Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA to offer seminars to broaden students’ curricula

The University of Alabama will offer over 135 special topics seminars in the spring 2013 semester, according to a list released by the University Registrar Michael George.

Many students agree these seminars, which often cover material not presented in the typical survey course, are some of the most interesting offered at the University.

However, there has previously been confusion regarding whether the classes are open to all students or restricted to certain programs, especially the Honors College.

The University urges students to start taking advantage of the DegreeWorks tool called Student Educational Plan, which would allow the Office of the University Registrar to better understand students’ needs for the future.

“If students would embrace DegreeWorks, activate a worksheet and collaborate with their academic advisor in the activation of a Student Educational Plan, the University could determine when students want to take a specific course,” George said. “If the University possessed this data for 90 percent or more of the student body, it would become an extremely powerful metric for the University.”

“I had no idea there were so many special topics classes offered outside of Nott Hall,” Elizabeth Califf, a junior majoring in fashion retail, said. “So many of my friends have raved about seminar classes coursework, and I’m definitely looking forward to taking one before I graduate.”

Perhaps one of the most beneficial seminars a student considering a career in the legal field can take is AS 299, a pre-law class offered through the College of Arts and Sciences. Director of pre-law advising Wendy McMillian has taught the class since fall 2008 and usually caps enrollment around 30 students each semester.

“I cover the law school application process, how to prepare for the LSAT, researching law schools and choosing where to apply, how to finance law school, what courses will be covered in the first year and careers in law,” McMillian said.

Over the course of the semester, there are several guest speakers and plenty of in-class discussion, she said. The final consists of a personal statement and resume.

According to the most current list on the Honors College website,, the college will also offer around 32 seminars for spring 2013.

“We update and add to our course listings daily, so a firm number is situational,” Jim Bailey, assistant director of student services at the Honors College, said.

One of these Honors seminars, Myth and Reality in Espionage, has been offered for several years and is taught by a former employee of the CIA, Stephen Schwab, an adjunct professor at the University.

The course, which is offered once a year, was created based on a one of his former CIA colleague’s book, “The Great Game: The Myths and Realities of Espionage,” Schwab said.

“At that time, Fred Hitz was teaching a similar course at the Woodrow Wilson School at his alma mater, Princeton University,” he said. “I wrote a positive review of the book and then asked Fred if he would share his ideas and course syllabus with me, which he quickly agreed to do.”

To some students, special-topics seminars have presented an exciting opportunity for leadership and personal satisfaction.

Morgan Niewerth, a junior majoring in business management and on a pre-dental track, took the semester-long honors mentoring class focusing on art education to school-age children.

“Mentoring gave me the opportunity to work with young children and help them develop a passion for art,” Niewerth said. “It was rewarding to see them engage in the activities we had prepared and to be a role model for them.”

More to Discover