This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Vassar Community Offers Each Other “Mini-Courses”

Remember the rigors of physics getting you down? That mid-semester feeling of being crushed by the weight of English lit? This year, students can take a study break and still be studying. Vassar’s Office of Campus Activities has put together a series of “mini-courses” for the entire college community — classes which anyone at Vassar, from students to staff, had the opportunity to propose.

These special-interest classes revolve around popular topics not usually taught as part of a liberal arts curriculum; some cover subjects not usually taught in a classroom setting at all. The “Magic: the Gathering: Fundamentals” class, for example, taught by Ian Relihan ’11, covers the basic rules of this popular collectible-card came. Cary Blum ’09 is teaching a class that purports to instruct its students in “all the little tricks that will have you beating your friends at Scrabble every time.” The classes, all of which began in late March (or will begin in early April), run through June 2009.

While some classes would appear to be more serious and intellectually minded (“Queer Pop Culture,” “Modern Day Stereotypes and Racism,” “Linux for Human Beings”), others, such as the mini-courses in Texas hold ’em poker and the history of the hookah, might seem less so. All, however, serve as a refreshing departure from everyday academia. Jay Leff ’10, for example, is the instructor for “Beer Tasting,” a 21-and-over class that meets (naturally) in the Mug. Each week the class will focus on a different beer or region, and will “sample as many as possible, while discussing the nuances of each.” Matthew Vassar would be proud.

April 2009

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