Cheese and wine pairing, weird things and bullshit: Fall 2017 classes

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What do cheese and wine pairing, weird things and bullshit all have in common? They are all topics being covered in 2017 fall semester classes.

Tim Doebler is the director of the Culinary Arts, Hotel Restaurant Management program, and he developed the course called World Cheese Exploration and Wine Pairing. He says this course, along with a whole series of Culinary Arts 490 classes, are one credit classes that teach students with any level of culinary experience some of the history behind cheese and wine, with the opportunity to sample pairings as well.

“We think students learn best when they can actually see, hear, taste, touch and feel if you will,” Doebler said. “In this class, they actually do sample cheese samples. They sample wine samples and they’re all paired so they can see how it all goes together.”

This class is new as of the fall semester, and Doebler intended it to be less about becoming a wine connoisseur and more about earning the history, process and traditions.

“What we really wanted to do was enlighten people about the history, first and foremost about cheeses and then the process,’ Doebler said. “Then we also wanted to do likewise with wines. We want to explore history and the process of making wines and really look at world wines. The class is a sampling of all of that. We give students the historical background, the traditions, we look in different regions and we talk about cheeses and wines.”

Outside of world cheese exploration and wine pairing, the culinary arts program also offers similar one credit style course about foods of Italy, foods of the Mediterranean, taste of Asia and artisan breads. For students who know absolutely nothing about cooking, Doebler says there are classes they can take, like Culinary 490: Culinary Survival Skills, or another class on how to use knives.

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While the cheese and wine pairing class is only open for students who are 21 and older at the time of the course, assistant professor Mychal Machado’s Honors 292 class, Why People Believe Weird Things, is open to any University Honors College student who needs to fulfill their 292 credit. Machado said this class is about studying the world in an objective way and analyzing beliefs or superstitions, like, ‘why do people wish upon a star?’

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“Just in general, I think folks will want to take this course because where else are you going to get to talk about mermaids, Bigfoot, Chupacabras and Jesus all under the same roof,” Machado said. “What I have students do in this class, is pick a belief that they have, or a claim they believe in, there’s no judgement statements here. If you want to believe in Jesus and you want to believe in a lama, OK fine, go out and look for the evidence that suggests those two things. Analyze your own beliefs.”

In this class, students analyze their own beliefs, at the same time as they analyze other beliefs out there. Machado said the class isn’t about proving Bigfoot exist, but it’s about finding the evidence.

“The question shouldn’t be whether Bigfoot is or is not real but rather what evidence do we need to see or obtain or collect in order to objectively make that claim of reality or fantasy under those conditions,” Machado said.

Another fun class offered this fall is Unpacking Truth, Lies and Bullshit: Data Analysis in an Age of Fake, taught by professor of education policy, Diane Hirshberg. Hirshberg got the idea for the course from a class at the University of Washington titled Calling Bullshit. She thought that type of course was needed at UAA to tackle fake news, fake academia and other fake claims. Hirshberg has two main reasons she is teaching the class.

“One, we need to have the conversation about what’s going on and two, this may be the first time students are excited about the research part and not just about the content. Usually it’s students being excited to learn about [the topic]…. This time it’s actually the research methods that look at someone and say that’s not right — or that is right.”

Hirshberg said the last election cycle made her believe a class like this was necessary, and that her own experience with fake information has given her examples to use in class.

“My mother-in-law would forward me these emails,” Hirshberg said. “I would go to Snopes and the write her back with this isn’t real and here’s the evidence. You can’t do that anymore, it’s such a huge firehouse of fake information.”

Hirshberg’s class is also an Honors 292 class, and she encourages interested students to enroll. Registration is now open for all admitted UAA students and seating is limited for all three courses.