GPS Courses

In GPS you will take 7 credits of courses over your first year, all of which fulfill your general education requirements. So every course counts towards your degree! These are the course offerings for 2019-2020.

First Year Seminars

If selected for GPS you will get to choose one of these options for a First Year Seminar class. This course will fulfill your First Year Seminar General Education requirement.

The National Parks: Wilderness, Democracy, and the American Experience [Democracy and Justice Studies 198] - Instructor: Eric Morgan

The American writer and historian Wallace Stegner once observed, “National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”  In many ways the discussion over our shared public spaces and natural resources is at the heart of our democratic society, as we must decide how to utilize the resources we have amongst our diverse population, balancing human needs and desires with the preservation of natural spaces and species.  What, ultimately, is the proper relationship between humans and wilderness, and what should we as a society do to help preserve America’s wild spaces?  This course will explore the place of wilderness in the American experience through an examination of the nation’s national parks, discussing the development of conservation and environmentalism in the 19th and 20th centuries and the idea of the land ethics as articulated by Wisconsin’s own Aldo Leopold.

Technology Apps in Education [Education 198] - Intructor: Art Lacey
Technology in Education has been progressing very quickly over the last 10 years.  This course will examine Apps or Applications for Computers, Smartphones, and Pad devices that allow the user or student to learn more about and participate in the learning processes associated with Education.  Many Apps will be explored including Reading, writing, speaking, math, science, music, and art. You will be able to use the apps and discover methods to help other people to use them more effectively and learn from them.  This course will also spend time working with SmartBoards, as well as audio capturing and editing, and video capturing and editing with the overall goal of articulating and understanding of how people learn.

Conversations about Home: Exploring Community, Geography, and Identity [English Composition 198] - Instructor: Jenny Ronsman 
What does where you come from say about who you are? Is “home” a physical or mental concept, or something else altogether? Are we happier when we live in isolation or when we live in communities? What happens to our identity when our homes are challenged or destroyed? Why would anyone choose to live in a tiny house? Throughout the semester, students will explore these types of questions relating to how our identity is in many ways shaped by where, when, and if we feel “at home.” Discussion will be based on a variety of readings to see what scholars, journalists, and everyday people have had to say about this subject, and class time will also include viewing of several thoughtful documentaries that give insight into the various ways human beings find and create homes for themselves. The course will also include opportunities to understand the different intersections of geography and identity in the students' own lives through dynamic conversation and written dialogue in a variety of genres, including personal response, academic research, visual rhetoric, and possibly creative writing.

Decoding Utopia: Blueprints of Heaven or Thumbprints of Hell? [English Composition 198] - Instructor: Paul Belanger
This class uses cinema, literature, politics, and art to decode the function of utopia throughout history. In doing so, students will question if every blueprint of heaven necessarily bears the thumbprint of hell, if utopia is a place or a direction, and what motivates us to imagine worlds as perfectly good as Eden and mind-numbingly bad as Idiocracy to begin with. Sample discussions include the portrayal of disaster capitalism in The Hunger Games, the utopian roots of the U.S. Constitution, how science fiction informs revolutionary movements, and if the proliferation of shows like Doomsday Preppers may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine of Western Civilization. Throughout, students will familiarize themselves with the human condition, probe the limits of their imaginations, identify ideological bias, and ultimately situate themselves as civically engaged and responsible citizens.

Why Do Men Have Nipples? [Human Biology 198] - Instructor: Carly Kibbe
Have you ever wondered what causes an ice cream headache, why yawns are contagious, or if microwaves cause cancer? This course is designed to help you answer unusual questions about the human body without having to ask your doctor. Students will gain scientific literacy skills including seeking out reliable scientific sources, analyzing research articles, and communicating scientific information through writing and oral presentations.

Video Game Music [Music 198] - Instructor: Eric Hansen
This course will equip students to understand the interdisciplinary role, historical progression, musical methodology, technological application, and unique artistry of music in video games. Students will contribute to the class learning environment by researching and presenting a game music composer from an interdisciplinary perspective. Through guided instruction, students will also compose their own basic game music. (No musical background required!)

Changemakers: Stories of Everyday Leadership [Public and Environmental Affairs 198] - Instructor: Ashley Heath
We frequently try to make leadership into something big and grand, full of titles and awards, but leadership is often in everyday acts.  In this course, we will explore the ‘head and heart’ of everyday leadership through story telling.  We will use multi-media approaches such as podcasts, TED Talks, and blogs, along with learning in person from university and community everyday leaders.  We will explore principles of career development and the meaning of leadership, apply the basics of effective communication, enhance your academic skills and understanding, compare the concepts of critical thinking and creative thinking, articulate basic leadership concepts, and demonstrate skill in interdisciplinary problem solving.

GPS Service Project

Spring Course – GPS Capstone Seminar (Comm Sci 146) (1 credit)

This course will serve as a capstone to the GPS program first year experience, and will challenge students to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve gained thus far in GPS to address a real-world problem. Students will develop and implement a service learning project with their class over the course of the semester, and will continue the work to build knowledge and skills critical to personal and career success.

GPS Intro Courses

In the fall semester, you will get to choose from two of our most popular Intro-level General Education courses. These courses are also some of the most challenging you’re likely to take in your first year. So GPS provides students with free weekly study sessions for the courses, led by upper-level undergraduates who excel in the major. During the sessions students work on activities that allow you to review vocabulary, get practice applying concepts, and learn skills for how to read and effectively study the course content. And they work! Over 80% of the students who attend at least 8 of these weekly sessions earn A’s or B’s in the class, compared to only 40% of students who don’t attend the sessions.

You will choose either…

Introduction to Environmental Sciences [Environmental Sciences 102]:

This course examines the interrelationships between people and their biophysical environment, including the atmosphere, water, rocks and soil, and other living organisms. The scientific analysis of nature and the social and political issues of natural resource use.


Living the Humanities [Humanistic Studies 100]:

This team-taught course explores the complex relationships between humans and nature using perspectives of First Nations Studies and the humanities, including history, philosophy, literature, animal studies, and religious studies. Topics include the relationship between humans and nature (from various cultural perspectives), humans and animals, the historical and cultural roots of contemporary environmental problems, and insights from the humanities into the challenges and solutions associated with creating a sustainable society.


Introduction to Public Policy [Public and Environmental Affairs 202:

This course examines contemporary issues in American public policy. Substantive public policies such as those dealing with the American economy, health care, energy, environmental quality, the welfare state and social programs. Models of the policy process are also considered.