Seeking a creative education

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added September 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

When most people think about college culture, they usually picture this dichotomy of stuffy academia that’s at odds with the free-spirited blind optimism of young students. This is mostly true, but there is plenty of gray area between the two. It’s in this gray space you find some of the more interesting and comical majors, minors and classes universities offer.

Here at Eastern Michigan University, these quirky courses are in no short supply. From a hip hop lyricism class to a major in therapeutic recreation, these innovative and slightly hilarious educational paths are definitely worth checking out.

Of all the classes offered at EMU, I have to say “Harry Potter:” Literary Allusion, Children’s Literature and Popular Culture is my favorite. This course uses the world-famous “Harry Potter” novels by British author J.K. Rowling as the basis for teaching some basic literary techniques.

For a longtime “Harry Potter” fan like me, this is a pleasant and fresh look at literature through a lens I already understand. I can definitely see how choosing this course over one of the other literary gen eds could help make your semester more pleasant. Not quite as pleasant as that time a gigantic bearded man tracked you down at your seaside cabin hideout, told you you’re a wizard and then took you on a shopping spree, but close.

“Harry Potter:” Literary Allusion, Children’s Literature and Popular Culture is listed in EMU’s course catalog as CHL 137.

Speaking of fresh takes on old standards, African American Studies 272, otherwise known as Hip Hop Lyricism in African American Culture, should definitely be a course that proves itself to be funky-fresh, dressed to impress and ready to party.

This class examines African American culture through the words and sounds of its storytellers. It does this by comparing the stories and lyrics of socially conscious hip-hop artists to the poetry and musical forms that came before hip-hop’s rise.

AAS 272 is a must for people who are interested in African American studies, have a passion for hip-hop or anyone who has ever had to use Urban Dictionary to understand a rap song.

What do Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Nero and Pericles have in common? Other than their historical infamy for being ruthless dictators, they’re also just a few of the power-hungry leaders you will learn about in HIST 104 – Quest For Power: Famous Figures in History.
In HIST 104 you will be examining the lives of major figures throughout history. This is accomplished with a combination of history and literature that gives you a unique look into the cultural times, as well as the minds of these polarizing historical figures.

This combination also allows HIST 104 to satisfy a literature and history requirement in one go. Why don’t you dictate your schedule and check out a class that might help you rule the world one day?

I think we’re all familiar with theory and philosophy courses, but are you familiar with the theory of soccer? What about the theory of football?

If you’re reading this with a quizzical expression spread across your face, don’t worry.

I was confused too. However, there’s nothing really complex going on here. EMU offers several theory courses in the athletic department that cover popular sports like track and field, basketball and baseball, as well as the aforementioned football and soccer. They also
offer a course on the theory of coaching swimming.

These courses are lecture-based and cover the basic fundamentals of their assigned sports.

Theory of Coaching Swimming has extra components that would help anyone who might want to coach swimming including stroke technique, applied physiology as well as strength and flexibility training.

You can find these courses in the course catalog under the prefix ATHL with course numbers from 262 through 269.

Having quirky courses is fine, but what if you want to find yourself a truly odd major or minor?

In that case you’re mostly out of luck. In the most current course catalog there are very few minors or majors that strike me as avant-garde.

If you think about it, this makes sense; I’m not sure how pertinent or useful a degree in clowning, procrastination, napping, hacky sack or beer pong would be, although I could ace three out of the five in my sleep. Make that four – I don’t like clowns.

The first major that piqued my interest was one I never thought existed. Therapeutic recreation is a real major that, once successfully completed, will grant you a Bachelor of Science degree in therapeutic recreation.

I searched around but still can’t quite figure out exactly what it is. From what I gather, it’s a therapy technique that uses recreation instead of psychology, or other more traditional forms of therapy.

Until I find out for sure, I’m content to think the classes for this major include THRC 101 – Napping , 360 – Advanced Strolling, 169 – Lollygagging and 203 – Intro to Kickball, Tag, Mother May I & Hide-and-Seek for non-majors.

The other major I found intriguing isn’t particularly odd, but it is really cool. Who knew we had an aviation flight technology major at EMU?

This program trains people to be entry-level pilots. I’m not sure about the entry-level part, but this 78-credit-hour major is one I’m sure more than a few people would enjoy.

Although there aren’t a great breadth of odd majors or minors, you can still have fun with all the various courses EMU offers.

With more than 4,000 courses in more than 130 departments, it should be easy to make an educational experience that’s all your own.

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