When forced to take classes that fulfill the core requirements, wanting to take ones with “easier” reputations is understandable. You might think there’s nothing more to the process than slogging through the class, collecting your ‘A’ and moving on with your college career, but there can be. You just have to be willing to put in the extra effort.
In the fall, I took introduction to justice and peace studies with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a course that can fulfill the human diversity core requirement, and I am more than satisfied with my decision.
Nelson-Pallmeyer gave us readings on the CIA’s development and use of an inhumane torture system carried out on thousands of innocent Iraqis. He taught us about nonviolent communication and its effectiveness for working through conflict. He emphasized how soon we’re going to have to face the complete transformation of the world’s energy sources and offered ways to make that transformation a more peaceful one.
What do all of these things have in common? They are applicable to the whole duration of one’s life. Because of Nelson-Pallmeyer’s course, I am now much more motivated to research and pick a political candidate that will stand for a more honest and just U.S. government. I try to incorporate nonviolent communication techniques into my life, and I do what I can to save energy and go green.
Sure, we had readings and reading summaries due for every class, and we also had to write a five-step research paper at the end of the semester. But the homework didn’t feel like homework – it felt like preparation for the rest of my life, all cheesiness aside.
Through this example, I’m trying to make the point that students should sign up for classes that may require more work but will benefit them in the long run.
Another class I would put into this category is general psychology with John Buri, which fulfills the social analysis requirement. Between explaining how the hippocampus creates new memories and how Ivan Pavlov discovered classical conditioning, Buri throws in insights about marriage, family and general relationships. He doesn’t treat the course as a laundry list of psychologists and their perspectives but rather an opportunity to meld information with guidance.
I understand that finding courses like this may be trickier in some requirement areas than others, but with a bit of work, it can be done. Just talk to upperclassmen who have taken their core classes or check out blog.RateMyProfessors.com. Do your digging, and you’ll find the hidden gems.
So, do you want a rich college experience that will allow you to march out of the arches with more than just head knowledge? Or do you want to blaze through your classes, rack up the ‘A’s’ and realize you’ve already forgotten everything you’ve learned and don’t have much to show for yourself? Do the research. Find the classes. Enjoy the ride.
Rita Kovtun can be reached at email@example.com.