Interesting courses to consider this Summer, Fall 2022

Joshua La Gorio, Contributing Writer

With the winter semester coming to an end, returning students are now registering for summer and fall classes. For students looking for course offerings that are different from the usual fare, there are a number of available courses to provide unique opportunities. 

Three examples in upcoming semesters are NAS230: Decolonizing with Indigenous Foods, GC376: Field Geology and GR412: Identity and Belonging in German Literature.

Decolonizing with Indigenous Foods takes a look at Native American cultures through their cuisine. Native American Studies professor Martin Reinhardt will be teaching the course online during the summer semester. It is inspired by a 2010 research project, the Decolonizing Diet Project, that explored the relationship between humans and Indigenous foods of the Great Lakes region.

“It made a lot of sense to also create a course around it, drawing on those books and research projects as material for a course,” said Reinhardt. “The class has been offered as a special topics course for the last two years, and will become a regular offering in future summer semesters,” 

In this course, students participate in a mini Decolonizing Diet Project, studying and eating Indigenous dishes every week, recording their experiences and sharing with the class. Students can even post their data on the DDP Facebook page. Students will be responsible for gathering and making sure all their ingredients are Indigenous.

“I think it’s really important for people to understand what makes food Indigenous,” Reinhardt said. “How is it different from other foods? Students really tackle that question as they approach their assignments in the class.”

The class will have meetings over Zoom and asynchronous work, including readings on Indigenous food sovereignty and identity. The requirements for the class are fairly simple: 

“[Students need] a zest for learning. A healthy appetite. A willingness to accept that we may not know things that we don’t know, but no prerequisite as far as class,” Reinhardt said.

Myriah Williams, a master’s candidate and Indian Education major, was interested in the Decolonized Diet Project as soon as she heard of Reinhardt’s research.

“My favorite part of the class was doing the videos,” said Williams. “I enjoyed the diversity. One student had an ancestral connection in the American South. They cooked some meals with pre-colonial ingredients from that region.”

Williams found the class to be both engaging and interactive, connecting her to her culture and expanding her educational boundaries. The online format was also a perfect fit for her, considering that she lives in the Grand Rapids area.

“Any time community, education, food and culture come together it is bound to change your life for the better,” Williams said.

For students looking for a hands-on geology course, professor Richard Ziegler of the Earth Environmental and Geographical Sciences department will be teaching Field Geology. The class will require students to have a basic understanding and prior experience with maps and geology, with GC225 Introduction to Maps and GC255 Physical Geology as prerequisites.

Class during the first portion of the semester will be held outside as much as possible, with students observing rock outcrops all over campus. Students will collect and record data while trying to understand the geologic history of Marquette County. Once snow covers the ground, the class will be held indoors and students will compile their collected data and prepare geologic maps.

“GC376 is a fun introduction to geological mapping methods, and will also have some structural geology and petrology,” said Ziegler. “It is not offered on a regular basis, so when it is available it is a real treat for the instructor and students.”

Through identifying suites of materials in collected hand samples, recognizing rock types, reading topographic maps and understanding the basics of map preparation, students can step back and consider the regional geologic setting in which they are living.

For students looking for a class taught entirely in the German language, Identity and Belonging in German Literature is being taught by Anna Zimmer, an associate professor of German Studies. This course requires the completion of GR301 Advanced German I or GR302 Advanced German II. 

“[I was inspired to teach this class] due to recent debates in Germany about who belongs, who’s excluded, and how various ideas of home impact legal and emotional forms of belonging,” Zimmer said.

The class revolves around the idea of “Heimat,” which means home or homeland, in German art and written works ranging from the 19th to the 21st century. The class will read and discuss things from Romantic poetry to Turkish-German narratives, highlighting themes such as family, war, belonging, identity and migration. 

“Many people probably think of ‘dead white guys’ when they think of German literature,” Zimmer said. “I hope my course’s inclusion of diverse textual and visual engagements reveals that there is no one perfect definition of ‘Heimat,’ but rather that German speakers continue to negotiate its meaning in the 21st century.”

Kaitlyn Spiegl, a junior double majoring in History and German Studies, has her sights set on the class not only to complete her major, but also because it’s a non-language course taught entirely in German. Spiegl heard about the class through Zimmer, who she has also had for other German classes.

“I’m excited to try to put my German to the test and apply literary analysis in a different language,” Spiegl said. “I have always wanted to eventually reach a level of fluency, and I believe that this is a great stepping stone on the path to reaching that goal.”

For students interested in these classes or other special topics courses, be sure to email professors and check for prerequisites. The registration process has already started for upperclassmen and will continue into the following weeks for sophomores and freshmen.