Observer Editorial: God, Country, Class Registration

With course registration looming, The Observer Editorial Board compiled a list of each member’s favorite class that will be offered next semester. This handy list is perfect for those who put off picking their classes until the last possible moment and want to pick engaging classes with as little research as possible. And for those who already know what classes you want to take, well, hopefully this will make you reconsider.

  • Stochastic Modeling with Daniele Schiavazzi: ACMS students often feel that they don’t get enough hands-on coding experience in their classes. There are a lot of ACMS classes at Notre Dame that don’t have any in-class instruction on programming but still assign homework expecting you to know these skills. Stochastic modeling isn’t anything like these classes. In this class, you’ll find yourself running simulations of real-world scenarios to investigate statistics and probabilities. The class is challenging at times, but never feels like it has unfair expectations of its students, and you come out of the class actually feeling like you’ve learned applicable skills.
  • Sexualities and Moralities: Any Arts and Letters students who may dread the required College Seminar (CSEM) should consider taking Professor Gail Bederman’s Sexualities and Moralities class. Through a mix of short reading assignments and movies, Bederman makes in-class discussion about the intersection of the two topics engaging. So, if you’re stuck deciding which CSEM you want to take, this one won’t be boring! 
  • Ideas that Made America: This American Studies course crosslisted in many departments offers an overview of America through an intellectual lens. With readings by authors ranging from Alexander Hamilton to Malcolm X, this class gives you a chance to wrestle with and contest ideas on democracy and society with classmates and Professor Peter Cajka. (Plus, the midterm paper may or may not be a dinner conversation between historical intellectuals.)
  • American Politics: This political science requirement is an excellent introduction to the American political landscape for all students, regardless of major or school. The course takes key topics and issues you may think you understand and forces you to grapple with opposing viewpoints. After the course is completed you will walk out with a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of the issues that tend to cause so much division today.
  • Beginning Logic: If you’re reading the student newspaper, you probably work for the student newspaper. And if you work for the student newspaper, chances are you’re majoring in the liberal arts and are starved for some puzzles and problem-solving. For an easy class that’ll knock out the quantitative reasoning requirement and scratch your brain, Beginning Logic does the trick.
  • Witnessing the Sixties: Witnessing the Sixties is taught by Professor Pete Cajka and will be one of the most exciting, engaging and fast-paced experiences of your life. The sixties were a whirlwind and so was this class. From thinkers like Betty Friedan to Timothy O’Leary and music by artists like Jimi Hendrix, Lesley Gore and the Beatles, this class doesn’t leave a single stone unturned. The mini essays throughout the course allow you to engage with the material in several different ways. Both Cajka and this course will blow the rest of your collegiate career out of the water. (For the undecided political science, history or American Studies major, this class is a great opportunity to discern if post-World War II courses are where you want to focus your collegiate career.)
  • Literature and Medicine with Julia Dauer: You can’t go wrong with this introductory literature course at Saint Mary’s. Open to all students who have completed their W, Professor Dauer’s class gives a historical overview of the American healthcare system, while also reflecting on a variety of issues like illness, mortality and accessibility. At the end of the semester, you walk away with a better understanding of the medical field and the ways society functions in it. 
  • Sports Marketing with Brian Pracht. For all the marketing majors out there, this is a must-take class as you fill out your major requirements. Between engaging guest speakers, relevant real-world examples and projects and a professor that continues to work in the industry today, this class has a lot of applicable skills without being one of the more challenging Mendoza classes. 
  • Intro to Comparative Politics with A. James McAdams: This class is a great introduction to a lot of famous Western thinkers like John Stuart Mill, Max Weber and Francis Fukuyama. But it also did so much more: through readings like ‘America the Unusual’, we learned about the backstory of ideologies in the country that have become the norm. There’s also a weekly discussion section to help you relate real-world examples to the theory you’ll be reading. 
  • Narrative in Fiction and Film with Barry McCrea: Narrative in Fiction and Film is an engaging and fun introductory English and writing intensive course. The syllabus for this course includes readings such as “A Thousand and One Nights,” the plays of Sophocles, and “Sherlock Holmes” and films such as Jason Bourne, “Arrival,” and “Rear Window.” Along with studying the different narrative devices at play in these works, Professor McCrea also promotes your creative development and gives you a chance to find your own narrative voice.
  • History of Famous Women with Professor Philip Hicks: History of Famous women is a Humanistic studies elective course that checks off multiple sophia requirements and is open to all students. Throughout the class you analyze the lives of history’s exceptional women from Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I to Abigail Adams and Rosa Parks. The course discusses all their triumphs as well as their faults and gives you a well rounded history of who each woman was and how they affected the world we live in. Professor Hicks has a way of making their stories come alive with the help of his in-class reenactments and lively mock trials of women such as Mary Queen of Scots. He is also not afraid to jump into the debates alongside you at times, which gives you the idea that he finds your arguments strong enough to take on himself.  
  • Lincoln, Slavery, & Civil War with Professor Jake Lundberg: This class is cross-listed under the History, Constitutional Studies and Peace Studies departments. Formerly taught as a University Seminar, the class examines a wide range of primary and secondary sources relating to one of the most important events in U.S. history. You might think you know everything about Lincoln, slavery and the Civil War. You don’t. Through class discussions and writing assignments, Lundberg will guide you to think deeper than you have before about causation, agency, legacy and history itself.
  • Topics in Contemporary Art with Professor Elyse Speaks: This art history course investigates the development of three artistic trends of the 1990s — slackers, critics, and makers — and the ways in which they shape our understanding of art politically, socially, and institutionally. Students will learn about artists such as Mike Kelley, Cady Noland, David Hammons and Andrea Fraser and engage in active discourse surrounding their methodology and practice. Speaks specializes in modern and contemporary art, with an interest in contemporary sculpture, installation, gender studies and the politics of value. 
  • VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design: For all those looking to fulfil their fine arts requirement, VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design is a great way to expand your expertise and check off that box. Design is a great skill, regardless of your major or future career plans. Knowing how to communicate effectively visually can elevate your presentations, make your resume look spiffier or even just inspire you to create more designs for fun. In the course, you will complete a series of projects that make great portfolio pieces and give you a better understanding of how to use compositional, typographic and color choices to create good designs.

Mendoza drops 24 credits in core curriculum to make room for electives

Flexibility is the name of the game for current first-year and future business majors at Notre Dame. 

A new college-level core curriculum approved for this year’s first-year undergraduates in the Mendoza College of Business includes 24 fewer credit hours, or eight courses, to check off their four-year plan of study. 

Courses no longer required of all business majors include:

  • Statistic for Business I
  • Accountancy II
  • Business Technology and Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Managerial Economics
  • Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Foresight/Business Problem Solving
  • Process Analysis

At the same time, the class of 2026 and beyond will have nine credit hours, or typically three courses, to take “broadening electives.” The stipulation is that the nine hours must be taken in at least two business departments outside the student’s primary major.

Why was the curriculum changed?

Martijn Cremers, dean of the college, said the core changes allow students to have more control over their undergraduate studies while still providing a “comprehensive business education.”

“The key ‘why’ is to allow our students to be able to take more ownership of their own curriculum and ideally, allow them to take another major outside of the college,” Cremers said. 

The change is also part of a larger plan to offer more time for discernment among underclassmen. In fall 2019, in Cremers’ year as interim dean, the college began allowing first-years to take Mendoza courses, making the undergraduate degree a four-year program as opposed to three.

“The old structure meant that the sophomore year was completely dominated by business courses,” Cremers said, adding that students had less time to decide whether to switch majors within Mendoza or have the opportunity to transfer to another college within Notre Dame. 

Mendoza will continue to offer its five majors: finance, accounting, marketing, management consulting and business analytics. 

Assistant dean Andrew Wendelborn manages the advising office and serves as the point person for undergraduate affairs in Mendoza. Wendelborn said he thinks it will allow students to expand their skill set, leading to more opportunities for a wider variety of internships.

“Today, people aren’t just doing accounting,” he said. “People are dabbling in all sorts of stuff.”

Wendelborn’s office also approves all Mendoza study abroad applications. He says studying abroad should become not only more flexible, but more doable, as students can consider programs that don’t offer any business courses.

“We want to see, can you still graduate, do that location without business and be done in eight semesters,” he said. “So with the reduction in the College Core, that’s opening up a whole other batch of credits [and] I think it’s going to be more attractive for business students to take a location that has no business courses.”

However, all current sophomores, juniors and seniors must finish out the old requirements, regardless of where they are in their degree.

Junior Morgan Rader, a finance and economics double major, expects to be done with her core requirements by the end of her junior year. And that’s with a planned semester abroad in London. While she can’t take advantage of the new space in the curriculum, she sees it as a holistic education for future business students.

“I guess I’m not really benefiting from it,” she said, “But I like the idea that people will have more flexibility to actually just take classes they’re interested in rather than having a set schedule plan that they have to do.”

Rader added that she thinks it may be beneficial for students to still have a “recommended” schedule to promote a well-rounded one. 

Given that he is in a student-facing role, Wendelborn acknowledges that he knows some upperclassmen are disappointed they missed the change by a year or two.

“Just to be fair to everybody and consistent, we had to signal that we’re going to start with the class of 2026,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the office.”

Implementation to affect faculty course assignments

All courses cut from the core curriculum will still be available for students to take rather than phased out, Cremers said, but they will be offered under new names. In theory, any incoming student could take the same exact curriculum as the class of 2025 and older.

Yet, as fewer students inevitably enroll in the dropped core classes, professors will have to shift to teach different ones.

“We’ve made it very clear, very explicit, that due to these changes, no faculty will lose any opportunity to teach here,” he said. “We will ask some faculty to teach a different course that’s still within their expertise.”

The less structured curriculum is also built to offer faculty a chance to be more creative and free to teach specialized courses on topics of interest to them, Cremers said. 

While this fall’s news has been years in the making, Cremers noted he didn’t know the last time the curriculum had been changed, just that it had been a while.

“We haven’t revisited the Core for a long time,” he said. “So I do think it’s a good idea to occasionally do this.”

Contact Alysa Guffey at

Uncategorized Viewpoint

The Observer’s declassified school survival guide

With another academic year comes the day-to-day stress of being a student on the tri-campus: early morning labs, long hours studying and papers that won’t write themselves. Then, there’s adjustments in dorm life, from having a random roommate to feeling the pressure to go out every weekend.

No matter where you are in your college experience, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with balancing everything you have on your plate. As we come to the end of the second week of the semester, The Observer editorial board has some tips on how to make the most of your time academically, socially and personally. 

Ask for academic assistance

If there’s a particular class you’re struggling with, take up your professor on open office hours. Professors are very approachable, especially when you ask for help early. Going to office hours early in the semester can lead to strong relationships with professors, making it easier for them to help you. Beyond office hours, the Learning Resource Center at Notre Dame provides free tutoring for first-year classes such as accounting, applied math, microeconomics and chemistry. If you’re struggling with an essay prompt, you can talk to a peer tutor at the Writing Centers at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. If you want to practice speaking another language, visit Notre Dame’s Center for Study of Language and Culture (CSLC).

Become a Google Calendar guru

We’re not saying that you have to become one of those people who sends their friends calendar invites to hang out, but it definitely helps to use some sort of calendar system in college. Writing down all of your deadlines for the semester in advance is an easy strategy to feel on top of your school work. This can help you plan ahead for weeks when you have three exams and two essays due in the span of a few days. Even for extracurriculars, clubs often plan their events in advance, so it’s useful to have a calendar app notify you of things rather than having to remember it all. (And don’t forget to color code!)

Advocate for mental health 

College can be difficult, and ensuring the stability of your mental health after living through a pandemic is crucial. Notre Dame’s University Counseling Center, Saint Mary’s Health and Counseling Center and Holy Cross counseling services  provide students free access to licensed mental health professionals. If you need a ride off campus to access mental health resources, don’t hesitate to ask an upperclassman or a member of your hall staff. Be aware of your own feelings and check in with your friends — whether they look like they are struggling or not. Remember, taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. 

Email enthusiastically

College can be an intimidating place when you first arrive. The next four years are full of possibilities —  research, study abroad, extracurriculars, work-study jobs, supplementary majors, honors programs and more. The plethora of options can leave you wondering where to start. When exploring these opportunities, remember that all of these people are either your peers or your teachers, and they would be very open to talking with you about whatever you’re interested in. So email that professor who’s researching the anthropology of hip-hop, get lunch with that senior who spent a summer in Jerusalem and reach out to that leader of a club you’ve been eyeing. College is an amazing time to learn the kind of wacky, joy-inducing things adults pay to learn about later in life.

Don’t sleep on dorm life (but do sleep in general)

Living in dorms can get old pretty quick. To have an enjoyable experience, make the best of the time you spend on campus. Be friendly to your roommate(s). Be courteous of the spaces you share with others. Spend time outside your room (and make the most of the nice weather while you still can) so you can meet people outside your hall. You never know where you will meet your best friends.

Pursue your passions

After attending activity fairs, you’ve probably realized, you don’t have time to join all the clubs you expressed interest in. Be realistic about what you are able to commit yourself to. If you have trouble deciding which listservs to unsubscribe from, think about where you want to see yourself at the end of your time here. To which clubs and activities do you want to devote your time? Try new things, so you can find your passions and stick with them. You can always come back to something else if you realize down the road it becomes a better fit for you! It’s never too late to join different clubs. 

Welcome to the tri-campus community! Let’s make it a great year.