Editorial | Top 10 best gen-eds to take this year


We all struggle to find the perfect course to fill that void in our schedules – and our hearts. Here are our favorite courses we took during our time in Pitt that meet general education requirements.

Russian fairy tales (RUSS 0900)

Did you think Kurt was joking about Baba Yaga in the first Ant Man movie? He wasn’t. While Baba Yaga is technically a Russian folk tale rather than a fairy tale, the fairy tales are just as intense with all of the same Russian wintery side. One of the most famous Russian fairy tales is the story of Father Frost, the King of Winter himself. This course is taught in the fall, spring, and summer and covers a geographic region and gen-ed literature.

Introduction to Psychology (PSY 0010)

Always wanted to hear so much about Sigmund Freud that you started to hate him? You should hate it, but you’ll never know why unless you take an introduction to psychology. Sorry Siggy, women don’t want a penis. This course is taught in the fall, spring and summer and covers training in the natural sciences.

History of Jazz (MUSIC 0711)

What a lot of people don’t know is that jazz is a fantastic musical genre and that Pittsburgh was in fact a quite large jazz center at the time. Learn all about it in this course, which our editor and many other Pitt students “love without irony”. This course is taught in the fall, spring, and summer and covers both art and gen-ed historical analysis.

Buddhism and psychology (RELGST 1558)

With an already pretty heavy workload, this class isn’t the easiest in the world, but it’s probably one of the most interesting. Learn just about everything you can fit your brain into about Buddhism in the first half of this course, and all about how Western cultures make it their own in the second half.

While you are at it, meditate while learning about the different types of meditation, as well as their origin and origin. Tip – this is not the Headspace app. This course is taught in the fall, spring and summer, and fulfills a gen-ed of cross-cultural awareness.

Harry Potter: blood, power, culture (FRENCH 0647)

Take advantage of the fact that you can take a Harry Potter course and then study for that same course on the ground floor of the Cathedral of Learning. It’s all our sophomore dreams come true. Pretending to be at Hogwarts is the only way to successfully study for the finals anyway. Lose yourself in the wizarding world in this course that analyzes the narrative arc of the book series through the different lenses of race, gender, class and more! This course is offered in the fall and spring and covers general literature.

Magic, witchcraft and the supernatural body (ANTH 0717)

First Harry Potter and the Wizarding World, and now more magic? Not the same kind of magic though. This course examines very real beliefs about magic and witchcraft in different cultures. This course is also another great opportunity to slowly realize how much everyday culture is tied to old cultural practices that have been around for thousands of years. This course is offered in the spring and covers both cross-cultural awareness and social science training.

Stonehenge in Hubble (ASTRON 0088)

If you’re not a physical science major but still enjoy the cosmos and the occasional Neil Degrasse Tyson documentary, this course is for you. If COVID-19 allows, you will leave the classroom to visit the Allegheny Observatory, where you will observe the stars and discover the ever-expanding universe. You can’t tell us it doesn’t sound like the coolest thing on the planet. This course is offered in the fall and spring and covers training in the natural sciences.

Literally any introductory language course

Learning another language is always a plus. Whether you want to continue a language you learned in high school or want to upgrade to something a little faster, Pitt has it all. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of less taught languages so – everything from ASL to Quechua to Vietnamese. Not only will a language course keep your brain sharp, learning to speak another language is fun. Who knows? Maybe you’ll like it and decide to make it a minor.

Statistics (STAT 0200 Where STAT 1000)

No matter what your specialty, taking a statistics course is almost always a good idea. If you are in STEM, we recommend that you take the 1000 level course, as this will usually be a requirement for the major. Math sucks, and it’s hard unless you love math and for some incredible reason it’s not hard for you, in which case we’re in awe.

But statistics are important and very useful for just about any career path. And if you love spreadsheets as much as we do, now will be a good time. This course is offered in the fall, spring, and summer and covers formal quantitative gen-ed reasoning.

Calculation methods in the humanities (CLASS 1050)

This is the best course to take if you are a humanities student and don’t want to take a math class because humanities computer methods are all about, well, the humanities! It explores the latest research in the humanities and teaches you how to digitally analyze texts. This course has a lot of different cross-lists, so make sure you find the course site before signing up to make sure you have the correct one. This course is offered in the fall, spring and summer and covers general training in algebra.

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