Inaugural J-Term courses offer exciting opportunities

After months of planning and preparation, the official list of 49 J-Term classes was released — and it’s caught students’ attention. While some students will use Drake’s new January Term to catch up on credits, others will enroll in on-campus and overseas courses that are brand new to the Drake Curriculum. The list includes classes focused on leadership in the Atlantic, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and even the famed fictional wizard Harry Potter.

Dorothy Pisarski, associate professor of journalism, recently coordinated a J-Term Fair, which allowed students to explore their options, meet instructors and ask questions.

“The January Term will open up new vistas for students,” Pisarski says. “Those staying on campus will be totally immersed in one course, and those traveling as they study will discover learning in new ways.”

In addition to being part of the J-Term Task Force, Pisarski will join Carlyn Crowe, internship coordinator and adjunct instructor for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, in leading one of seven courses instructed primarily off campus. The immersive course, “International Advertising: Travel Seminar to Poland,” will expose students to differences in the practices of advertising, public relations, graphic design and integrated marketing communications in the Polish cities of Krakow and Warsaw.

Tropical Topics

Professor of Education Tom Westbrook’s J-Term class, “Leadership at Sea,” will also involve navigating as students apply the leadership skills they study in the classroom while they learn to sail, work in teams and experience life at sea. As part of the newly created leadership concentration, this course will take place both in Des Moines and in the Bahamas, onboard the tall mast schooner Liberty Clipper. The trip will also include experience in small craft sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and a service project.

David Courard-Hari, associate professor of environmental science and policy, will lead another international experience. In the “International Environmental Seminar to Ecuador and the Galapagos,” a group of students will investigate the interacting and competing demands of tourism, resource use, economic development and conservation in two tropical South American locales. Each student will spend about 36 total hours on a service-learning project on a topic of their interest. Potential project focuses include invasive species mitigation in parks, work in a health clinic or educational assistance in a local school.

Domestic Opportunities

After extensive work with the Iowa Caucuses and the ABC News Republican presidential debate, Rachel Paine Caufield, associate professor of politics, is looking forward to leading a group of students to Washington, D.C. for “Inside Washington: The Presidential Inauguration.”

“The inauguration is a moment in the life of the country where official Washington meets average, everyday people,” says Paine Caufield, who has attended previous inaugurations. “It’s a real sense of being present at something that has the potential to change the course of the nation.”

Students will spend 11 days in D.C., attending various academic and VIP events, meetings, receptions and, of course, the presidential inauguration.

“My hope is that students will gain a sense of investment in the process that will ultimately stay with them and lead them to want to continue to be involved in government,” Paine Caufield says.

Students who would rather reside in Des Moines during the three-week January Term have the chance to enroll in “Theories of Myth and Archetypes: Harry Potter and the Golden Fleece,” taught by Elizabeth Robertson, associate professor of English. The course, however, will cover more than the generation’s favorite wizard; students will be introduced to various theories of myth and archetypes as they seek to explore narratives of creation, of the hero and of the divine child. While studying J.K. Rowling’s novels, they will examine Harry as one of a set of modern characters whose adventures are full of recognizable and ancient motifs.

“The Harry Potter books offer a rich field for the study of a range of concepts, from the ancient science of alchemy to modern societal concerns about difference and discrimination,” Robertson says.

In addition to these exciting options, students can also study education in Ghana, urban poverty in New York City, the major pedagogies of arts education in Switzerland and Charles Dickens’ life in London. In Des Moines, professors will be leading courses focusing on subjects like robot programming, jazz music and Middle Eastern film.

To find more information about these classes and the many others that will be part of the inaugural 2013 January Term, visit the Drake website.

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