Who knew? It turns out that courses with words like "sex" or "sexuality" in their titles are among the most popular classes offered on college campuses today.
Writing in the Marquette Tribune, a student newspaper at Marquette University in Milwaukee, correspondent Sarah Milnar reports:
Lisa Heineman, academic coordinator of the University of Iowa's Sexuality Studies program and professor of history, said sex and sexuality courses are increasing in popularity.And to think it all started with one Indiana University professor studying wasps.
"For a long time sexuality was one of those taboo topics," she said.
But now Heineman said it's a growing field. The University of Iowa offers 35 classes with "sex" in the title this term.
"We all need to know something about sexuality," she said. "Professors offer courses on it because we think it's a really important area of life that deserves study."
Heineman said most sexuality teaching comes through the history department, although professors offer such courses in several other departments, from English, to religious studies to nursing.
The sex and sexuality classes at the University of Iowa fill up quickly, Heineman said. She added that she often receives e-mails from students asking for permission to enter the classes. Professors are frustrated that they cannot offer more sexuality classes, she said.
The 35 courses on sex or sexuality taught at Iowa are only a small portion of the more than 2,000 courses taught at that university. The University of Wisconsin at Madison offers a few more than that, Milnar notes:
This semester, the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers 80 sections of various "sex"—titled courses, such as History of Sexuality and Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, according to their Web site.As to her own college -- a Catholic and Jesuit institution that descends from the same one-room academy as my alma mater, Marquette University High School -- Milnar writes:
Marquette offered Sociology of Sex and Gender, SOCI 162, and Human Sexuality, PSYC 165 last term. The only sex-titled course available this term is Human Sexuality, according to CheckMarq.According to the Marquette Tribune article, Nancy Snow, an associate professor of philosophy at MU, has at least a partial explanation for the popularity of these courses on college campuses:
But Marquette offers other courses that are broader than sex but still connect to sexuality issues, said Michael Wierzbicki, associate professor and chair of Marquette's Psychology department. These classes include Psychology of Marriage and Family, Psychology of Gender Roles and Psychology of Prejudice, he said.
Human Sexuality is offered at least once per academic year, he said.
Although sex may be considered taboo, Wierzbicki said his department does not offer more sexuality courses because of a small number of faculty, who are barely able to cover required psychology classes.
"There's no issue that the content leads us to avoid it," he said.
Human Sexuality is an elective class, and the department must offer required and core classes first, he said.
But Wierzbicki said the Human Sexuality course tends to fill to capacity.
"Sex sells," Wierzbicki said. "It's a popular topic and certainly a topic that is meaningful for everybody's life."
"Students have an intrinsic interest in the subject matter."