Course Shopping at F&ES: How it Works

Course Shopping at F&ES: How it Works

Hello Prospective Students,

We are into the sixth week of the academic year and classes are moving full-speed ahead. With patterns established and the flow of lectures, reading and coursework in place, it’s hard to remember a time when life was in flux as we all selected classes and organized our schedules.

F&ES, like the rest of Yale University, has a “shopping period,” during which students are able (and encouraged!) to sit in on a number of classes to build a schedule that fits best with their academic goals. During this time, which is typically about two weeks long, students can come and go from any number of classes that they are considering (or just curious about), without getting reprimanded by the professor. Classes still progress as normal; there is reading and assignments, but, especially in the first week, there is a lot of latitude as students sort themselves out.

I must have shopped a dozen different classes before settling on my final four. Some I attended several times before conceding that I could not actually manage an 8 class workload, others I stayed only for a few minutes to confirm that I was happy with the choice of another, concurrent class.

This semester, the shopping period kicked off with a course expo on August 28th, during which almost every professor talked about almost every course offered in both the fall and spring. The day started with presentations by the instructors of the six foundations courses who gave an overview of the content and curriculum of each.

For the rest of the day, professors and lecturers were available in shifts in Bowers Hall to answer questions and provide insight into their classes. To be honest, it was pretty overwhelming!

I started the day with six potential options and by the end had added half a dozen more because the professor was so great or the syllabus was so much more interesting than the online blurb. However, it was great to talk to professors about how my academic goals lined up with their classes and to hear more about classes that I will likely never be able to take, but which nevertheless sound amazing; David Kooris’ class on Urban, Suburban, and Regional Planning Practice, Caribbean Coastal Development taught by Gabe Benoit (complete with spring break trip to the US Virgin Islands), and Paul Draghi’s Archetypes and the Environment.

It has also helped me establish a game plan for my future classes, both in sorting out my prerequisites and cultivating a wish-list.

For example, I am on track to take Synthesizing Environmental Science for Policy with Mark Bradford next semester and I genuinely cannot wait for the spring classes on food and agriculture taught by Cheryl Doss, Gordon Geballe and Harvey Weiss.

“But wait!” I can hear you panicking, “If you take too long shopping your classes, don’t you risk them filling up without you?” Here again, F&ES has pre-empted you! It’s true that several classes have caps; typically ones that include field trips or involve working with a fixed number of stakeholders. In these instances, you apply to the class. This generally includes a brief bio, an explanation of what you hope to get from the class and why it’s a good fit for your academic goals. This ensures that classes are composed of students with a genuine interest in the material (rather than a genuine interest in the beaches of the Caribbean) and means that you won’t fall victim to arbitrary waitlists.

All told, there will always be a class for you. F&ES has 184 courses on the books. 64 of them are being offered this fall and another 73 this spring. We also have access to the full range of courses offered in the rest of Yale, including business, law, public health and the undergraduate college.

If in all those options, you still don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s also the option for independent study; a path that many students at F&ES avail themselves of during their time here. We have even had students craft their own courses by organizing guest lecturers and visiting professors for the semester.

If you would like more information (or you’re still skeptical), you should head to the course website to see the full list. You can browse by subject, instructor, semester, etc. P.S. – I’m pretty happy with my final schedule. I settled on The Politics and Practice of Environmental and Resource Policy, Ecosystem and Landscapes, Modeling Geographic Objects, and Global Resources, International Resources Exchanges, and the Environment.