12 More Classes We Wish Our Colleges Had Offered

[Here's the original 12 Classes We Wish Our Colleges Had Offered post, in case you missed it the first time around.]

1. Sex and the City, Oregon State. This class was so popular in 2006 that the original limit of 200 students per class had to be upped to 500. The professor used the HBO series to discuss sex and gender issues in society

2. Brewing Science and Society (New Mexico State University). Sounds like a blast, but as our commenter said, this upper 300-level chemical engineering class is not a cakewalk (or a pub crawl, if you will). It was still on the course list as of Fall 2008.

3. Media Studies: Jim Morrison and the Doors (Plymouth State). It's only offered the fall semester of odd years, so if you're dying to take this class, you'd better think about enrolling at Plymouth State soon. "Participants utilize a cultural studies framework to analyze films, television programs, musical offerings and print and online materials in relation to their historical contexts, ideological contents, symptomatic characteristics, and overall contributions to our modern-day understanding of media processes and effects." Way to make a fun class sound boring! I suppose they have to weed people out somehow.

tom4. Adult Swim (Kent State). Professor Ron Russo has been teaching about Adult Swim's animation block on the Cartoon Network since 2004. He even wrote the first textbook on the subject "“ Adult Swim and Comedy. Each class consists of about 30 students and has the full support of the Adult Swim show creators "“ some, such as Tom Goes to the Mayor's Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, have even teleconferenced with the class to answer questions.

5. Forbidden Knowledge (Wheaton College). This one sounds particularly flossy to me. But I'll let the course description speak for itself: "Throughout recorded human history, the acquisition of new knowledge through scientific discovery or technological invention has confronted human societies with ethical dilemmas. Students in this class will encounter these quandaries of the human condition by studying religious, literary, philosophical and scientific texts. The texts selected for this course explore the changing attitudes at various moments in history toward the need to forbid or control knowledge."

6. Marksmanship (University of Texas at El Paso). Not only can you learn how to shoot a .22 caliber rifle in this "advanced skill" class, you can repeat the class for credit.

7. Cowboys, Samurai, and Rebels in Film and Fiction (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Yep, a whole semester of watching Kurosawa films and getting college credit for it. Well, the actual description is, "Cross-cultural definitions of heroism, individualism and authority in film and fiction, with emphasis upon tales or images that have been translated across cultures."

zombies.jpg8. Zombies! The Living Dead in Literature, Film and Culture (University of Alabama). Are you kidding me!? I'd kill to take this class. It examines the parallels between Americans (living ones) and zombies, such as consuming goods not necessarily needed. The class also gets to go on a pretty awesome field trip "“ a zombie walk.

9. Hitchcock and His Influence (UCLA). Another one I would probably switch schools to sign up for. In the first seven weeks of the course, students watch and analyze Hitch's films; the last three weeks focus on screening Hitchcock-influenced films.

10. Honors Introduction to LEGO Robotics (Towson University). Remember LEGO Mindstorms? Basically they're Lego blocks with programmable parts including motors, sensors, gears, axles and beams. At Towson, you can play with them for credit. The childhood toys are used to each the basics of mechanics and electronics.

11. Shops and Shopping (Yale). Sweet. Hopefully it includes field trips, although that's not mentioned in the course description. Instead of bargain-hunting, this class claims to teach development of buildings specifically meant for shopping, evolution of packaging, the role of advertising and the suburbanization of shopping.

12. Pornography: Writing of Prostitutes (Wesleyan University). If you're caught looking at porn on a computer at the school library at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., just tell the librarian that you're doing homework. The course description says, "Our examination [of pornography] accordingly includes the implication of pornography in so-called perverse practices such as voyeurism, bestiality, sadism, and masochism, and considers the inflections of the dominant white-heterosexual tradition by alternative sexualities and genders, as well as by race, class, age, mental and physical competence. We also attempt to identify the factors, intrinsic and extrinsic, which align the pornographic impulse with revolutionary or conservative political practices. But our primary focus is on pornography as radical representations of sexuality whose themes are violation, degradation, and exposure." The class involves a project as part of the final "“ students have submitted performance art pieces, photography, videos and fiction writing.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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