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The 8 Most Controversial College Classes

Human Sexuality — Northwestern University

This course always tops “controversial course” lists simply because of the name. How could a class about sexuality not be controversial? This course entails discussing sexuality in terms of both biology and psychology, but what pushed this particular course over the top in terms of controversy was when the professor invited students to watch a consensual sex act between three individuals, after hours.

(Image via Northwestern University)

The N-Word: An Anatomy Lesson — Arizona State University

The n-word is known to be one of the most controversial words in modern society, so this class takes a look at the issues that surround this provocative word. Critics of this class believed that the n-word was used too liberally in the class, but others felt that the word’s use was justified because this class really gave students a chance to dispel some of the mystery and controversy surrounding it.

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The Politics of Gay Marriage — Seton Hall University

This course takes a hard look at the viewpoints behind the support (or lack thereof) of gay marriage. Seton Hall is a conservative university, so it's no surprise that this course listing sparked some controversy. Because Seton Hall is a Catholic university, some school officials opposed teaching something that went against religious beliefs, but after much protest from the academic community, they allowed the course to continue. 

(Image via Seton Hall University)

Politics of the Middle East — Brooklyn College

Politics of the Middle East shouldn’t really be that controversial of a class, but if a professor’s views are biased toward a particular country, it can become an issue. This professor in particular was pro-Palestinian, which did not sit well with school administrators and even state legislators. As a result, the professor who taught this class was fired, and the official reason given was that he was “under qualified.” 

(Image via Brooklyn College)

Animal Liberation — Monash University

This course asked students to seriously think about the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of animals and the ways that human beings treat them. Many students felt that modern, everyday practices toward animals weren't humane, which sparked a lot of serious debate in the class. School officials worried that students would be prompted to join controversial organizations like PETA after being exposed to this material. 

(Image via Monash University)

What is Islam? — Lane Community College

This class debuted shortly after the 9/11 attacks, so many people were skeptical about the nature of this class. The professor, who was the chapter leader of an organization called Act for America, wanted to teach this class as part of the group’s motto to “inform, educate, and mobilize Americans regarding the multiple threats of radical Islam, and what they can and must do to protect themselves and their country against this determined enemy.” Many felt this class would only spread hatred toward Islam, even though the professor claimed he would present the religion fairly and in an unbiased manner. 

(Image via Aubree Cote)

The Phallus — Occidental College

We’ll bet you can guess why this class ruffled a few feathers. School administrators and parents of students felt that this topic was too explicit for a college course and didn't think there should be class solely focused on male genitalia. Students who took the class, however, actually said that it was a lot less explicit than they imagined and actually a bit boring!

(Image via Occidental College)

Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism — Mt. Holyoke College

This class explores exactly what’s stated in the title: White privilege. The goal of this class is admirable: The professor wanted to expose students to the small things in society that they take for granted as white individuals and help them realize that they can do something to change the status quo. This class was controversial because administrators and parents weren’t sure that they wanted students studying such a volatile topic.

(Image via Mt. Holyoke College)