20190925_bl_strangecourses

John Kyndt, an assistant professor of microbiology, nutrition and sustainability at Bellevue University, teaches a course last week on 12 reasons biology will change the way you think.

Upon first glance, students may find that some of Bellevue University’s courses sound odd.

With classes on ethical hacking, science and science fiction, serial killers and mass murderers and even reasons why biology is important, there are several courses to further a student’s interest and education.

Ethical hacking

Doug Rausch, Maenner endowed chair and assistant professor and program director for cyber security, teaches ethical hacking and response (CYBR 525), a required master’s program in the cyber security department.

The course teaches students about security, how to secure and protect cyber assets and how to check to make sure something is secure.

“If you don’t know what you’re securing, if you’re hitting the wrong stuff, if you don’t know how to do it, it’s pointless, and then you have to test it,” Rausch said. “Where ethical hacking comes into play is in that test piece.”

The curriculum of the course consists of different tests that focus on system vulnerabilities and threats, labs, a system break-in scenario and a written penetration test report.

“I get students a lot that say, ‘I’m in cyber security, why do i have to write?’” Rausch said. “But a big part of penetration testing is it doesn’t do anything good to break into a system if you can’t communicate what you did to do it and how they need to fix it.

Rausch said the course is important because it’s very hands-on and allows students to think like a system hacker.

“Most people usually jump into that class and they get surprised we spend a whole week talking about legality, contracts and everything else,” he said. “Because some of the things you’re doing can damage a system and you want to make sure even if you’re testing the security on a system, one of the things you don’t do is crash the system and make the data go away.”

General education science

Science and science fiction (NS 105) and 12 reasons biology will change the way you think (BI 142) have been popular among non-majors to see science in a new light.

Scott Pinkerton, assistant professor in the college of science and technology, said besides meeting the required credit hours to graduate, there are many benefits to taking both courses.

“There’s this idea that science is hard, usually because there’s a lot of math involved, so that kind of turns people off,” he said.

“Both courses kind of use an alternative approach. We always kind of had on our mind that we needed more choice in our natural science electives.

“The 12 reasons course uses stories and essays, whereas science and science fiction uses short stories, movies, etc. and we use those to introduce scientific principles.”

Pinkerton teaches the online NS 105 course, which can fulfill three natural science credits.

The BI 142 course follows a similar format that has students complete labs, cover different topics each week such as vaccines and evolution, read current articles about discoveries and discover how biology effects people’s lives.

“The stories and the movies intrigue them — it’s easy for them to read and understand,” said John Kyndt, assistant professor of microbiology, nutrition and sustainability who teaches the course. “It gets them interested in science.”

Both courses are largely discussion- and quiz-based. Both courses require students to watch the movies “Contagion” and “Interstellar” and others, and neither course has a formal final exam.

“Even though they’re fun courses, they still have that academic edge to them,” Pinkerton said.

Kyndt said even students not in the science field can learn a lot from these two courses.

“By showing them how it effects their lives, I think we get more people interested in science, and maybe become a major in the future as well,” he said.

The criminal mind

An elective course will fulfill students’ desires to learn more about serial killers and mass murderers, as well as explore the psychological reasons behind their killing sprees.

The criminal mind is a three-part cluster course in the human services department that focuses on psychology of criminals, as well as personality disorders and how they are connected to violence.

The three parts of the course are biological risk factors for violence, serial killers and mass murderers and psychology of the criminal mind.

The online course is taught by David Hoppe, associate professor and program director for behavioral science.

“It’s interesting for me, too,” he said. “I learn something new all the time.”

The focus of the course isn’t on what the criminals have done, but rather the thought process behind their crimes.

“Cruel crimes are part of our lives now, and crimes are so violent,” Hoppe said. “It helps them to understand that more from a psychopathology angle.”

Students who complete the course, Hoppe said, always walk away with a greater knowledge of the subject.

“It makes more sense now — how does this happen in our society?” he said.

The curriculum consists of online discussion posts of reading assignments and even research assignments from their hometowns that fit with the course material.

Hoppe said he enjoys the students’ reaction to the course.

“I enjoy how much they seem to take away from it in the end,” he said.

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