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Generally speaking, we like to think that even the “standard” classes at St. Edward’s are thought-provoking and compelling. But some classes go several steps beyond the norm. Whether they take an off-the-wall approach, dig way deeper than most classes go or dare to examine complex and controversial subjects, here are seven classes that really stood out during the 2016–2017 school year.

Art and Ethics: Van Gogh’s Ear, Blendered Goldfish, Burning the Flag and Beyond

Who’s teaching it? Mary Brantl, Associate Professor of Art; Jack Musselman, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Why we love it: How can you not be drawn to a course with a title like that? Combining the disciplines of art history and ethics, this Honors class asks big questions about art and the ethics of art in the late 20th century. How do we define art? Should we define art? Can we assert that art can be ethical or unethical? And what do we feel about an art piece designed to protest the brutality of the world — by inviting the viewer to choose whether to use a blender on a live goldfish or not?

Hormones and Behavior

Who’s teaching it? Katherine L. Goldey, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience; Raelynn Deaton Haynes, Assistant Professor of Biology

Why we love it: Behavioral endocrinology (hormones and behavior) is an emerging, interdisciplinary field, which makes it perfect for a liberal arts school. This new class brings together students and professors from the Schools of Natural Sciences and Behavioral and Social Sciences. They’ll examine how hormones and behavior interact related to competition, sexual behavior, parenting, stress and metabolism. There’s also a lab component where students use human saliva (talk about “wet science”!) to measure hormones such as testosterone to investigate human mating behaviors.

Income Inequality and Tax Policy

Who’s teaching it? Louise Single, Professor of Accounting

Why we love it: Honors classes don’t just ask philosophical questions. This one is as real-world relevant as it gets. Students volunteer for the Foundation Communities Income Tax Assistance Program (at least 30 hours of service over the semester!) and read and discuss both tax policy and social justice literature. By the end, they’ll have come to understand current and proposed tax policy solutions to the problem of income inequality in the United States — and, perhaps, their own possible role as they use their future professional practice to effect change in the world.

Global Water Challenges/Water Transfer Disputes Between and Inside Sovereign Nations

Who’s teaching it? Charles Porter, Visiting Assistant Professor of University Studies; Mity Myhr, Associate Professor of History; Christie Sample Wilson, Associate Professor of History

Why we love it: Upper-level Cultural Foundations classes follow the university’s mission by engaging students in understanding global issues, both historical and contemporary. This one calls on students to act as participants in mock mediations of real-world water disputes, such as the Jats in India v. the Citizens of Delhi, Medico v. the United States over the Rio Grande, and others. As Porter says, “Mediation settles 80% of all civil lawsuits in Texas. Using the mediation process to settle water disputes is the future, for us all.”

Journalism and Religion

Who’s teaching it? Eileen Flynn DeLaO, Adjunct Instructor of English

Why we love it: It combines two things that are important to us — job readiness for students and an understanding of diversity. Journalists need to be able to write about religion because it influences so many aspects of our society, including public policy, world affairs, education and culture. Students in this class learn about some of the world’s belief systems, assess how the media writes about these religions and then try their own hand at writing about religion.

Adapted Physical Education

Who’s teaching it? Kristy Ballard, Associate Professor of Kinesiology

Why we love it: As professionals, Kinesiology majors are going to work with a wide cross-section of people, some of whom will have special needs (cognitive, behavioral or physical; temporary or permanent). This class teaches students to modify physical activities according to an individual’s needs — and, of course, it’s not just theoretical. In addition to lab work with each other, students spend 15 hours one-on-one with someone with special needs in a physically active setting. All this means that by the end of the course, they’ll have a broader understanding of (and know how to best accommodate) disability.

Crisis and Trauma Management (Master of Arts in Counseling)

Who’s teaching it? Sunny Lansdale, Visiting Assistant Professor of Counseling

Why we love it: It’s an incredibly cutting edge course, with a focus on neurobiology, attachment theory and trauma, both post-traumatic and complex. Lansdale goes over the most contemporary and evidence-based treatment protocols for trauma, including EMDR, somatic experiencing, and Porges' Polyvagal Theory. (She has studied under some of the most internationally known and published professionals who are writing and researching trauma, so she knows her stuff.) Since most clients have suffered some form of trauma, this class gives future counselors a powerful foundation on which to build their practice. 

By Lauren Liebowitz