Geography professor brings students to ‘the other side’

Laura Lucas

Laura Lucas

Most people who aren’t science majors dread the thought of taking a science class. Many students end up taking geography classes as an alternative to other options, like chemistry. However, for students looking for something more exciting than learning the different crusts of the Earth, there is hope. A new class, taught exclusively at SDSU, uncovers geography of the paranormal.

“I want to show that geography can be a fun and relevant subject,” said Dr. Charles “Fritz” Gritzner, who teaches the unique course. “We use geography to explain paranormal activity.”

Gritzner’s idea for the class came from his interest in the abnormal. One year, a student of his did a research paper about crop circles, which then lead to his own research on crop circles. He then found the book “Unexplained,” by Jerome Clark, which was all about abnormal activity. Using a list of six research criteria, Gritzner picked fifteen of the book’s 350 topics to cover in class. The topics include crop circles, the Bermuda Triangle and spontaneous combustion.

“Almost everything can be explained using geography,” Gritzner said.

Gritzner has high hopes for the class and the students who take it. He says that most students really enjoy the class.

“This class dealt with a lot of stuff that you would never discuss in any other class,” said Matt Frankenstein, a geography major. “It was interesting because we got to study strange phenomena and the causes behind them. I would recommend it to others who are interested in a class that is very unique and unlike anything they have taken before.”

Why have such an obscure subject in the curriculum?

“We offer a variety of classes for two reasons. One, it exposes students to how the paranormal can be explained geographically, and two: geography covers a wide range of topics, including classes such as geography of terrorism,” said Roger Sandness, head of the geography department at SDSU.

“To study the paranormal is not a popular academic,” Gritzner said. “It is easy to be labeled as a wacko.”

Gritzner is very thorough in his research on the topics he teaches in class. He has spent the last 13 to 14 years researching crop circles.

The study of the paranormal is not actually that abnormal. At Duke University, for example, there is an entire department of paranormal research.

#1.883854:1687047638.jpg:Gritzner02.jpg:Dr. Charles “Fritz” Gritzner has spent the last 14 years studying paranormal subjects.:Courtney Smith