May 4, 2015
A new course could be added to the catalog at UCCS.
On May 8, an idea for the Emergence of Infinity in Arts and Sciences course will be presented and, if approved, can satisfy the natural sciences requirement in the school of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
As an interdepartmental professor of mathematics, art and film history, Alexander Soifer is skeptical of courses that are narrow in the subject and wants to introduce this class to students in order to broaden the horizon on education.
“I previously taught this course before with only 14 students who had 13 different majors. Usually you want everyone to have the same major [and] think alike, and here I had 13 majors of English, music, art etc.,” Soifer said.
Based on this previous class, with a course covering a wide selection of topics, Soifer believes the classroom will have a variety of students with different majors and different views.
“I wanted them to give a talk and to write a paper, but do it in your major. Magic happened. They started to give such amazing talks that I couldn’t wait to come to class and listen to them,” he said.
Soifer hopes to have a student capacity of 15 for the new class, but said he will gladly take up to 20 students if interest in the course grows.
The planned low student allotment allows Soifer to better understand his class. This element is difficult to obtain through online courses, he said.
“Online courses are like fast food restaurants. Yes, it will satisfy your hunger, but will you remember forever what you ate? I have to see the eyes of my students and I have to see their eyes, this interaction that I want. How can online replace that?” he said.
Soifer aims to replicate elements of his previous class, including student discussions about their future professions and cultural awareness.
“On one of the exams students were told to know 12 different masks and their tribal origin. 13 of the 14 students missed only one while one student got all of them correct,” he said. “In four months they learned culture with a perfection and can look at an artifact that they have not seen before.”
“We produce engineers who do not know art at all, they do not know music and that is dangerous, they underappreciate it as a whole.”
If approved, the course will be available in 2016.