Penn State seems to have quite a variety of topics in classes to choose from. It ranges beyond simple flower arranging to 500 level chemical engineering. But how could the teaching faculty get even more creative?
UC Berkeley has provided an answer. They created a program called DeCal, where students create and design their own classes on topics not covered by the traditional curriculum. These classes are typically pass-fail and are only about .5-2 credits. The student creating the class works under a legitimate professor or faculty member, who signs papers and contracts with the school clarifying that the class is worth it.
One specific class from DeCal caught the internet’s attention, called Brain Like Berkeley: An Insight into the Artistry of Frank Ocean. Frank Ocean is an alt-R&B artist with a pretty large and loyal fanbase, and the title of the class is based on a lyric in his song, “Novacane.”
Many of them love analyzing his musical choices and performances, and this is the perfect way for students to learn about something they love and gain some extra credits. The creators of the class, Preya Gill and Deborah Chang, designed the course to cover Ocean’s “artistic history, upbringing, background, musical influences, artist identity and the way he challenges dominant social concepts such as toxic-masculinity and gender politics.” Most Ocean fans would sign up for this class in a heartbeat, but for others still interested in modern rap and R&B, there are also classes on Drake and Kanye West.
For music and entertainment fans, this concept is intriguing. Students at UC Berkeley have it figured out, but what about here at Penn State? Creating a program like DeCal at our school would be a difficult task to accomplish, but it would not be impossible. It would be perfect for students to tie up loose ends where they need some extra credits, while also allowing them to learn about diverse topics.
Allowing Penn State students to design their own classes could possibly also help give minority students more of a voice. The 40,000 undergraduate students at University Park alone have had many different experiences, and this program is a perfect way to give representation to those who may feel underrepresented here. In addition, if this program was utilized on multiple campuses, that would consist of over 75,000 students who could come up with ideas for classes. Not only that, but it would also help student’s resumes and give them more professional experience.
The possibilities for classes are endless if this program was implemented at Penn State. Be sure to tweet us @VALLEYmag with a class that you would teach!