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The History of Hipsters, Aliens, & Ignorance! : 10 College Courses This Fall

Oh, to be young again.

We had our student interns – who are far more "in-the-know" – comb course lists for fall's best and brightest college-class offerings.

One of the best aspects of college life is the ability to cherry-pick your own class schedule. Once your GEs are in the bag, the university is your oyster to do as you will — given those nagging major requirements don't get too much in the way. To relive these fleeting moments of academic opportunity, we rounded-up the classes we were most excited about, induced the largest amount of jealousy, or prompted us to reconsider returning to the quad for an unanticipated year as a Super Senior.


Welcome back, everybody: class is in session.

"The Science of Happiness"

School: University of California, Berkeley

Instructor: Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology, and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, neuroscientist.

About the Course: End of summer blues bumming you out? Fear not, at UC Berkeley, you can attend a free (!) ten-week seminar on the science of positive psychology. The course hones in on what factors lead to a happy lifestyle, all pointing towards the answer of happiness being derived from contributing to "the greater good". The course is interdisciplinary, spanning over "the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.

The Ideal Student: If you're not that into science, this is probably a good class to take to fill that gen-ed requirement because the subject matter is so relatable. Aren't we all just on the pursuit of happiness? Or maybe you've been down on your luck lately, and you're looking for a way to turn the tables. Regardless, this course fits our schedule perfectly.


"The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture"

School: Smithsonian Institution

Instructor: Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, The Avengers , X-Men, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, amongst others, David and Michael Uslan, entertainment executives, and Dr. Christopher Robichaud, lecturer in ethics and public policy.

About the Course: Look back to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology, and you'll see that the obsession with superheroes has existed since the dawn of time. In this course, you'll learn about how the culture of the superhero has evolved with it's society, circling all the way back up to modern times with Spiderman, Iron Man, The Avengers, etc. Good news, this 5-week course is also free of charge.


The Ideal Student: Comic-book nerds and pop-culture historians, assemble! This class is perfect for you, and we'll see ya there.


School: Australian National University

Instructor: Michael Smithson, professor in the Research School of Psychology, and Gabriele Bammer, professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in the Research School of Population Health.

About the Course: Check your privilege at the door at Ignorance! the class that reconciles how people deal with things that are unknown to them. For five weeks, the questions "Where does ignorance come from? How do we impose ignorance on each other, and even on ourselves? And why? We usually think about ignorance as a bad thing, but can it be preferable not to know something? How do we use ignorance?" will be explored and possibly answered. Say so long to the days of treading lightly over topics unfamiliar.

The Ideal Student: Either the most socially-aware or the least socially-aware person can and should take this course. Get ready for some heated discussion.


"The Hunger Games: Class, Politics, and Marketing"

School: American University

Instructor: Stef Woods, American Studies instructor

About the Course: The Hunger Games' wild popularity has to have a reason behind it. The series took the American population's attention in a stronghold for a while, and maybe it's because the fictional, dystopian world of Panem isn't too far off from the world as we know it. Gaping wealth disparity, a bleak obsession over reality television, and a general sense of distrust towards a government are a few of Panem's qualities that hit a little too close to home. Through this course, the professor will use The Hunger Games as case-study to interpret the current American political situation.


The Ideal Student: Nihilists who see modern society as a dystopia in it's own right, and Liam Hemsworth fangirls alike can comfortably fit into this class' rhetoric.

"Hip & Cool: A Study of Distinction and Exclusion"

School: Occidental College

Instructor: Terri Anderson, professor of Sociology

About the Course: The "hipster" goes far beyond the vinyl section of an Urban Outfitters. Or does it? In this class, the way whatever and whoever's considered "cool" shapeshifts through history will be inspected through a rhetorical lense. We've always wanted to know the difference between a cool cat and a lamestain, so we're signed up for this class.

The Ideal Student: People who both cherish and detest the hipster will have their interest piqued in this class. And probably pretty much everyone living in Echo Park.


"Divergent Experiments: Roleplaying Games on the Margins from Dungeons to Do"

School: New York University

Instructor: Naomi Clark, freelance game-designer

About the Course: No other roleplaying game has held such a resonance with gaming communities at Dungeons and Dragons. From the ground-up, the mechanics of the roleplaying game will be examined and explored with a critical eye. And yes, the games will be played in class.

The Ideal Student: Humans, elves, wizards, and the like.


"Code as Medium"

School: Rhode Island School of Design

Instructor: Evelyn Eastmond, coder and artist


About the Course: In this class, programming code crosses mediums from the analytical to the creative. "Creative coding" sounds like an oxymoron, but through design practices and a keen observation of how modern artists use code for new media work, the relevance of code in fine art suddenly seems paramount.

The Ideal Student: Tech-nerds and design-nerds will be filling seats fast in this classroom.

"Aliens: Close-Encounters of a Multi-Disciplinary Kind"

School: American University

Instructor: Salman Hameed, phD in Astronomy

About the Course: What are aliens and how has TV and pop culture shaped our view of them? Similar to the course in superheroes, our relationship with aliens can be seen as allegorical for the world around us. Whether it be red-scare riddled Them! from 1954, or last year's Guardians of the Galaxy's indirect address of "other"-ing, what America chooses to see as alien means something beyond the silver-screen.

The Ideal Student: That kid who always says goodbye with a "Live Long and Prosper" hand-motion.

"Experimental Writing: Uncreative Writing"

School: University of Pennsylvania

Instructor: Kenneth Goldsmith, writer and editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews

About the Course: In a period of time where almost every popular song samples at least two other previously existing songs (lookin' at you, Yeezy), the concept of creativity is changing. What is it to be original? In the sphere of creative writing, the line between creatively "borrowing" and straight-up plagiarism has not yet been clearly defined. In this course, you'll learn the ropes of plagiarizing with some creative dignity.


The Student: Creative writing majors who need a break.

"Wasting Time On The Internet"

School: University of Pennsylvania

Instructor: Kenneth Goldsmith, writer and editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews

About the Course: "Could we reconstruct our autobiography using only Facebook? Could we write a great novella by plundering our Twitter feed?Could we reframe the internet as the greatest poem ever written?" asks this courses description. This poses an interesting discussion based on how often the generation of kids going through college right now get scrutinized for living their lives online. One thing's for sure, it would be really easy to do your homework during class.

The Student: Those among us who wish to hone their innate milennial talents through rigorous study and expert instruction.

See you in school, kids.


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