Banner said he thinks the class is so popular because “the topic is of current interest to many people, the interdisciplinary approach to the topic, the engagement of students in a large format course through discussion sections, field trips and the portfolio project.”
The class succeeds in the mission of all signature courses – to introduce first-year students to the best the university has to offer and, at the same time, to help them develop college-level skills in research, writing, speaking and discussion.
“It gives students an early overview of different ways they can pursue their interests in sustainability and the environment at UT Austin. It also gets them going on thinking about society-relevant issues,” Banner said.
Government junior Tyler Levy will be a peer mentor in Professor Cory Reed’s fall signature course, “Cultures in Contact: Spain, Mexico and the Southwest.”
Levy said he wanted to get involved with the program to help incoming freshmen make the transition from high school life to college life.
“I know that during my first year at UT, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the immediate increase of responsibility in and outside of the classroom setting,” he said. “I want to pass the knowledge I’ve gained to new students.”
He expects the program to enhance his university experience as well.
“From this experience,” he said, “I believe that I will learn not only from the course material, but also from the students and enhance vital communication skills that will help me throughout my life.”
School of Architecture Professor Nancy Kwallek is gearing up to teach “Living Color: Science, Art, Architecture and Culture” in the fall with Professor Luanne Stovall.
The professors introduced the signature course in fall 2007 as a way to investigate the interdisciplinary nature of the color field.
A highlight of the course for the professors was creating a color wheel using fresh produce donated by a local market called “Living Color Harvest Mandala,” which celebrated color and life.
“Students, faculty and the university community were invited to join in for the creation—designed to celebrate unity through diversity and the natural bounty of the harvest season,” Kwallek said. “At the end of the day, the Mandala was dismantled, boxed up and donated to the local food bank.”
The School of Undergraduate Studies will offer 99 signature courses in fall 2008 and 26 in spring 2009. For more information visit http://www.utexas.edu/ugs/.