Students create seminar on neuroscience of college life

Peter Kotecki, Development and Recruitment Editor

Two quarters after Northwestern launched its neuroscience major, two NU students will facilitate a discussion-based seminar on neuroscience and its relation to college life.

This Spring Quarter, Weinberg junior Brooke Feinstein and McCormick senior William Garrison will teach the pass-fail, full credit course, which will cover topics such as learning and memory, alcohol and drugs, and meditation and relationships. The class will meet once a week for about two and a half hours, Feinstein said, and it will culminate in student presentations for a final assessment.

Although the goal of the new undergraduate seminar is to get people interested in neuroscience, Feinstein said it would be great to see more people major in neuroscience as a result of taking the course

More than 100 students have declared a neuroscience major since its creation in the fall, said Neurobiology Prof. Ravi Allada, who is the chair of the department.

A lot of students who have shown interest in the seminar have already declared neuroscience, psychology or cognitive science majors, Feinstein said. The facilitators are hoping this class will appeal to students of many different backgrounds, she added.

“One of our goals is, of course, to have the people in the class learn new things, but also to feel like what they learn is interesting and engaging and will also be applicable to their own lives,” Feinstein said.

The two facilitators, who are members of NU’s Neuro Club, said the seminar is not part of the club. However, Feinstein said, the Neuro Club may create a committee to organize future seminars.

Garrison said the seminar is open to any undergraduates, and the credit will count for general credit in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Students in other schools can petition for the class to count toward other requirements, he said. The facilitators will work closely with psychology Prof. Robin Nusslock to determine whether a student passes the seminar, he added.

Although the spring seminar will be taught by students, with the growing number of students declaring the neuroscience major since its introduction, Allada said he anticipates the University will hire additional faculty to teach more courses related to neuroscience.

“Additional faculty will allow us to provide a broader distribution of courses, and in particular, I think, there are going to be some cutting edge areas,” Allada said. “Neuroscience is undergoing a kind of technological revolution. … Often, bringing in new people will allow you to bring expertise in those new, emerging areas.”

Garrison said the seminar is a great opportunity to publicize the new major. He added he would have strongly considered declaring a neuroscience major if it had been offered prior to his senior year.

“For sophomores, maybe people that may not have known that the major was going to exist … or they’re just hearing about it recently for the first time, this is a great opportunity for them to get a fairly low-key introduction to the field,” Garrison said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @peterkotecki