Photo from Max Pixel / Public Domain
After breezing through the entire syllabus by the first week of October, tenured Professor Leslie Coleman has taken to showing a succession of documentary films for the remainder of her course.
Professor Coleman's 16-person seminar, "STSC346: The Ethics of Maize," is a course designed to "raise moral questions about the practices of Big Corn and its effects on the food industry," according to the syllabus posted on Penn InTouch. The class meets once per week for three hours on Wednesday evenings.
"What ended up happening was that we got through all the academic literature on corn ethics way too fast," Coleman explained. "So I figured, let's reward ourselves, you know? We made it through all the readings, we should have a movie day."
That one movie day, Coleman's students say, has spiraled out of control.
"This is literally the third week in a row we've watched a food documentary," said student Jeff Fried (C '20). "They just keep getting less and less relevant. It started with Food, Inc., which was good. Then last class it was Supersize Me, which is kind of missing the point. And now she just emailed us saying we're gonna watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi next week."
Fried's classmates are just as unsettled by the progression of the course. "It's pretty clear she's just running out the clock," Anya Moore (C '19) added. "She spends the first 45 minutes of class trying to get the projector to work, then we watch a movie for the next two hours. And then we leave."
"I'm not complaining or anything," Moore continued, "but in a weird way, I almost kind of miss reading and having discussions. Like, I kind of actually wanted to know about corn and agribusiness."
When asked whether she plans to continue playing documentaries for the remaining 4 weeks of the semester, Coleman couldn't say for sure. "Maybe not just documentaries," she considered, "I might show Ratatouille next."