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Professor McDaniel's New Class on Nothingness Will Never Meet


Photo by Karman Cheema / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Religious Studies Professor Justin McDaniel is no stranger to unorthodox classes. Students know him best for Living Deliberately: Monks, Saints, and the Contemplative Life, a course where students must adopt the practices of monks for a month, as well as for the more recent Existential Despair, a class that meets every Tuesday for seven hours and gives no assignments outside of this time. 

McDaniel’s newest class, Nothingness, might be his most unusual yet. “This class approaches learning through the absence of learning,” he remarked. “We will not have any readings, tests, or papers. Class will never meet.”

On PennInTouch, the course has no scheduled meeting time, but just by virtue of adding it to your schedule, it wipes out all other classes for which you are registered. The three sentence syllabus encourages students to spend their new-found "free" time "contemplating oblivion" and "embracing the void that will one day consume us all."

McDaniel said the course will be refreshing to students who are tired of traditional courses. “Kids who don’t like spending lots of time going to class, doing homework, or studying will enjoy this class a lot,” he said. “They’re literally doing nothing."