Profile and Threat Assessment
When the class “Profile and Threat Assessment” appeared on SAIL, no doubt scenes from Criminal Minds and CSI flashed through students’ heads.
Daniel Kennedy, Criminal Justice professor at University of Detroit and principal consultant for Forensic Criminology Associates, has had over 40 years of experience in the field.
“It doesn’t quite work so magically,” said Kennedy, instructor of this first-ever class.
He said the course is directed more toward criminology, giving students the very basic schools of thought and concepts behind criminal analysis.
Yet despite the unrealistic Hollywood dramatizations, the class still entails some of the similarly bizarre yet serious twists. For example, last week the class studied the subject of paraphilia, which in layman’s terms is extreme sexual perversion.
“I knew that it would be a class where you would learn different things that you normally wouldn’t find (at OU),”said Rebecca List, a Senior Sociology major and Criminal Justice minor.
In fact, Oakland University is the only university in Michigan to offer the course.
Compared to most, this class has had a unique and somewhat immediate application for List. For the past 10 and a half years, she has worked as an officer of the Wolverine Lake Police Department.
List said it has already given her several ideas to apply in her own investigations.
Throughout the semester, students will learn about behavioral analysis when determining either who has performed a crime (a profile) or who is likely to do so (a threat). Subjects include psychological analysis, ethics of racial profiling, stalking behavior, workplace threats, school shooters and even national security.
The range and amount of topics may seem daunting, but List says the unique nature of subject matter has helped her stick with the class.
“It’s a lot to take in,” she said, “but being so different and interesting really helps you stay focused.”
The department of Sociology and Anthropology recently introduced the new Criminal Justice program. Kennedy said he foresees this becoming a crucial course in the future of the degree.
Organic Farming in the Urban Setting
This time last year, you would have hardly recognized Danielle Bockart.
“I could barely keep a house plant alive,” she said.
Having enrolled for the inaugural semester of the 400-level Biology course “Organic Farming in the Urban Setting”, she had no idea what to expect. Had she known that the first class would involve lots of digging and lots of mess, she probably wouldn’t have worn heels.
Yet despite the initial confusion, Bockart now stands, dirty knees and all, as the student assistant farm manager and the president of the Student Organic Farmers. She’s even considering changing her major to Horticultural Therapy.
What happened to spur on such a change? Fay Hansen’s class did.
Associate Professor of Biology and pioneer of the OU Student Organic Farm, Hansen is leading a group of students for the second time in an exploration of plants, soil, irrigation and the like.
Each week, the class meets at a hoop house at the Pontiac-based non-profit, the Baldwin Center to plant seeds, develop irrigation, and harvest the goods.
“This is more like experiential learning,” Hansen said. “There are huge amounts of biology that turn up through this; you look at them as they occur and you learn.”
“It’s a dream class,” said Ian Lacy, Sophomore Biology major. “The fact that school can be like this is a dream.”
Lacy said it combines his recent gardening hobbies into both school and everyday life.
Arielle Gellish, a Senior Health Sciences major, heard about the class from another professor.
“I was never super big on gardening … it was always a punishment,” she said.
But Gellish took the class in hopes that, one day, she could live sustainably. Now she has her own blossoming garden, stocked to the brim with potential carrots, basil, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce.
“I like it because you’re not just sitting in a class room,” Gellish said. “You’re learning about a plant as your seeing it and picking it up.”
Not only are these students interacting with nature, they will soon be working side by side with community members.
Last summer a partnership sprouted. The OU students and a group from the Kennedy Center, a school for cognitively impaired young adults, spent several mornings together during the summer keeping up the garden and harvesting.
Hansen aspires to move the class to the 100-level so more students participate in and easily locate this unique course.
“Interaction is a little a-typical,” she said, “I have a tough time going back to conventional lecture.”
Eight students sit in a small dark room at the bottom of Wilson Hall glued to computers, and their job this summer is to experiment.
The Special Topics course, “Experimental Animation,” is a brand-new homemade concoction of the history, techniques and aesthetic of animation.
Professor Leslie Raymond was partially inspired to create the class by her own curiosity. As an artist having worked primarily with moving images, Raymond saw Experimental
Animation as a great avenue for teaching new media and aesthetic appeal.
The word “experiment” could have been ambiguous enough to drive some students crazy, but it appears as though it has helped drive creativity in the class.
“One of the coolest things that has come out of this class is that there are people from completely different areas,” Raymond said. “It’s been great, it brings a different kind of energy.”
The work produced reflects not only the interdisciplinary diversity among the students but also each one’s personality.
One project featured a peppy apple character being suddenly devoured by a giant mouth while another video began as Mario Kart race and transformed into a zombie attack.
Each student keeps a blog and is required to post about certain concepts mentioned in class.
Raymond said the summer atmosphere has aided to the interaction among members.
“You can tell when people are really interested in what each other’s saying.”