Carnegie Mellon students earn credit while studying 'Harry Potter,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'Star Wars'

Carnegie Mellon University offers several unconventional courses, created and taught by students, in which enrollees learn about Harry Potter, "Game of Thrones," "Star Wars," and "Avatar," just to name a few. 

Each of these courses is worth three credits and is offered through a program at CMU called StuCo, or Student College, which "provide[s] Carnegie Mellon students with the opportunity to share knowledge through educational, self-designed courses." 

According to CMU, "students can teach classes on any topic of their choice," so long as the course is not offered in the university's academic offerings. These courses "typically" meet once per week and students are evaluated on a "pass/fail" basis. 

[RELATED: Berkeley offers credit for ‘Pokemon Academy,’ ‘Marvel,’ and ‘Hogwarts’ classes]

According to the Harry Potter course description, the class “covers the Harry Potter books, their film adaptations, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the 'Cursed Child' play." 

The "Game of Thrones" course description states that students will study the original text, A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as the popular HBO series to "look at themes that appear throughout the series (such as power, religion, and morality) as well as the impact that the show's popularity has had on audience's views on topics such as sexuality, politics, and feminism."

"Star Wars" course topics, according to the course description, include "1. Fan and critical perception of the seven films and each movie's role within the 'Star Wars' universe, 2. Use of special effects to enhance storytelling, 3. Themes of 'Star Wars' and how they continue to resonate with people, 4. Use of music in 'Star Wars' and its recognizability, 5. Debates between 'Star Wars' fans in regard to the prequel trilogy and original trilogy ­ the division between different generations of fans, 6. An analysis of all seven films, 7. The future of 'Star Wars' films." 

These are not the only unique college courses being offered for credit at Carnegie Mellon University. A full listing of student-taught courses is published on the university's website. Other notable course options include "Avatar," "Masculinity in the Wild," "Introduction to Bridge," and ones on lockpicking and freestyle rap. The courses listed are each worth three credits. 

[RELATED: UC Berkeley offers ‘adulting’ course for credit]

National Association of Scholars spokesman David Randall reacted to the CMU courses, telling Campus Reform, “these courses are all produced by something called StuCo--Carnegie Mellon's Student College. These are student-created courses, not courses by actual professors." 

"Carnegie Mellon creates an obvious moral hazard when it gives course credit to student-created courses--what would you expect?" 

He later added, "there is an extraordinary dumbing down of the curriculum and of expectations of students throughout America." 

Randall said the questions that should be asked are "what sort of quality control there is, how it degrades the value of a Carnegie Mellon degree, how many StuCo credits Carnegie Mellon students are allowed to take, etc.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni referred Campus Reform to past comments it has made for other stories, including one on how the University of California-Berkeley offers courses on "Pokemon," "Marvel," and Hogwarts.

Campus Reform reached out to CMU, but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

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