Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

Students taking Yale’s newest courses this semester will examine the University’s historical relationship with eugenics, survey Chinese popular culture and investigate self-governance in modern society.

While the semester’s start has brought unusual circumstances — with classes set to remain online until Feb. 7 — students have still been exposed to more than 100 new course offerings that were included in Yale College’s spring 2022 course catalog. One of these new classes is “Power: Authority, Influence and Persuasion,” a new first-year seminar taught by Gordon Silverstein, lecturer in political science and assistant dean for graduate programs at the Yale Law School. Silverstein said influence and persuasion have “been at the foundation” of his teaching and writing since his doctoral dissertation.

“We are at a national, and even international moment of great challenge to the concept and exercise of self-governance and to understand these less easily measured aspects of power seems particularly timely,” Silverstein said. I can’t think of a better way to do this than in a small seminar with first-year students who are fairly new to these ideas and arguments.”

New courses are usually generated in a joint effort by faculty and their academic departments. Faculty submit proposals for new courses to the Course of Study Committee, or CSC, which convenes to review proposals for new courses in time for the start of the new semester. The committee meets twice a month, and in its review process, it endeavors to administer a universal standard for course rigor and workload. The CSC is composed of faculty members from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, undergraduate students, administrators and staff.

This semester, over 100 new courses appeared in the Yale College catalog — a number in line with previous years.

“The number of new courses for spring 2022 is pretty typical,” Dean of Academic Programs George Levesque said. “CSC ordinarily reviews around 400 courses every year, including around 30 new courses for Yale Summer Session.”

Levesque said that roughly equal numbers of new courses are introduced for the fall and spring semesters. Courses are also considered new if they have been substantially revised, offered for the first time in more than seven years or changed in format from lecture to seminar, or vice versa.

Many majors, such as economics, chemistry and linguistics, have required courses. These courses are typically offered on a semester-based rotation and appear regularly from year to year. Many of these departments’ electives, however, are offered on a more limited and less-regular basis.

“We have the staples that form the core of our program and are offered regularly, and then extra courses that focus on a variety of particular topics,” said Jim Wood, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Linguistics Department. “For these extra courses, we sometimes repeat existing courses, but we often introduce new courses, and it is not uncommon for them to be offered only that one time.”

The University’s East Asian Languages and Literatures Department is offering eight new courses this semester, according to assistant professor Lucas Bender.

Bender said that three of these new courses — “Chinese Media and Popular Culture,” “Natsume Sōseki” and “Theater and Drama Traditions of China and Japan” — are taught by new faculty members Xuenan Cao, Timothy Goddard and Allison Bernard. 

“We are very excited to have these new specialists enriching our course offerings this year,” Bender said. “I would recommend students jump on the chance to take these courses now as they may not be offered again for some time.”

The growing Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations department is trying out three new classes, including “Art and Visual Culture in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia” and Imaging Ancient Worlds”, all of which have no prerequisites. Students will have hands-on opportunities to engage with artifacts from Yale’s Babylonian collection and the Peabody collection. 

The Ethnicity, Race and Migration Department is also offering several new courses for students.

One of these courses — “Eugenics and its Afterlives,” taught by associate professor Daniel HoSang — seeks to build upon recent undergraduate scholarship at the University.

“Yale was a center of eugenics research in the 1920s,” HoSang wrote in an email to the News. “All of us — students, faculty, administrators — have an obligation to learn more about this history and the ways it has shaped the institution and our fields of study … The seminar is part of a multi-year project that will help to educate our campus and our city about this history.”

Full lists of new courses for the semester can be found here and here.

Evan Gorelick is Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Woodbridge Hall, with a focus on the University's finances, budget and endowment. He also laid out the weekly print edition of the News as a Production and Design Editor. Originally from Woodbridge, Connecticut, he is a junior in Timothy Dwight College double-majoring in English and economics.