Favorite Courses

“...Take everything you thought you knew about the American West and throw it out the window. The discussions were incredible and my understanding of American history changed completely..." Taylor '15

Check out this sampling of courses and why (or how) Wellesley students chose them.

Taylor (left) with friends Marcia Frimpong '15 and Madeleine Paul-Henriot '16, take a walk around Lake Waban
 

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

 

Volcanology with Wintersession Lab in Hawaii (GEOS 220)

My favorite course was Volcanoes with Wintersession Lab. We spent a semester learning about volcanoes and then enjoyed a few weeks in January learning about them in California and Hawaii. Not only did I learn a ton but it was so much fun! No better way to learn about a volcano than hike up it and then eat some delicious Hawaiian pineapple afterwards.—Caroline Templeton '14, Geosciences, Sarasota, Florida.   See also Volcanoes with Wintersession Lab.

 

Introductory Cellular and Molecular Biology with Laboratory (BISC 112) Or “My Love Affair with Science”

In high school, I thought that I was going to study history or English in college. I took my first science course at Wellesley on a dare—and then I got hooked. My Introductory Cellular and Molecular Biology course was taught seminar style, and every week we looked at different diseases and their mechanisms. We discussed concepts that I’d only read about in textbooks, and looked at how they actually influence living systems. 

Outside of lecture, most of my science courses had lab components, in which I’ve done everything from making ice cream to crystallizing proteins to trying to induce RNA interference in the nematode model organism, Caenorhabditis elegansI have chased after mice, recorded electrical potentials from crayfish, and designed and executed original syntheses in organic chemistry lab. At Wellesley, I fell in love with science, and with research. My lab experiences inspired me to pursue research outside of Wellesley, and my research experiences beyond Wellesley have convinced me that I want to spend the rest of my life doing research. In every one of my Wellesley science courses, there are confident and intelligent women thinking creatively and analytically about science. There are women who build nanoparticles, and study songbirds! There is a true sense of community and students are passionate about what they do. I want to take too many science classes! I’m rushing to finish my major so that I can take Cancer Genomics and Immunology!  —Katie Eyring '14, Neuroscience; Silver Spring, Maryland

 

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, Undeclared; Chicago, Illinois

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, undeclared, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment (POL2 204)

This course tried 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, undeclared; Dhaka, Bangladesh

See also Life of the Mind: a magazine article about Wellesley's Neuroscience Program in the Alumnae Magazine, Winter 2013, page 34-41. 

 

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 '14, Political Science; Easthampton, Massachusetts

       

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

 

 

MORE FROM PREVIOUS YEARS

Seminar on South Africa (AFR 301)

I really enjoyed taking the Seminar on South Africa in the Africana Studies Department. Though I’ve had a lot of experience with South Africa growing up, I had never looked at it in an academic setting. This class, more than any other I have taken at Wellesley, opened my eyes to one of the places I have called home over the years. I enjoyed looking into its history and current socio-political situation. I also enjoyed researching for my presentation and final paper, something that had never happened before. I wrote one of  the longest academic papers in my time at Wellesley, and had fun doing it. This class made me realize that I wanted to be an academic presence in the world of development in Southern Africa, however long it takes. —Samantha, Economics and Africana Studies

Privacy and the Law (WRIT 125)

There are so many memorable classes, but I definitely still look back on my Writing 125 experience with the utmost fondness. The course topic was Privacy and the Law, and we examined actual court cases in great detail. I loved legal research and analysis so much that I immediately helped found the interdisciplinary Wellesley Law Journal upon completing the course, partly as a means to continue pursuing my own newfound passion. I know my classmates feel the same way about that class, as we still talk about Privacy and the Law whenever we see each other on campus. We even have a Facebook page dedicated to the class and professor! —Aimee, English

We did hands-on writing by going through well known Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. After the in-depth analysis we performed in class and out of class, we were assigned papers that required us to truly understand not only the subject matter of the Supreme Court cases but also how the details of the cases affected society as a whole. This was by far one of the most rigorous courses I have taken at Wellesley; it has left me with a stronger style of writing and a deeper knowledge of the US legal system. —Simone, Sociology

Beginning Latin and Intermediate Latin (LAT 101-102, 201-202)

My four semesters of Latin combined to be one of the most memorable endeavors here at Wellesley. To get through the pages and pages of translations, my classmates and I would make it fun and collaborative, and with the help of our professor, we all came to actually love Latin. —Olivia, Chemistry

China, Japan, and Korea in Comparative and Global Perspectives (HIST 274)

I took China, Japan, and Korea in Comparative and Global Perspective in my sophomore year and that class inspired me to become a history major. We analyzed the historical relationships between China, Japan, and Korea, and we discussed how these relationships shaped the trajectory of development and the power hierarchy of the region. Professor Pat Giersch was extremely insightful and knowledgeable and has been my major advisor since then! —Davina, History

Introduction to Moral Philosophy (PHIL 106)

Moral Philosophy with Professor Corinne Gartner made me think about my morals, the ones portrayed at Wellesley, and the world in a new light. I felt free to explore and learn, but also to question, both alone and in a group. I feel that this class has helped me to analyze at a higher level. —Arlevea, Undeclared

Elementary and Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 101-102, 201-202)

I am really glad that I chose to study a language from scratch because Arabic has been my favorite class every semester. My classmates and I have grown very close after listening to Arabic Disney songs together and creating crazy skits featuring Justin Bieber. —Laura, History and Middle Eastern Studies

The Art of Screenwriting (CAMS 2234/ENG 204)

Screenwriting was an amazing course for me to take because it completely changed my understanding and critical eye as a movie watcher. The course takes you through Oscar-nominated screenplays and films, while at the same time teaching you the mechanics behind writing your own screenplay. As a creative writer and movie lover this course was definitely made for me. —Anna, Cinema & Media Studies and Spanish

Earth Processes & Environment (GEOS 101)

I am enjoying Geosciences 101 the most out of all my classes. For my first lab we walked around campus, discussing rock formations and the geography of Wellesley’s campus. In our last class we did not just listen to a lecture but received mystery rocks and tested their physical properties to find out what they were. I am excited to go on our field trip to look at local rock formations. —Caroline, Geosciences 

Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 213)

This class really made me want to be a psych major. We studied the trajectory of different psychological conditions and their implications within society. I love this class because I learned so much about the power of the human mind. —Conisha, Psychology, pre-medical track

History of Art, Renaissance - Present (ARTH 101)

This course includes both a lecture and a conference, and during the conference students are brought into the Davis Museum on campus to critique and analyze some of the pieces. It truly captures the spirit and idea of a liberal arts college. —Jade, Media Arts & Sciences

After [taking this course], I spent a semester abroad and was able to apply so much of what I learned in class to my visits to museums around Western Europe. —Helen, Economics and Computer Science

Chinese Painting (ARTH 248)

I really enjoyed Professor Meng’s Chinese painting course, my first studio art course ever! I was motivated to try more difficult painting techniques, learned more about the aesthetics/history of Chinese painting, and became more confident in my ability to paint!  —Hyelin, American Studies

Social Conformity and Deviation (SOC 138)

An introductory sociology course in which we examine various theories for social deviance, consider unifying elements among “deviants,” explore where deviance originates, and vet proposed forms of “treatment” and/or punishment. —Katie, Neuroscience/Sociology

Beginning Greek (GRK 101)

This is an intensive course in learning ancient Greek. Within a few weeks, we started to read ancient Greek texts—it's very exciting! —Kristina, Art History and Classical Studies

Poetry Writing (ENG 202)

I took this class with Professor Chiasson. We met weekly in a room that looked like it’s taken from a movie set of Tristan and Isolde, read our poems out loud, and talked about our own creations and everyone else’s poetry. —Lena, Russian Language & Literature and Studio Art

Sports Medicine (PE 205)

It's hands on, and the professor (Connie Bauman) is great. You learn so much practical advice about the body and common injuries, how to prevent them, and the importance of knowing your body. I bring up today what I've learned in this class nearly two years ago! —Leslie, Biological Chemistry

Intensive French (FREN 103)

The class size was small and interactive. Because we met four times a week for two semesters we got to know the professor and the class incredibly well. The professor who was teaching my class actually designed the programFrench in Actionthat we were using. (Apparently it’s in use at many colleges around the United States now!) It was a combination of my professor’s sense of humor at 8:30 a.m., his willingness to assist me, and my class’s enthusiasm that made good subject matter become GREAT! —Michelle, Biology and Peace & Justice Studies, pre-med track

Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 101)

I loved this class because I found the material interesting and I loved my professor Linda Carli. She was always so full of energy and made each lecture a blast! —Misbah, individual Health/Society, pre-med track

Computer Science and the Internet (CS 110)

So far, I’m loving Computer Science and the Internet. After only three weeks of class, we’re building websites using HTML and CSS that actually look good. —Olivia, Mathematics with Philosophy minor, recently bitten by the Computer Science bug

Introduction to Linguistics (LING 114)

I was convinced I would major in Anthropology until I took this class. It introduces you to a completely different way of thinking about language and communication, and the things you learn pop up in every aspect of your life. — Rachel, Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences

Urban Education Seminar (EDUC 335)

I am very interested in urban education as a potential teacher in an urban school. Since the course is a seminar, it is student-driven, discussion-based, and filled with students who are also passionate about this topic. In addition, each student is required to do fieldwork in a school setting. For my placement, I am interning in a kindergarten classroom in Mattapan. —Sinta, Political Science with Education Studies minor

First-Year Seminar

I really loved a first-year seminar I took my very first semester. It was with two departments, Philosophy and English, and we discussed the philosophical novel through George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity.  Susan, History and French 

Arabic (ARAB 101)

...Because it’s fun and although challenging, definitely rewarding. The class is also small so I feel like I get a lot of practice. —Suzanne, Political Science, with Middle Eastern Studies minor

Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 101)

It was an introductory class; my professor was so wonderful and very approachable! I would go to office hours all the time and chat with her, and I had a lot of fun in that class. It was what made me want to become an economics major! —Amy, Economics and French

First-Year Seminar: Women in Film

We analyzed movies from the 1930s to the present day through a gender lens, examining the roles of women and their portrayal in film. It was a small class of 15 students with a wonderful, approachable professor. The class sparked my continued interest in cinema and media studies and gender studies at Wellesley. —Sarah, Peace & Justice Studies Major, Music Minor

Seminar in Environmental Psychology (PSYC 311)

I loved Environmental Psychology because we talked so much about how your physical environment can actually affect your cognition. I also loved my seminar on the Bauhaus because it made me realize how much of the thought that came out of that one art school affects my everyday life. And photography! —Melissa, Psychology and Art History

Brain Behavior and Cognition (NEURO 101)

From the first day of class, we explored current research going on in neuroscience, including neurogenesis (new neurons forming in the adult brain, which scientists didn't think was possible at first), depression, eating disorders, anxiety, Huntington's disease, and Parkinson's disease. I had no idea that physics, psychology, chemistry, biology, and others could come together in such an exciting and relevant way. This is a great class for immersion in an interdisciplinary subject. Our lectures are complemented by a practicum in which we engage in experiments and activities to gain a greater understanding of the nervous system, including some dissections. I can't believe how much I've learned already. —Suzanne, Political Science

History of Jazz (MUS 209)

For music lovers of all different backgrounds, this introduction to the technical, expressive, and cultural aspects of jazz was definitely one of my favorite classes that I've taken here at Wellesley. From the early forms of jazz, including New Orleans and Dixieland, to the many forms of modern jazz, we learned about the development and evolution of jazz through the years, spent time listening and analyzing key pieces, and became familiar with the various instruments, forms, and rhythms that distinguish jazz. What I liked most was the interactive nature of the class. We had group discussions after listening to pieces, we had several jazz musicians visit to give demonstrations, and we were encouraged to go to jazz performances during the semester. The only prerequisite for this class was a curiosity for jazz, and my professor did an excellent job of presenting the material in a way that both musicians and non-musicians would understand. Her enthusiasm for jazz and music was evident and invigorating. —Adeline, American Studies

Microeconomics (ECON 101) and Calculus (MATH 116)

In Microeconomics (ECON 101), Professor Velenchik's enthusiasm for the subject was engaging and her depth of knowledge was admirable. She made it clear that she expected a lot from us and our work, and in turn, she would be able to critically evaluate our level of understanding of the course material. Professor Velenchik illustrated key concepts and theories with real-life examples, and her humor was a welcome addition to every lecture. She is an inspiring speaker, whether she is giving college advice or teaching us about supply and demand.

Calculus (MATH 116) with Professor Alexia Sontag was another course I really enjoyed. Math is not my strong point, so I knew I would need to invest a lot of time into this class in order to understand the material and perform well. Professor Sontag restated concepts in familiar, casual terms that made calculus less daunting and more approachable. She was always available for her students during office hours, so whenever I had questions or didn't fully understand something, she offered a different viewpoint with which to approach the problem or a suggestion about how to solve it methodically. By working with her during office hours, I was able to build my confidence with calculus and, with her help and encouragement, I was able to do well in the class. —Annelise, Economics

Issues in Political Theory (POL4 201)

I'm a theory nerd and madly in love with John Stuart Mill. —Ami, History

History of Modern Africa (HIST 265) and Negritude, Independence, Women's Issues (FREN 218)

History of Modern Africa involved a lot of reading, since the material covered a whole continent, and the professor made it interesting. It was a relatively big class, but everyone had the opportunity to speak up during discussions. We watched a few movies to better understand the history of some countries. I had the opportunity to meet two of the authors whose books we'd read. That class gave me a better insight into and appreciation of African cultures as well as the struggles in Africa today.

In Negritude, Independence, Women's Issues, a very small class with about seven students, we spent the whole hour discussing different texts, drawing parallels, and making contrasts between one author and the next, and between one time period and another. We read very interesting books from Francophone authors from the Caribbean and from North and East Africa. At the "Writings from Africa" symposium, we even had the opportunity to meet one of the authors whose books we had read. —Carla, Sociology

Versailles and the Age of Louis XIV (FREN 224)

We read several plays written during the reign of Louis XIV, by playwrights such as Moliere, Corneille, and Racine; and studied fashion, architecture, art, and philosophy from the same period. The subject material was fantastic, but the best part of the course was our professor. His enthusiasm for the subject was infectious, and his knowledge seemed pretty much infinite. Classes were always engaging and exciting. —Marion, English

Marching Towards 1968: The Pivotal Year (HIST 291)

This was a history class on the 1960s in America. There were only eight people in the course, so we had really lively discussions. The reading was so amazing, and the professor was incredible! —Evann, American Studies and Psychology

Motions in the Sky: Archaeoastronomy and the Copernican Revolution (ASTR 201)

This course incorporated archaeology and history, which were all very interesting when tied to astronomy. —Paulina, Religion

Creative Wri​ting Program

Wellesley has a fantastic creative writing concentration that spans prose for adults and children, poetry, and screenwriting. I also loved creative writing classes because they were unique in that I learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors. —Michelle, Economics and Cinema & Media Studies

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 215) and Poetry Workshop at MIT

Philosophy of Mind had interesting reading and provided a fascinating take on science. One night, I was studying with friends at MIT when someone complained about his physics class involving too much philosophy. I looked at him and said, "This is ALL philosophy of science." I love writing poetry, and the Poetry Workshop at MIT got me out and aboutmeeting new people in a completely different environment. It was a good experience. Plus, it got me writing poetry again, which is one of my passions in life. —Lizzy, Philosophy

The Art of Reading (EXP 123)

I love Wellesley because the professors are easily accessible and really care about helping you. My favorite class this semester was The Art of Reading, taught by Professor Parussa. The class was small and made it easier to speak up and ask questions. Professor Parussa was willing to meet with us to discuss any part of the class we wanted to understand better. —Jessica, Undeclared

Introduction to Hindi/Urdu (SAS 101)

The professor was not intimidating. You gradually got into the groove of things and began speaking freely on your own. All the students encouraged one another to learn. A mistake was a mistake. No big deal.  —Katie, Biological Sciences and Political Science

Environmental Horticulture with Lab (BISC 108)

The professor was absolutely amazing and completely dedicated to the study of plants. The class itself was engaging and interesting, and the labs were awesome. By the end of the semester, I had my very own little vegetable garden in one of the greenhouses. Harvesting the tomatoes, peas, basil, and cucumbers during finals was a great way to end the academic year. I made a fresh tomato sauce with homemade pasta and created a salad with the rest of the veggies. It tasted wonderful! —Mary, Psychology

Linear Algebra (MATH 206)

I have loved math since elementary school. This class was challenging, and, unlike all of my previous math classes, it focused on more abstract concepts and proofs. It is great being in a class where nearly everyone is just as excited about the subject as I am. —Margarita, Math

Race/Ethnicity in the US: Asian American Identities and Communities in Comparative Perspective (ANTH 220)

This course focused on Asian American identities, which was a subject that had always been of personal interest to me. Learning about this issue in a formal academic setting gave me so many insights into American society and the concept of "race." —Nalina, International Relations

Study of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament (REL 104)

My favorite class was actually Old Testament in the Religion Department. Before that class I knew very little about the Bible, but after I was done I understood so much. We even did an archeological dig at the end to understand how the Bible reflects historically not just religiously. —Bri, Chemistry

Einstein's Century (PHYS 101)

I never liked physics when I was in high school and I wasn't looking forward to taking science classes when I got to Wellesley. I took Einstein's Century because it was designed for non-physics majors, so it was perfect for someone who had completely forgotten how to do math since high school. We always had really fun demonstrations and the professor was fantastic! There were 50 people in the class (my biggest class ever at Wellesley), but he still knew everyone's name and was really helpful in office hours. We learned about special relativity and quantum mechanics, both of which blew my mind on a regular basis. Einstein's Century opened up my eyes to the beauty of math and physics, which I never thought would happen! Even though I'm still a social science person, deep down, I now appreciate the physical sciences in a way I never had before.—Jessica,  Political Science

Film as Art (CAMS 231)

My favorite course keeps getting topped with every subsequent semester, but for now, it's Film as Art. This class is structured in a very interesting way. Typically, we watch a major cinematic work, discuss our preliminary reactions to the film, read about the theory and analysis of the film, and examine scenes that relate to our readings. It is, without a doubt, the most stimulating class I've been in so far. Sometimes, I take a moment and feel so privileged to be among such insightful and eloquent women. —Alice, English

Introduction to Political Science (POL 100)

This was my favorite course because the professor was AMAZING! Very funny, nice, intelligent...the epitome of what a Wellesley professor should be. —Anna, Art History and Biological Sciences

Freedom and Dissent in American History (HIST 258)

This was a class on constitutional history, but definitely not a lecture based on facts, dates, and people. We discussed everything, and the professor constantly pushed us to reconsider where the limits of the First Amendment really lie, and where they should lie. It completely changed some of my own views, and radically changed the way I think and evaluate politics. —Jane, Environmental Studies and Economics