Lake Erie College to Launch a New Pop Culture Minor in Fall 2020


Lake Erie College is proud to announce the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will offer a new minor in Pop Culture, to be available in Fall 2020.  

The interdisciplinary Pop Culture minor is 18 hours, and will launch with POP 101: Introduction to Pop Culture Studies this fall. The minor includes options from a number of departments, including Art, History, Dance, Sport Studies, Sociology, Communication, and many more.  The department will also be adding comic studies courses, including History of Comics and Gender and Comics, as well as a History of Rock and Roll course. The pop culture minor pairs well with all majors and enhances future employment opportunities: understanding different cultures makes us more empathetic, better critical thinkers, and better communicators, all skills that are valuable in the workplace.

Jennifer Swartz-Levine, Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, is spearheading this new minor. Of the minor’s importance of teaching valuable workplace skills, Dr. Swartz-Levine says, “We need to understand how our cultural assumptions affect the ways in which we talk with and to each other.  This is vitally important as we navigate issues affecting us locally, nationally, and globally. For example, consider someone who is an Environmental Sciences major who wants to work at the Environmental Protection Agency after graduation. Exploring how environmental issues are depicted in films such as WALL-E, comics such as Swamp Thing or television shows such as Firefly will enable students to either use these as accessible cultural touchstones when explaining climate change or will provide insight as to how flawed messages are being sent to the public about important global issues.” 

Dr. Swartz-Levine has published and presented widely on pop culture, most recently as a keynote speaker at the Bowling Green State University Batman in Popular Culture Conference and as a guest on the “Justice League International Bwah-Ha-Ha Podcast.”  She also has published articles in “The Ages of the Justice League: Essays on America’s Greatest Heroes in Changing Times,” “The Role of Agency and Memory in Historical Understanding: Revolution, Reform, and Rebellion,” and “The Ages of the Incredible Hulk: Essays on the Green Goliath in Changing Times.”  This minor also is supported by Dr. David Moody, Retention and Advising Specialist at Lake Erie College. He has spoken and published frequently on issues of Black Popular Culture and is a board member of the national Popular Culture Association.

Movies, TV shows, music and comics enable conversations about weighty issues through a filter of popular culture, and Lake Erie College is uniquely positioned to help students explore these topics.  Not only do we have faculty members with significant expertise in the field, but also the new minor ties into Lake Erie College’s mission: to help students engage in self-discovery, to develop strong personal attributes, and to balance personal and professional goals.  Studying pop culture teaches students to analyze the media they choose to consume, to examine the ways in which they are personally influenced and shaped by popular forms of media and to consider perspectives and values that differ from their own. 

“It's ultimately about how our shared cultural assumptions – as epitomized by pop culture – affects how we interact, whether that site of interaction is with our friends, within our workplaces, or in online settings,” Dr. Swartz-Levine said. “Knowing more about how we tick, as it were, leads us to being better practitioners of critical thinking skills, as well as more thoughtful, empathetic listeners and consumers.”

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