Education: Western University, Fanshawe College ‘bird courses’ not all flighty

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Many of the 50,000 scholars returning to Western University and Fanshawe College this fall may already have filled their course load for the coming year, but astute slackers may still be looking to shoehorn reputedly easy-peasy — and obscure — bird courses into their schedules.

At Fanshawe, such studies range from vampires and wizards to Facebook.

“For general education electives, the purpose is to provide the students breadth,” Fanshawe program adviser Kristen Armstrong said.

New this year to Fanshawe’s course list is Reggae, Rasta and Revolution.

Armstrong said another class, Myth, Folktale and Fairytale, is being taught in a larger classroom to meet the demand from students.

“Students are really interested in how they’ve shaped the culture and the people who told these stories,” Armstrong said.

Fantasy-themed courses have also been a hit at Western. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings have been special topics of courses before at the university.

Western’s department of political science aimed to introduce timely courses in the upcoming year. One new course is titled Politics and Media in a Post-Truth Era. Another one, called ‘In-yo-face’ Poli-tainment: Television and Political (Con)Science, will study political satire, comedy and drama in North American television shows. They are prerequisite-free offerings, open to any undergraduate student.

But Danielle Sing, a graduate of Western’s English literature program, has a warning for students: “Don’t take a bird course just because someone says it’s easy.”

Sing learned the hard way that bird courses — classes with a reputation for being simple — aren’t always that way. While at Western, her average took a hit when she neglected a course that she didn’t think would be a challenge. She recovered by getting a better mark in Western’s Harry Potter special topics class, which she said was warned as being tough and covered 10 novels in a single semester.

“Make sure you’re actually interested and that you pay attention. You still have to go and still have to work towards it,” Sing said.

More abstract Fanshawe courses:

  • Vampires and Wizards: Blood and Magic
  • 33-1/3 Gr. LPs of Rock & Soul
  • Beef Butchery Basics
  • Dads and Braids (St. Thomas), Daddy Daughter Hair School (Woodstock)
  • Digging Up Death
  • Horror Then and Now
  • Facebook for the Over 50 Gang

Others at Western:

  • Girls on Fire: About female protagonists rebelling against totalitarian societies in dystopian novels (second-year women’s studies)
  • Gossip as Political and Social Engagement (fourth-year arts and humanities)

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