The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Credit: Isabel Liang

With the Advance Registration deadline just around the corner (Monday, Nov. 13 at 11:59 PM) here are some courses that the DP Opinion’s staff columnists recommend that every Penn student take before they graduate. 

COMM 3230: "Contemporary Politics, Policy, and Journalism"

Albert Hunt, R 1:45-4:44 p.m.

“This is my all-time favorite class at Penn — not only has it sharpened my understanding of the current media landscape and political environment, it has also solidified my desire to pursue journalism. Hunt is a renowned journalist with many accolades and entertaining tales of the industry, and he goes out of his way to give advice, assist with jobs, and stay connected post-grad. My enthusiasm for this course is evident as I’ve enrolled as both a student and a teaching assistant, and I plan to sit in for a third time this spring. The case studies, class debates, and prominent guest speakers will benefit every student in becoming well-informed citizens in today’s polarizing world.”

- Emily Chang, deputy opinion editor

COMM 3950: "Communications and the American Presidency"

David Eisenhower/Scott Reich, T 3:30-6:29 p.m.

“This is one of the most interesting and rewarding classes offered at Penn. The class is held once a week for three hours, and is offered every semester. It is taught by David Eisenhower, who alone is reason enough to take the class, as his wealth of life experience and excitement for the material makes every lecture something to look forward to. COMMS 3950 discusses how American presidents from George Washington to Joe Biden have used tools of communication, particularly in the form of presidential speeches to shape the culture, politics, and policy of the American civil society of their time. Along with participation and attendance, the only requirement for the class is an end-of-semester term paper in which students travel to presidential libraries and archives (across the country and the world) to do research! I went to Texas A&M University to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library for my paper!”

- Lexi Boccuzzi, opinion columnist

HIST 1260: "Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the Age of Napoleon"

Peter Holquist, MW 12:00-1:29 p.m.

HIST 5240: "The Rise and Fall of the Russian Empire, 1552-1917"

Peter Holquist (not offered this term)

“After almost three semesters at Penn, I find myself looking back to the first classroom I walked into as a Quaker. In my first-year fall, back when I was still a wide-eyed history major, I very nervously walked through the doors of the McNeil building to get to my first college class, HIST 5240.

Those nerves immediately turned to excitement when Holquist welcomed our class of 27 students with a great smile and blaring traditional Russian folk music to accompany it. Holquist kept up this excitement in this classroom for the duration of the semester, starting some lectures with clips of Russian movies, the playing of different national songs, or pictures from his own time spent in Russia. Our class traveled through time, starting at Muscovite Russia, watching the mid-tier state rise from the Time of Troubles to become the grand Russian Empire, and following the imperial dynasty until the Bolshevik Revolution ended the class at the establishment of the Soviet Union. 

The course clearly covered a large chunk of Russian history, which is intertwined with the histories of all the nations it absorbed, but Holquist and teaching assistant Griffin Creech made the complex topics easy to digest, interesting to read about, and invigorating to write about. No other class in my academic career has kept me on my toes like this one did and I cannot recommend it enough. Though HIST 5240 will not be offered next semester, I highly encourage any and everyone to take it when offered or enroll in Holquist’s upcoming class, HIST 1260: 'Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the Age of Napoleon,' in the spring.”

- Sose Hovannisian, opinion columnist

ENVS 1043: "Repairing the Planet: Tools for the Climate Emergency"

Carlos Santana, TR 10:15-11:45 a.m.

“Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity today, evoking a sense of helplessness and anxieties for our livelihoods in the face of inaction. Created by interim Perry World House Director Michael Weisberg, in this comprehensive course students examine the climate crisis through engaging philosophical and theoretical lenses, prompting students to investigate the complexities of solutions with an emphasis on ethical justice and interdisciplinary perspectives. Additionally, students hear from expert guest speakers with a range of careers in the vast field. 

At the end of the semester, students form their own proposals for action by testing cross-sector climate solutions through the online simulator En-ROADS which enables users to examine the cascade of effects of policies for mitigation and adaptation. Although aware of the impending doom of climate change, it was through this course that I learned about the significance of global collaboration and common but differentiated responsibility. The course has influenced not only my life passions, but also fostered a stronger commitment to demanding reform. It was empowering to engage in critical discourse regarding the issue’s intricacy alongside classmates. Whether you are seeking to fulfill your Natural Science Across the Disciplines requirement or not, this is a must-take course for a deeper understanding of the most pressing issue of our lifetime.”

- Riane Lumer, opinion columnist and podcast editor

HIST 2151: History of Baseball, 1840 to the Present

Sarah Gronningsater, T 1:45-4:44 p.m.

HIST 1119: History of American Law to 1877

Sarah Gronningsater (not offered this term)

“When I first entered the lecture hall for this course, I was surprised to hear an enthusiastic ‘Hi!’ from what I thought was another student behind me. It turns out it was Gronningsater, ready to immerse us into understanding the legal underpinnings of how the United States was formed and developed. Sitting amongst a vast multitude of students in Annenberg 111, one can reverberate with audiences from centuries past, eagerly listening to and engaging in discussion of law and society in colonial America. Through Gronningsater’s impassioned tone and visceral storytelling, each class is more than a recount of historical events or static narratives of American history but an in-depth exploration of the mechanisms of revolution and re-thinking embedded within legal calligraphy and choreography. 

From exploring the parallels of Jay-Z’s 'Magna Carta' Beats-by-Dre sponsorship to studying the patterns and prose of partisanship, police power and property, we witness the establishment of the American constitutional system, and the complexities rising up to the late 19th century, including the issues of slavery, suffrage, and states' rights. As someone who went to a French school my entire life, I am embarrassed to say I did not have the strongest background on U.S. history, so this course not only supplemented me with fundamental knowledge of how the United States was formed and sustained but pertinent details and unique lenses on legal scholarship and historiographical analyses on the land we walk on today. Nothing compares to the aha moments students get during our sessions, connecting the dots between historical landmarks in Philadelphia and even areas of Penn campus to the historical climate and movements that occurred through our vicinities. This spring, I would highly recommend taking HIST 2151: 'History of Baseball, 1840 to the Present,' being taught by Gronningsater, incorporating political and social tides in the United States to ‘America’s pastime’.”

- Noor Chafouk, opinion columnist