You might think of college as a time to knuckle down on Marxist theory, organic chemistry, advanced French poetry, and other courses involving copious note-taking and tortuous final exams—but while you’re likely to deal with plenty of complex courses, many schools also offer a selection of subjects on the lighter side. While these courses may not be any easier to pass than their classic counterparts, they sure seem like a lot more fun.
Whether you’re a Harry Potter obsessive, a Trekkie, or a daytime court show junkie, you’re sure to find something to appeal to you here—check out My College Guide’s list of the top five unique college courses.
Science from Superheroes to Global Warming – UC Irvine
Did you ever wonder how exactly Spiderman climbs those 500-foot skyscrapers? How did Superman get his x-ray vision? In the freshman-level course “Science from Superheroes to Global Warming” at University of California, Irvine, Professor Michael Dennin ponders these and other physics-based questions with his students, helping them learn about the properties of physics through an exploration of iconic superheroes and their powers. It’s probably one of the only classes in the world where Marvel Comics are required reading – and best of all, if you can’t make it to Irvine, you can take the course online for free, through UC Irvine’s OpenWare program.
Religions of Star Trek – Muhlenberg College
In Professor Susan Schwartz’s “Religions of Star Trek” class at Muhlenberg College, students watch episodes of the classic show and discuss the religious views of Captain Spock and the rest of the crew. Though the course deals with fictionalized religions, it provides the students with a lens to look at ethics and religion as a whole, without focusing on the religions that they know. The course lets students “step back and look at religion as part psychology, part philosophy, part artistic expression and performance ritual,” Schwartz told the Christian Science Monitor.
Learning from YouTube – Pitzer College
If YouTube has taught you anything, it’s probably something along the lines of not to go sticking your fingers into baby’s mouths. But according to Alexandra Juhasz, a media studies professor from Pitzer College, the massive video site has plenty to teach us about society. In the class, students are required to watch YouTube videos and leave comments, and even upload their own videos to the site (including profound thought pieces like a video of a boy eating a ham sandwich). Fittingly, the class is also available on YouTube for public viewing.
What can Judge Judy teach you about the legal system? Probably not much, actually—but in this Rhetoric class at UC Berkeley, students will learn about the subversion of logic common to court TV shows, in which defendants repeatedly use nonsensical arguments. The course stresses that it is not a primer in legal studies, but rather an exploration of reality TV pseudo-logic, and why so many people seem to fall for it. But if courthouse reality shows are your guilty pleasure, this class provides the perfect justification for flipping on the TV every morning. Just remember to take notes!
Harry Potter 101 – various schools
Finally, where would we be without a college course dedicated to the teachings of J.K. Rowling? There are many courses that analyze the science, philosophy, and literary pedigree of the entire Harry Potter oeuvre, so take your pick from the lot. Even the Ivies are getting in on the act: Yale now offers Christian Theology and Harry Potter, which analyzes the world of the warlock, and how it fits with Christian themes like innocence, sin, and resurrection. Harry Potter may not seem like the academic type, but the books are actually a perfect fit: since most college students have grown up reading about the child warlock, he’s the perfect guide to more challenging subjects. “It’s amazing how many connections you can draw between the theology that we’re reading outside of class and the Harry Potter that we’ve known for 10 years,” a student from the course, Cat Terrell, told CNN.
Whether you’ve already graduated or you’re currently sifting through course catalogs, you’re sure to have stumbled on some other wacky course offerings. Tell us about your favorites in the comment section below!
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Tags: bizarre college classes, captain spock, college, college courses, harry potter, judge judy, michael dennin, muhlenberg college, religions of star trek, star trek, superheroes, susan schwartz, uc irvine, unique college, university of california irvine, weird courses, youtube