Sure, there will always be a place for the golden standards in continuing and community education: foreign languages, art appreciation and the like, but programs across the country are pushing the boundaries for creative, engaging and exciting classes.
Here are eight of our favorites:
1. Life after death and near death experiences at the University of Texas at Austin's Informal Classes program: In this condensed class, students learn about the afterlife beliefs of different religions and cultures, and participate in discussions on death, the soul, near-death experiences and more. As death is a fascinating and sometimes taboo subject, this course begs to be taken. The subject matter and delivery method also lend themselves to attracting a diverse audience.
2. Natural aromatic candles at the College of San Mateo Community Education program: With the explosion of Pinterest envy and Etsy burnout, this class plays right into the growing desire to be crafty without being cheesy. An affordable and fun class such as this is a great addition to any catalog.
3. Introduction to foil fencing at the Tyler Junior College School of Continuing Studies: Who hasn't wanted to suit up and grab a foil? Fencing is the perfect combination of physical activity, history and quick thinking.
4. Holiday Caroling at the Los Altos Recreation Department: Mixing a month-long singing class with a final, holiday-themed performance not only gets students excited, but also serves as a way to bring community attention to the program. This class could be copied in communities across the country.
5. Is beekeeping for me? at the Century College department of Continuing Education and Customized Training: Artisanal products are back in a big way, and any class that can teach students how to better enjoy the process is a great idea. This class combines science, local laws and more to give students an in-depth introduction to an increasingly popular hobby.
6. Hollywood and the woman's picture, 1940-1980 at the SMU department of Continuing and Professional Education: Gender issues are still a common topic of discussion today, but going back in time to take a look the ways movies negotiated gender issues is a new and illuminating way to look at the subject. A class centered around such a topic is sure to promote lively discussion.
7. Ukulele at the Tacoma Community College department of Continuing Education: Not only will students of this class learn to play a unique and exotic instrument, they'll learn to play Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd on it, too. The course description also points out that no musical experience is necessary to enjoy and do well in the class.
8. Photography: iPhoneography and mobile device photography at the University of Texas at Austin's Informal Classes program: Today, most people carry a camera wherever they go but not everyone knows exactly how to get the best pictures from their device. This class takes something we're all already doing and shows us how to get better results.