Unfortunately, true gems of classes sometimes get lost to time. Some of these classes are sensible, others whimsical. But schedules and departments change, or student interest wanes, causing classes to no longer be offered. Space Tourism and The Psychology of Altered States of Consciousness have been gone a few years, while Hunting has been gone a few decades. Whole majors get lost, like the Textiles major, while others, like Psychology, get created. Perhaps some of these course changes are for the best. But one must wonder why these lost classes were offered to begin with, and why they went away.
Dr. Clinton “Clint” Wallington is a professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. He taught Space Tourism for two years, back around 2000. The course originated with Dr. Francis Domoy, chair emeritus of the former School of Hospitality and Service Management (SHSM), who was inspired to create the class after meeting Buzz Aldrin. The class was discontinued as SHSM went through leadership changes.
According to the University News website, “The course explore[d] the history of space exploration and habitation, economic and technical factors related to commercial development of space (particularly low earth orbit habitats such as the International Space Station), and business development, dietetics, environmental management including HVAC, orbital mechanics, packaging science and tourism management as they relate to future space tourism needs.”Wallington recalled that the course focused on what it would take to live in space, including practical considerations of eating and using the bathroom in microgravity.
At the time Space Tourism was offered at RIT, companies like Virgin Galactic were promising space tourism flights as early as 2010. However, due to the lack of Federal Aviation Administration regulation of spaceflight and the high expense, commercial flights into space are not yet available.
“It’s going to take a few more years, but I think it’s going to happen,” said Wallington. When that day comes, there will be a demand for space tourism experts. For now, private citizens wishing to travel to space must settle for a ‘vacation’ at the International Space Station for upwards of $20 million.
Over 30 years ago, RIT offered a Hunting wellness course. Many other wellness courses from that time period, such as Igloo Building and Skeet and Trap Shooting, have also disappeared. “Our program was very different at the time,” said Dugan Davies, the current wellness coordinator for RIT’s Wellness Instructional Program.
At the time hunting was still a course option, RIT required six wellness classes to graduate, instead of just the current two. Naturally, the school tried to offer a wide variety of options, many of which utilized off-campus facilities.
Davies cited many possible reasons why classes like hunting are no longer offered. For one, the Wellness Instructional Program is striving to offer more on-campus classes. Also, over the years, the focus of the program has moved towards fitness.
The Hunting class, though, presents a unique challenge: weapons use. Recently, said Davies, RIT has avoided offering classes that involve weapons use, including a proposed Paintball course. Some wellness classes such as Kali use stick weapons, but with New York State’s toughening gun laws, hunting and shooting courses are more difficult to put in place.
While it is also possible that classes like Hunting are no longer offered because of a decline in student interest, Davies recognizes that students do enjoy the outdoors, as evidenced by the thriving Interactive Adventures wellness courses. She said it would be interesting to poll students and gauge their interest in bringing the Hunting course back. Students interested in proposing a new wellness class can fill out a New Course Proposal available online.
Changes in course offerings are a reality in an ever-evolving academic institution like RIT. Now, we are going through the big semester conversion causing some courses and their content to be rearranged. But in other periods of change at the university, entire majors have been deleted or formed leading to changes in courses as well.
When the Textiles major was removed, it took most of the related courses with it. And when the Psychology B.S. program was added in 1996, some courses were removed as well. This included The Psychology of Altered States of Consciousness which, according to an email from the Psychology Department Chair Andrew Herbert, was “very popular with long waiting lists.” However, the course did not fit with the B.S. program and was taken off the course list as a result.
Course offerings wax and wane with student and teacher interests. Space tourism was an exciting topic during its time, just like Humans vs. Zombies Bootcamp wellness courses addresses a popular topic now. Losing an interesting class is disappointing but it can open a space for something new.