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Brown cancels on-campus summer session courses

Residential programs June 13 through July 6 also cancelled, including pre-college programs

Updated 12:09 p.m. April 19, 2020

The University has canceled all on-campus summer session 2020 courses.

The cancellations also include residential summer programs both “on- and off-campus between June 13 and July 6,” which includes pre-college programs that were planned to run during that period, according to an email from Adrienne Marcus, dean of pre-college and summer undergraduate programs. The University will announce a decision about pre-college programs and sports camps which take place later in the summer by May 16.

The slew of cancellations is part of the University’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis. Brown had previously canceled international summer programming due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerns and guidelines, The Herald previously reported.

Online summer classes are scheduled to proceed as planned. Marcus told The Herald that summer courses will transition to online on a rolling basis, and that she hopes to move as many residential programs as possible to online courses.

The decision was made now in part to provide faculty with the time to create “exciting” online learning opportunities. 

“The more time we can give our faculty the better the teaching and learning experience will be,” Marcus said. 

As of April 16, 18 of the summer course catalog’s 58 courses are planned to be taught online. 

The decision to cancel the classes was made “to protect the health and safety of all participants, their families, our staff members and the wider Brown community.”

Patrick Nugent ’21 planned to take ANTH 0249: “Re-Learning Native America: Popular Imagination Versus Diverse Realities” in-person this summer, as well as PHP 1101: “World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture and Policy” as an online course. 

“I’m not surprised,” Nugent said. Since “Re-Learning Native America” featured field trips on the syllabus, he expects that it will be canceled instead of transitioning online. “I’m upset. I thought maybe with the session not starting until June 22 that there was a possibility it would be in person, but I wasn’t optimistic about it.”

Alexandra Peck MA'17, who will be teaching ANTH 0249, wrote in a follow-up email to The Herald that her course will in fact be offered virtually.

Dr. Charles Morton, lecturer in Chemistry, will now be offering the summer version of CHEM 0350: “Organic Chemistry I” online with Visiting Lecturer in Chemistry Jesse Morin. At the moment, Morton is lecturing for the massive chemistry class over Zoom providing over 24 hours of lecture availability per week for just short of 500 students along with Morin, Professor of Chemistry Matthew Zimmt and a team of Teaching Assistants. 

Typically, the smaller cohort in the summer class allows for greater focus on problem solving and instructor-student interaction. But Morton and Morin have been forced to rework their approach for an online class, potentially moving to an inverted classroom model where students learn content through videos and then apply it to problems over Zoom.

“We’re trying to figure out ‘What do students want to consume?’” Morton said. “Do they want to try to have it feel like lectures, do they want to have to pretend like everything’s fine and we’re having lectures? … Or do they want to have an interactive setting? We’re trying to set it up so that it’s all of the above.”

A vital component of Organic Chemistry I is the wet laboratory component. Morton said he and Morin have been working to provide students with the skills necessary to be prepared for labs further in the chem sequence, considering recorded lab videos and data for students to analyze or offering a lab boot camp early next fall to provide hands-on experience.

“Your top priority is the safety of everyone involved. If there’s a couple months delay in when you actually learn Orgo, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,” Morton said. 

At press time, Harvard, Yale and Penn have shifted summer classes to online learning. Cornell has also made the transition to digital, but is still evaluating on-campus courses occurring after July 12. Nearby Rhode Island School of Design on-campus summer programs were canceled April 1.

Summer session registration will be open through June 22. Courses will transition to online on a rolling basis at the summer course catalog.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Alexandra Peck MA'17 will be teaching PHP 1101. In fact, she will be teaching ANTH 0249: “Re-Learning Native America: Popular Imagination Versus Diverse Realities.” The Herald regrets the error.



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