Clemson University professor Bruce King is well-known across campus by students. He even was nominated by Clemson honor students to be the featured lecturer at the Honors Residential College Valentine’s Day Lecture and Dinner Party.

Bruce King's well-attended Human Sexual Behavior class.

Bruce King’s well-attended Human Sexual Behavior class.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

King teaches psychology 3060, better known as Human Sexual Behavior. With nearly 700 students enrolled, his course is by far the largest class at Clemson University.

Each semester, King starts off the first day of class by asking students to raise their hands if they had a meaningful conversation with their parents about sex when they were in high school.

“This semester it was about 25 percent, and last spring it was around 15 percent,” King said. “So here we are, in the day of epidemic teenage pregnancies and sexual transmitted infections and at least 75 percent of students’ parents have never had a meaningful talk with them.”

King has been teaching sexual behavior classes since 1981, for years at the University of New Orleans and since 2007 at Clemson. Surprisingly, the percentage of students who have had a meaningful conversation about sex with their parents has not increased in the last 38 years, he said.

When asked if he has ever learned anything about human sexual behavior from his students, King said that he often makes adjustments to his course based on feedback and conversations with students.

Bruce King

Bruce King

“In recent years, I’ve had members of the LGBTQ community update me on the current politics of the community,” said King. “I’ve been able to incorporate what they have taught me about their own experiences into my lectures.”

Similarly, as a result of student feedback, King now includes a sexual assault panel in the course. “For the last two years, I have had a panel come in to discuss what students should do if they are ever a victim, what that process of reporting a sexual assault is like and overall just try to make students more comfortable and willing to report sexual assault.”

King said that he believes his students are more comfortable talking about sex after they have completed the course.

“I don’t think there is one ‘most important thing’ I want to teach my students. My number one goal for all my students is not the knowledge part, but when it’s all done that they are more comfortable with themselves.”