Evolution of Cosmos and Life
Winter 2015 - Ellingson is a good teacher. He's pretty easy to follow and a likable, approachable guy. I liked his material, and his spring seminar was the most popular by far. Like the rest of the cluster, just pay attention, take good notes, and review (preferably in groups), and you'll be fine. Definitely a doable class.
Winter 2019 - I loved Winter quarter of this cluster, especially because I really enjoy biology (though not a bio major) and it was therefore also much easier than Fall in my opinion. The big change from Fall quarter is that Friscia lectures on evolution instead of Larkin lecturing on astronomy. Friscia is hilarious and great at explaining the concepts he presents. The textbook (Tangled Bank) is "mandatory". If you have a good grasp on the bio concepts, you can probably do without it, but it's definitely a good resource if you struggle with bio. It's not a difficult read so it's worth having around. Again, they guide you through the paper throughout the quarter so that it's not so daunting. I would definitely recommend going on the field trips (there were 3 in Winter quarter alone when I took the class), as they are all paid for (in terms of transportation, lodging, etc. except food). The overnight one to Nevada was super fun and we got to collect fossils. I would say this is one of the few classes that has a field aspect to it. I would recommend sticking it out for Winter even if you struggled with Fall because the material is more familiar to most people, especially if you've taken some sort of biology class in high school. Overall a great class and one of my favorites.
Fall 2015 - Take this class if: you want to avoid actual math and science classes/your major requirements don't have any math or science classes, you want to learn about physics, astronomy, the birth of the universe, evolution, and geology without ever doing any tedious math. The professors are all amazing lecturers, and are genuinely fun and kind people. They have lunch office hours every Tuesday after lecture, and plan tons of fun field trips to help expand students' learning and get to know their class. Because everyone who takes the class is pretty much a social science/biz-econ major, the class is super social and fun to be in. Plus you get an entire school year two get to know people and bond rather than a 10-week quarter! The information is all so interesting and really deepened my understanding of the world around me. My overarching understanding of special and general relativity rivals that of most of the physics majors I know, and I'm so much better equipped to understand geology, evolution, and atomic interactions. The readings are painless, the papers are manageable, and the labs (while sometimes tedious) build on the information we cover in lecture. I would highly recommend this class. Make friends with those around you, study for the midterm and final, and GO ON THE FIELD TRIPS.
Winter 2019 - I am so sorry Lawrence. I really want to love you but I just can't. This professor seems like such a nice guy but he just can't lecture. :( It's obvious he is super knowledgeable and knows so much but he mumbles a lot and doesn't really know how to deliver his knowledge to the students. Also, a lot of what he taught seemed very disconnected from the rest of the class material. That's not his fault, but I just don't know if all the history lectures were necessary for this science class. I get learning about darwin, but idk if i needed to go so in depth into a lot of the other stuff
Winter 2022 - Okay but seriously, this quarter was significantly harder than the last because of the pace of lectures, Petigura and Brown consistently went over time to cram as much as they could in the 75 minutes. Readings are lowkey useless, so just try to skim them and finish them for lab points, but REALLY pay attention in lecture because the quizzes can kick your butt if you don't keep up