Most colleges offer a fairly large amount of majors and minors for any student seeking a degree. Consequently, most must offer a wide variety of classes that are tailored to satisfy different students’ requirements – or, simply, to satisfy their interests. From biology and chemistry labs, to the study of 19th century Russian literature or paleontology, the options are truly endless. However, most of the classes on offer are fairly standard, right? Well, not quite.
After all, with students’ busy schedules and full course loads, sometimes you have to throw in a class that’s just a bit more fun than practical. It’s specifically for that reason that most colleges will have a bit of wiggle room in every degree for students to explore some options that are just personal interests, not necessarily relevant to their degree. And you’d be surprised at the creativity and craziness of some of those classes. We’re not sure how the colleges end up settling on the ideas for these classes and who is responsible, but we tip our hat to whoever’s in charge, because these classes are insane..
Here are 10 weird college classes you didn’t know you could take. Try not to rush straight to the respective colleges to sign yourself up, though we know they sound pretty darn cool.
10. Politicizing Beyoncé
Okay, anyone who is obsessed with Queen B (read – pretty much everyone) will be doing a double take if they ever glanced across the courses in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Why, you ask? Well, they offer a course focused totally on Beyoncé. No, it’s not a class that teaches you how to do all her iconic dance moves and channel her fierceness – instead, it positions the pop superstar “as a progressive, feminist, and even queer figure” and juxtaposes her iconic songs and music videos along readings dealing with the history of black feminist struggle in the U.S.
9. To Hogwarts, Harry: An Intensive Study of Harry Potter through the British Isles
This class is moreso one of the coolest vacations ever than a simple college class. It’s offered in the Department of English and Study Abroad program at Central Michigan University. Basically, students read J.K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series (or, we’re guessing, re-read in many cases) and discuss it in class. Then, they go to the U.K. for 10 days to visit historical places in the U.K. that are either seen in the films, or that provided Rowling with some inspiration. They get to visit things like the Bodleian Library at Oxford University to Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, no Defense against the Dark Arts – but maybe that’s a good thing, judging by how those courses often ended up in the books!
8. Learning From YouTube
While media studies classes may have focused primarily on film, television, and radio once upon a time, in the modern age it’s become increasingly necessary to focus on online entities. From print magazines crafting web presences to podcasts available online to the hundreds and thousands of YouTube superstars, the internet is a huge part of today’s media. So, Pitzer College in Claremont, California decided to offer a course focused on what YouTube can teach us. The professor described YouTube as “postmodern television,” and students weren’t just encouraged to engage theoretically – they watched videos, posted comments, and were even encouraged to post videos of their own. We wonder how many adorable animal videos they could get away with watching ‘for research’?
7. California Here We Come: The O.C. & Self-Aware Culture of 21st Century America
From the geeky, plastic horse-toting Seth Cohen, to the iconic relationship between Seth and Summer, to the damaged rich girl Marissa and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Ryan Atwood, everyone who grew up in a certain era was obsessed with The O.C. So imagine our delight when the Department of English at Duke University designed a course aimed at exploring the “hyper self-awareness” within the O.C. universe, as well as Californian exceptionalism and singularity, girl culture, 21st century suburban revivalism and more. Oh, and in case that wasn’t cool enough, there will be a few detours to The Hills, Laguna Beach, and the Upper East Side, Gossip Girl style. I mean, Duke needs to put this course online, like, yesterday.
6. The Sociology of Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is probably one of the most puzzling celebrities that people are obsessing over lately. I mean, the transformation from squeaky clean Hannah Montana-playing Disney princess to the often lewd, crude, platinum blonde sex symbol was truly shocking, particularly since it seemed to happen so quickly. Apparently, Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York thought that the pop starlet’s transformation merited some study, as they crafted a class on the sociology of Miley Cyrus. The class will look at the primary sources (material produced by Cyrus or her contemporaries) to analyze things like race, class, and gender, and will take “a feminist critique of media and sociology of media approach to the Miley ‘problem.” Fascinating!
5. The Physics of Star Trek
Okay, Trekkies, this one is for you. While any class in the Department of Physics will likely be interesting to someone who has selected physics as their major, the subject has a bit of a reputation for difficulty, so it’s easy to see why non-physics majors might be scared away. However, Santa Clara University has introduced a bit of pop culture into a particular physics course, and we’re betting that a much more diverse group of students are signing up to take it. The class uses the television show Star Trek to discuss everything from Newton’s physics to the Standard Model of particle physics by analyzing things that make an appearance in Star Trek like transporter beams and warp drive.
4. The Hunger Games: Class, Politics, and Marketing
Given the obsession that our society has for The Hunger Games franchise, both the books and the movies, it’s really not surprising that a college course centered on Katniss, Peeta and company popped up. American University in Washington, D.C., proves that their Hunger Games-centric course isn’t just a study of the fandoms that emerged from the books – it uses the books as a case study to example everything from oppression to feminism, rebellion, food deserts, social media marketing, and the publishing industry. Despite the books being associated with tweens, they do contain some pretty heavy subjects, so we’re betting this class would be both fun and intellectually stimulating.
3. Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior
Someone at Michigan State University has been watching a few too many episodes of The Walking Dead, as they crafted a course dealing with zombies and their impact. It’s not just a study of the flesh-eating creatures, though – the course raises questions such as why certain characters in zombie fiction survive while others don’t, what the implications are for disaster management and more. And, good news guys – it’s not just restricted to Michigan State University students. The generous zombie-loving instructors have created a fully online course that anyone can register in. You better register quickly – who knows when you might need the skills studied in the course.
Have you ever watched a film from the Lord of the Rings franchise, or read any of Tolkien’s books, and wished that you knew the magical-sounding language known as Sindarin, or more colloquially, Elvish? Well, it doesn’t need to be a dream, and you don’t need to figure out how to teach yourself. The University of Wisconsin has a course taught by the leading expert in Sindarin, David Salo. Salo was actually the one who was contracted to help with all Elvish language items in the films, from the actual dialogue to inscriptions, and was also the Tolkien language consultant for The Hobbit franchise. Salo needs to craft some online courses available to Tolkien enthusiasts worldwide.
1. Pet Apparel Fashion and Design
If you’ve ever wandered into a pet store, you know that the clothing options for your favorite four-legged creatures are truly endless. Some pet apparel items are designed out of necessity, such as boots or socks to protect tender paws from ice outside. However, let’s be honest – some are just for the cute factor. Every pet parent wants to be able to have their fur baby looking their best, and as a result, the market for pet apparel continues to grow. Students at FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology) can take some time between brushing up on haute couture techniques and designer history to learn how to craft animal apparel. Hey, they have to learn somewhere, right?