Abnormal course offerings lighten up students’ schedules

Tony Carlucci samples some wine during Geography of Wine on Wednesday. Students from every major are eligible to take the course. Photo by Thomas Song.

Tony Carlucci samples some wine during Geography of Wine on Wednesday. Students from every major are eligible to take the course. Photo by Thomas Song.

Jenna Kuczkowski

English, math, science, repeat; is your schedule looking a little repetitious? If so, maybe you’d like to try taking one of Kent State’s many cool classes that are sure to take any topic and make it fun, exciting and a great learning experience.

One science class that’s sure to intrigue is ‘Seven Ideas That Shook The Universe’.

Not being your average physics class, Seven Ideas teaches you everyday science while giving students a tutorial on how things work in the universe and how it impacts them everyday.

Even more interesting are the two professors who teach it; they’ll knock your socks off with their in-class science demonstrations.

“The real objective is to help students understand the beauty and complexity of the vast universe in which we live,” said John Barrick, an associate lecturer in the Physics Department and one of the professors who teaches the class. “On the first day of class I say that if at the end of every class, you don’t walk out of class having said at least once during the hour, ‘Wow, that was interesting, I didn’t know that,’ I would be disappointed.”

Barrick said Seven Ideas has been one of the most popular courses at Kent State for several decades.

The class presents a compilation of topics explored by physicists such as heat, light, mechanics, nuclear physics and modern physics such as quantum mechanics and particle physics, he said.

“Such topics can be a little daunting to students not familiar with them, which is why we have endeavored to make these topics user-friendly by showing the role physics has in their lives,” Barrick said. “We don’t attempt to make them physicists, but show them how scientists approach the unknown of our complex universe. By using a host of teaching methods, especially demonstrations, a great percentage of students commonly respond that this class has not only helped them understand physics, but reduced their fear of science.”

In high school, you may have had to take a course on geography. At Kent State, students 21 and older have the option to put a twist on the subject and take the Geography of Wine class taught by professor Tony Carlucci.

The class covers wine appreciation, sensory evaluation, wine regions, grape varieties, wine and food pairing, and a sample of a number of drinks in the class during the semester.

“As wine is becoming very popular in society today, it’s important for my students to learn about the history and value of enjoying a glass of wine with your meal,” Carlucci said. “While on a date, business meeting or with family life, it’s great to know about a wonderful beverage that has been around since mankind has been on earth.”

Carlucci said he enjoys teaching the class and loves to see students taking an interest in learning about wine food education.

“Good dietary habits, wine and food knowledge is important, and they will be able to use (this knowledge) throughout their life and in their careers going forward after (Kent State),” Carlucci said.

Would you rather stay in bed all day and watch Netflix, or go to class lecture?

With Kent State’s Adult Swim class, you get the best of both worlds.

Ron Russo, a film professor, created a class where students review about 40 of the channel’s shows, including “Bob’s Burgers,” “Robot Chicken,” “Rick and Morty,” “Family Guy,” and other adult comedies.

Russo said since the Adult Swim channel features both established and emerging talent, it gives students the opportunity to compare shows and their characteristics.

Russo also teaches Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell classes, which requires students to review each actor’s respective bodies of work in chronological order.

Those works are primarily movies they star in, but also include appearances in TV shows, music and literature. Both actors have also made surprise appearances during the class via recorded messages to students.

“I created the courses and thrive on topics new to academia,” Russo said. “You would think analyzing comedy would have a negative effect on viewing enjoyment, but it is the exact opposite—understanding what they’re doing and what’s about to happen truly heightens enjoyment.”

All three of the courses Russo teaches are “world’s only,” meaning you won’t find them offered at any other university.

“I’m from the area and I’m getting a little bit of the national spotlight to shine here,” Russo said.

By taking one of the courses, Russo said students will gain a deep knowledge on the course subject, as well as a general knowledge of applicable comedy terms, and of how to conduct entertainment research.

The class is open to all majors and has no prerequisites.

If comedy and cartoons really aren’t your thing, don’t fret. Kent State also offers a class slightly scarier.

Horror Films and Environmental Geography is a course dedicated to horror and sci-fi movies, and social awareness.

Emariana Widner, a geography associate professor, teaches the class and said the course examines both environmental and social awareness of issues through the movies.

“Pop culture often provides insight into our social consciousness,” Widner said. “Many notable environmental horror films emerged concurrent with the beginnings of the modern American environmental movement.”

Widner said students who take the course will examine several types of horror and sci-fi films  that reflect environmental concerns.

“We start with the cult classic ‘Gojira,’ also pronounced ‘Godzilla,’ in 1954 and trace how these films reflect the concerns of the society in which they emerged. Then we conclude with ‘The Road,’” Widner said. “In addition to mainstream films and scientific articles, we also watch and discuss short independent films from FutureStates TV.”

Widner said she enjoys teaching the class because she finds it fascinating to hear how students interpret everything from the content to the production quality from their “modern” understanding.

“What is interesting about this class is in the ‘50s to ‘80s, environmental horror films are generally centered around a single issue such as nuclear radiation or pollution. Modern films tend to be more apocalyptic,” Widner said. “Why? Have we given up? Do students feel that it’s too late to take action? It’s interesting to discuss this with students in the context of, ‘Where do we go from here?’”

The icing on the cake of this class, though, is that it’s only  five weeks and begins about a week before Halloween—perfect to put you in that spooky sort of mood as well as teach you something new.

So whether it’s about Godzilla or wine, taking a cool class at Kent State is sure to brighten any semester blues.