Education - College
By: - at June 7, 2013

15 Unusual Modern Day University College Courses Undertaken

going to college taking college classes higher educationGoing to college is an exciting event that millions worldwide get to experience. During this period, these future leaders will learn a variety of skills and professions that will serve as the foundation of a multitude of careers. Along the way, students are often encouraged to experiment with different courses and subjects. For many, this is considered as the most engaging and interactive period of a person's life. However, some students decide to take the plunge and go beyond the normal disciplines and studies.

Across the world, colleges and universities alike are breaking the mold and covering some less than common areas of study. Often, these classes combine whacky content with a very serious approach to learning. Other times, the connection may not be so obvious. A quick look at some of the more creative courses will give you a good idea of what to expect when entering your secondary education. For those who have already graduated, a look back will allow you to see what these young individuals today consider advanced learning.  Take a look at these 15 undertaken college courses that you should consider taking.

1)  Media Genres: Zombies College Course
Zombies have become heavily embedded in modern culture. Amongst the younger crowd, a fascination has grown with the classics of this horror genre. In addition to reveling in the all-time greats, many new shows, movies, comics, and other media have enraptured the various cultures of the world. Knowing this, it seems natural that a university would offer a course covering all things undead.

At the University of Baltimore, a course is being offered under the name of Media Genres: Zombies. Students enrolled in this class will cover a variety of topics and subjects related to these flesh eating abominations. The loss of individuality, a conversion to a society in which actions are based solely on basic needs, and the ramifications of such a shift on western culture are all covered. These concepts are juxtaposed against a large selection of zombie related media.

Zombie College Courses

Among the items on the syllabus, many movies, books, and comics are examined. Contemporary offerings, such as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "World War Z" serve as pillars of the course. As for TV and movies, "The Walking Dead," "28 Day Later," and "Zombieland" are all screened. In addition to these newer showings, the students will also take a deep look into the classics of the genre from directors such as George A. Romero.

2)  College Course:  Philosophy and Star Trek
For the students of Georgetown University, the next generation of American leaders are on course for intergalactic musings. Under the course Star Trek and Philosophy, students will compare and contrast the philosophical undertones of the show with those of both ancient and modern icons of this discipline. For all of the geeks who love to dig deeper into the show, this is the perfect way to explore exactly how Spock and Captain Kirk viewed the worlds around them.

philosophy star trek college class

For many philosophy students, a series of deep and thoughtful questions will arise. To better approach these thought experiments, the coursework relates the content to the various issues and dilemmas faced by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. In class, episodes will be reviewed in the context of a deeper evaluation of the persona of each character and the dialogue related to important decisions.

According to the course catalog on the Georgetown website, many thought provoking questions will form the basis of the lectures. The possibility of time travel, the difference between the mind and the brain, and artificial intelligence are all covered. Additionally, the concept of free will, the self, and metaphysics in general will be touched upon. All of these subjects will be viewed from the dual perspective of Star Trek characters and famous philosophers.

3)  Myth and Science Fiction College Class
When speaking of myths and storied traditions, many college students think of the efforts of Hercules and the philandering ways of Zeus. However, mythology is not simply relegated to the classic era of the Greeks and Romans. At Centre College, the course entitled Myth and Science Fiction seeks to disavow this notion. Students enrolled in this course will cover a number of items from contemporary popular culture in an effort to learn more about the mythology and lore of the modern world.

science fiction and myth

By examining the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and George Lucas, students will immerse themselves in a variety of themes. These topics will center heavily on drawing parallels between motifs from the era of ancient gods and heroes to the modern world's equivalents. This three week study will place the students in a world where reality and folklore combine for fascinating narratives on how humanity operated in antiquity and how people still fall into similar patterns today.

The media covered will span a wide range of genres. For the science fiction oriented, "Dr. Who," "Star Wars," "The X-Files," and "The Matrix" will all make an appearance on the syllabus. For those longing to travel to lands long lost, "The Lord of the Rings," "The Hobbit," and other works from J.R.R. Tolkien will serve as the foundation of an exploration into modern fantasy. As the students learn more about these works, the patterns and themes of ages past will begin to materialize in modern offerings, showing that some things may be irrevocable tied to the human narrative.

4)  College Course: The Vampire in Literature and Cinema
With the works of Stephanie Meyer and Anne Rice serving as the modern interpretation of the classic vampire, it was only a matter of time before a university stood up and sought to delve into the world of the night walkers. For students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, vampires from ages past and modern renditions will come alive, or close enough, to explain how people view this fictional horror.

Those who enroll in this course will find themselves digging far deeper than simple readings and viewings. According to Tomislav Longinovic, professor of comparative literature at the university, the course has been designed to understand how the cult of mystery surrounding the vampire mythos explains the interactions between differing cultures. His coursework will deal specifically with the negative connotations long associated with those of eastern European lineage and how these cultural groups are forever entwined with the stories of vampires and others who feast on blood.

Max Schreck as the Vampire Count Orlok in FW Murnau's Nosferatu:
Max Schreck as the Vampire Count Orlok in FW Murnau's Nosferatu

Students will watch three films during the semester. The 1922 classic "Nosferatu," "Dracula," and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" will all be subjected to the scrutiny of the class. In addition to these films, a variety of short stories will also be implemented in the coursework. Tolstoy, Goethe, and Elisabeth Kostova will all have works that make an experience as the class travels further into the cultural implications of vampire mythology.

5)  Maple Syrup: The Real Thing College Course
At Alfred University, students will be treated to a variety of tasty creations, both edible and intellectual in nature. As the foundation of the course, maple syrup in all of its forms will be covered extensively. For those looking to learn the history of the production process, this class will teach you all you need to know about how maple syrup flows from a tree to the breakfast table.

Aside from understanding how this morning mainstay is manufactured, the class will also cover many related topics. The history of the syrup will expose connections between Native Americans and modern day U.S. citizens that still hold true to this day. Uses, superstitions, and common practices will all be examined in the context of historical advancement.

Grades of Syrup:
Grades of Syrup
By Dvortygirl  via Wikimedia Commons

If sitting in a classroom and talking maple syrup isn't enough to sate your hunger for knowledge, the course will move on to more tangible studies. Students of this seminar will take several trips out into the field to learn the business of maple syrup. As a special treat, the class will also explore the uses of this sweet syrup. Cooking with various maple syrup products and tasting the results will be required for the successful completion of a participant's studies.

6)  College Course: Learning from YouTube
Internet culture is an ever expanding landscape of memes, arguments, and information ranging from the truthful to the patently fictitious. Standing in the center of this online battlefield of ideas is the crown jewel of video based web sites. Viewers of YouTube will be exposed to a massive archive of user generated submissions. These videos cover a wide range of topics, from the political to the promotional. Also stored within these virtual walls are the origins of many of the most well-known portions of Internet culture.

College Course Learning from YouTube

For the students of Pitzer College, the cultural aspects of this video based phenomena serve as the foundation of the Learning from YouTube course. As part of the syllabus, a variety of the most popular and renowned videos will be presented for discussion. Lectures will cover the impact this content has created on modern society. In addition to these lectures, thought experiments will be enacted to place an emphasis on the intended and unintended consequences of viewing videos on this site.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this class is that meetings are not closed to just students enrolled in the course. Should you wish to learn along with the class, simply check in on the Learning from YouTube channel. On this page, you will find archived lectures and submissions generated by the class members as part of their continued learning and experimentation.

7)  The Joy of Garbage College Class
Garbage is everywhere. As members of modern society consume more and more goods, waste is expelled at a faster and faster rate. Thus, it is clearly necessary that a full semester's worth of learning should be devoted to the one item about which many individuals never think twice. At Santa Clara University, students will do just the opposite in an effort to understand the true meaning of garbage.

garbage collecting class

When partaking in a lesson, students enrolled in the Joy of Garbage will trace the roots of waste backwards to the point at which garbage is created. From this point, they will follow the chain of events that lead to the eventual storage or destruction of unwanted refuse. Trash dumps, recycling facilities, and burn sites will all form the settings for in class lectures. Outside of class, these areas will also be the focus of field trips and group excursions.

Once the class has developed a strong understanding of the waste process, the students can begin to embark on a much more serious endeavor. As part of the course, individuals will be required to brainstorm and present on sustainable and ethical responses to the various issues associated with garbage. Social considerations and scientific techniques have all be offered in the effort to find the right way to deal with the junk no one wants anymore.

8)  College Course: Lego Robotics
Lego Robotics College CourseAlmost every child has played with Legos at some point during their childhood years. Now, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology get to play with these building toys again. For students enrolled in the Lego Robotics seminar, constructing and powering original creations based upon Legos will be the main goal of the course. However, this course isn't just fun and games.

Aside from building with Legos during lab hours, students will also cover a wide array of scientific topics. According to the online syllabus, lectures will cover mechanical systems, computer programming, and robotic infrastructure. Luckily, you don't need to already be an expert in these fields to join the class. No prior knowledge in these disciplines is required to excel in this course. Simply having a curious interest in these topics and a willingness to learn will suffice.

college class lego robotics

As part of the practical portion of the seminar, students will test their creations. Most members of the class will complete three to four unique robots. These Lego constructs will then be subjected to a series of challenges. While many robots will not succeed in overcoming these obstacles, that is not the point of these events. Students should walk away with an understanding of the issues surrounding modern day robotics and engineering. From this point forward, the classmates should be inspired to think critically and seek solutions on how to eliminate these concerns.

9)  Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond Class
Jumping back to the universe of Khan and Kirk, Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond will illuminate the back story behind the origins of these fictitious languages. Students at the University of Texas at Austin who enroll in this course will cover more than just the various dialects of Klingon. A variety of other recent additions to the world's lexicon on languages will also be explored.

Linguistic theory and the meaning of communications will be the primary factors in this unique learning experience. How humans communicate and what exactly constitutes a language will be questions presented to the students. As the course progresses, the answers to these questions may change in light of an increased understanding of newly created languages.

language learning klingon class
By Cristiano Betta  via Wikimedia Commons

Among the languages covered, Klingon and other science fiction and fantasy constructs will serve as a starting point. However, the students will also be exposed to a variety of other languages that may serve a useful purpose back here on Earth. Esperanto, the most widely spoken auxiliary language, will also be examined. Even theoretical languages, such as one based on musical scales, will serve as discussion points during lecture meetings.

10)  College Course: How to Win the Tour de France
At Marymount University, students are taking a deep look at the world of competitive cycling. Like any other professional competition, this sport has had its fair share of controversy and exaltation in excellence. Freshman who enroll in this course will focus on the physical and mental makeup of professional cyclists in general and specific winners of previous Tour de France events.

On the training side, a variety of inputs will be discussed which contribute to a successful run at the title. Training exercises and regiments make up a portion of this section of the seminar. However, nutrition and health sciences also play a key role. Students will gain a proper understanding of the sacrifice and physical toll such an event takes on the competitors.

learn to win tour de france for college credit
By McSmit via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from the kinetic considerations of a cyclist, a look at the mentality of a competitor is also covered. Many factors affect the decisions made by these professional athletes. The stress created by major endorsement deals and a rabid fan base take a toll on these individuals, leading to a variety of mental health concerns. In addition to this, a look at the psychology behind the use of performance enhancing drugs and the recent controversies is also offered to the class during lectures.

11)  College Class: How to Watch Television
Montclair State University has taken on the tough task of detailing the exertion required to properly watch TV. How to Watch Television is open to broadcasting majors in addition to those who simply are looking for a proper technique when sitting on the couch. Among the topics covered, the role of the TV in modern society is examined, as well as the production process of your favorite offerings.

college class watching tv

Students of this class will learn of the roles TV fits in the modern family. At times, this device serves as a child sitter, entertainment provider, news outlet, and creator of background noise. Understanding why one item can serve these roles, and so many more, is the core focus of the course. A look at the psychology behind TV usage is also covered in various lectures.

Once the class has covered the roots of TV use, a look at how shows are made is the next step in the learning process. Media theory is the prime focus of this portion of the class. The advertising power of the TV programs has forever shaped the content that is made available to you. Combining your preferred material with potential sales is main focus of many media organizations. A proper understanding of this connection may alter how you watch TV after the completion of the course.

12)  The Art of Walking College Course
Centre College has another offering on this list with a deep look into how one walks. The Art of Walking goes far deeper than simple strolls around campus, although these events are a common part of lectures. The main portion of the course covers the work of Immanuel Kant. Specifically, his "Critique of Judgment" is the prime focus of the class.

As the members of the class stroll along the various nature trails located on campus, a series of lectures will uncover the various topics Kant expounded upon in this final work of his Critical Project. Students will be asked to ponder the various forms of judgment laid out within this exposition on aesthetics. Along the way, a deeper understanding of Kant's line of reasoning should be acquired by those who undertake this literal and figurative journey.

By Quasar Expeditions via Wikimedia Commons

Outside of deep thinking and complete class strolls, other tasks are assigned to the students. Those who partake in this course will be asked to take on freelance walking assignments in addition to the normal coursework. During these walks, various concepts will be given as a means of guidance for critical thinking. Term papers and other reports will also be required. However, students may find completing these tasks difficult when enjoying strolls around campus.

13)  College Course: The Science of Harry Potter
Everyone's favorite boy wizard has finally gone off to college. While his trip to university may not be literal, his literary impact has spawned a class based entirely upon the works of J.K. Rowling at Frostburg State University in Maryland. While some may assume this class covers literary criticisms and various expositions on works of fiction, this class takes a much more science oriented approach. However, this approach is not too serious, as professor George Plitnik has dressed up as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore from time to time.

Frostberg State University:
Frostberg State University Harry Potter Class

Modern concepts found in the current realm of scientific experimentation are covered in the coursework. Genetic engineering, anti-gravity technologies, and the teleportation of life forms are all discussed during classroom meetings. However, these muggle topics are given a bit of a wizardly twist. Students are asked to compare scientific theories on these subjects in an effort to understand how Harry, Ron, and Hermione pull off such fascinating acts of magic.

harry potter college class Frostberg

While Frostburg State isn't exactly Hogwarts, students have received this class with highly positive reviews. For many, learning about chemistry, physics, and engineering from a witch or wizard's point of view can breathe new life into these advanced topics. Even Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans come under the scrutiny of students who seek to understand if such a creation is even possible. While the class covers many serious topics, the light atmosphere and intriguing format can offer some much needed fun during the serious hours of studying undertaken by the students.

14)  The Strategy of StarCraft College Class
Video game lovers can finally rejoice. At the University of California Berkeley, students are undertaking a study of the finer points of Blizzard's popular strategy offering, "StarCraft." While this course may not offer advancement towards general education requirements, it does provide a great excuse to power up the desktop and rush some resources with your alien forces. All you need is a copy of the game and a willingness to go toe to toe with your classmates.

StarCraft College Class

Members of the class will cover the aspects required to successfully win a player versus player match. Various scenarios and strategies will be reviewed in an effort to prepare the forces of each opposing participant. After the completion of matches between students, the class will watch a replay and dissect the various strategic moves and countermoves. After the lecture, the space age warfare will continue on at home.

Think a Class is Ridiculous?  In Korea Starcraft is a Professional Sport:
Think a Class is Ridiculous?  In Korea Starcraft is a Professional Sport
By jareed via Wikimedia Commons

Homework assignments include online matchplay and a critical review of real time decision making and strategic thinking. In addition to this, a look at the history of the various factions and story of the series is also offered. After the semester is over, you will be ready to give a discourse on which maps provide the best game play and the difference between a Protoss and a Zerg.

15)  College Course: Cyberporn and Society
Pornography is a massive industry spanning the economies of the majority of the developed world. At the State University of New York, students will delve into the origins and motivations of the various pornographic institutions. In addition to this, the concept of what defines pornography and why social differences arise will also be reviewed.

For those who may find porn unacceptable or discomforting in a social setting, this class may not be for you. Many lectures will cover images and videos detailing graphic sexual acts. Also, students will be required to review certain pornographic content as portions of homework assignments. These tasks will help outline the role of the sex industry in modern society. With this information, the students can begin to form an overarching view on the themes and standards of porn.

Once members of the class have become grounded in the industry, cultural differences can begin to come under examination. Students will research and discuss the reasons why pornography can vary so greatly from one portion of the globe to another. Amongst these discussions, a look at what each culture finds attractive and unacceptable in a sexual context will also be explored. During these journeys into the inner desires of the world's peoples, the class will view examples of the various fetishes and attractions of contemporary societies.





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