A Course on Romantic Relationships – for College Credit?
According to University of North Texas professor Jennifer Acker
marriage is very easy to get into. In fact in her home state one only needs a driver’s license to apply for a marriage license (could someone connect those dots for us?).
But, Professor Acker notes, marriage is not so easy to escape.
“Divorce ranks number two on the list of most stressful life events (with number one being the death of a spouse),” she explains. “Rarely do people walk away from divorce completely unscathed.”
Believing that if couples were better prepared for marriage fewer would seek divorce, Acker teaches one of the more unique courses to be offered on a college campus: Romantic Relationships: Theories, Research and Application. In simplest terms, it is a class that is designed to teach young people about love and romance.
And while the traditionalists may be cringing at the fact that students may actually earn three credits towards their college diploma discussing such a topic, we do understand that today’s fast paced and stressful life is much easier to handle if one is able to share their life as part of a successful relationship.
Legitimate Academic Study?
The description from the course catalog:
4343. Romantic Relationships: Theories, Research and Application. 3 hours. An in-depth, comprehensive exploration of the theories, research and applications thought to promote relationship success in a wide variety of romantic relationships, including dating and marital relationships.
Professor Acker offers her Romantic Relationships senior level course to a growing number of students each year. About half of the 60 students enrolled this year are taking the class as part of the Development and Family Studies program in the College of Education.
But the other half apparently spans a wide variety of majors, with each student offering a variety of personal reasons for taking a course that seeks to help students understand what constitutes a healthy romantic relationship.
Professor Acker, a self-proclaimed Star Wars fan, told the Dallas Morning News that her course at the college in Denton focuses on educating students in areas such as dating, attraction and friendship. Even more importantly, she insists it does so outside of those traditional keg parties or casual hook-ups.
As one might expect, recent news reports did little to enhance the course as legitimate academic inquiry. Instead, newspaper accounts highlighted the class as part of its Valentine’s Day reporting.
So the focus was on the real way to tell if he loves you (it’s not in his kiss – it’s in his eyes) and that the relevant info was being delivered by the students “Love Lecturer” who guided the students through the “twists and turns of Cupid’s arrow.”
While so much of the reporting focus was on the famous men and women the students found attractive, from James Franco to Carrie Underwood, it was nice to hear some intelligent individuals focus in on the real substance of the course.
One such senior, Zuleyma Rogel, who just so happens to be pursuing a double major in social science and political science, told the Dallas News that “she has noticed a strong shift in marriage dynamics as more women have pursued careers outside the home.” The paper went on to note:
Rogel says that academics and a good career are important to her, but that she believes that true success in life will come from becoming a wife and a mother, so she wants to learn how to balance those two segments of life.
While many reveal that they are taking the class to fulfill requirements for their majors, another group believes that the course will help them in their future careers as counselors. Professor Acker also insisted that college was a particularly good time to learn about creating healthy partnerships.
And as for the demise of the American family, Acker believes a good portion comes from today’s hectic lifestyles.
“I think people become so engrossed in their busy lives and day to day activities that they forget to make time for one another, explains Acker. “They either rarely communicate or do so ineffectively and with an undertone of stress. This lack of communication just compounds any issues that may already be present.”
Of course, as we noted the class has its critics. There are those that insist the course is precisely what is wrong with higher education in America, that the class is neither “a legitimate academic pursuit nor a useful intellectual exercise.”
Those naysayers certainly have not gotten the attention of a student body that is lining up in droves to learn how to make a relationship work. And given the clear importance of two parent households for children, a course that seeks to help young people establish long lasting relationships just might be the most important one a student takes while in school.