Enliven Your Mind – Choose Courses that Feed your Brain

The signs are everywhere. It’s getting harder to ignore. Summer is half over. August has begun, the birds are preparing for their fall migration, and the stores are bulging with back-to-school supplies.

The deadline to register for AU courses for September is only days away. Are you ready? It’s time to put down the daiquiri, come in from the pool, and decide what courses to take this autumn.

Most AU undergraduate programs list a number of compulsory courses related to your field of study. No decision needed there; you have to either take those courses or have a satisfactory transfer credit from previous study. Other courses are your choice within a designated area of study.

Many programs also have a few optional credits in their program described as “any area of study.” don’t overlook this opportunity to broaden your mind and delve into unfamiliar territory. Take some time this summer to check your program requirements, then browse through AU’s undergraduate course list.

Here are a few courses from my list of potentials. Some are fun diversions from my program, and others may nudge the limits of my intellectual capacity. Check the AU course list for full descriptions, or create your own list of brain-stretching potentials.

The Vikings (Humanities, HIST 383.) Get in touch with your inner Norseman. New in 2014, The Vikings covers three centuries of trading, colonizing and exploring by the Scandinavians known as “vikings.” More fun than the real thing. No prerequisite course required. Most of the course marks come from a research paper (30%) and the final exam (40%.)

East Meets West (Humanities, HUMN 360.) Impress your friends! East Meets West covers the philosophical influences of India and China on Western thought. Course texts include Siddhartha and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. How cool is that? Most course marks are from an essay (30%) and the final exam (40%.)

Ethics (Humanities, PHIL 350.) Food for thought. A worthwhile complement to any field of study, this course covers the history of moral thought and ethics. No prerequisite, though a prior course in philosophy is recommended. Two marked exercises make up the bulk of the marks, with the final exam picking up the final 40%.

Existentialism and Phenomenology (Humanities, PHIL 367.) Crash course on two schools of European philosophical thought. This one appears to be a mind-stretcher, as well as a challenge to pronounce. No prerequisite, but a previous philosophy credit is recommended. No exam; most of the marks are from two essays of 40% each.

Goddess Mythology, Women’s Spirituality, and Ecofeminism (Social Science, WGST 333.) Get in touch with your inner goddess (or seriously impress the goddess you know.) Begins with the goddess mythology from the beginnings of civilization and ends with the new-age-sounding ecofeminism. Shhh! I haven’t told my husband about this one yet. No prerequisite and no exam, just a raft of essays.

Nutrition for Health (Science, NUTR 331.) You are what you eat. Nutrition for Health covers the basics of nutrition and its relationship to your health. Designed for students taking only one nutrition course, Nutrition for Health has no prerequisites (although high-school level chemistry and biology are recommended.) Marks are spread among three assignments and two exams, but we’re talking about your health here.

Civil Liberties and Individual Rights (Applied Studies, CRJS 427; also HSRV 427.) A topic of growing concern. “Of relevance to everyone interested in civil liberties and human rights,” which means everyone, right? This course covers the basics of democratic law and the rights of the individual, with a focus on the Canadian system. No prerequisites; two assignments and a final exam of 50%.

University studies are supposed to make you well-rounded. The piece of paper you get at the end of the journey cannot compare in value to the knowledge you acquire along the way. Any course that pushes your limits expands your capacity.

Summer’s almost over! Browse through AU’s undergraduate courses today and find some food?or some fun?for your mind.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario

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