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“Is This REALLY a Class?!”: The Craziest Classes Offered at America’s Colleges

We all know that besides friends, parties, guys, and having a good time, college is supposed to be about “higher education”. As underclassmen, we sit through basic intro classes like Psychology, Calculus, Economics, and Writing. But not all classes are that bland. Yes, most schools offer some variation of “Rocks for Jocks” or “Human Sexuality”, but read on for a list of the crazy, the strange, and the downright ridiculous courses offered at the schools of Her Campus writers!

Cornell University, “Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds”
“Students enrolled in this course will get a light but substantive introduction to the world of the fungi. You will learn about the Fungi and their roles in nature and in shaping past and present civilizations. Emphasis will be on the historical and practical significance of fungi as decayers of organic matter, as pathogens of plants and animals, as food and as sources of mind-altering chemicals.”
Amanda First says: “It's literally a semester-long introduction to 'shrooms.

Carnegie Mellon University, “Martin Scorsese and His Films”
“[This class] will explore the amazing diversity in this excellent film director's output. The course will emphasize the psychological and moral issues raised in his films. And the course will focus on his camera techniques, his use of sound and music, and other remarkable innovative elements. With each film, Scorsese seems to re-invent himself, expanding the dimensions of film art.”

Harvard University, “Dogs and How We Know Them”
“Examines the history of dogs and how we conceptualized (wo)man's best friend over time. Topics include the origins of dogs and the nature of domestication, breeding and dog breeds, mad dogs and rabies, learning theories and training methods, unwanted dogs and the humane movement, dogs as veterinary patients, dogs as experimental systems, dog emotion and social behavior, working and companion dogs, dogs as symbols, dog genomics.”

Cornell University, “Stardom”

“From heavenly creatures to tabloid trash, this course will explore stardom in cinema, television, and new media. Framed by approaches from semiotics, psychoanalysis, economics, and cultural studies, we will examine histories and theories of stars and star systems, investigating the importance of aesthetic strategies (from three-point lighting to the close-up), technological innovations (from sound to high-definition), industrial formations (from United Artists to SAG), the mass media (from studio publications to online tabloids), and fandom (from autograph auctions to fan fiction). We will discuss Hollywood stardom in tandem with both other national star systems and the transnational circulation of stars. An emphasis on the importance of race and sexuality in the production and reception of stardom will guide our inquiries.”

Wesleyan University, “Myth, Magic, and Movies”
“We will explore how the mythic is made and what purposes myth and magic serve in modern culture. Guided by classic psychoanalytic works and more modern texts, we will seek to understand both the conscious and unconscious power of myths. We will explore heroic and anti heroic narratives, all with an eye to uncovering the ideological uses of fantasy in post modern capitalism. Novels by J. K. Rowling, Alice Walker, and Ralph Ellison will be read. Films will include The Color Purple and the Harry Potter series.”
Marisa Stotter says: “Basically, you get academic credit for reading Harry Potter. Could anything be better?!”

Harvard University, “Astronomy 2: Celestial Navigation”
“Never be lost again! Find your way on sea, land, or air by employing celestial and terrestrial techniques. Acquire expertise in using navigators' tools (sextant, compass, and charts) while learning the steps to the celestial dance of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. This 107-year-old course continues to rely on practical skills and collaborative problem-solving, while utilizing historical artifacts (instruments, maps, captains' logs) and student-built devices.”
Stephanie Kaplan says: “Because clearly we still need to find our way using compasses...”
Yale University, “The Science of Brewing”
“Introduction to fundamental scientific principles and methods through an examination of the beer-brewing process. Discussion of ingredients and chemical reactions, environmental issues, and the economics of the beer industry.”

Harvard University, “Beats, Rhymes, and Life; Hip Hop Studies”
“This course is an introduction to hip-hop as a social movement and art form. Class begins with a history of hip-hop's four elements: DJing, MCing, break dancing, and graffiti art. We then turn to the study of music and performance more broadly, as well as hip-hop-related topics in popular culture, such as racial authenticity, sex and gender politics, word play and explicit language, and the rise of global hip-hop.”

Syracuse University, “The Challenges of Zoo Management”
“This seminar course will provide students with an overview of all the elements required to manage exotic animals in a zoo. The course will culminate in a trip to the zoo where students will have an opportunity to test behavioral enrichment projects they have designed. Occasionally, zoo animals will visit the seminar.” Cassie Kreitner says: “Can you believe this is an honors course?”

Harvard University, “Quilts and Quilt Making”
“Are quilts the great American (folk) art? From intricately stitched whole-cloth quilts, to the improvisational patchworks of Gee's Bend; from the graphic simplicity of Amish quilts to the cozy pastels of depression-era quilts; from the Aids Quilt to art quilts; quilts have taken on extraordinary significance in American culture. This class surveys the evolution of quilt-making as a social practice, considering the role of quilts in articulations of gender, ethnic, class and religious identities, and their positions within discourses of domesticity, technology, consumerism, and cultural hierarchy.”

Wellesley College, “Disneyland and American Culture”
“One of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, subject of thousands of books and articles, adored by millions yet reviled by many intellectuals, Disneyland has occupied a prominent place in American culture since it opened in 1955. This seminar will examine Disneyland as an expression of middle class American values, as a locus of corporatism and consumerism, as a postmodern venue, as a utopia, and as an influence upon architecture and urban design. In a broader sense, we will use Disney to explore the ideals, the desires, and the anxieties that have shaped post-World War II American culture.”

Bummed that your school doesn’t offer these classes? You can always transfer…

Cassie Kreitner is a Magazine Journalism and Marketing Management dual major. She spent last semester across the pond in London, but is happy to be back at Syracuse University for her senior year. After growing up in Wayne, NJ, she can't wait to live and work in New York City. Last summer, Cassie interned at Family Circle Magazine through ASME’s Internship Program, and loved every minute. On campus, she stays busy as a senior editor at What the Health magazine and associate features editor at Zipped Magazine. She also blogs and writes for several other campus publications, and is a member of Ed2010 and Alpha Epsilon Phi. Cassie can’t live without Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, sunglasses, post-its, SOAPnet, froyo and sunny summer days in Central Park.
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