OFF COURSESThe strangest, coolest and quirkiest COLLEGE COURSES in the Triad
Bennett College, the historically black women’s college known locally for civic engagement, was generous enough to post brief course descriptions online, and a handful stuck out from the more predictable course offerings. — EG
EI 420: Church and Entrepreneurship During periods of unemployment, my friends have joked about creating a church, getting some suckers to join and making livings as a pastors. The course description is more about personal growth through the church and doesn’t seem like a step-by-step guide to starting your own cash cow, instead emphasizing “student self-discovery as means to encourage discernment of the call of service and devise a plan with the potential to make a difference on campus, in the church and community.” Students do get to write a personal mission statement though.
CS 470: Computer and Society It seems each school has a variation on this seemingly basic topic: the significance of computers in 2012. Bennett’s may be a step above the rest, because this course will focus on “social implication of computing (networked communication, gender-related issues, international issues) impacts of computer-based systems upon personal privacy and civil liberties, risks and liabilities of computerbased system [and] economic issues in computing.” Even with the description, the “social implication of computing” may be one of the most vague terms in the catalog.
SE 207: Introduction to Exceptional Individuals I find the notion of teaching people about exceptional individuals kind of hilarious, though I am sure this class is pretty serious. An exceptional individual probably wouldn’t need to take this class, so instead less-than-exceptional students are studying what makes others great “from a philosophical and historical perspective.” The class is part of the education department and will cover “disabilities and giftedness.” I wonder if the professor shows A Beautiful Mind, the Soloist or Goodwill Hunting in class.
Arguably the Triad’s crunchiest college, Guildford College has strong Quaker ties that date back to the Underground Railroad. It’s small, with fewer than 3,000 students, and has been listed in Loren Pope’s book Colleges that Change Lives because of its commitment to ethics and social justice. These days it’s known for its outstanding Bryan Lecture Series, its early college and the Eastern Music Festival, which it has hosted for more than 50 years. Guilford is also known for having some unusual classes that cater to its activist-minded student population. — BC
FYE 101: If I Had a Hammer No, this is not a class on Pete Seeger. With the subhed “Exploring entrepreneurship tools for social change,” this course teaches students to “design, grow and lead mission-driven enterprises.”
FYE 101: The Myth of Serenity Admittedly Guilford’s First Year Experience classes are the funniest in the course catalog. This one, which professes to “explore how to deal with the paradoxes implicit in our cultures’ stories and paradigms of violence and peace,” asks if war and violence are inevitable in our society. “Critical, analytical and activist minds welcome!”
PHYE 101: Zumba We’re pretty sure this is a required course for the jazzercise major.
FYE 101: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse Okay, so this one is not as much fun as it sounds: “Zombies are not just scary hordes of decaying flesh coming to eat your brain. They are also symbols of our deepest cultural fears and convenient tropes for us to work out ethical or philosophical issues of the late 20th and early 21st century.” So yeah, no AK-47s or firebombs on this one. But if your college offers a course on surviving the zombie apocalypse, you damn well better take it.
The small liberal-arts college located in the heart of Greensboro dates back to 1838, when it was known as Greensboro Female College. It opened its doors to men in the 1950s. Notable alumni include actress Eileen Fulton, who starred as Lisa Grimaldi on toe soap opera “As the World Turns” from 1960-2010, and downtown Greensboro developer Roy Carroll, best known for rehabbing the vacant Wachovia Building into the CenterPointe condominium complex and inspiring a noise ordinance in the center city. Among more traditional courses in business, sciences and the arts, we found a few interesting classes. — BC
BUS 3349: Women in Advertising Not a class about women who want to work in advertising this junior-level business course focuses on “the portrayal of women in the advertising media.” There’s an awful lot of gold to mine there, from the “Mad Men” days to the “You’ve come a long way, baby” Virginia Slims campaigns and on. It also promises “an examination of advertising as a cultural mirror which reflects, distorts and shapes society’s views of women.”
CRI 3100: Deviance This junior-level criminal justice course invites all sorts of punchlines — “I’m such a deviant I took a class in it,” “Care to help me with my Deviance homework tonight?” and the like — but it is actually more concerned with the source of deviance than in the practice of it: “Deviance and social control are revealed as complex social processes, cultural arrangements and cultural adaptations.”
CRI 3500: Murder in America When it comes to murder, we are No. 1, and this class explores the phenomena of serial killers, mass murderers, spree killers and “the ongoing legal and forensic approaches being used to solve older crimes” in our violent society.
KIN 1510: Ballroom Dance Kind of awesome that you can take ballroom dance for college credit these days.
MUS 2080: Jazz Appreciation Every schedule needs a class like this: “Early jazz recordings through jazz-rock fusion are studied. Intended for both music majors and students with little or no formal music background.”
PSY 3450: Drugs and Behavior Where else on a college campus could you learn about “the principles of action and the behavioral effects of various psychoactive drugs”?
HIGH POINT UNIVERSITY
High Point University, the gem in University President Nido Qubein’s crown, is a school unlike any other in the Triad. Boasting high-tech equipment and a reputation for opulence, students are offered in-room housekeeping services, organ lessons, a class on philanthropy and a miniature version of a Wall Street trading floor. The front page of the school’s website displays the array of things that the university is proud of — a student whose parents created a community garden to feed the homeless, an alum competing in the Olympics and a professor explaining “the biomechanics of barefoot running.” — EG
INT 2300. Space Planning. If only this wasn’t an interior design class and was instead concerned with relocating Earth’s population to the moon and Mars.
BIO 2120. General Zoology. This class should either involve trips to the zoo or observation of a first-year dorm, focusing on increased domestication of students as the year progresses. It even covers “reproductive processes.” Other interesting biology classes include “Biology Journal Club.”
PHY 1200. Physics for Video Games Students can take lots of video game-related classes at High Point University — they offer a whole major in it. The physics class (studying “projectile motion, collisions, oscillations…”) may seem unique, until you find the communication class that studies “the culture, socializations and values of traditional and virtual gaming communities” and students will do an “in-depth study of a community of players.” I call dibs on NBA Live 2004 and FIFA 2010.
COM 4424. Gender Speak. The name probably says it all, but this class emphasizes “feminist communication theories” and the ways in which gender is constructed through communication. I just can’t get over the course title.
CRJ 2500. Controlled Substances. If you love this class, make sure to take “Drugs and Human Behavior” next semester. Can students conduct independent studies? The class covers everything from drug abuse, trafficking, treatment and enforcement policies and strategies. In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about narcotics without actually taking them.
HST 2301. The Canadian Experiment Students will delve into the southern “ribbon” of the country where most Canadians live and examine “the peculiar arrangement of its population.” The course will challenge the notion that Canadians are indeed happier, examine cross-border cheap medicine trafficking and get to the bottom of the differences between the two nation’s bacon and tuxedos. Students will be proficient in the “South Park” theme “Blame Canada.”
SOC 3020. Appalachian Society and Nonprofits Unusually specific of a title, the most unique part of this class is the fall break trip to a specific (but unnamed) region of Appalachia. Driven by students’ “self-directed research,” the class studies how nonprofits interact with social issues in the region. Awesome.
PSY 3210. Person Perception. This class covers first impressions, how we pass judgment on other people, nonverbal cues and how good we are at detecting deception. At first it sounded totally basic, but on second read this class sounds fascinating.
NC A&T UNIVERSITY
A&T is Greensboro’s other UNC System school, a HBCU with a strong emphasis on sciences and engineering and a top-notch research department. It is known for its football team and killer marching band and alumni that include Jesse Jackson and astronaut Ronald McNair, but its biggest claim to fame is the A&T Four, who began the sit-in at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter that inspired a movement. The undergraduate course catalog is massive, with hard sciences mitigated by some softer ones. — BC
AET 551: Industrial Robotics You should know this senior-level course in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is not a class about making reallife Transformers: “Topics include: classifications, geometry, safety, power sources, drive systems, work envelope and ISO Standards.” But if you wanted to make a real-life Transformer, this course seems like it would come in handy.
COMP 356 Com Hip-Hop and Obj-Ori Design Believe it or not, this is a computer-programming class — the illest damn computer-programming class ever: “This course introduces students to the fundamentals of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) from a hip-hop perspective.”
CRJS 510: Victomology This senior-level class deals with grave subject matter, “the role of victims in crimes, their treatment by the criminal justice system, victim assistance, and victim compensation,” but you should probably never register for a class that misspells its own name, which should read “Victimology.”
FCS 133: Family Foods This one, “the application of elementary principles of nutrition and cookery to the planning, preparation and serving of simple meals designed to meet the needs of all family members,” sounds a little bit like Housewife 101. A course on 100 ways to prepare ramen noodles might be more effective.
HPED 120: Beginning Sailing Sure, it’s for just a single credit hour, but a sailing class at A&T sounds sketchy. Where, exactly, does the sailing take place?
HPED 237: Group Games & Outdoor Leisure Centered on “group games and outdoor leisure pursuits,” this class includes lab work in camping, backpacking, Frisbee, orienteering and canoeing.
LIBS 209: The His Lit Con So Rel Hip Hop Our university shorthand is a little rusty… the History and Literature of Contemporary Social Relations in Hip Hop? No matter, this course is the bomb: “The following will be examined: the origins of hip hop; the relationship of hip hop to the oral literary tradition; the literary elements of hip hop, as well as hip hop’s connection to literary movements, such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement; the ability of hip hop to articulate social ills as well as the concerns of urban and poor African Americans; and significant hip hop artists, their lyrics, performances and impact.”
LIBS 241: The Black Situation in TV Comedies Homework includes, presumably, watching reruns of “The Jeffersons” and working on your Redd Foxx impersonation.
MFG 251: Introduction to Motorsports This junior-level course in the Applied Engineering Technology Department seems a bit like NASCAR 101: “Students study the rules, regulations, and point systems governing various classes of racing. This course will also cover the components and functions of motorsport facilities.”
MUSI 416: Electronic Music It may diminish your street cred to learn how to mix in a college studio, but this may be the best way to do it. “Topics to be covered will be the history of electronic music, the use and possible applications of the tape recorders, mixeers, amplifiers, speakers, microphones, sound generators, synthesizers, etc., and the proper maintenance of all the equipment utilized.” Each student must write an original composition that must be performed at a public concert.
PHIL 261: The Meaning of Life Think of the women you can pick up in the bar after taking this course. Bonus: no prerequisites!
PHYS 510: Space Radiation Okay, so this one may not be as cool as it sounds — space radiation is a serious thing to the people who build spaceships, and exposure to space radiation will not necessarily turn you into a superhero like it did to the Fantastic Four… or will it? “The course covers cosmic rays and radiation environment [and] biological effect induced by space radiation.” If there’s even a possibility of becoming the Human Torch, I want to know about it.
PSYC 510: Psychological Perspectives in Hip Hop “A primary focus of this course is to examine different psychological concepts and identify the psychological underpinnings of hip hop from 1979 until the present.” This one spans the ages from the Sugar Hill Gang and Kurtis Blow, through the MC Hammer Years and the East Coast/West Coast beef and up to the present to answer the question: What is Kanye really thinking?
SPAN 457: Spanish for Law Enforcement Hey! That’s racist!
Salem College was founded in 1772 as a Moravian school for girls, and is incidentally ranked as the oldest women’s college in the nation by founding date by the American Council on Education. The college’s history is closely intertwined with the Moravian village of Salem, which was founded in 1766. — JG
RELI 160: The Moravian Experience Considering the college’s history, this seems like it should be a requirement for graduation for students in all majors. The course covers “the history, culture, theology and influence of the worldwide Moravian religious tradition,” with a special emphasis on the settlement of Salem.
ARTH 160: The Art of Japanese Manga and Anime: Origins and Evolution For pure pop-culture interest, you can’t do much better than this. One of my favorite courses at Antioch College was devoted to the subject of film noir. It involved showing up for class, watching a twohour movie and listening to brief and inspired remarks by Professor Warren Watson on social relations and political currents of the 1940s. Salem College’s manga and anime course dwells on “Japan’s coolest export,” and gives students the opportunity to analyze the form “while developing a critical historical consciousness of Japanese visual culture.”
COMM 322: Campaign Communication Every advocate, entrepreneur or organization leader needs to effectively communicate. And, who knows: This course might help launch be crucial for a student who wants to join the burgeoning campaign-consulting industry in Winston-Salem.
MUSI 116: Injury-Preventive, Well-Coordinated Keyboard Technique The course “addresses biomechanics, keyboard mechanics, wellness and instructions in the fundamentals of healthful sound production through the Lister-Sink Method.” The director of the college’s school of music happens to be Barbara Lister-Sink, who is a global leader in injury-preventive keyboard technique.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro appears to have it all, whether you’re after an MFA in creative writing or an undergraduate class on contemporary opera. The student-run WUAG radio station may be the best in town, and the school was women only until 1964 after allowing the first black students eight years earlier. Some locals think of UNCG like 1958 horror film star the Blob, gobbling up everything in its path on a quest to create a recreational center and more student housing atop the Glenwood neighborhood. I’m more apt to think of their nice outdoor basketball courts, the nearby college bars, the students’ ability to make Spring Garden Street impassable and an economics class my friend took there that consisted of an outer space computer game. — EG
ESS 150: Swimming for Non-Swimmers This university is eager to help people with cold feet get in the water, whether through this swimming class aimed at people who probably never learned how to swim or with the selection of SCUBA courses. The athletic educational options certainly don’t stop there — fill up some credit hours with “Modern Rhythmical Gymnastics,” “Beginning Bowling” or “Social Dance,” which covers everything from the jitterbug to the cha-cha or foxtrot. Hot diggity dog!
REL 251: Slaves, Fetuses and Animals Religious studies first conjures images of Bible studies or white hippies getting down with some Buddhism or preparing to study abroad in China. This eye-catching course title suggests a class that will run the gamut from current abortion debates to historical religious justifications for slavery, but I am curious what the animal portion will cover. Hindu gods and preparing Kosher meals, perhaps? More importantly, does this course overlap with “PSY 318: Belief in Weird Things”?
ATY 308: Lost Tribes and Sunken Lands In a seemingly desperate attempt to make anthropology interesting to hungover teenagers, this course title is strong enough to make me consider going back to school. I’m picturing the beach, Atlantis and a Nicolas Cage-themed (a la National Treasure) adventure. Sign me up. I hope there are field trips.
HDF 303: Adolescent Development: From Puberty to Young Adulthood In this course, students will relive their most awkward and uncomfortable years, admittedly not that far in their past, through the analysis and study of zits, increased body odor, dyed hair and punk music. Small research groups will perfect the art of French kissing, silently sneaking out a window, making up excuses to parents, spinning the bottle to land on their object of desire and refilling vodka bottles with water. The class will focus on how to become popular and will serve as a sex ed class for those students who never received one. See also: “BIO 578: Hormones in Action” (I’m serious).
BLS 386: American Motherhood Since the course descriptions elude this journalist, I can only assume that “Puberty to Young Adulthood” is a prerequisite to teaching students to really understand their (future?) children and how to be excellent mothers. More likely, the class will chronicle the different oppressive archetypes put forward by a patriarchal society and explore historical examples of matriarchal societies. There’s a good chance homework assignments include watching “I Love Lucy” or “Wife Swap.” Is this a prerequisite for the counseling class “CED 574A: Women’s Issues”?
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
Wake Forest University prides itself for combining “the personal attention of a liberal-arts college with the resources of a large research institution. It has the preeminent law school in the Triad, although the young Elon University is fast gaining prestige. One of Wake Forest’s law professor’s is a former NC Supreme Court candidate who literally wrote the treatise on North Carolina family law that is used by most judges and lawyers. — JG
LAW 429: Wrongful Convictions The course description outlines the “major issues of wrongful convictions” — concepts every working journalist who covers cops and courts should familiarize herself with and which, sadly, the Twin City distinguishes itself as a laboratory through the cases of Darryl Hunt and Kalvin Michael Smith. These are “false confessions, mistaken eyewitness identification, invalid forensic science, informant testimony, ineffective assistance of counsel, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and racial and ethnic bias.”
LAW 622: Innocence and Justice Clinic Law students who complete Wrongful Convictions will have the opportunity to take part in the Innocence and Justice Clinic, which works closely with the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice and the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission. Students who take this course will review and investigate “claims of actual innocence by inmates” and, in some cases, pursue “legal avenues of exoneration and release from prison.”
LAW 412: NCAA Rules Compliance and Enforcement Another course at the law school seemingly ripped from the headlines. Only last year the NCAA investigated the football program at UNC-Chapel Hill for several violations including academic fraud, according to a recent report by WRAL News, which also quoted UNC leaders as saying that students turned in work without supervision, and that instructors’ names were possibly forged and grades may have been changed. Todd Hairston, Wake Forest University’s associate athletic director for compliance, co-teaches the course with professor Timothy Davis.
HST 311W: Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Ancient Mediterranean Before you roll your eyes, consider that Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication. Thus, the course “will examine the textual and archeological evidence for ancient attitudes and practices related to sex and sexuality, intoxicants and stimulants, and music in the region around the Mediterranean Sea in the time period stretching from the Neolithic to the Roman period.”
FYS 100: GK Chesterton and Ayn Rand This seminar might be attractive to someone who wants to gain some insight on Rand, the intellectual inspiration for Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. It doesn’t quite seem like a fair fight to pair Rand, as the guiding light of conservatism, with Chesterton, who condemned both capitalism and socialism.
SOC 369: Social Movements The course description gives this tantalizing invitation: “Between occupiers, tea partiers and glitter bombers, citizens seem to be continually protesting for social change. In this course we will explore the theory and research behind social movements. Topics include social movement organization, leadership and recruitment, protest tactics and movement effectiveness.” As a bonus, students get to attend an organizing meeting and participate in the protest of their choice.
WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY
Winston-Salem State University proudly notes its distinction as the first historically black university to award elementary education degrees to African-American teachers. It’s also the first in the nation to offer a motorsports management program. NASCAR isn’t traditionally known for its appeal to black sports enthusiasts, but it’s a big industry and Winston-Salem State is located next door to the legendary Bowman Gray Stadium, so it makes for a natural match. — JG
MSM 2304: Public Relations and Mass Media in Motorsport This course should strike fear into the hearts of any budding motorsports journalist. NASCAR is notoriously protective of its image and seems hell-bent on ensuring that drivers are shorn of any vestige of personality in their public presentation. The future managers of the sport are trained well in this course, which promises to help them “acquire and refine effective ways of communicating, both internally and externally, with all their constituencies.”
GER 3301: Aspects of Aging in Diverse Groups With the elderly being the fastest growing segment of the population, the study of gerontology is both a matter of crucial importance to the future of society and an area of significant career opportunities. Any questions about whether this is an engaging subject for study should be answered by this course description: “Students will explore the aging of subgroups within society (e.g., women, homeless, grandparents and special populations; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender; HIV/AIDS). Ethics, acculturation, spirituality and religiosity area also included.”
CSC 1306: Computer and its Use I I recall a woman who was on the verge of graduating from Antioch College asking me how to operate a computer, but that was 1996. Still, it’s best to get this tutorial out of the way before handing out four-year diplomas. Winston-Salem State has a jump on it by offering this course, which is probably more involved than it sounds, covering not only storage devices, but also software evaluation and computer ethics. And students will receive instruction on the all-important functions of word processing, databases and spreadsheets.