Published: April 26, 2006
Perhaps all men are created equal, but all classes are not. While most classes at PJC fulfill their syllabus requirements and impart the necessary knowledge, certain courses stand above the rest.
We have assembled a list of some of the most recommended courses offered at PJC, courses which are extraordinary because they transcend nearly all majors and benefit all students.
Creative Writing “introduces students to the workshop format, basic to creative writing classes,” instructor Bill Fisher said. “[They] have the opportunity for immediate reaction to their work from a variety of student colleagues. In addition, the course encourages (forces?) students to actually sit down and write.
“A student’s fiction is, of course, the physical representation of what’s in his mind. Most of the students, therefore, find it fascinating to glimpse other minds through the fiction they write.”
“It’s the one class you can come to school for and not feel like you’re in class,” history major Steve Senesky said. “The first thing Fisher says is ‘how the hell do you have a test in creative writing?’ so it’s more like a hobby [than a class].”
British Literature is taught as two distinct and complementary courses (to and from 1800), beginning with Chaucer in the medieval period and progressing up to the 20th century.
“I teach it as much as possible as a course that is as much a cultural course as a literature course,” instructor Tom Bailey said. “Also, it helps – I hope – with basic skills such as refinement of critical thinking and analytical skills.”
Introduction to Sociology is what it sounds like; a basic overview of sociological definitions and principles.
“The reason this class is so great,” philosophy major Adam Cope said, “is because it expands our notions of what and how we think cultures function.”
Cope said he recommends this course to any and all students, primarily because “a basic understanding of sociological concepts increases a person’s awareness of the dynamics of everyday life.”
Math for Liberal Arts I & II offer a practical, enjoyable alternative to College Algebra or Statistics. They are a basic review of most practical math applications and knowledge that a liberal arts major will benefit from on a daily basis.
“I believe Liberal Arts Math I and II are important courses for a number of reasons,” instructor Chris Turner said.ÿ”They are designed specifically for students who are not math majors.ÿThese courses highlight a broad range of topics including logic, early numeration systems, geometry, probability, statistics, and finance.”
Classical Mythology is an almost universally praised course. As the course title indicates, it examines mythology as depicted in historic and contemporary art and literature.
“By the nature of examining myth through poetry, from Sappho to Allen Ginsburg,” instructor Charlie Schuler said, “it’s a broad look at the humanistic tradition. We look at myth in art from Pompeii and Greek amphora and trace those themes all the way to the work of Salvador Dali.”
Schuler also said that he attempts to relate mythology to his students in a personally meaningful way.
“Myths become part of the metaphors of our lives, and it’s important for people to understand that it’s not a black-and-white world,” Schuler said. “We study heroic behavior [in class], and heroes aren’t without human failure and human fault. I want my students to become comfortable in the gray world, [which] is where most of us exist.”
Descriptive Astronomy is a class that is taught to expand students’ knowledge of space, ranging from an understanding of basic light properties and celestial bodies to students attending meetings of the local astronomy club to observe what they’re studying through telescopes.
“Science is a process, not a goal,” instructor Wayne Wooten said. “We see new discoveries being made all the time in astronomy, and students are assigned articles and photos and video of this cutting edge stuff.”
“Classes see sun spots, solar prominences, craters and mare on the moon, the rings around Saturn, Jupiter’s moons, the polar caps of Mars, colorful double stars, and the brighter galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.”
Photography I is an introductory class to basic techniques and skills involved in photography. The emphasis of the course is on creative use of students’ cameras and the dark room. Students gain basic knowledge of photographic technique, learn how to use their cameras, process black and white film and print the photos they take.
“To me it’s a core class in teaching you to be more aware of the world around, you learn to use your eyes as an extension of your vision,” Virginia Vanneman, a photography instructor, said, “People take it primarily because they have a lot of fun doing it and they feel very involved physically especially when they’re in the dark room.”