2014

The following UTeach classes were taught during Spring 2014, under the leadership of Kenneth Lai. Please click on one of the links below to be redirected to the course description of the course, including a biography of the instructor and class listing. Following webreg.uci.edu, you may also find the follow courses listed in Spring Quarter 2014 under the University Studies Department, course number 7, some of which listings may link to class websites.

How to Solve Puzzlers
Imagine Hell
Decrypting Weird Fiction and Lovecraft
Women in Islam
Tattoos in the US
Urban Security and Peace
Swear Words and Society
The Science and Craft of Coffee
Sustainable Cities
Harry Potter and Muggle Culture
American Dystopia
The Civil Rights Movement

How to Solve Puzzles and Brain Teasers
The Heuristic Approach


Biography:
Hi, everyone! My name is Igii Enverga, and I am a third year majoring in computer science and minoring in math. Aside from working as a peer academic advisor and pursuing research, I really enjoy binge-watching TV shows, reading urban fantasy and sci-fi novels, and figuring out which superpowers I would want when we get them. Whenever I watch a detective show (like Sherlock!), see a thriller, or play a puzzle video game, I just love how everything clicks together at the end when the protagonist reveals how she solved the grand mystery. Being exposed to these kinds of things is what sparked my interest in learning how to solve puzzles and brain teasers, and hopefully I get to share that with you all!

Course Description:
In this seminar, we are going to explore various problem solving strategies, otherwise known as heuristics, that we will use to solve some of the more difficult puzzles and brain teasers. Students will learn how to tackle a wide assortment of these puzzlers, ranging from the more common logic ones to the more novel “Google Interview Questions” that have been popularized in recent times. To get a preview of what the course covers, here are a few of them that will hopefully pique your interest (and should be cake for you after you take my class!):

  • How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
  • You work in a 100-story building and are given two identical eggs. You have to determine the highest floor from which an egg can be dropped without breaking. How many drops would it take you to do it?
  • How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?

Enrollment Information:
Time: F 11:00 – 11:50
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87631
E-mail: envergaj@uci.edu

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Imagine Hell


Biography:
Hello there! I’m Megan and I’m a fourth year English major with a creative writing emphasis in fiction. For completion of my participation in the Humanities Honors Program, I am writing a collection of short stories and vignettes as my creative thesis with the support of my advisor, Ron Carlson. I am also an associate editor of the undergraduate writing journal, New Forum. In high school, I was presented with the Divine Comedy suite in my music class and given the opportunity to play the eerie flute solo in Purgatorio in front of large audiences. From that moment on, I have been smitten with Dante’s representation of the afterlife, especially the Inferno. On this journey through the Inferno, I have brought along my mentor Professor Kai Evers, who has been my guide and Virgil.

When I am not wading through the muck in the circles of hell, I feverishly write, cook overly complex and time-consuming meals, and attempt to travel to new places. I look forward to sharing my fiery passion (yes, fiery—that is an intentional pun) with all of you this spring!

Course Description:
Caution: HOT!

In this course, we will be using Dante’s Inferno as a departure point for discussing the types of hells we now see in contemporary media, from the cinematic hell with a devil and pitchfork to “Supernatural” to Mordor. We will examine these hells and question how The Inferno has permeated throughout media’s representation of hell and how it may have changed over time. Why are we always so fascinated with trying to defeat Satan in our films? What does hell look like? These are some questions to tackle as a class. We will also look at art depictions of hell, as well as musical scores – if hell had a soundtrack, what would it sound like? We will briefly look into purgatory and its depiction in film as well. Some of the short readings will conflict with the media that we watch in the class; you are encouraged to point these out and perhaps try to grasp what you think this means. By the end of the course, you will be able to evaluate and analyze our changing modern depictions of hell in pop culture and media. For the next ten weeks, prepare yourself for a descent into the Inferno!

Enrollment Information:
Time: Tu 2:00 – 2:50
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87632
E-mail: mvluu@uci.edu

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Decrypting Weird Fiction and Lovecraft


Biography:
I am a fourth-year English and Classics major with a passion for the intersections of the two disciplines. My research has recently revolved around the relationship between travel literature and national authenticity, namely in relation to a selection of H.P. Lovecraft’s works. I am also interested in the recent popularity of Lovecraft’s works, which has taken on reincarnations in diverse forms ranging from board games such as Arkham Horror to internet forums, particularly Reddit.com. My research, which supplements the class, is very much indebted to the counsel and advice of my mentor and research adviser, Dr. James Steintrager, is sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the Library-UROP Research Fellowship (LURF) and owes many thanks to the Lovecraft Collection in the John Hay Library at Brown University.

Course Description:
What is the Weird? Can Lovecraft be considered a canonical author in the American Gothic tradition? This course will briefly examine these questions and look at the value of Weird fiction in Lovecraft’s works. Broadly speaking, this course aims to enrich the reading of popular works with critical skills and to explore the realm of “unspeakable” horror. Texts will range from the very popular “Call of Cthulhu” and “Herbert West: Reanimator” to some less popular works including “The Outsider” and “The Thing on the Doorstep,” which will also involve a brief sampling of surrounding authors from Edgar Allen Poe to Algernon Blackwood. Some of the important topics for the class include the horror-terror binary, Orientalism, authenticity, and issues of race. Throughout these various subjects and readings, the course will constantly ask whether a generic structure (i.e. a genre) emerges from Lovecraft’s works and how superstition and horror relate and construct the human being.

Enrollment Information:
Time: Tu 12:00 – 12:50
Place: DBH 1425
Course Code: 87633
E-mail: laikw@uci.edu

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Women in Islam


Biography:
Hi my name is Monica! I am a fourth year International Studies major with an emphasis on global ethics and the Middle East. I also have certificates in Middle Eastern Studies and Conflict Resolution. I a first-generation American student who is a part of the Coptic minority from Egypt. My passion for my native culture has given me the opportunity to serve as a representative of UCI’s Coptic Club and as a Sunday school teacher to fifth graders at my local church. It has also led me to conduct research on the immigrant Coptic community within the United States. I will be completing my senior thesis on the topic and presenting my findings this coming spring. I travelled to the Middle East this past summer with the Olive Tree Initiative where I was able to further study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in-depth and do some research for my UTeach course on the ground. I am so excited to be teaching Women in Islam. In creating this course, it has forced me to step outside my comfort zone and explore the difficult issues that are hardly ever addressed.

Course Description:
In our society today, Arabs and Muslims have become the targets of racist and hate acts. In order to understand the origins of this animosity, this class will move us beyond the stereotypes by focusing on women in Islam, their diversity, their roles within their societies, and the controversial issues surrounding their way of life and religion. A number of topics will guide our discussion: profiles of Islamic women from both the Islamic world as well as from the West, devoutness and adherence to Islamic law, assimilation into Western culture, the effects of 9/11 on the general views of Islam and what this means for American Muslims, and feminism in Islam today and the future.

Enrollment Information:
Time: W 12:00 – 12:50p
Place: RH 192
Course Code: 87634
E-mail: mmakar@uci.edu

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Tattoos in the US


Biography:
Hello! My name is Dani Musick and I’m a 4th year English major with a minor in Education. I’m a Peer Academic Advisor for the School of Education and I play on the Women’s Club Soccer team. I’m also a recreational scuba diver and self-proclaimed explorer. I have a passion for learning about world cultures (especially the food part) and anthropology, which is why I will be teaching a class about tattoos: they have been a huge part of most of our world since antiquity and they can tell us a lot about the human race. What intrigues me about tattoos is not the question of whether they are good or bad, but rather why that is even a question at all.

Course Description:
Why do people get tattoos? Why do others find them inappropriate or offensive? What do they mean to the people who get them, the people who make them, and the people who see them? The implications of tattoos’ permanence, various meanings, and changing degrees of prevalence help to illuminate trends across cultures and generations. This course will introduce the origins of tattoos, explore the various influences and inspirations behind getting—and not getting—tattoos, and examine the differing roles of tattoos in contemporary American society.

Enrollment Information:
Time: Tu 4:00 – 4:50p
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87635
E-mail: dmusick@uci.edu

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Urban Security and Peace:
Barcelona Rising


Biography:
It is unusual to be passionate about urban conflict. Buildings demolished, people dehumanized by their hatred of the “other,” violence, death… None of this paints an appealing picture of the world that we inhabit. However, humanity is characterized not only by its ability to destroy, but also by its ability to rise out of destruction.

This positive potential is what enlivens me. As a 4th year international studies major who has lived in three different countries, each with a varying level of internal conflict, I recognize that the modern city has become a major tool not only of warfare but also of peacebuilding. The problem is that we do not yet understand how to use urban spaces for reconciliation. Creating, after all, is always harder than destroying.

I have spent the past year conducting research with Professor Scott Bollens on the subject of cities as agents in the modern world and my hope is to share what I have learned with you.

Course Description:
The course will cover basic international relations concepts that are important to understanding major ethnic conflicts around the world today. Basically, if you have ever scrolled through your facebook feed and thought: “I need to be more aware about what is happening outside of this Irvine bubble,” you might want to consider enrolling. During the first half of the class, we will explore how conflict arises among different groups, how it divides physical space, what impacts it has psychologically, and why it has become so prevalent within modern cities. Then, we will focus on 1970’s Barcelona as a case study, examining in-depth what made this city one of the greatest peacebuilders of our era.

Enrollment Information:
Time: M 3:00 – 3:50p
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87636
E-mail: dslepenk@uci.edu

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Swear Words and Society


Biography:
My name’s Roshan Sharma, and I’m a 4th year Psychology & Social Behavior major with minors in Statistics, Digital Information Systems, and Philosophy. I’m teaching this class largely because I love to swear… but also because I find it important to understand the meanings behind the words many of us unconsciously use every day! Though swear words only make up a small portion of our vocabulary, they seem to receive an inordinate amount of attention from society, media, and culture. Therefore, I hope to explore why this is the case and examine the real worth of this type of language.

Course Description:
Throughout this we will work to understand the contextual elements surrounding swear words. This includes etymological/historical understanding, relevant linguistic phenomena, psychological dimensions, legal/political impact, insight into the taboo of swear words, the effect of media, and lastly the philosophical/ethical aspects of these words. In understanding context surrounding these words, our goal will be to acquire a better sense of what these words mean, why we use them, and when to use them.

Enrollment Information:
Time: M 4:00 – 4:50
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87637
E-mail: rsharma1@uci.edu

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The Science and Craft of Coffee


Biography:
My name is Matthew Gosen and I am a 4th year Biology major. I am absolutely obsessed with coffee and I have been drinking it constantly for the past six years. My favorite activity is to visit different coffee shops and sample their various selections, whether it is Blue Bottle Coffee or Ritual Coffee Roasters in San Francisco or Portola Coffee Lab here in Orange County. I also enjoy roasting my own coffee because I get to see the different flavors that come out of different coffees at various roast profiles. I look forward to discussing about coffee with my students.

Course Description:
In this course we will talk about the coffee making process from growing of the coffee plant to harvesting, processing and roasting of the coffee seed. Students will learn how to roast, grind and brew fresh coffee at home and we will use flavor chemistry to explain what makes a cup of coffee taste a particular way. Other topics we will discuss will be about the physiological effects that coffee causes and whether drinking coffee is harmful to your health. At the end of the seminar students will be able to make a cup of coffee at home that they can enjoy and be well on their way to becoming a certified coffee aficionado.

Enrollment Information:
Time: Tu 11:00 – 11:50
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87638
E-mail: mgosen@uci.edu

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Sustainable Cities


Biography:
Hello! My name is Kenny Teeter-Moore. I am a 5th year civil engineering major (structural focus), with a minor in global sustainability. I have a cat, and I have been married for 2 months. I believe that designing sustainable cities is the key to saving ourselves from the mess of challenges facing our world today, and nothing gets me excited quite like finding a new design that solves a problem in some new way. Last year I founded the Sustainable Cities Club to make a place for students to discuss these ideas, and this year I have been conducting research under Dr. Zareian for building houses with natural materials. One of my favorite pastimes is learning what can be done to fix our urban environment, beyond what gets taught in the classroom, and now I am teaching this class under the guidance of Dr. Richard Matthew (professor of the Sustainability I/II series) to share what I have learned.

Course Description:
Sustainable city design is about making places that are exciting to live in and promote the ecological health of our planet. Our world faces many challenges that will likely reach critical points within our lifetimes – climate change, resource scarcity, population growth, etc. – and the common denominator through them all is the way we live. I have learned that advocating for changing lifestyles can only go so far. First, the right conditions must be designed into our daily lives so that making those changes is possible. By focusing on different aspects of the city each week, this course will look into how we can answer the driving question: how can we design the built environment so that ecological health and human prosperity are EASY outcomes of daily living?

In this class, you will do more than simply learn what that means. Many of the challenges facing the built environment don’t have solutions yet. As I guide you through some of these challenges in careful detail, we will also work on devising solutions as a team. By the end of the course, you will have a holistic understanding of what’s facing our urban world, and plenty of resources to help you learn more on your own time.

Enrollment Information:
Time: Tu 10:00 – 10:50
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87639
E-mail: kteeter@uci.edu

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Harry Potter and Muggle Culture


Biography:
Hello! I’m Marina, and I’m a fourth-year English major, with a minor in Educational Studies. I’m currently completing a research thesis on female characters in late 1990s adolescent literature, focusing specifically on – you guessed it – Harry Potter. When I’m not voraciously reading about stories for children, I enjoy writing them and telling them. Sometimes I hang out with grown-ups too, but that’s much rarer. I do believe, though, that adults can learn a great deal from children’s stories – they’re what made us into the people we are, after all. If you take my class, “Harry Potter and Muggle Culture,” you’ll see just how rich and challenging children’s stories can be.

Course Description:
If you are alive and reading this class description, you have probably heard of the Harry Potter series. The ubiquity of the books, movies, merchandise, and every other arm of the fandom is unrivaled in our culture – and the relationship between Harry Potter and our own, less magical culture is exactly what this class will discuss. Focusing mostly on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this class will discuss the impact of Harry Potter on contemporary society, and the way that issues of gender, class, morality, and so on are depicted in the Wizarding World. This class is open to all levels of Potter-heads, whether you’ve never read a single word of the series or have written a full-length fan-fiction saga. Join us, and see just how magical learning can be! (Disclaimer: the class will not contain any sentences as gag-inducing as the previous one.)

Enrollment Information:
Time: W 12:00 – 12:50p
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87640
E-mail: mtoft@uci.edu

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American Dystopia


Biography:
Jasmine is a fourth year English major at the University of California, Irvine, though if she could do it all over again, she would double in English and Comparative Literature. She is a Peer Academic Advisor for the School of Humanities. She enjoys reading and learning about Black, Latin American, Asian, and Arab histories, arts, literature, and social movements. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and roommates sharing hopes and dreams about future generations over a cup of chai and Trader Joe’s Dunkers (the chocolatey coated chocolate chip kind, not the the plain kind).

Course Description:
“American Dystopia,” will journey through events, legislation, and social trends of the last ten years in the United States to help determine whether we live in a dystopian society and what our role, as citizens of the state, is in it. We’ll be using themes from George Orwell’s 1984 to help guide us through identifying indicators of a dystopia. As undergraduate students at one of the top universities in the world, we have a terrifying amount of resources, time, and energy, so it is critical that we realize our potential in influencing our government, our social trends, and the values our society holds dear. And with that said, I hope “we shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”

Enrollment Information:
Time: M 11:00 – 11:50
Place: DBH 1423
Course Code: 87641
E-mail: jriad@uci.edu

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The Civil Rights Movement:
Remembering and Advancing Brown vs. Board of Education


Biography:
My name is Umer Waris and I am currently a fourth year Biology and Political Science double major. I feel passionately for teaching and discussing this topic with other students since its is a profound event of our nation’s history that I believe many lack a good understanding of. I also believe that the Supreme Court decision and its lessons could provide essential insights as we move forward in dealing with the contemporary issues of equality in our nation.

Course Description:
The class I hope to teach as a part of UTeach seeks to provide a historical, legal and social overview of the Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, the path leading to the decision and its aftermath. The class will give specific attention to the evolution of our legal and constitutional understanding of equality leading to Brown as well as current issues surrounding the implementation and interpretation of the decision. In this aim, Supreme Court cases that grappled with the issues of equality over our nation’s history will be principally emphasized.

Enrollment Information:
Time: W 3:00 – 3:50p
Place: DBH 1422
Course Code: 87642
E-mail: uwaris@uci.edu

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