5 of the most unique electives at Iowa State


Photo: Randi Reeder/Iowa State Daily

Senior in culinary science Chelsea Taylor, Senior in HRI Kara Nguyen, and Senior in chemistry Kim Galyean in Professor Stewart Burger’s HR 383, Introduction to Wine, Beer & Spirits class.

Trevor Knabach

With over 100 majors in eight different colleges, it’s no secret that Iowa State offers a large variety of courses.

It can be difficult to choose an elective with so many options. Electives are a chance to explore an interest that might otherwise go ignored.

If you’re searching for some of the most unique electives offered by Iowa State, here are a few interesting options:

FS HN 276: Understanding Grape and Wine Science

This three credit course dives into the realm of wine and the specifics that go into making it. Students will learn about the process of making wine from growing the grapes to the aging process and even proper storage.

“The title of the course, Understanding Grape and Wine Science, may seem odd for a land grant university in the middle of Iowa to offer, but to many students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, it provides them with more cropping choices which leads to crop diversification,” said Dr. Diana Cochran, assistant professor in horticulture, who is teaching the class this semester.

“I would tell students that if they are interested in learning about one of the oldest domesticated crops and the challenges that we as a country and as a state have overcome in order to have a grape and wine industry, then this is the course for them,” said Cochran when asked what she would tell students who were considering enrolling in the course.

KIN 173: Hapkido/Martial Self Defense

Hapkido is a form of martial arts that focuses on defense through many different techniques such as grappling and throwing. Originating in Korea, Hapkido is taught for an individual who wants to develop skills to defend against an attacker.

This course promotes both physical and mental strength, with an emphasis on self control.

KIN 173 is a one credit course only offered on a satisfactory/fail basis.

NREM 181: Artistry in Wood

Artistry in Wood is a one credit, eight week course that looks into wood’s role in art. Students will examine how wood is used in artistic expression, including art in the University Museums.

“We bring a lot of really great and unique people to this class who showcase the variety of artistry in wood. Students get to experience woodturning, woodworking tools and techniques from 1875 and a passionate story from a woodworker who dives and pulls up antique logs from the bottom of rivers in Kentucky, among several others. Every presenter is unique and inspiring,” said Nancy Gebhart, educator of visual literacy and learning.

“I promise, you don’t need to know anything about art to enjoy this class. It is a 1 credit, half semester elective that gives you a chance to discover something – about yourself, about ISU, about art, about life,” said Gebhart.

HD FS 276: Human Sexuality

Human Sexuality is a three credit course that allows students to discuss topics that aren’t typically talked about in an educational setting.

How an individual defines sexuality, how society affects sexual identity and what it means to be ‘sexually normal’ are all covered in the course, along with many important sexual issues and how to talk about them.

HD FS 276 meets the U.S. Diversity requirement.

DSN S 145x: Diversity in Art

Diversity in Art is an experimental course through the design studies department.

“The world is a confusing place. Current events are often hard to understand and process. Art provides a wonderful vehicle for self and societal reflection and analysis. Through open discussion, this class allows us to think critically, practice empathy and make sense of what we see, think, and feel,” said Gebhart, who is teaching this new course.

“For the final assignment in this class, students collaboratively propose an acquisition to the permanent Art on Campus Collection that enhances the representation and discussion of diversity and inclusion at Iowa State. It is something that they can be proud of that creates a permanent, long-term impact on campus,” said Gebhart when asked what made the course unique.


For more information on these courses, check out the Iowa State course catalog