Friday, June 21, 2013

Topics Classes at UT Tyler

     A problem I often run into when enrolling for a new semester is a lack of variety with available courses for my major. Since our university has a low-to-medium student population, there are fewer professors for each department, meaning they often have to stack the amount of courses they teach per semester, and they often repeat the courses available to students. However, they will sometimes offer topics classes for individual departments, which always are a great opportunity for students looking for a fun course with an interesting content base.

     Created at the discretion of the professor, topics classes will range in content material, so long as they fit within the overall curriculum for the intended major.  The great thing about topics courses is the content discussed and how interesting it can be.  There have been courses in the past that discuss various fun subjects, such as Batman and his involvement with forensic science, anthropology and Cyborgs, Philosophy and the hit show The Wire, and many others.  These classes often go in-depth into content areas that the professor is very passionate about, either from past work in the area, or something that they wish to delve into further with their students.

    Rhetoric in Video Games: the only time where you can
claim playing Portal is educational.
     At UT Tyler, I have enrolled in three Topics courses, all of which have had very enthralling topic areas.  The first was Rhetoric in Video Games, taught by Dr. Charles Walts in the UT Tyler Department of Communication.  The class intends to discuss the rhetorical viewpoints of video games, a media source that is rapidly growing in relevance in modern society.  For three weeks (it was a Maymester course), we played games such as Portal, Left 4 Dead 2, Auditorium, and several others, creating a fun atmosphere for all students enrolled, even if they were not Communication majors. 

     Another class was Introduction to Global Studies, taught by Dr. Amentahru Wahlrab in the UT Tyler Department of Political Science, a class intended to discuss the spreading influence of Globalization around the world, and the implications that it has for all members within.  Dr. Wahlrab has studied for many years within this subject, which allowed for many in-depth discussions about what globalization is, and how it can affect the world on several levels. 
A Chuck Norris movie
in a college class? Duh.
     I am currently enrolled in Rhetoric of Terror and Horror, in the Communication department once again with Dr. Walts, where we discuss the rhetorical implications of domestic and foreign terrorism, and how these implications affect us on a personal and national level.  This class is a lot of fun, as we plan to watch films such as The Delta Force, Team America, The Omen, and others in order to understand the topic further.

     These are the types of classes that are available to all students at UT Tyler, and they are highly beneficial to the academic progress both undergraduate and graduate students.  Not only does it count for an elective credit for both majors and non-majors in certain fields, but also they are highly specific classes that will delve into a topic that most classes do not.  Since the professors get to choose the topics being discussed, they are more passionate about their topics class than they are for other classes they are required to teach.
Studies prove that as college classes increase in size,
educational quality decreases.
Another reason why topics classes are fantastic!
     If you are interested in enrolling in one of these classes, you should act quickly!  They fill up fast during the enrollment process, and they are often intended to have a smaller student count.  The reasoning for this is that most professors want their topics class to be discussion-based, rather than lecture-based, and having a full class discussion is nearly impossible with more than 20-25 students.  If you happen to miss the opportunity to enroll, or the class you seek is not available for the targeted semester, talk to your department head and request that the class be renewed! Often times, the individual departments will not renew a topics class unless they are sure there will be enough students guaranteed to enroll.  

     These classes are well worth your time, because you will never have another opportunity to discuss something you truly enjoy in context of your field of study.  Check it out now!

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