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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Boutique-style classes offer students unique perspectives on specialized topics

Boutique-style classes offer specialized coursework and a smaller classroom experience for those interested in specific subject matters.

Classes such as Introduction to Beer Brewing (FST 3), Field Equipment Operation (ABT 49) or Introduction to Butchering (ANS 49G) are considered boutique-style classes because they are highly focused on a certain skill set and are typically smaller in class size.

However, some critics are opposed to such classes because they believe they are a waste of time and money and don’t offer a real-life skill set.

“It definitely offered me a life skill because for anyone who enjoys hunting, there’s a lot of useful information on trimming meat. Unlike most classes, it offers a concrete work skill. It also makes UC Davis more attractive when it tries to compete with other UCs that are located on the beach,” said Colby Anderson, fourth-year international relations major who took the introduction to butchering class.

Students are also invited to start their own special-interest class. Such classes have to get approval from the Academic Senate. The Committee on Courses of Instruction is responsible for authorization and supervision of courses of instruction. It must go through a 12-step process that includes proposal, approval, organization and proper description.

Many students find the merit in these specific classes.

“I don’t think it significantly taught me any life skills, but I definitely do not think it was a waste of time or money. I do believe the class was very useful in helping me understand industry basics and the many career opportunities it has to offer,” said Joaquin Viramontes, a fourth-year managerial economics major who took the Introduction to Beer Brewing class.

These same sentiments are shared with Nate Kane, a third-year viticulture and enology student and TA for Field Equipment Operation.

“Skilled labor is something the government is seeking because there has been a slow decline in that sector,” Kane said.

ABT 49, otherwise known as “that tractor driving class”, has been at UC Davis for over seventy years. It has grown so much in popularity that even a Saturday lab class is now being offered.

Mir Shafii, instructor of ABT 49, has been teaching the course since 2009 and said that he often receives emails from alumni that recall the class as being their favorite during their time at UC Davis. The class now hosts a full enrollment of 96 students.

“This is no boutique-style class. It’s a type of course that gets you hands-on experience. Tractors are different; it’s not like driving a car. You actually need to operate a piece of machinery. This course is also directly geared toward a career in agriculture,” he said.

Shafii explained that the tractors used in his course are lent to the school by various tractor companies in exchange for using UC Davis land.

ABT 49 is being offered this fall quarter and spring quarter 2013.

NATASHA QABAZARD can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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