University rolls out some new classes for the spring semester


“This class is offered infrequently.”

Students who open the University’s course description… “This class is offered infrequently.”

Students who open the University’s course description booklet see that sentence sprinkled liberally throughout its pages and realize that a class is unique.

Courses with this tag on the end of their descriptions could be new or offered only once every few years.

This semester, students who are looking for something new may find it in the purple-filled pages of the booklet or through the PeopleSoft system.

Adam Shear, a professor of Religious Studies at Pitt, is teaching a class this semester, Religions of the West, that the University is offering for the first time.

Shear said that a new class is created in the School of Arts and Sciences when the professor and the department work together and submit a test syllabus and a proposal to an undergraduate council.

Once they approve the class, it joins others on a “master list” of classes that Pitt can draw from to offer students a variety of courses.

“Any time the department wants to offer it they can choose it from the master catalogand put it on the schedule,” Shear said.

The introduction of this new class complements other courses that the department offers already, such as the Religions of Asia class.

Shear said that the goal is to offer students a yearlong series of courses that teaches them about all the major world religions.

The French and Italian Language and Literatures Department is offering a class that hasn’t been taught in several years. This special topics class in the Italian section is called Science and Culture, Italian Style, and is cross-listed with the History and Philosophy of Science Department.

Professor Dennis Looney teaches the class alongside Peter Machamer, and said that this class was an attempt to bridge the gap between science and culture.

“The two come together, science and literature, in a course like this,” Looney said. “We’re trying to overcome the split, the dichotomy between the two.”

The course covers the works of people such Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo, and the relationship between scientific advances and the societies that produced them.

“It combines historic, scientific and humanist ideas through the development of science in Italian culture,” Looney said.

The class is a University Honors College class, so students will have to meet certain minimum GPA requirements in order to take it.

Another class that looks at culture in a unique way is A Taste of Japan, a class that “uses food as an entree to a broader understanding of Japanese culture.”

According to Pitt’s course descriptions booklet, this class will teach students to think critically by asking a simple questions, such as: How can food on the table be an important indicator of history in the making?

A new course, Seminar in Composition: Service Learning, will teach students the relationship between colleges and the communities they are in, and students will have a chance to work on service projects during the semester.

Other new courses include the African Novel, Race and Class in American Photography, the history of Muslim Christian Relations, Japanese Tales of the Supernatural Game Theoretic Principles.