Dirty Dozen Exposes Absurd College Courses

By Billups, Andrea | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 7, 2000 | Go to article overview

Dirty Dozen Exposes Absurd College Courses


Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Students at Georgetown University this year can take a class called "The Bible and Horror," which seeks to answer the question: "What might religion and horror (or the monstrous) have in common?"

According to the course description at the private Catholic school, the Bible "can be a scary book" that "often reads more like horror than religious literature."

Those currently enrolled at Maine's Bowdoin College can spend their tuition dollars on a women's studies course that asks this question as its central theme: "Is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony a marvel of abstract architecture culminating in a gender-free paean to human solidarity, or does it model the process of rape?"

Both obscure courses, straight from academe's nether regions, made the 2000 Dirty Dozen list of the Young America's Foundation's most-ridiculous college courses. The Herndon, Va., foundation, which promotes conservative ideas and speakers on college campuses, compiles the list as a heads-up for parents who may have no clue what their children are studying.

"It is very important that not only parents recognize what is being taught on college campuses, but taxpayers as well," says YAF program officer Rick Parsons. "They really are paying for this, whether through federal funding or student loans. That's not only at the state universities, but at the private universities as well."

The Dirty Dozen list is taken from an annual YAF report called Comedy and Tragedy: Course Descriptions and What They Tell Us About Higher Education Today. The full report, available next week on the Internet at www.yaf.org, looks at course offerings at public, private and religiously affiliated schools.

Using the U.S. News & World Report Top 50 schools rankings, YAF officials reviewed 56 college and university catalogs this year. Paring down the multitude of "trendy, bizarre and politically biased" courses was difficult, Mr. Parsons said.

Other classes making the Dirty Dozen list included:

* University of Texas: "Race and Sport in African-American Life" - The class looks at "how sports have been used to justify and promote antiquated, eugenic and ultimately racist notions of blackness."

* Harvard University: "Feminist Biblical Interpretation" - The class concentrates on "the significance of feminist hermeneutics for contemporary theological reflection and education for ministry. …

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