University News

University approves new winter term

Term to include 10 three-week courses, each worth one standard course credit

By
News editor
Friday, August 5, 2016

Faculty members have approved a winter term, called Wintersession, that will feature 10 accelerated courses in January 2017.

Spanning three weeks, the courses are not “standard semester courses,” but rather “innovative courses that can benefit from the intensive time structure that Wintersession offers,” said Maud Mandel, dean of the College and professor of history and Judaic studies.

Six courses will take place on campus, while three will include trips abroad and one will be taught online. Though courses must cover the standard 48 hours of contact and 180 hours of work in order to count for credit, individual faculty members will have ample discretion in scheduling class time. For example, a professor could decide to hold an evening session, Mandel said, adding that Wintersession “won’t conform to a normal schedule.”

One of the destination courses, called “HIST 1972G: Settler Colonialism and U.S. Military Empire in the Pacific,” includes a trip to Hawaii, while a class called “UNIV 1001: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives,” features a trip to Israel. The last destination course, which will explore global humanitarianism, takes students to Thailand.

The on-campus courses span every discipline, ranging from an examination of race, sex and class in the modern American musical to a foray into experimental methods for engineers. Eight different departments will participate in the January 2017 session: American studies; cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences; engineering; English; history; Judaic studies; theatre and performance studies and visual art.

Other classes include “CLPS 1292: MATLAB Programming for the Mind, Brain, and Behavior,” a visual arts course on monumental drawing and “HIST 1974K: Maps and Empires: A Journey through the Cartographic Collection of the John Carter Brown Library.”

Faculty approved the new term as a three-year pilot program after years of planning on the part of Mandel and Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12, who discussed the proposal with faculty members, staff members and students long before the official faculty vote.

“It’s something (President Christina) Paxson P’19 has been interested in having Brown explore,” Mandel said. “The winter term provides a way for students to think very intensely about one subject for several weeks without having to deal with other classes or responsibilities. Some students really thrive with that kind of intensive learning.”

“It won’t be for everybody, but it speaks to different learning styles,” she added.

The winter term also grants students added flexibility when scheduling their courses. For example, if students were to take two winter courses and two summer courses, they could opt for an earlier graduation date, Mandel said. The courses may count toward a concentration or elective, she added, as long as students obtain approval from their concentration advisers.

According to the University website, all Wintersession courses will cost students about $7,408 — including the three destination courses, which are subsidized by Global Experiential Learning and Teaching grants. Full financial aid will be available to those who need it.

It’s not clear yet how much demand there will be for the winter courses, which are capped at a maximum of 20 students.

“Typically when we launch a new program, it takes a couple years for people to take advantage of it,” Mandel said. “But the College is extremely excited about this initiative, and we hope students enroll in the winter term and enjoy it.”

There will be information sessions for the new program throughout September and early October, and registration will begin Oct. 5.