Reading, writing and arithmetic are still part of the college curriculum, but so are credited courses that cover sex, stress and even terrorism.
Rebekah Addey will receive her degree in communications from the University of North Florida this summer, but she will also take with her the knowledge of human sexuality and gender role behaviors. Addey completed a course this spring titled “Human Sexual Behavior” where she learned a range of topics from human anatomy and sexual dysfunctions to STDs and religion, she said. The course was credited to her psychology minor.
“I liked it. I learned a lot more than I thought I would,” said Addey.
Adjunct professor Dr. John Oliver, who taught the Human Sexual Behavior course, said it especially helps people who were brought up in the “Bible Belt” to gain a balanced idea of human sexuality. Oliver has also taught an honors special topics course that he created called “Sexuality and Spirituality: The Lenses of Love.” He said he plans to continue teaching the class about different types of love in the fall.
During the summer, UNF students can register for courses with topics such as “Aging in America” or “Terrorism and Disaster Response” through the Department of Public Health. The sociology and anthropology department is offering a credited course titled, “Hate Crimes,” to provide an analysis of domestic hate crimes, its history, culture, hate groups and how the criminal justice system responds to such crimes. A similar longstanding course, “Deviance and Social Control,” is another option for students interested in studying “people who break the norms of society,” said Dr. Rick Phillips, assistant professor of sociology and instructor for the course. The deviance class has been offered for many years but it remains successful because students enjoy researching why human behaviors incur public wrath and how it changes over time, said Phillips.
The process to schedule a new class to a semester’s roster varies in the type of course and the process of approval. The main courses are considered regular courses and consist of a much longer process of approval that eventually reaches Tallahassee. But when a new idea for a class is presented, it can be approved as a special topics course for a trial period. Once a special topics course is approved, it can be offered up to three semesters depending upon availability of resources, a faculty member and the student outcome for the class.
“A faculty member can’t just decide on their own to offer just some kind of off the wall course,” said UNF Faculty Association President Dr. Judith Solano, and chair of the department of computer and information sciences.
Most of the special topics courses are derived from areas of interest to a professor or a group of students, said Solano. If a professor expresses an interest in teaching a course and has the availability to do so, the idea and an agenda must be presented to the chair of the department for approval, she said.
“Special topics don’t have to be approved by the dean’s office,” said Dr. David Jaffee, acting dean of the college of arts and sciences. “Some times you do get exotic offerings that way.”
A different type of program in the college of arts and sciences that Jaffee helped to create several years ago was the common boundary courses, which combines two departments or colleges in one class. A CSI Jacksonville course was offered last fall through the sociology and anthropology departments where students were able to investigate crime scenes on campus.
“It allows faculty to come from two different disciplines to bring a perspective to an issue,” said Jaffee.
Every institution has a different process of course approvals and selections of courses. Florida Community College is offering new courses in packages that take a thoroughly detailed process of approval.
The college of business administration is offering a new logistics transportation track in the fall that includes six electives for the associate degree in applied science. The electives are regulatory compliance for logistic managers, transportation, warehouse management, inventory management, purchasing for logistics managers and operations management.
“We’re very concerned with what we’re teaching is needed by the business community,” said Betsy Davis, a dean for work force development.
According to Sandra Beck, a dean for work force development who helped create the program, the department ran a needs assessment test through focus groups comprised of business owners and leaders. A curriculum was then created to target jobs for students within the logistics field and to meet the needs of the employer, said Beck.
According to Davis, a new program takes up to a year to complete and must be approved by an advisory committee before it can go through a curriculum process.
The accounting program is also being revised to offer new courses in forensic accounting, payroll accounting and its software programs in the fall.
“We want to make sure that we continually stay involved in businesses,” said Beck. “One of the key roles of a community college is that we stay current and meet the needs of the community.”