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Classes You Can Take to Get Out of the Classroom

It’s a beautiful morning. You wake up, make yourself some breakfast, and perhaps a cup of Joe. You get ready for the day. Your eyebrows are on FLEEK and your outfit is, too. Then you realize that you have to spend your day listening to back-to-back lectures in Blegen and Smith: the two stuffiest buildings on campus. You ask yourself, “Why can’t I have class outside? Why can’t I actually be doing something rather than semi-paying attention to my professor mumble about molecules or Marx?”

Well I have good news for you, Gophers. The U offers a handful of experiential classes; these courses offer educational experiences inside and outside of the classroom. Here are some that are worth looking into:

SOIL 3521: Soil Judging

This class is offered through CFANS and although it requires some prerequisites, it’ll be worth it. U of M undergrad Tessa Belo, who’s currently enrolled in the class, said, “I think it’s best to explain it as competitive field work. We look at soil and fill out score cards; they are judged on how closely they match expert’s cards. We’re looking for changes in soil texture, color and structure. We interpret our findings to name the soil and address limitations for building and stuff.” The other students in your class aren’t just your peers, but your teammates. Nebraska Public Radio even did a story on one of their competitions from a few weeks ago.

SOC 3452: Education and Society    

Offered through the Department of Sociology, this class allows students to engage as tutors at local Minneapolis schools. The goal of the course is to expand enrolled students’ knowledge about the education system and to allow them to think critically about what needs to be improved within it. So although you may still be in a classroom, you’re getting hands-on experience with Minneapolis youth.

PE 1044: Self Defense

This is undoubtedly one of the most popular physical education classes here at the U. There are always upwards of five sections of this class each semester. This class can be taken on the St. Paul or East Bank campus, and is offered at a variety of times throughout the week, so you’ll be able to find one to fit your schedule! This class will teach you how to respond in crisis situations; it addresses everything from physical defense skills to tone of voice. Remember that the U offers services like 624-WALK and the Gopher Chauffeur that are free of charge and will get you home safely if you don’t want to risk putting those skills you learned to the test.

CHIC 3275: Service Learning in the Chicano/Latino Community               

Searching for a Civil Life and Ethics Lib Ed? I’ve got just the one for you. This service learning class is offered through the Department of Chicano Studies. As a student in this class, you’re given the opportunity to tutor or mentor, AND you’ll get the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue with Chicano/Latinx educators. This class is designed to analyze the United States’ education systems and develop students’ awareness of inclusive education models.

EDHD 1525W: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing

This class is required for first-year students in the College of Education and Human Development, but there’s a community service component to the class that is optional. Undergraduate Brandon Hensler, a student currently enrolled in the class decided to take part in this volunteer opportunity and said, “I like it a lot, it’s fun and definitely beneficial. It opens me up to different communities that I was oblivious to before I took the class.”

FSCN 2002: Healthy Food, Healthy Lives – Cooking on a Student’s Budget

No more Ramen for you. Take this class and learn the skills of basic cooking, and learn how to do it on a student’s budget.

ENGL 3711/3712: Ivory Tower

Another year-long class offered through the English Department, the Ivory Tower class provides real, hands-on experience with the ins and outs of publishing a magazine. Like a job, you’ll have to send in a resume and cover letter for this class in order to get a seat, but don’t let that scare you! Ivory Tower is the undergraduate literary magazine here on campus. This publication includes poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art all by U of M undergraduates! Want to contribute, but you can’t find time in your schedule? Ivory Tower is currently taking submissions until December 7th. Submit your work here.

PE 1262: Marathon Training

Have you ever had a thought, even for a split second, that you would want to run a marathon, but then you thought about all of the training you would have to do and you quickly rejected the idea. Well, there’s a class offered at the U specifically for students who want to train for a marathon. You get guidance from a professor and you’ll have peers in the class supporting you, which will make the whole training process less overwhelming. At the end of this class in place of an exam, students compete in the Eau Claire Marathon. If you complete the marathon, you pass the class!   

CSPH 4311: Foundations of Hatha Yoga: Alignment and Movement Principles

Do you love yoga? Wouldn’t you love if you could get credit for taking a class about yoga? Even better, wouldn’t you love to be a certified yoga instructor? Well, this class offered through the Center for Spirituality and Healing provides those opportunities!

I’m sure you’ve heard that hands-on learning has many benefits, and aside from getting you out of that stuffy lecture hall, it does. Experiential learning puts into perspective the realities of the work you might want to go into, plus, in many cases, it’s an excellent opportunity to engage with your community. Don’t think that any of these classes will float your boat? Reach out to the department you’re interested in taking a class in, and ask them about community engaged learning or experiential learning courses when you start putting together your schedule for next semester, or check out the UMN Center for Community-Engaged Learning. You might be surprised at the opportunities that open up to you.

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Anna Rosin


I'm from St. Louis, Missouri and I'm currently going to school at the University of Minnesota, located in Minneapolis.
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