Jan Term cranks up here and abroad

Jan. 11, 2012

It’s January and the campus takes on a different energy as students and faculty gather for one month of on-campus projects, independent research, internships and study-away experiences.

The Interim, or “Jan Term,” is the middle of the 4-1-4 academic calendar.  Interim courses are designed to encourage students to explore course content outside of their majors through personal, hands-on experience, according to Dr. Sarah Beth Mallory, Associate Provost for General Education, Global Engagement and Special Projects.

“Our instructors can be very creative planning their courses,” she said. “Dr. David Ahearn is teaching a class on campus called ‘1968: A Retrospective,’ where he looks at all the things that happened that year – from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy to Apollo 8 orbiting the moon. That was a year that was full of events that changed our history.”

Foreign travel groups will be visiting Greece, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.

“We have about 60 students traveling abroad this year, and 23 of them are traveling on scholarships,” Dr. Mallory said. “We are grateful for donors who specify that their gifts be used for Jan Term travel.”

This year’s freshman class will be the first to be able to take advantage of the college’s new Study-Away Commitment that will provide a voucher worth up to $2,500 for off-campus study during junior or senior year. But that doesn’t mean that other students won’t be the recipients of help.

“We plan to have even more scholarships next year, the last year before the vouchers kick in,” Dr. Mallory said.

Some of the criteria for receiving the scholarships include a student’s previous study-travel experience, class year, grade point average and demonstrated financial need.

“We will do everything we can to make sure students who want to travel will have the opportunity to do so,” she said.

This is the first year that a group will travel to Mexico.

“Because the year 2012 has been in the news with the Mayan doomsday predictions, we have a class who will be studying the cycles of history in Mayan Mexico,” Dr. Mallory said. “Another class will be studying Mexican culture and civilization.”

Service-learning courses continue to be a strong part of the Jan Term curriculum. “Use and Misuse of our Water Resources,” “Shelter” and “Living Green” will offer students a chance to learn firsthand of the challenges facing the world today.

“These three classes will be traveling to a global village in Alabama, where they will spend the night with no electricity and no running water,” Dr. Mallory said. “I imagine that will be an eye-opening experience for a lot of our students.”

Spring semester will begin with several contact programs featuring Jan Term class members, and for the first time, will continue throughout the semester.

“On Feb. 7, four of our on-campus classes will present their work,” Dr. Mallory said. “Later, students from our travel courses will give a series of programs about their experiences.”

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