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9 Unique Must-Take Courses at SCU

Curious about the kinds of courses you can take at Santa Clara? College is a time to explore various interests and find your passions. These 9 courses will broaden your perspective and open your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking.

College is a time to explore various interests and find your passions. Of course, you’ll need to take required courses for your major and classes to fulfill core curriculum requirements, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting and fun. These 9 courses span a wide range of topics and many actually satisfy core requirements. All were identified as must-take classes by our student ambassadors, so keep reading to discover what you can learn at SCU!

Diversity and Media (COMM 121A) 

Interested in understanding historic marginalization and public representation of different groups in the media? This course examines the relationships between cultural diversity, power, media production, and intersecting identities. After taking this course with Dr. Charlotta Kratz, Caroline McInerney ‘21 said: “I loved [this course] because it combined an interest of mine with an important social issue. It helped educate me and open my eyes to the inequity that pervades society and how media is both a perpetuator of that inequality and a catalyst for change.” Whether you’re a Communication major or simply a user of media in your daily life, this course will share important lessons and perspectives to inform your daily online interactions.


Introduction to Business (BUSN 70)

If you’re a student in the Leavey School of Business, this course is a requirement. But, we think it’s pretty cool that even the required courses at Santa Clara are some of our students’ favorites! This course will expose students to all available majors within the School of Business and provide a glimpse into the primary focus of each department. It’s one of the first courses you’ll take at Santa Clara and should help you determine your specific area of interest. Celeste Clink ‘23 took this course with Professor Theresa Strickland and said that she “is one of the most inspiring women in business out there.” Celeste also said that she “can guarantee that you will utilize at least one thing you learn in BUSN 70 in every one of your subsequent classes,” making it one of the most valuable courses you’ll take!


Conscientious Capitalism (MGMT 181)

This course best sums up the impact of a Jesuit education in Silicon Valley. The foundation of this course is “to lead others, I will first learn to lead myself.” Conscientious Capitalism is consistently one of the most popular courses at SCU, and for good reason. Of the course, Ashley Anderson ‘21 said “instead of the typical lecture-based class format, the course utilizes impactful case studies, insightful guest speakers, and small group sessions to build personal and professional leadership skills. I left every class session feeling inspired, and I frequently reflect on the lessons I learned over the 10 weeks.” In fact, this course is so well-developed that it has its own webpage - you can learn more about course activities and objectives here. This course does require an application process to get in.


Science of Happiness (COMM 100A)

I’m sure we can agree that everyone wants to be happy, but did you know there’s a science behind finding true happiness? This course explores interdisciplinary research and theories on the pursuit of happiness and aims to build an understanding of how our decisions and actions impact sustained happiness. While taking this course with Dr. SunWolf in the winter 2021 quarter, Shelby White ‘21 said “one of the biggest [things I’ve learned is] that power stems from the words we use; we just completed a month-long ‘no complaint’ challenge. There are distinct things that I have learned from this class that I can easily incorporate into my own life that will increase my overall happiness.” We believe the most impactful courses are those that influence your personal actions, and what better way to grow as an individual than learning to be happier?!?


Theology of Sex and Relationships (TESP 119)

As part of the Santa Clara core curriculum, students are required to take three religion courses, but these courses are designed to engage students in various topics from multiple religious perspectives. While not identifying as religious, Shelby White ‘21 said one of her favorite courses at Santa Clara was actually a theology class with Dr. Karen Peterson-Iyer. This course examines the ethics of sexual relationships, including friendship, dating, intimacy, and the phenomenon of “hooking up” in contemporary campus culture. “I loved this class,” Shelby said. “I found myself questioning what sex meant to me. Hookup culture is very real on college campuses, but it felt so empty. I’m not religious in the slightest, and I still took immense value from learning about all of this through a Christian lens. This highly discussion-based class helped me articulate my own feelings toward physical intimacy and self-worth.” Anyone can take this course, but it’s a Religion III, so you’ll need to have already completed your first two religion courses.


Women in Transnational Perspective (WGST 12A)

Sydney Freeman ‘22 took this course to fulfill a Cultures & Ideas core curriculum credit in her first year at Santa Clara. Her course was taught by Dr. Mukta Sharangpani, but professors can vary for C&I courses. Sydney said there were many reasons she enjoyed the course. She enjoyed learning “about the different experiences of women around the world and how intersectionality impacts their point of view.” Cultures & Ideas courses are typically very small (Sydney’s had fewer than 10 students!). Sydney said “due to the small class size, [she] had the opportunity to share [her] thoughts openly and grow significantly in [her] public speaking.” The course addresses women’s lives in diverse global regions and how they’re shaped by political, economic, and social structures around them.


World History of Emotion (PHIL 11A)

This course is another great example of the interesting topics you can study through your Cultures & Ideas core requirement. In this course, students conduct a cross-cultural analysis of emotions, investigate how different cultures have understood emotions, and concentrate on exploring the ways in which different contemporary and historical cultures understand the relationship between emotion and moral value. Maya Ryan ‘23 took this course with Dr. Erick Ramirez and said he “made the class very interactive through class activities.” Maya said, “I really enjoyed the class because we got to engage in lively discussions that allowed us to interact with the material of the class by questioning it, sharing our opinions, and testing it against our own experiences.” At Santa Clara, even your required classes can be fun!

Urban Education and Multiculturalism (CHST 106)

This course focuses on education in large urban contexts, with a particular emphasis on students from low-income environments. While a course in the Child Studies department, it also satisfies the Experiential Learning for Social Justice core curriculum requirement, meaning it requires participation in community-based learning experiences off campus. The professor for the course varies by quarter, but Sydney Meyer ‘22 took it with Dr. Omar Davila whose research focuses on how social inequality is reproduced and resisted. "This course was honestly one of the most transformational classes I've taken at SCU and was super applicable for what has been happening in our country," said Sydney. "This class made me think about perspectives that are very different from my own and helped me realize what I need to do as a teacher to provide a space where all students (particularly students of color) feel safe and respected and are able to learn about their own cultures.” Ultimately, we want a Santa Clara education to challenge the ideas you hold and push you to examine important issues, just like this one!


Ethics in Health Care  (PHIL 27)

Santa Clara’s interdisciplinary education is perfectly represented through this course. While the topic of the class focuses on health care, the course actually resides in our Philosophy department. In this course, special attention is paid to general ethical principles and the application of those principles to current moral issues in medicine and the health sciences. It satisfies the core curriculum Ethics requirement and is a great way for pre-health students to tailor the core to their academic area of interest. Linnea Rothi ‘23 said, “As an aspiring physician, I think it’s so important to understand and consider the ethical dilemmas health care providers face. Dr. Frise pushed me to think critically about these complex dilemmas through our discussion posts and essays.” She said she HIGHLY HIGHLY recommends you take it at some point during your time at SCU, which sounds pretty convincing to me!

You really can’t go wrong with any of the courses offered at SCU, but we hope this sampling piques your interest. One thing is clear: whether taking courses for your major or fulfilling core curriculum requirements, you’ll always find engaging and creative courses at Santa Clara!


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