Locating Courses


Another issue noted by the Task Force was the difficulty that students face in identifying courses of interest to them. Course Description Search has become a powerful and heavily used site for finding related courses across colleges. Entering keywords from any course’s title produces an expansive list of other courses across the disciplines and the schools that address the same topic from different perspectives and with different goals.(25)

Recommendations Related to Locating Courses:

  • Course descriptions should be regularly updated in order to keep up with ongoing revision and refocusing. Titles of courses, too, should be more engaging and keywords should facilitate searches. Include the phrase “no pre-req” to further assist students seeking courses outside, or complementary to, their own disciplines; revise at least 50 percent of these online within the next 18 months and update the 2010–2011 Bulletin.
  • Courses with changing content using an omnibus title—“Selected Topics” or “Studies in …,” etc.—should link to a description of the precise offering for that semester.
  • Both the disciplinary and cross-disciplinary aspects of a course should be reflected in the description through the periodic but regular addition or deletion of keywords when necessary.

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25. For instance, one writing course is entitled “Food as Sustenance and Symbol.” Typing “food” into Course Search brings up examples such as CAS AR 280 “Food, Diet, and Ancient People,” CAS AM 367 “Material Culture (introduction to the theory and practice of the interdisciplinary study of material culture),” PDP NT 103 “Vegetarian Nutrition,” SAR HS 201 “Introduction to Nutrition,” SPH EH 765 “Survey of Environmental Health,” and CAS IR 242 “Globalization and World Poverty.” These range from 1- and 2-credit courses (PDP NT 103; SPH EH 765) to 4-credit. They demonstrate a twofold way to extend the learning community: the more flexible combinations of disciplines and approaches stimulate a student’s application of methods and knowledge; the thematic combination collapses boundaries between the liberal arts and professional programs.