Staff Editorial: Our Fall 2023 course recommendations

It is once again the hallowed, anxiety-inducing time of year to decide what you’ll be adding to your registration worksheet. Some of you, we’re sure, have Excel spreadsheets with registration planned out for the next four years. Some of you found out that Course Listings were open when you read the title of this article. Wherever you are in the process, we’re here to offer you our unsolicited advice for Fall 2023.

Before you commit to your perfect fall semester, don’t forget to check Rate My Professor before committing. Rate My Professor reviews are by no means a one-to-one representation of your potential classroom experience, but they can offer a baseline for things to watch out for. You don’t want to be two weeks into your last Area Requirement and find out that your professor prides himself on his low pass-rate.

Also, don’t forget to read the course description, and thoroughly, for hidden major requirements. The barrage of nonsensical acronyms can be overwhelming, but they’re a (nearly indecipherable) roadmap for your four years. While it’s nice to get to your junior year and find out that you accidentally already completed your minor, it’s better to be aware of that from the jump.

Unfortunately, we can’t make the choices for you. However, we can do our best to guide you toward some of our favorites.

Introduction to Macroeconomics (L11 Econ 1021)
Inflation? Recessions? Interest rates?! These words have dominated national news headlines of recent, for good reason. While economics can seem scary and math-heavy, Dottie Petersen does a great job of diligently explaining some of the most important concepts in macroeconomics and how they impact individual people. Having a basic grasp of how the economy works can help in everything from buying a house to negotiating a wage. Also, the team-based tests and projects means that you never have to figure everything out on your own. Plus, Dottie’s added humor and relatable examples makes the lectures go by with ease.
—Jared Adelman, Senior Multimedia Editor

Bridging London: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of One of the World’s Great Cities (L18 URST 124)
This small, discussion-based first-year seminar examines the history of London’s development as a global urban center. The course combines topics as varied as urban planning, epidemiology, history, architecture, and industrialization, making it appealing to students with a wide variety of interests. This is the only class that Eric Fournier teaches, and he weaves a lot of content from a study abroad program in London he used to facilitate into the course material. If you’re a first-year student, this course is a wonderful opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics with an outstanding professor.
—Camden Maggard, Social Media Editor

Creative Nonfiction Writing 1 (L13 Writing 220)
I’ll recommend writing courses until I’m blue — no, purple — in the face. Creative Nonfiction 1 is a fantastic place to start in the dizzying array of options.. All classes are capped at 12 people, making classes feel friendly and intimate with both your professor and your peers. In this course, I felt my brain physically expand by the end of the semester, absorbing brilliant essays, writing technique, and skill. Additionally with two sections, literary journalism and memoir, Creative Nonfiction caters to very different styles of writing in one comprehensive course. Get ready to be vulnerable and open, and I promise you’ll be hooked on the writing department for the rest of your time at WashU.
—Via Poolos, Managing Scene Editor

Public Speaking (L15 Drama 214)

Take a public speaking class! It’s super fun and a great way to learn how to become a more engaging presenter. There’s some parts of public speaking, like our body posture and the intonation of our voice, that we might not think to improve without a professor looking out for specific ways to improve it. For instance, I’ve learned this semester that I have vocal fry– I feel much like the character in Pitch Perfect who announced she had nodes because I’ve been announcing the news of my vocal fry to everyone I know. It’s great to learn about parts of ourselves we never knew existed. Anyways, it’s a great class and an important lifelong skill to develop.
Julia Robbins, Editor-in-Chief

History of Western Art, Architecture and Design (L01 Art-Arch 113)

Everybody should take Dr. Wallace’s Western Art survey class before they graduate. This course is only two days a week and the lectures are an incredible experience. Each day after blasting a fun playlist, the lights are dimmed and stunning art is projected onto the gigantic screen. From there, Dr. Wallace tells the history of Western Art as a wonderful story, weaving through time and a variety of mediums. This class requires absolutely no previous art history knowledge and will forever change the way you view art, museums, and history–from ancient to modern. In terms of day to day work, you simply need to attend lectures and take notes while you’re there. Throughout the semester there are two midterms and one paper. There are also discussion sections that meet once every two to three weeks. Overall, this class is an experience that unlike any lecture you will have taken at WashU before. It is a fantastic introduction to Western Art, and whether you continue a path toward Art History or never take a visual arts class again, it is a class that is extremely worth your time.
—Alice Gottesman, Senior Scene Editor

Problems in Philosophy (L30 Phil 120F)
This is a great intro philosophy class that I highly recommend if anyone wants a window into what an advanced philosophy class is like. I had Professor Brown and he was so knowledgeable and prepared. You get a lot of breadth in a class like this. One week you’ll be talking about religion and the nature of belief and the next you’ll be talking about sex or what happiness is. The class was almost entirely discussion based. You’d read a text about 10 pages long and then the entire class would be us throwing ideas at our teacher and him or another student responding to your ideas. In terms of workload, the class is graded based on 2 essays that you get creative control over and a weekly 5 question quiz about the reading content. If you’re gonna take this class, I highly recommend taking it with a friend or two. I was so impressed and surprised by the opinions and takes that my friends had and it made reading the text actually fun, which you might not have any experience with yet.
—William Labrador, Junior Scene Editor

The Roots of Ferguson: Understanding Racial Inequality in the Contemporary U.S. (L40 SOC 2010)
Since WashU is a school where 90 percent of our undergraduates come in from out of state, for many members of our student body, rooting oneself in the history—and legacy—of St. Louis should be a top priority. However, no one ever said that wasn’t a tall order, so classes like The Roots of Ferguson (taught by Jake Rosenfeld) are a great place to start. Beyond St. Louis, though (as the course subtitle suggests) this class sheds light on the systemic and structural forces that perpetuate racial inequality nationwide. For me, a doe-eyed freshman who had never talked frankly about racism in the classroom before, it was my first dip into the historical context that shed light on my experience moving through the world. Maybe it can be the same for you.
—Jamila Dawkins, Managing Forum Editor

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