A different kind of class

For students with busy schedules, the AIDS and Society class is a great alternative to traditional courses.


What if I told you there is a way to gain three credits a week before the semester even starts?

As a full-time student with multiple jobs and an internship this semester, I have to build my schedule carefully to remain sane. And as a journalism major, I mostly have class options that require a traditional classroom setting and writing-intensive courses.

Nevertheless, this semester I discovered a class called AIDS and Society, a course offered by the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Public Health. It is a one-week course, rewarding students with three credits at the end of an intense 40-hour week.

The class met five days during the week before the spring semester started. Each class was eight hours long with a break for lunch in the middle of the day and short breaks when the professor called them. 

Aside from freeing up my schedule and giving me more time to do yoga and other things I like, it was one of the best classes I’ve taken in college so far, thanks to the interesting and informational movies and special guests. During the rigorous week, I never felt bored.

Chad Thomas, a social and behavioral sciences instructor and one of four professors who taught AIDS and Society this semester, said one week is enough time for students to learn the basics about HIV, prevention and the effect HIV has on individuals and society.

“It is encouraging to see how younger generations are actively supporting vulnerable populations who are at risk from public health threats,” said Thomas, who has been teaching the course at Temple since 2008.

In Thomas’ class, we watched documentaries about the spread of HIV in the United States, which I had no knowledge of because it’s not really a huge problem in the Czech Republic, where I’m from. So for me, it was extremely valuable and educational.

And I think it was just as compelling for non-international students. The guest speakers were informative and engaging.

Sonia Habel, a junior public health major, said she expected AIDS and Society would be “dry and very informational.” But it exceeded her expectations.

“I really enjoyed the guest speakers because they provided a more personal perspective than I have ever experienced,” she said. “It is so important to educate yourself and others about HIV and AIDS to reduce transmissions and stigma surrounding this virus.”

Having in-class speakers who are either HIV positive or work with HIV-positive communities gave us amazing and powerful insight. I didn’t expect them to be so much fun to listen to since HIV is such a heavy topic.

After being in class for eight hours each day, followed by homework for the next day, I felt overloaded with information but also very accomplished.

With two semesters to go before I graduate, I hope to find a similar gold mine in the future.

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