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Tired of 101? Try These 7 Cool Classes

From magic and witchcraft to building robots using Legos, these wild courses can put swordfighters in training and future presidents ready to deal with environmental catastrophe.

Campus News  |  Jun 14, 2018  |  By Jason Scavone
Two students practice swordfighting

Kris Pruett’s Stage Combat classes teaches students how to safely and effectively fight each other. (Photo courtesy Kris Pruett)

Sure, you’ve got your basic composition, and your statistics, and your garden-variety American history. Any ol’ university can do those. But can any other university take you to a Brazilian steakhouse as part of class?

Fall semester might seem far away right now, but all that stands between commencement and the new academic year is one blazing hot summer. But when fall does start, students will have plenty of “only-at-UNLV” classes to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites.


Culture and Cuisine

Hospitality professor Yen-Soon Kim’s Culture and Cuisine looks at how the food of Asia, Europe and the Americas ties into the history, culture and religion of those areas, and how staples and ingredients migrated and transformed from territory to territory. And, oh yeah, students get to eat during class — capped off by a field trip to the Brazilian steakhouse Pampas. Not surprisingly, it fills up fast.

Robotics

“Not now, I’m working with my Legos. It’s important.” For anyone who wants to be able to say that and mean it, Paul Oh’s mechanical engineering elective Robotics teaches students mechanism design, programming and electronics through hands-on labs — using Legos. It also delves into the ethics of robots in society, so we don’t have a Terminator-style uprising coming out of the Beam Engineering Complex: .

Stage Combat

Guest instructor Kris Pruett’s advanced Stage Combat units gets the stars of tomorrow ready for the swordfights of today. Starting with unarmed combat, Stage Combat gets students used to working safely with a partner before learning the finer points of fighting. Drawing on classic fencing techniques, Stage Combat teaches dynamic storytelling through fighting. Now if they can learn to do it on skates, they could make a case for the Golden Knights pregame show.

Physics for Future Presidents

Nonscience majors, rejoice. Jason Steffen’s Physics for Future Presidents covers everything the leader of the free world might need to know, scientifically speaking. From nuclear weapons to renewable energy to terrorist attacks and climate change, Steffen delves into both the practical and the more esoteric, like the physics of a spy getting assassinated via radioactive material. Well, esoteric unless you’re Russian, anyway.

Conflict Resolution

How do you fight? Whether it’s with family, friends, romantic partners or at work, everyone has a different conflict style. Jennifer Guthrie’s communication studies unit looks at how and why people come into conflict and the ways they can resolve it. To cap the class, students have to produce a paper on conflict in their own lives, observed and recorded over a semester. Sidenote: a great way to derail any argument is to pull out the pen and paper.

Business Connections

A first-year seminar run by the Lee Business School, Business Connections offers prospective students a taste of what the major might entail. For John Starkey’s unit, though, it’s a chance to do some good at the same time. His spring semester unit raised more than $5,000 for four local charities, including the Trauma Intervention Program to benefit Oct. 1 victims. Fundraising has been done through crowdfunding, individual cash donations, and contacting local businesses.

Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

Anthropology assistant professor C. Todd White’s Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion starts from an unorthodox place: magic is real. Where it goes from there? Folklore, baseball superstitions, Native American spirituality, and interconnectedness with nature, and teaching the gnostic-minded how to see coincidence as part of a bigger picture and to smile when the universe is laughing at you.