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Top 10 Strangest College Courses


Man teaching students in lecture hall

College courses cover a diverse range of topics: from accounting to acupuncture, zoology to Zarathustra.

Most college courses still cover traditional academic topics. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the strangest college courses in America. Would you be interested in taking any of these?

1. Maple Syrup: The Real Thing

This college course, taught in the Alfred University honors program, combines chemistry, botany, meteorology and art. It explores the history of maple syrup production.

 2. Arguing With Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows

The University of California, Berkeley, where this course is taught, emphasizes that this is not a course on law or legal reasoning. It’s a college course on logical fallacies presented by defendants and plaintiffs on court TV shows such as “Judge Judy”.

 3. Sociology of Fame and Lady Gaga

Students don’t watch music videos during this college course at the University of South Carolina. Instead, students focus on sociology and the culture of fame, as exemplified by Lady Gaga.

 4. Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond

Taught in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Linguistics, this college course focuses on “the art, ideas and goals behind invented languages”. Students use film and video games, among other sources, to discuss linguistic theory.

 5. Zombies in Popular Media

At Columbia College Chicago, students can explore the history of the zombie through literature, comics and film.

6. Underwater Basket-Weaving

“Underwater basket-weaving” is an idiom for what is considered a “throw-away” elective – however, this informal, non-credit class has been offered.

Taught at both Reed College of Portland, Oregon and the University of California, San Diego, underwater basket-weaving involves making wicker baskets by dipping reeds or stalks of plants into water, and letting them soak.

7. Learning From YouTube

The media studies department of Pitzer College in southern California offers this college course to its students. The class involves students watching and discussing YouTube videos, as well as uploading videos of their own.

This college course is meant to study YouTube as a cultural phenomenon.

8. Philosophy and Star Trek

For all you Trekkies out there, this is the college course for you! This class, offered by Georgetown University, synthesizes pop culture and philosophy by using one as a means to discuss the other.

9. The Joy of Garbage

This college course is offered by Santa Clara University, and examines garbage through a scientific lens.

Students learn about decomposition, nuclear waste, what makes things rot and what chemicals are attributed to the stench that garbage gives off. This college course includes field trips to sanitation plants and landfills!

10. The Science of Superheroes

University of California at Irvine offers this unusual college course to teach its students physics. The syllabus uses familiar icons like Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to explain key physics concepts.

Exploring college courses outside of your college major and minor can be very rewarding. There are likely some quirky electives in your college course book that you’re not aware exist. They’ll add variety to your schedule – and are some of the most memorable college courses!

3 Responses to “Top 10 Strangest College Courses”

  1. Ron Voss Says:

    1. Underwater Basket-Weaving

    Great sensationalism, but it’s not a college course at Reed. It’s a relaxing diversion activity during the Paideia break between the Fall and Spring semesters.

  2. Diane Says:

    What’s Paideia?

  3. Jess Says:

    I took a class in college on children’s literature. It was actually an interesting class with academic value, and I got to write my final paper on “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in comparison with “His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass.”

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