Hillsdale College may be known for its core liberal arts curriculum, but a look back into the course catalogues of years past proves there have been a wide variety of classes offered outside of the traditional academic subjects.
Among its earliest unorthodox classes includes a scuba diving course the college first offered in 1963. It was so successful that the college offered an advanced scuba diving class in 1978 entitled “Advanced Open Water Diving”. According to the Mar. 16, 1978 issue of The Collegian, course instruction involved “advanced diving techniques such as search and recovery, compass work, night diving, light salvage, decompression stops, free ascends, wreck diving and underwater communications.” The college brought back the course in 2000 and is still a regularly offered class at the College.
Many interesting physical education classes over the years involved dance. In 1933 the College offered a social dance class. The course was “open to everyone, faculty or students, free of charge,” according to the Feb. 28, 1933 issue of The Collegian. Imagine taking a social dance class and your professor was your dance partner.
In addition to elective courses, Hillsdale has offered quite a few interesting courses that were major requirements.
In 1970, “Playground Supervision” was listed as a course for education majors.
Classes under the former Home Economics major also varied wildly.
“Choice of Clothing” was a popular course for this major in 1926, with its purpose rooted in exploring appropriate attire for various occasions.
Similarly in 1924, the Art of Dress and Decoration taught design tactics for both clothing and home interiors, only a few years before the College offered “Household Physics” as a science class in the physics department in 1949.
“Initially the class was for girls who only wanted a practical and useful knowledge of everyday physics without taking the rather difficult five hour physics class,” according to the Feb. 23, 1949 issue of the Collegian.
According to the Collegian, “The work in this course will avoid lengthy math and detailed theory but will deal with practical and everyday problems involving physical principles.”
In recent Hillsdale history, the Honors seminars have provided several interesting courses. In 2010, Melinda von Sydow taught “The Politics of Clothing,” which “Explores how clothing has been and continues to be used to make political and cultural statements from the time of the French Revolution to runways today,” according to the Sept. 23, 2010 issue fo the Collegian.
In addition, the current Honors course “Intro to Japanese Anime Films,” which is offered every four years. According to the Mar. 27, 2014 issue of The Collegian, Professor James Brandon “decided to offer the seminar after teaching the topic in another course. Approximately 15 years ago during a foreign films class, Brandon realized there was enough interest in the Japanese anime film to teach an entire course on the topic.”
While major and core classes may be the most useful courses offered at Hillsdale, in the words of the 1950 issue of the Winona Yearbook, “We took the requirements and filled the bill but for many the memory of classes will come from those extra classes or electives that were taken just for general knowledge or maybe just for kicks.”