Some students call it the most laid-back, stress-free class they’ve ever taken. But Professor Andress’ humor therapy class is not just a lot of joke-telling. Andress developed the class after returning from 10 years of mission service overseas, post-9/11, when he was struggling to adjust to the new America. “It’s a structured approach to learning how to find less stress in the mess,” he says, “and how to maintain a sense of joy when everything is crashing down around you.”

Humor as therapy. Take Liberata Nzabonimpa, who came to college alone after losing both her parents to Rwanda’s genocidal war. “Life is very challenging for me, but this class really lifted my spirits,” she says. “Humor gives me a different perspective. If I can make light of a situation, it’s no longer a threat to me.” Nzabonimpa recounts an exercise that involved looking in the mirror and practicing big laughter. “I’m still doing it,” she says. “I can’t pass a day without laughing.”