10 Best MU Columbia Classes to Fulfill Those Extra Elective Credits

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Most people spend their four years at the University of Missouri Columbia checking the boxes on their school’s major requirements list. But do they know how to deep sea S.C.U.B.A. dive or understand the complexities of North Korea? Probably not. Whether you’re due to start your freshman year MU in the fall or just need a few extra credits to get your hands on that degree, check out these less-known electives if your schedules allows some breathing space.

1. Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases with Professor Bethany Stone will make you think twice about the “five second rule” when you drop that piece of pizza on the ground or leave your Jimmy Johns sandwich sitting on the counter all night. Professor Stone walks you through an introduction to the biology behind bacterial viral, protozoan, fungal and helminth infections while putting them into sociological and historical context. The class includes a lab section where you work with the pathogens you learn about in lecture. You don’t need to major in biology to take this class, but you should probably have a strong stomach.

2. Scuba Theory

Explain to your parents that Scuba Theory may not apply to your finance degree, but you’ll pass as a certified advanced open water scuba diver. “It’s the experience of a lifetime. You’ll meet amazing people and see amazing things in the process,” senior bioengineering major Hady Elmashhady said. The class includes a classroom section and a pool session. In the classroom you’ll learn the science: the bio-physics of diving, physiology, environmental conditions, mechanics, first aid and dive planning related to specialty diving. The best part is that even though the class is called Scuba Theory, everything you learn turns into reality as soon as you jump into the pool. The physical requirements are challenging but if you want to get into or stay in shape, this class sounds perfect for you. By the end of the semester you’ll be a diver in terms of body, mind and soul and you’ll also have the opportunity to get certified in Arkansas or Honduras.

3. North Korea: History, Political Economy, Culture

“North Korea: first thing people think of is The Interview but this class opened my eyes up to complex situations and issues that most people are either misinformed or ignorant about,” said junior history major Billy Saviano. Most people hold preconceived notions about North Korea, and that assumes they have any notions at all. This class walks you through the history of North Korea from the post-liberation period to the present. It revolves around writing, so yes, you’ll need to read and write, but the articles and assignments make for legitimately stimulating lecture and dialogue between professor and students. If you want to shut people who make ignorant comments about the reality of the political and cultural landscape of North Korea, take this class. Why not spend your extra time expanding your horizons a bit?

4. Classical Mythology

“It’s the only class I actually retained information from and plus it’s super easy, I got a 99 percent,” said junior journalism major Dan Kurtz. The class title sounds pretty self-explanatory, but the material and the way the professor teaches isn’t what you expect. Yes, you’ll learn the myths of Greece and Rome via ancient art and literature, but your professor will most likely use pop culture references to help drive those concepts home. In previous years, professors used contemporary media clips, memes and cheesy 80s movies clips to explain the stories of Prometheus and Hades. “Professor Barnes used some weird Arnold Schwarzenegger clip to explain Artemis to us,” Kurtz said. This course will use contemporary references to explain ancient concepts and ancient concepts to apply myths to the modern day world.

5. Survey of Abnormal Psychology

Students describe this class as both interesting and disturbing, so drop the class if your stomach can’t handle CSI.  “Anyone taking the class should be prepared to hear about ostensibly disturbing subject matter. I remember when our professor told us about a patient who bludgeoned a man to death in a park because he thought God was talking to him, ” said junior film major Joe Fopeano. It sets the groundwork for understanding maladaptive behavior and experience. Subject material ranges from personality disorders and sexual dysfunctions to mood disorders and thought disorders. If you’re not a psych major, this class probably won’t apply to your degree. Regardless, it’ll undoubtedly help you better understand the human condition and the complexities of the brain.

6. Walt Disney and American Culture

In Walt Disney and American Culture you’ll use Disney’s short and full-length films to help examine how the messages in his films reached far beyond fairytales and folklore. “We got to watch Song of the South, Snow White, Cinderella and Steamboat Willie in class! Being able to make the connection between historical events and the Disney films I grew up with watching ended up being so much deeper than I originally thought,” said junior agricultural education major Kaitlin Verace. You’ll not only watch Disney films for college credit, but you’ll also see these films in a whole new light. The class meets two days a week and is relatively easy if you pay attention and come to class. You won’t have trouble with that, thanks to the interesting subject material.

7. Introduction to Hospitality Management

Amanda Alexander is a phenomenal professor and she 100 percent helped me decide that’s what I want to major in,” said freshman hospitality management major Nora McKenna. Take this course if you’re still exploring future career options. The class helps you explore the multifaceted hospitality management industry. One day you’ll learn about how to manage an entire hotel or restaurant and the next you’ll explore which beers and wines to purchase to best suit your guest’s needs. Keep in mind that this class is restricted to students who have 75 credit hours or less, so sneak this one in before junior year.

8. Major Woman Writers 1789–1890

If you like strong females then take this class. It explores the Bronte sisters’ works as well as the works of other powerful female voices at the time. “The course was set up like a book club and the atmosphere was always very comfortable and very friendly,” said senior French major Olivia Mikus, senior. This seems like a class Beyoncé would take because it centers around powerful woman and their ability to produce marvelous works. This literature class has no shortage of reading and writing, but no doubt it will expose you to the most important works by females of the time and strengthen your own writing in the process.

9. Principles of Toxicology

By the end of Principles of Toxicology, you’ll have learned about snake venom, Botox and biological warfare poisons. The class introduces you to the basics surrounding toxicology, the history and scope of the field, risk assessment and management and environmental toxicology. “This class was a small lecture where you literally all gathered around a table to discuss the subject which was actually really enjoyable,” said senior business major Austin Vondras. “I even ended writing an entire paper in the class about the poison Ricin, from the famous show Breaking Bad.” Getting to connect schoolwork to your favorite Netflix shows sounds like a dream come true.

10. Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center’s Educator’s Class

This class focuses on learning about the dynamics of interpersonal violence and then teaching other students and staff on the MU campus about what you’ve learned. A large part of this class centers around weekly reflections and class discussions which makes for an open atmosphere between students and RSVP educators and staff members. “The community and the content is mind blowing,” said senior educational studies major Ellen Thieme. Once you finish this course you’ll have the option to join the educators on campus and use what you learned in a real life setting.

Amanda is a journalism and political science student at the University of Missouri currently wrapping up her junior year. When she isn't looking for the scoop she loves to watch political dramas on Netflix, scuba dive and search for the best Mexican restaurants in Chicago.

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