffries career and read many of his books, I'm not sure he truly realizes the profound impact the course had on all of us! Molly Morrow '10, Assistant Director of Admission

See more of students' favorite courses from previous years.