Eckerd College students learn about the power of the country music icon’s authenticity and how to better relate to each other through her example.

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We could all learn a thing or two from Dolly Parton. And thanks to one professor, students are able to get credit for doing so.

Professor Grace Lager specializes in gender, media, and most recently, all things Dolly Parton.

In her new course at the St. Petersburg liberal arts college, students learn about the power of the country music icon's authenticity and how her example can help people better relate to each other.

"We had a lot of things going on in our country," Lager told the Tampa Bay Times. "These are issues that our students want to talk about and need to talk about, and it's uncomfortable. But music seems to be a salve."

Lager told the paper that she was inspired to create the course after listening to Dolly Parton's America, a 2019 podcast from NPR. She was particularly struck by an episode about University of Tennessee professor Lynn Sacco's pioneering course on Parton.  

"I was blown away by the cultural issues they were covering—gender, class, race—and that Dolly Parton was somebody who was able to address these issues through her music," she explained.

Listen to Southern Living's "Biscuits & Jam" podcast to hear interviews from Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker, Willie Nelson, and more!

In the winter intensive, Lager assigns reading and podcast episodes. Students study Parton's lyrics, style evolution, unique brand of feminism, and her various philanthropic endeavors. They also dig into what Dolly Parton's America calls "Dollitics," the songstress' uncanny ability to appear political while somehow managing to avoid politics.

Speaking with CMT, a student in the class emphasized the course's real-world implications. "[We learn] progression, freedom, forgiveness, and the way forward."

OK, where do we sign up?