Choose the unusual
Elective courses can sound strange but be very satisfying
Published: August 29, 2012
Alien Microeconomics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Learning through narrative is usually effective by nature, but taking a course about microeconomics by playing a video game about an alien invasion does seem to take it to the next level.
Gaga for Gaga: Sex, Gender and Identity, University of Virginia: Lady Gaga, known for her provocative music and even more provocative wardrobe choices, is the focal point of this course on the intersection of modern gender and identity issues with popular culture.
Real Life Statistics: Your Chance of Happiness (Or Misery), Harvard University: A course taught by Xiao-Li Meng, the chair of the statistics department who sought to increase the concentration's appeal, in part by assigning catchier subtitles (such as the one above) to courses.
Learning from YouTube, Pitzer College: In a class officially described as a "pedagogic experiment focusing on the potentials and limits of digital-media culture," instructor Alexandra Juhasz garnered a lot of media attention (and course comparisons to "Underwater Basket Weaving") when she started teaching the course in 2007. Actually, Juhasz was underwhelmed by the content on YouTube.
Zombies in Popular Media, Columbia College Chicago: Usually, the only zombies in class are the hungover and half-asleep, brain half-eaten kind. But the Chicago-based school teaches a straight-ahead course about "the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts." Sounds interesting. These zombies may actually build your brain.
Elvish, the Language of Lord of the Rings, University of Wisconsin: Taught by the world's foremost expert on this "language," this course allows a special breed of Tolkien superfan a chance to learn the language of elves from the next best thing.
Tree Climbing, Cornell University: You might think this is a course for your inner child if he never learned to climb a tree. It's much more than that, though: The Cornell Tree Climbing Institute (Yup, CTCI for short) "promotes safe and environmentally responsible tree climbing techniques for recreation, education and research." Didn't know there was a better way to climb, for the tree and for you? Now you do.
Kathleen Conley and Jackie Rollin are Metro Times editorial interns. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.