The Tragic Optimist

what would you study?

There was discussion the other day of an environmental studies major at the college where I work (it’s currently a concentration).  One proposal was to let students decide on a focus within the major.  One of the foci was “Food and Agriculture.”  It was like a shock to my system.  I want to go back and study that.  (Funny thing, too, Chris and I had just had a discussion about how happy we were not to be back in college.)  I don’t know that it would change at all what I would have ended up doing – probably not, I love being a librarian – but I really wish I’d been able to take more classes in that subject.

Any subjects you would study if you had the chance?



  1. That’s a great question Ann!

    I guess I always felt when I left Carleton that I had wasted a good portion of it and not really exploring what interested me (and making some bad choices on my language requirement). I really did feel when I graduated that I wanted 4 more years to explore what I didn’t take the time to while there.

    That being said, I didn’t really have anything SPECIFIC that I wanted to do…I just wanted to take all those classes that had nothing to do with anything but just intrigued me. I wanted to take more geology, biology, art, history (specifically of Central & East Asia), and religion.

    Now days, I think I would love to spend more time with the Chinese language, environmental technologies in the sense of what is the new energy technology and how can it be easily integrated into our grid (I was actually only about 3 credits away from an ENTS concentration myself), and photography.

    Ah…to return to a simpler time when all we had to do is decide what class to take and our decision didn’t determine anything about our lives beyond than the next 10 weeks…

  2. William

    This is a great question, Ann. I always wish I’d done more math and painting. Those are the two areas I loved when I was studied them the first time around, but didn’t see as good career options down the road. But, like you, I can’t imagine being anything else but a librarian now.

  3. Alison

    I would take more of the same, stay away from those random classes and keep within Asian Studies more. And maybe take some more CS.

    Can you take classes at Carleton? That’s one thing I love about working at a college, I can still take classes!

  4. I can take classes at Carleton, but it has to be on my own time, so with Zoe and the commute distance, it just never seems practical. I did take “Tour of Mathematics” a “series of eight lectures intended for students considering a Mathematics major. The emphasis will be on presenting various striking ideas, concepts and results in modern mathematics, rather than on developing extensive knowledge or techniques in any particular subject area.” It was a pretty awesome class, actually. And only 1 credit.

  5. i TOTALLY want to be a CSI! I would go to forensic school or science school or whatever the heck school it is you have to take to be a CSI! he hee

  6. Hmm, right now it would be folklore and storytelling, Kannada, and practical computer skills.

    In college I regret giving up on and dropping some courses out of fear I wasn’t good enough and fear of the time committment and fear of going out of my comfort zone and having to interview strangers-3rd year Ancient Greek and an Ethnography class.

  7. After reading and being inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I’d be signing up for that Food and Agriculture class for sure! Also, I wish I had learned more about art – not necessarily doing it, but I feel like some art history classes would make trips to art museums (which I enjoy but am clueless about) much more interesting! Um. A little Asian history wouldn’t hurt right about now either since I know next to nothing about Japan’s history and yet here I am – trying to learn what I can through poor English translations at various historical sights.

  8. When I went back to school a few years ago, I noticed a course that was about history and the civil rights movement as portrayed by the music of the Beatles. I don’t remember what the course title was exactly but I thought it would be facinating. Of course, my goal at the time was just to get DONE but I would love to have taken the course just for fun.

  9. Gus

    As someone who has done/is doing (yay grad school) this, I get the conundrum. When I “left” the computer industry, I didn’t plan on going back to school for a music degree (much less multiple graduate degrees), but saw the classes in the catalogue and thought, “Oh, that looks like fun!” Now, here I am with a BM in Music Theory, and one of two majors completed for my MM. DMA, here I come!

  10. I would like to take some classes in women’s studies so I could learn more about the waves of feminism. I don’t have a good sense for how is has evolved and it would fascinate me.

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