25 EPIC College Courses

These wacky courses may be offered at a college near you.

Elizabeth Hoyt

July 27, 2016

25 EPIC College Courses

From wacky to fabulous, colleges and universities are offering courses that classify as downright epic to their students.

The pros? The interesting approaches may engage students in subjects that they may not otherwise have paid attention or expressed interest in.

Schools also argue that the offbeat courses breed creativity and provides different ways of looking at the usual or mundane.

Cons? Some might say these courses are just a waste of time, tuition and ultimately are flashy attempts to attract students to campus – even though most have valid subject matter behind the catchy titles.

Feelings aside, everyone can agree that the below courses are among both the funniest and the most peculiar courses around. Furthermore, students will undoubtedly look forward to attending any of these courses – the subject matters leave nothing to be desired and many jazz up otherwise boring subjects, too!

1. Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior

Michigan State University

This online course allows MSU students and students from other colleges to take the course for credit. You can also enroll as a member of the general public without credit. That way, nobody is left to fend for themselves in the event of – you guessed it – a zombie apocalypse.

You’ll explore how humans behave during catastrophes and the idea behind why some humans are able to survive better than others through experiencing challenges and tasks as a simulated student survivor within a group of other student survivors.

2. Oberlin’s ExCo Courses: “Beginning Dungeons and Dragons,” “Beginner Beekeeping,” “Tarot,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” etc.

Oberlin’s Experimental College (ExCo)

Oberlin’s Experimental College is actually an organization run by its students, which offers a myriad of unique courses. The cool part? Participants can earn credits for unusual subjects, like “Beginning Dungeons and Dragons,” “Beginner Beekeeping,” “Tarot,” “Calvin and Hobbes” and more!

3. How to Stage a Revolution

Massachusets Institute of Technology (MIT)

This MIT course explores the cause and effect of both public and political transformations of government. You’ll learn about revolutionaries and radicals throughout history, examining the impact and meaning of a revolution.

4. The Joy of Garbage

Santa Clara University

This course uses garbage as a gateway to studying aspects of environmental science like decomposition, recycling, waste management, sustainability and nuclear waste. If that doesn’t get you excited, this certainly will: there are class field trips to sanitation plants and landfills. Form one line, please.

5. Special Topics: The Myth of the Android; Alien Sex

Selznick School of Film Preservation

This course is part of the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation. Apparently, it explores sexual issues that pertain to humans. And non-humans. Non-humans meaning aliens.

How they know what those issues are is anyone’s guess, but they are probably interesting issues, nonetheless.

6. Ice Cream Short Course

Pennsylvania State University

Have you ever wondered how Ben and Jerry got into the ice cream industry? They actually began by taking this course! Learn the ins and outs of the ice cream industry “cow to cone.”

At the end of the day, many of these course titles are a little more than misleading. Anything that entices a student to attend class and revitalizes attention in classic subjects is a bonus in our book, as long as colleges know where to draw the line between looking at a subject in a different light versus ignoring classic subjects all together.

As with most things, however, there are exceptions to every rule. If a course seems like a waste of time and money, it probably is.

7. Tree Climbing

Cornell University

Why learn to climb a tree as a kid when you can grow up and pay a college to teach you by taking this course? Clearly, you’ll be much better at it than that little boy down the street because you’re a college-level tree climber.

8. The Game of Thrones

University of Virginia

This course examines the work of George R.R. Martin through the reading of one of his novels and the popular HBO series based on his fiction series. For those staying up late-night watching the show anyway, why not get credit for it?

9. Street-Fighting Mathematics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Math and street-fighting typically don’t go hand-in-hand but, in this course, students learn the possibilities that movements and rhythms of fighting can be examined through mathematical patterns.

10. Nip, Tuck, Perm, Pierce, Tattoo, Embalm: Adventures with Embodied Culture

Alfred University

This course explores human behavior in terms of body medication throughout different cultures. Students will look at different customs to answer questions like, “How?,” “Why?” and “What does it mean?”

11. Film Genre: The Zombie Film

University of California-Berkeley Whether you’re a zombie fanatic or just looking to mentally prepare for the zombie apocalypse, this course sounds pretty amazing. Seriously, what other course can you get credit for watching zombie flicks and talking about them with your buddies afterwards? It sounds like a Friday night. Get credit while you can.

12. Science from Superheroes to Global Warming

University of California-Irvine

We’re hoping this course is as cool as the title but know it’s unlikely since the lessons are all based around physics.

The exciting part is that students can, at the very least, learn about physics in relation to flying like Superman, the strength of Spidey’s web in addition to other superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman (along with how the world around us is changing). If you have to take physics, this is definitely a super way to do it.

13. Zombies in Popular Media

Columbia College-Chicago

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to a course about zombies given the recent popularity within society. This course allows you to explore how, where and why zombies have taken over our screens and other forms of media. Get credit for reading zombie lit, comics and watching zombie films simply because you can.

14. Punk Culture: The Aesthetics and Politics of Refusal

Cornell University

Believe it or not, this is a university course at Cornell, though the title may be misleading. The course focuses on the what punk culture represents, “a complex critical stance of resistance and refusal that coalesced at a particular historical moment in the mid-1970s, and continues to be invoked, revived, and revised.” Students within the course will explore the origins, globally and within the U.S. and influences across race, culture, gender and more. Plus, you’ll learn about the ongoing influences within modern society.

15. Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion from Stonehenge to Harry Potter

Oberlin College

Within this course, students will explore magical ideas that have been juxtaposed with religion throughout history, specifically within the United Kingdom. According to the course catalog, there are tons of sweet field trips and you’ll learn everything from six major periods in history: from Stonehenge and the Druids to Tolkein and Harry Potter. Also – this course is taught in London. What more could you want?

16. The Undead…Live! Vampires on Stage

Cornell University

Move over zombies – make room for a vampire course! Technically a first-year writing seminar, students will explore vampires within a range of plays and explore their role throughout history. You’ll learn about how vampires are portrayed and why which sounds pretty interesting.

17. Taboos

American University

Everything within this course is so taboo! Students will explore taboo topics like “sexuality, witchcraft, cannibalism, human-animal relations, madness, and death,” in addition to exploring why taboos emerge within society, how society enforces them and what happens when they’re violated. Sounds like this course can easily keep our attention!

18. The Art of Walking

Centre College

You walk anyway, so why not get course credit for it? The course touches upon walking as a lost form of transportation that has fallen behind automobiles and other faster methods of transport.

Since it’s part of the study abroad curriculum, you get to do so while exploring awesome countries. Students will follow lesson plans based around walking and its relation to beauty and art in the new areas around them.

19. Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

University of South-Carolina Columbia

Fascinated with The Fame Monster? Students who have taken this course could pinpoint why. The focus of the course is “to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga.”

For die-hard fans thinking this course is the answer to all their prayers, don’t transfer schools quite yet.

The syllabus clearly spells out that “This is not a course in music or cultural studies. Although some familiarity with the artistry of Lady Gaga will be useful, this course instead focuses on the societal contexts of Lady Gaga’s rise to fame. These social issues, furthermore, are explored from a scholarly perspective that is grounded in the theoretical traditions of sociology. Thus, this is not a course in Lady Gaga but in sociology; and it is not a course about Lady Gaga as much as about the culture of the fame as exemplified by the career of Lady Gaga.” A little misleading with the title but, likely, interesting nonetheless.

20. Tattoos in American Popular Culture

Pitzer College

If you’re a fan of unique ink, look no further. This course examines American tattoo culture and its roots, exploring how the popular culture of cool ink has developed into a sub-culture over the years and how it relates to race, class, gender and sexuality.

21. Philosophy and Star Trek

Georgetown University

This course gives students the opportunity to use class as an excuse to watch Star Trek. No joke. Then, they get to analyze it repeatedly in class by applying themes to major philosophical questions that have to do with time, reality, a person’s identity and free will–all of which may or may not exist.

22. #SelfieClass

University of Southern California

Explore the rise of the selfie within this course, which is actually a writing course. From what we understand, you’ll take selfies and then reflect on questions regarding yours – and other popular selfie-takers within society. You see them every day, why not understand a little bit more about them? Plus, you’ll really amp up your selfie game.

23. History of Toys

Otis College of Art and Design

While this course is intended for toy design majors, it still sounds pretty cool. Students will study toys throughout history – including social and cultural perspective on both toys and games. You’ll also explore the development of the toy industry as well as the creation of toys and their uses within society.

24. Comics and Graphic Novels

University of Pennsylvania

Not into traditional literature? Then this is the perfect course for you! You’ll have a course filled with graphic novels and comics throughout history and learn about the rise of the genre.

At the end of the day, many of these course titles are a little more than misleading. Anything that entices a student to attend class and revitalizes attention in classic subjects is a bonus in our book, as long as colleges know where to draw the line between looking at a subject in a different light versus ignoring classic subjects all together.

As with most things, however, there are exceptions to every rule. If a course seems like a waste of time and money, it probably is.

25. We Can Be Herores: Superheroes and their Audiences

Cornell University

People have been fascinated with the idea of a superhero for generations.This writing seminar course explores why – and what types of people become fans of superheroes. You’ll explore different types of heroes, fans and learn about both the history of the superhero to the role within today’s popular culture.



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