Penn State Classes That Are Good for the Soul

Photo by Ruoyi Li

Who says you can’t benefit from your classes in more than one way? After all, these are supposed to be the greatest four years of our lives, so why not try to grow as individuals while simultaneously earning some credits? Check out these five classes offered at Penn State that are good for the soul!

1. PSYCH 243 – Introduction to Well-Being and Positive Psychology

The name of this course is pretty self-explanatory but to give you a brief description courtesy of the Penn State University Bulletin website: “the overall focus of the course is the study of the psychological process of adapting to, coping with, and managing the problems, challenges, and demands of modern life.”

That may sound a bit science-y, but to boil it down, this class is about how to live your life the best way possible. For instance, one assignment for the class involves tracking what you do every hour for an entire day. Turns out, time management, especially in college, is key. You also learn about how to eat right, how to exercise according to your BMI, how to manage stress, and how to sleep well so you’re ready and roaring every morning.

2. SOC 119 – Race and Ethnic Relations

Yes, we have all heard of the infamous SOC 119. This class’s three main objectives are: (1) “[to] think critically about issues related to race and ethnicity in American society”, (2) “to foster a dialogue between you and other students about racist and ethnocentric attitudes and actions”, and (3) “to encourage you to explore your own racial and ethnic identity and to understand how this identity reflects and shapes your life experiences”.

But what this class really offers goes far beyond these three main objectives. In a class of 700+ people, it’s hard to truly digest all the intense information you’re being exposed to, and this is where the handy-dandy discussion groups come in.

When was the last time you actually sat down and truly said how you felt about something you learned in class? We’re asked to learn facts and regurgitate them for exams, but we’re never asked how we feel about the content in the classroom and how it affects us personally. That’s one thing this class can offer you than not many other classes at Penn State can.

3. BI SCI 003 – Environmental Science

This class is for those who are looking to do some soul-searching. Sure, this class is technically classified as a GN, but the beakers and formulas are replaced with lectures about where we come from as people and where we are destined to go as individuals. This class focuses on who we are and what our presence in this environment is rather than what we are, like most other science classes.

As the Penn State University Bulletin website explains it, “as a citizen of both local and global communities, some environmental issues will impact their lives.” This is an important notion in terms of knowing where you stand in the bigger picture. You’ll never know who you are until you know what your purpose is.

4. ENGL 181 A, B, C, and D – Adventure Literature

We’ve all had the wanderlust blues, which can get especially bad when you’re stuck in State College with temperamental weather and no place to go. If you’re feeling cramped and could stand to do some venturing, inwardly and outwardly, let Valley be your guide.

The Adventure Literature series is run by the Department of English and is actually as great as it sounds. The classes have a normal class curriculum with a dash of something special thrown in. And by a dash of something special, we mean actual trips to the places you read about in the classroom. Destinations include Cape Cod, the Chesapeake Bay, and Dolly Sods National Park, West Virginia.

Traveling, especially as a young adult, can be extremely beneficial to your psyche and your view on the world. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that travel makes you a happier person.

5. SCI ED 140 / RPTM 140 – Outdoor School

This “class” is probably the most unconventional on our list. While you receive two credits either as Sci Ed 140 or RPTM 140, you don’t spend any time in a class room. In fact, you don’t even spend any time on campus. For five whole days, you live in nature’s belly (very nice cabins in the middle of the woods) teaching 5th and 6th grade kids about the environment.

The greatest part about this class isn’t missing a week of regular classes, or even the delicious homemade food you get to eat every day at camp. The best part is knowing that you’re offering something to someone else. Being able to teach someone and see their face light up with wonder and understanding is one of the most rewarding feelings you can have in this life.

There you have it, folks. If you’re looking to spice up your spring semester or are just looking to do some soul searching, drop by your advisor’s office and get these classes scheduled. You won’t regret it!


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