From Star Trek to Cleopatra – Learn from UA Experts This Fall in the SBS Community Classroom

Tucson community members have a new opportunity to dive into the social sciences and humanities, or learn new professional skills, with the Community Classroom, offered by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

This fall, community members can learn about films shot in Tucson from a Southwestern film expert and about the gender politics of Cleopatra from a historian of ancient Rome. They can debate whether the character of Data in Star Trek counts as a person and the best way to navigate their digitally-mediated lives. Tucsonans can learn to take better pictures from a professional photographer and how to create a social media strategy from an industry expert. And they can learn about language and the brain by the man who created modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky.

Registration details for the fall 2018 classes can be found at

John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said the college decided to create the Community Classroom as an expansion of existing community education programming such as the Downtown Lecture Series and the Tucson Festival of Books.

“We know many in our community are eager to learn about the various fascinating subjects taught by our SBS experts,” Jones said. “We’ve provided courses of varying length on a range of topics and at various location, from the UA campus to the Loft Cinema to Downtown. We also welcome ideas for future courses.”

The college offers three types of courses: UA Student-Community Courses, Lifelong Learning Seminars, and Professional Development Courses:

UA Student-Community Courses

In UA Student-Community Courses, community members can experience the same lectures as UA students and meet and debate with students of all ages. For two years, the college has offered the popular “What is Politics?” course, co-taught by Noam Chomsky, in this format.

This fall, Chomsky, a laureate linguistics professor and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair, is co-teaching another undergraduate/community member class – titled “Language, Mind, and Brain” – with Linguistics Professors Thomas Bever and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini. The course will explore how language and other mental abilities are based on a combination of genetic capacities, physical constraints, maturation, and experience.

Lifelong Learning Seminars

Community members can explore topics that stir their curiosity in classes that are tailored to their interests. This fall’s line-up includes:

  • “Celluloid Desert: Tucson in Cinema History” will be taught by English Professor and Southwestern cinema expert Jennifer Jenkins at The Loft Cinema. This course will look at some of the many iterations of film in Tucson, including early silent films; Hollywood westerns, melodramas, and mysteries; television series; commercials; and homemade films about the region.
  • “Find Your Focus: Camera and Photography Basics” will be taught by Arizona Daily Star photographer Mike Christy, who is an adjunct lecturer in the School of Journalism. This course will teach students how to take amazing photos whether they have an expensive camera or a smartphone.
  • “Cleopatra: No Submissive Woman” will be taught by Alison Futrell, head of the Department of History and an expert in ancient Rome. Cleopatra has been memorialized as a dangerous, manipulative woman. This course will paint a portrait of a more authentic, complicated queen.
  • “To Boldly Think?: The Philosophical Conundrums of Star Trek” will be taught by Philosophy Professor and self-professed “geek” Jonathan Weinberg at The Loft Cinema. This course will wrangle with a range of philosophical questions prompted by both classic and recent stories from Star Trek.
  • “Staying Human in the Digital Age” will be taught by Diana Daly, assistant professor in the School of Information. This course will explore digitally mediated life and how to retain confidence and privacy in a sea of new apps and devices.

Professional Development Course

Offered in Downtown Tucson, these courses are designed for working professionals who want to learn new skills to stay competitive.

This fall, Irene McKisson, the general manager of #ThisIsTucson and former social media and audience engagement editor for the Arizona Daily Star, is teaching “Build a Social Media Strategy That Works.” McKisson also teaches in the UA School of Journalism. This course will teach students how to use social media platforms to communicate in an authentic and engaging way with their audience.



Published Date: 

08/08/2018 - 4:11pm