SHU offers unique undergraduate classes

 

In the modern day and age, colleges have branched out from traditional curricula to incorporate some classes that may be considered unique. Seton Hill University (SHU) is one such institution working to create courses that reflect an evolving and diversified generation.

One such class adored by music majors is rhythmics, taught by associate professor Laurie Jones.

“Rhythmics is about learning to internalize and feel music. You can’t get caught up in the mathematics; music is about emotion. Emotion is why we fall in love with music in the first place,” said Kyle Jackson, music therapy major.

“One of the requirements for the class is being barefoot or wearing socks. It helps you feel the rhythm better. Sometimes it’s really quite strange. First we’re warming up to the Jackson Five. The next thing we know we’re trying to keep time by bouncing tennis balls and none of them are going the way they’re supposed to; there’s balls flying all over the rehearsal hall. It’s bizarre and strange and I love it,” said Nikki Decker, music education major.

If feeling rhythm fails to tickle your fancy, perhaps you might try your hand out at cooking. The food, science and technology course is a lecture and lab duo that explores society’s relationship with food.

“The class is just really interesting. We learn about all the scientific aspects of food, how to make it, how food and food technology are used in today’s world, etc. You wouldn’t believe how much science goes into making cheese. I enjoy it because it’s not just a cooking class, even though you learn how to make really bomb banana bread,” said Jared Bogolea, hospitality and tourism management major.

Unique classes are not just major specific. Fundamentals of criminalistics serves not only as the introduction to a forensic science major, but can also fulfill the science requirements for SHU’s liberal arts core. The course, as well as subsequent criminalistics courses, features the use of the crime house, an on-campus site used for the set-up and investigation of hypothetical crime scenes.

“The crime house is the vital link between what we learn in lecture and what we do in the field. You put concepts into practice there. It gives a really accurate taste of what forensic science is really like,” said associate professor Diana Hoover, one of the course’s teachers, during her presentation at a recent Lifeboat event in which professors had to defend their profession in order to be saved on a hypothetical lifeboat.

In addition to these traditional classes, SHU is resurrecting one of its most unusual classes in the upcoming spring semester. For the first time since 2011, the Twilight Feminist Readings course is being offered by associate professor Laura Patterson.

“A lot of people heard about the course when I was a student and sort of laughed at the idea of a class about Twilight, but they didn’t realize that the Twilight series is a reflection of today’s culture. I agree that it’s a little sad that Twilight actually influences our society, but it does – especially in the way young girls view themselves and relationships. Dr. Patterson taught us about the history of feminism, a movement that strives for equality for all, and through coursework and class discussions, I learned a lot about myself as well,” said Karyssa Blair, a SHU alumni.

Twilight feminist readings is an interdisciplinary course, welcoming students of all areas of study.

“We always have a very diversified group. Some people come simply because they need the literature credit, others come for the feminist aspect and some are just die hard Twilight fans,” Patterson said, “It always makes for an interesting discussion.”

In addition to covering basic feminist theory and reading the four books in the saga, Patterson also makes it a point to spend some time studying the social implications of the book.

“We look at the whole cultural phenomenon surrounding Twilight. We look at the fan fiction; we look at the advertising, the t-shirts, the keychains. There’s a whole media machine out there. We also watch and analyze all the films. We make it a point to be fully aware of understanding Twilight’s tremendous fan base,” said Patterson.

“Dr. Patterson made the classroom a place where opinions were welcomed and shared. I think it’s important to mention this. Whenever a topic like feminism is up for discussion, opinions can be strong, even fixed. I never felt my thoughts would be dismissed in that class. Though, they were often challenged. I learned more from the class than I anticipated,” said April Minerd, SHU alumni. Both Minerd and Blair recommend taking the course regardless of major.

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