Take a special topics class

August 13, 2016

Only offered for a semester, they’re fabulous finds to complete your schedule

From anthropology to zoology, Johnson County Community College offers classes called “Special Topics” designed to fill unique niches in a student’s educational and career development.

These classes aren’t offered every year, and they often offer professors a chance to share their passions and their research. They also can build key partnerships with community members excited to help educate their profession’s next generation.

Selling insurance

For example, to help meet the demand for qualified insurance agents, the college has teamed up with the Kansas Insurance Education Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department and a variety of insurance companies to offer the Kansas Insurance Certificate. To earn the certificate, students must begin with Introduction to Insurance.

BUS 292 or MKT 292 Introduction to Insurance

For Fall 2016, this class is offered online. From the comfort of home, students can try on insurance as a career before making a commitment.

Mike West, dean of business, computer science and information technology for JCCC, said he’s thrilled to “work with the top insurance companies in the area, along with four universities in the state, to develop a curriculum to prepare students for careers in the insurance industry.”

The class is intended to prepare students for taking a professional certification exam, which could qualify them for a paid internship or entry-level career position with an area insurance company. They also can complete a 12-credit-hour certificate.

Worried about paying the tuition? Scholarship money is available for select students to take this particular class (contact the Financial Aid Office for details), and further funding could come from an insurance company that might hire you after the initial class. Most of the companies offer tuition reimbursement for courses each semester that could ultimately pay for part or all of tuition to complete the certificate.

Food, glorious food

If insurance isn’t your calling, here’s is a smorgasbord of other Special Topics classes worth considering:

ENG 121 Composition 1 with food focus

This class is open to students who are interested in food studies, including students in hospitality management and culinary education.

“The class is designed for students who love food – reading about it, discussing it, researching it, and of course writing about it,” said Andrea Broomfield, professor of English and author of the newly released “Kansas City: A Food Biography.” “It is aimed at students in the Hospitality Culinary Academy and anyone else who enjoys food.”  

The class is offered in combination with HIST 141, U.S.History, taught by Jay Antle, professor of history.

“This class transfers as three credit hours of composition and three credit hours of history,” Broomfield explained.

HMGT 292 Foods of the United Kingdom

Ready to learn the history and gastronomy of the U.K. beyond bangers and mash? Try HMGT 292.

“This course will introduce students to the extraordinarily rich food culture and history of the United Kingdom,” said Broomfield, who co-teaches this offering with Aaron Prater, associate professor of hospitality management.

Region by region, students will learn about and cook many distinctive dishes, with a focus on parts of the UK that are particularly important to the nation’s culinary heritage as a whole, she said.

“Ideally, students who enroll in this course will participate summer 2017 in a culinary tour of the U.K.,” Broomfield said, who will lead the tour with Prater.

Curves and the body

MATH 292 A Path to Elliptic Curves

Actress Mae West once said “Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous, but they won’t be avoided.” She probably didn’t have Math 292 in mind, but Steve Wilson, professor of mathematics, circles back to curves in his own way.

“This course will introduce students to elliptic curves, a topic that is at the heart of the 1995 proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem,” he said.

What’s the theorem? Why is it the “last”? Take the class and find out. According to Wilson, elliptic curves are to research mathematics what fractals were in the 1980s – a hot topic.

“One of the Clay Millennium Prizes asks a specific question about the solutions of an elliptic curve, and it is worth $1 million to whomever proves the answer,” Wilson said.

SOC 292 Sociology of the Body

The human body is the subject of much biological study, but it’s also a critical part of our social identity, explained Jessica Killeen, associate professor of sociology.

“The jumping off point for this course is basically – in everyday life, our bodies are often taken for granted,” said “We must nourish, adorn and manipulate them, yet their social function often goes unexamined.”

The course attempts to unravel our assumptions about the body. Why are some bodies considered more attractive than others? What does my hairstyle say about my identity? Why has skin color been so important in determining race? 

Students will be introduced to ways of thinking about the body as an important site of identity, power and control in society today.