EX[L] [Un]Classes

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What is an [Un]class?

The [Un]class concept grew organically from conversations about innovating in the classroom. Today [Un]classes serve as an interdisciplinary ‘playground’ for students, faculty, and community-stakeholders to work together to experiment with various approaches to problem-solving and respond collaboratively to opportunities and challenges in our shared community. Drawing on open-space teaching concepts and the principles of unlearning, [Un]classes provide a uniquely Akron experience for applied learning.

At their core, [Un]classes are:

  • Transdisciplinary, problem-focused examinations of real-world issues
  • Community-engaged, action-oriented, co-created solutions
  • Hands-on, applied experiential learning
  • Experimental, dynamic, and responsive to local needs

Small class sizes mean that faculty and students work closely together to craft the class as it unfolds. Students have a voice in the course design, topics of study, and projects. Community-engaged learning lets students apply this information beyond the classroom, learn from peers, instructors, and community partners from varied backgrounds, and develop problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills. [Un]classes offer an opportunity to connect fields of study to real-world issues participants feel passionate about.

[Un]classes are guided by the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Through the [Un]class experience, students will exercise imagination(s) and creative problem-solving skills
  2. Through the [Un]class experience, students will demonstrate transformative growth through self-discovery
  3. Through the [Un]class experience, students will display greater awareness of local issues and connection to Akron/the University of Akron

The particulars:

  1. [Un]classes can be used to satisfy Honors Colloquia requirements; talk to your advisor or EX[L] Center co-director Dr. Christin Seher (cseher@uakron.edu) to learn more.
  2. Some [Un]classes may be used to satisfy the Complex Systems General Education requirement. Should you seek GenEd credit, you must talk to your professor within the first two weeks of class.
  3. Register for the course under the number and department in which it is listed; if the course number is controlled or has a pre-requisite, reach out to the instructor of record for help. To seek independent study (IS) credit in another unit, contact Dr. Seher.

Fall 2022 [Un]Classes

Human Trafficking [Un]ClassHuman Trafficking [Un]Class

Wed - 2 - 4 p.m.

Dr. Jeffery Pellegrino

An interprofessional seminar for students in all majors to decipher the cause and mitigate against this crime, locally, nationally, and internationally. Between community members, students, and faculty we’ll build a community-based seminar to unite allies and share important information gained in the seminar.

Spring 2023 [Un]Classes




T/TH - 10:00 - 11:30 p.m.


Through one-on-one interaction with individuals from the Akron Public Schools' special needs program, students will consider how we can "play different" by designing adaptive learning activities for elementary students that are engaging, physically active, and healthy. [Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement.



ENG 489/589

W - 5:20 - 7:50 p.m.


Using sources at The UA Archives and Special Collections and the Hower House Museum, students will explore the role Grace Hower played in Akron’s theatrical community in the early twentieth century to help establish Akron's Weathervane Playhouse. We will then use tools like blogs, websites, digital archives, and Instagram feeds to bring the story to new audiences and learn not just about Weathervane's early days, but the wide array of people involved in its success. No digital experience necessary! [Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement.



EXLC 490:002

T/R - 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.


The University of Akron is located in the heart of the City of Akron. This class starts with the question, “How can we increase connectivity between University students and the City for mutual benefit?” Working with community partners, we will tackle this big question by actually DOING. You will meet community leaders. You will problem solve. You will launch ideas into the atmosphere. Your contribution will improve both the University and City, and you will learn about yourself in the process, too. [Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement. involved in its success. No digital experience necessary! [Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement.



EDCI 480:001 OR BIOL 495:004

M - 12:55 - 3:25 p.m.


Students will create biomimicry exploration activity kits (BEAKs) focused on plant & animal adaptions that can be used to solve human problems to effectively communicate difficult science topics & create a curriculum that will be offered as an after-school/evening program to teens & adults. [Un]classes fulfill Honors Colloquia Requirement.



EXLC: 490:001

T/TH - 3:05 - 4:45 pm
8w2 session, starting March 7th


Over the course of eight weeks, we will design a new space in the Student Union into a serene relaxation room. Come prepared to be creative and learn how to improve college student mental health through intentional design. Help create a place where all Zips can recharge, relax, and refresh! No design experience necessary! Bring an open mind and big ideas!
[Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement.


COMM: 317:001 - Special Topics

M/W - 9:30 - 10:45 pm
Some classes held at I Promise


Work alongside Z-TV in the WKYC-sponsored television studio at the I Promise school to develop and implement hands-on lessons that teach reading, writing, media literacy, and video production skills to middle school students. No video production or teaching experience necessary! Students must be able to pass a background check.
[Un]classes fulfill an Honors Colloquia Requirement.

[Un]class FAQs

[Un]classes are graded and are taken for credit, but they probably look different from a traditional lecture-based class. Rather than following a tightly prescribed syllabus and course schedule, with predetermined expectations for assignments, readings, and tests, [Un]classes begin with the exploration of an idea or problem – and they unfold from there!

Some [Un]classes are more structured than others, but a hallmark of the [Un]class experience is that students take an active role in designing course projects and shaping course content, working closely with their team of instructors and community partners to co-create the course in real time. You should expect the course to change and respond as the team examines and considers their problem from various angles and readjusts their focus accordingly.

A successful [Un]class looks different every time, and the products of an [Un]class will vary from typical assignments like papers, portfolios, or presentations, to non-typical products like acts of activism/advocacy, service to the community, organized events, reports to community partners – the sky is the limit. Most [Un]class instructors will have a loose idea of grade components and structure to launch the class and will work with students to determine the final grade components.

Because of this ambiguity, students who thrive in [Un]classes are typically flexible, good communicators, open to hearing new ideas/perspectives, able to work successfully in teams, and willing to take risks and see things fail. [Un]classes require creative thinking, curiosity, and the passion to work on real-world problems. If you are considering enrolling in an [Un]class but are concerned about the learning structure, reach out to the instructor of record or an EX[L] co-director to talk it through before making your decision so they can help make sure this learning environment is one in which you will be successful.


An [Un]class is a credit-bearing, graded course that maybe used to satisfy a component in the General Education distribution, to fulfill an Honors Colloquium requirement, or as an elective upper division course or independent study.  There may be additional requirements, however, to earn credit within specific departments and not all [Un]classes will qualify.  You should speak with your advisor and the instructor of the course if you are taking an [Un]class for Gen Ed or Honors credit, and with your major advisor if looking to use an [Un]class to fulfill degree requirements.

Did you know that students, faculty, staff, and community partners all can propose an [Un]class? Ideas for [Un]classes are reviewed by the EX[L] co-directors and a sub-committee of our Faculty Steering Committee on an ongoing basis, with full proposals sought in the fall and spring in a competitive process. If you have an idea, follow these simple steps to let us know:

Check that your idea meets the core elements of an [Un]class. Is the class you are proposing:

  • Problem-focused
  • Transdisciplinary, engaging multiple campus and community stakeholders
  • Hands-on, applied experiential learning
  • Responsive to local needs

When you are ready to submit your [Un]class idea, complete the interest form, which should include a brief description of your idea.

See all our past [Un]Classes

[Un]Class News

  • Watch the News Channel 5 segment on UA's 'Trash Class' that has students dumpster diving to learn about sustainability.
  • Read about A Natural History Mystery that had students giving a makeover to an old UA collection.
  • Read how our [Un]classes have become a successful educational experiment.
  • Watch the documentary History in Motion, to hear how Dr. Martha Santos merged her two passions: salsa and history, to create this unique unclass.

  • Go behind the scenes of Akron's lost history in The Forgotten Dead. Filmed by UA student, Claire Pugel this video takes you into the unclass about unearthing the secrets of Akron's Schneider Park.

  • All the World’s A Classroom is a site created by the unclass with the same name, that combined Arts and Sciences with the College of Education students in an exploration of smart outdoor education concepts that are positive not apocalyptic in our contemporary world’s sustainability challenges. The site also provides tools for K - 12 science educators.

  • Courtney Malita writes about the The Impact of the "Unclass:" Breaking from the Traditional Classroom and the benefits she gained from taking "Unearthing the Paranormal: Ghosts of Akron's Past."

  • The unclass "Unearthing the Paranormal: Ghosts of Akron's Past" let anthropology students research "haunted" history and practice in-the-field interviewing techniques as they explored ghost stories surrounding Akron's Schneider Park and mass graves.

  • The Cummings Center's Institute for Human Science and Culture wrote about UA's "Digital Humanities in the Archives" unclass in its blog post, "In an Unclass of its Own." Students learned archiving skills and how to make items accessible to the public and to scholars.