A course on the science of paranormal activities, offered for the first time last fall at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, got a skeptical reception from a journalist who sat in on one of the classes. The reporter, Patrick Lagacé, ridiculed the course in a segment of a TV show he co-hosts as well as in a column he writes for Montreal daily La Presse.
If Academy Awards were handed out for the most useless, Mickey Mouse courses at university, wrote Mr. Lagacé, “I’d nominate the course” at UQTR. Ouch.
The university fought back, pointing out, reasonably, that paranormal activities are a part of popular culture and human history, and are thus deserving of study. The course “is based on the scientific analysis of paranormal phenomena in order to develop critical thinking skills in students,” explained Sylvain Delisle, the vice-rector for undergraduate studies at UQTR, in a press release.
The class was taught and developed by Régis Olry, a professor of anatomy and a winner of a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, which recognizes teaching excellence.