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5 Penn Classes You May Not Have Heard Of, But Should Consider Taking

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.


Penn is comprised of 4 undergraduate schools, 94 majors, and countless classes.  With this immense number of options, many extremely fulfilling and rewarding courses get lost in the scramble to satisfy requirements and graduate on time. Some of Penn’s most fascinating courses are hidden within small majors, even though many times they actually fulfill general education requirements. Ultimately, there are many courses, requirement satisfying or not, that should really be considered for their high recommendations from the students who have taken them.  College is without a doubt a time for academic achievement, but it is also a time for self improvement and discovery. With minimal challenge and intimate discourse, these courses are electives you will be incredibly glad you took.

Gender and Society, GSOC 002

Penn Course Review Course Quality: 3.1

Difficulty: 1.5

Instructor Quality: 3.7

This course examines the impact of sex and gender roles on contemporary American society. Differentiation by sex is the central organizing principle of nearly every human society. How can we understand the relationship between biological sex and socially constructed gender? How do maleness and femaleness affect the balance of power and resources in our society? Constantly questioning today’s media and looking for answers, this course keeps students thinking, wondering, and discovering the deeply engrained standards written into our culture. If not just for the instructor quality, take this course for the enlightenment of a lifetime.


Race and Ethnic Relations, AFRC 006

Penn Course Review Course Quality: 3.4

Difficulty: 3.6

Instructor Quality: 1.7

This course will focus on race and ethnicity in the United States, a topic that has become increasingly important due to recent events.  It begins with a brief history of racial categorization and immigration to the U.S. and continues by examining a number of topics including racial and ethnic identity, interracial and interethnic friendships and marriage, racial attitudes, mass media images, residential segregation, educational stratification, and labor market outcomes. The course will include discussions of African Americans, Whites, Hispanics, Asian Americans and multiracials. Arguably the most relevant and necessary type of discourse for today’s society, this course provides an open forum for topics that need to be but are not often discussed.


Killer Viruses, BIOL 005

Penn Course Review Course Quality: 3.3

Difficulty: 2.1

Instructor Quality: 3.7

The goal of this course is two fold: to provide students with an introductory, practical view of biological systems, and to enable students to evaluate the health threat of viruses as natural or terrorist-driven agents in contemporary society. If not only to better understand the diseases that plague society today, this course offers a fascinating new perspective on science that isn’t the typical science course.


Negotiations, LAW 516

Penn Course Review Course Quality: 3.5

Difficulty: 2.1

Instructor Quality: 3.5

Negotiation is the art and science of creating good agreements. This course works on both, studying economics and psychology for the science, and practicing actual negotiations for the art. Throughout negotiation is thought of in general terms, relevant not only to salary negotiations and home buying, but performance evaluations, speeches, group collaborations and interpersonal relationships. If not just to prepare for a lifetime of negotiations ahead, this course provides students with the understanding of the science behind a seemingly instinctual art.


ABCS (Academically Based Community Service)

ABCS is a general descriptor of courses that combine learning with community service in the greater Philadelphia area. Often rooted in the history and culture of the city itself, students learn deeply both about the subject matter and the people it considers. These course are often highly ranked in the 300s or 400s of a certain department so they reflect strongly on a transcript in both learning and experience. From Tobacco and Adolescents to Food Habits in Philadelphia, this seminar type class is highly recommended and allows students to step out of the Penn bubble to apply and enhance their knowledge of a subject area.

Learn more about ABCS courses here: https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/abcs-about


Note: This list is not all inclusive. Course descriptions were taken off Penn Course Review and edited with commentary by yours truly.


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