Are you curious about what a college-level class experience will be like? Imagine learning about cutting-edge research from USC faculty before the first week of school. Perhaps you want to discuss current political and social issues, explore creative works of art, or understand the cultural diversity of Los Angeles. These are just a few examples of the micro-seminars available to you as part of the USC Welcome Experience.

What are Micro-Seminars?

Micro-seminars are mini-workshops or small-group sessions that highlight a specialized topic in a short time. Structured as two 90-minute sessions, these seminars are designed to give you the chance to meet one faculty member and other first-year students and engage in an academic environment before classes begin. Attendance for most seminars is limited to just 20 students to ensure thoughtful discussion and the opportunity to meet peers with similar interests.

Faculty from across all schools and disciplines at USC are leading a micro-seminar. While you may attend a seminar that jump-starts your fields of study, you are not required to sign up for a seminar based on your major. This is learning for the sake of learning, so there is no required homework or grading. Some faculty may suggest short readings in advance to add to your understanding of the topic. 

Micro-Seminars have two parts. You select one topic that is presented over two days. You must attend both parts. 

  • Part 1: Thursday, August 18, 2022 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm (PST)
  • Part 2: Friday, August 19, 2022 from 10:00 – 11:30 am (PST)
    • Part 2 is a continuation of Part 1 – same professor, topic, and peers.


To register, you must login with your USC Net ID. You can only register in one micro-seminar topic. If a seminar is at capacity, you have the option to place yourself on the wait list. All seminar content and availability are subject to change.

All confirmed registrants will receive information about the classroom location their Micro-Seminar about 24 hours before the start of the first session.

Questions? Contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at ahfstaff@usc.edu


There are no upcoming events at this time.

Seminar Topics

Fall 2022 Micro-Seminar Topics categorized by school below.

Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism

Sports Journalism – Reporting on Sports and the Connection with Issues of Race, Gender, and Social Justice
Gary Cohn, Adjunct Instructor, Journalism

Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Sustainability: The Transformative Power of Arts and Story
Colin Maclay, Research Professor of Communication; Executive Director, Annenberg Innovation Lab

Leading Out Loud: Leadership Communication through an LGBTQ+ Lens
JD Schramm, Lecturer, Communication Management

Chan Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy

Growing Food, Community and Wellbeing in the Framework of Environmental Sustainability
Camille Dieterle, OTD, OTR/L, DipACLM/DipIBLM, Associate Professor
Julie Hopper, Sustainability Specialist, Fire Safety, Emergency Planning, & Sustainability

Foundational Habits: Incorporating Self-Care to Optimize College Performance
Kristy Payne, OTD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy

The Art and Science of Self-Awareness
Ashley Uyeshiro Simon, OTD, OTR/L, MSCS, Associate Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Diego Lopez, OTD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy

The Layers of Trauma-Informed Care: From Sensory Processing to Systemic Oppression
Janis Yue, OTD, OTR/L, Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy

Davis School of Gerontology

Intersectionality & Health Inequality: How age, race and sex shape our opportunities and experiences across the lifecourse
Paul Nash, Instructional Associate Professor of Gerontology

First Step to Successful College Life: Speaking and Listening from the Heart
Min-Kyuong Rhee, Instructional Assistant Professor of Gerontology

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Art and Activism in the AIDS Crisis
Joshua Mitchell, Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity

Enchanted: The Power of Stories in Children’s Literature (and in Our Lives)
Thomas Gustafson, Associate Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity, Department of English

Unequally Vulnerable: Food Justice and Systemic Racism in South L.A. During the Pandemic
Sarah Portnoy, Professor (Teaching) of Spanish, Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Creative Reading: Talking Back to Our Favorite Poems
Amy Cannon, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Writing, Thematic Option

Sustainable Stories: Reading and Creating Environmental and Climate Justice
Rebecca Fullan, Lecturer, Writing Program

Natural Sciences

Dinosaurs of California: Paleontology Research, Collections, and Programs at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Nathan Smith, Adjunct Associate Professor (Teaching) of Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences

Why facts don’t matter: How to change minds in our changing climate
Victoria Petryshyn, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies Program

There is no “Planet B” in our Solar System
Vahe Peroomian, Professor (Teaching) of Physics and Astronomy, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Social Sciences

Economics of Famine
John Strauss, Professor of Economics and Gerontology, Department of Economics

The Gift of Gab
Dani Byrd, Professor of Linguistics (and Thematic Option), Department of Linguistics

Russia’s War in Ukraine
Thomas Seifrid, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Robert English, Associate Professor of International Relations, Slavic Languages and Literature and Environmental Studies, Department of Political Science and International Relations
Colleen McQuillen, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Steve Swerdlow, Associate Professor of the Practice of Political Science and International Relations, Department of Political Science and International Relations
Andrzej Brylak, Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Spotify vs. Vinyl: What Music Distribution Can Teach Us About the New Economy
Andrew De Silva, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Writing, Writing Program

Drone On: Modern Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment
Antonio Elefano, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Writing, Writing Program

United Nations Climate Change Simulation
Shannon Gibson, Associate Professor (Teaching) of International Relations and Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies & Political Science and International Relations

Iovine and Young Academy

Making Visible the Invisible: Graphic Communication of Information
Aaron Siegel, Assistant Professor of Teaching, Design

What’s Hot in Video Games Right Now
Chris Swain, Assistant Professor of Teaching

Keck School of Medicine

Emergency medicine and public health: Leveraging 9-1-1 services to understand and address health disparities
Stephen Sanko, Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine

Brain on Fire to Sleeping Beauty Syndrome: the Bizarre World of Neuropsychiatry and Neuroimmunology
Jonathan Santoro, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology

Eye Opener: Examining and Overcoming Disparities in Eye Care
Kent Nguyen, OD, FAAO, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology

Achieving Diversity in Medicine and Theatre: Finding Synergy & Sharing Perspectives from the Field
Joyce Javier, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
Rodney To, Assistant Professor of Theatre Practice in Acting, School of Dramatic Arts

School Supplies: Learning how to effectively respond to emotions and challenges during college
Michelle Dexter, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences (Clinician Educator)

Present, Past, Future, at the Same Time: Intergenerational Trauma and Mental Well-being
Dakari Quimby, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & The Behavioral Sciences (Clinician Educator); Data and Metrics Coordinator

Humans 2.0: How genetic engineering and stem cells will alter the future of the human race
Gage Crump, Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine; Director, DSR PhD Program

Regenerative Medicine: An Update on Moving Stem Cells to the Clinic
Francesca Mariani, Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine; Integrative Anatomical Sciences; Director for the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Master’s Program; Course Director of Stem Cell Biology Regenerative Medicine

Befriend with your anxiety to succeed in college
Jiyun Kang, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences (Clinician Educator); Group Therapy Coordinator

Leventhal School of Accounting

Learning the Risk Management Basics Through Elon Musk
Kristen Jaconi, Associate Professor of the Practice in Accounting

Accounting: The Real Deal-Meet your Future Employer
Zivia Sweeney, Associate Professor of Clinical Accounting

Marshall School of Business

How To Be More Uncertain: Statistical Thinking in the Age of Big Data
Jacob Bien, Associate Professor of Data Sciences and Operations

Capitalism, socialism, and the climate crisis
Paul Adler, Harold Quinton Chair in Business Policy, Professor of Management and Organization

Roski School of Art & Design

Unstuck: Creativity in Art and Life
Stephanie Sabo, Lecturer, Design

School of Architecture

Addressing challenges to a sustainable future
Bhavna Sharma, Assistant Professor of Architecture
Jill Sohm, Associate Professor (Teaching) of Environmental Studies, Dornsife Environmental Studies Program

School of Cinematic Arts

Horror Movies and Social Change
William Whittington, Assistant Chair, Cinema and Media Studies

Media and Sustainability
Thomas Pringle, Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies

Cut and Paste: Radical Collage in Still and Moving Images
Holly Willis, Professor of Cinematic Arts, Cinematic Media Arts and Practice

Using Media to Inspire Sustainability
Jeremy Kagan, Professor, Cinematic Film and Television Production

School of Pharmacy

How Do I Get Started In Lab Research? Hands-On Skills To Get Into A USC Lab
Amanda Burkhardt, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy

Structural Violence of American Addictions: Historical Portrayals of the Crack and Opioid Addictions
Terry Church, Assistant Professor of Regulatory and Quality Sciences
Daryl Davies, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education and Professor of Clinical Pharmacy

Sol Price School of Public Policy

Can we end homelessness in LA County?
Gary Painter, Chair of the Department of Public Policy and Director of the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation
Saba Mwine, Managing Director, Sol Price Center For Social Innovation

Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

How to Create Affordable Housing on Public Land
Samuel Mistrano, JD, Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work

Thornton School of Music

Disrupting Racism Through The Lens of the Arts
Ron Mc Curdy, Assistant Dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Professor of Jazz Studies

What’s In A Voice? Vocal Tips and Tricks To Make You More Confident, Successful, and Happy
Melissa Treinkman, Adjunct Instructor, Musical Theatre

Music and Ecological Thought
Joanna Demers, Professor, Musicology; Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.

USC Libraries

Agents for Change: Youth Led Social Justice Movements in Los Angeles
Ariana Varela, Information Literacy Instruction Librarian

Visualizing Data Justice: Sustainability and the Environment in Los Angeles
Andrzej Rutkowski, Visualization Specialist & Associate University Librarian

USC Office of Sustainability

Communicating to Induce and Scale Behavior Change for Sustainability
Mick Dalrymple, Chief Sustainability Officer
Erin Jebavy, Marketing Specialist

USC Shoah Foundation

Stronger Than Hate
Lacey Schauwecker, Learning and Development Specialist
Lesly Culp, Director of Education and Outreach (Interim)

Viterbi School of Engineering

The Death of the Internal Combustion Engine – Truth or Myth?
Paul Ronney, Professor and Department Chair of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Studying Engineering
Oussama Safadi, Professor of Engineering Practice, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Human Spaceflight – Recent Past and Near Future
Garrett Reisman, Professor of Astronautics Practice, Department of Astronautical Engineering

How computer animated movies are created – a visual walkthrough of the steps
Saty Raghavachary, Associate Professor of Computer Science Practice

Trustworthy Human-centered Machine Intelligence and its Societal Possibilities
Shrikanth Narayanan, Professor and Niki and Max Nikias Chair in Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Wearables for health and mind
Yasser Khan, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Engineering is Life! And Why You Should Care
Melanie Johnson, Lecturer, Engineering Writing Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Micro-Seminars mandatory?

No. This is a fun opportunity to engage with a faculty member and other first-year students in an academic environment before the start of the school year.

Do I have to register for a Micro-Seminar?

Yes. Space is limited to about 20-25 spots for each seminar, so registration is required. Registration is first-come, first-serve and some popular topics can fill up quickly, so be sure to sign up early.

Is there a fee for the Micro-Seminars?

No. Micro-Seminars are free to attend.

Can I attend more than one Micro-Seminar?

No. All micro-seminars meet at the same time, so you can only choose one seminar to attend over the two days.

Are there any homework assignments for the Micro-Seminars?

Some micro-seminar instructors may ask that you read articles or other material for background information on the topic prior to attending. However, there is no extensive homework required for the micro-seminars.

Will I get a credit/units or a grade for the Micro-Seminars?

No. Micro-seminars are not for credits and do not involve any grading. It is designed for first year students to have fun and get used to the academic environment at USC.

Do I have to choose a topic related to my major?

No. You can sign up for any micro-seminar! You are not required to sign up for a micro-seminar related to your major. Feel free to choose any topic that interests you.

What is the difference between Freshman Seminars and Micro-Seminars?

A Freshman Seminar is a two-unit class that is part of your regular schedule and meets once a week throughout the semester. Micro-Seminars are not an actual class and meet for just two days before the start of the semester.