Winter Term provides time for depth

Posted on January 5, 2011

Erskine College students dig a little deeper during the month of January as they begin their Winter Term 2011 studies. Concentrated courses on campus, travel and externships provide opportunities for academic, cultural and career exploration.

Students enroll in courses that excite their interest, engage in independent study, or even advance their career plans during Winter Term.

Faculty members find fresh inspiration in an altered schedule and, in some cases, subjects outside their usual areas of expertise.

McDonald-Boswell Professor of History Dr. David Grier, for example, instead of teaching, say, European military history, is working with students on “Alternate Tunings for Fingerstyle Guitar.” Their musical challenges, according to Grier’s course description, will include “hymns and English folk tunes in Drop D and Double Drop D, Hawaiian slack key standards in Taro Patch, Celtic favorites in DADGAD, contemporary fingerstyle pieces in Orkney, and even a Christmas carol in CGDGAA#.”

Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Chrystal Bruce also departs from her usual subject, offering a course on “Detective Fiction.” Daily logic exercises are part of the class, and ways in which inductive and deductive reasoning are used in police procedure will be examined.

Interim Vice President and Dean Dr. Brad Christie, who has taught English at Erskine since 1991, joins the Rev. Robert Glick, Associate Professor of Music, in leading “Flight to the City: EC in NYC,” billed as a “cultural studies experience culminating in a 10-day trip to New York City.” Right now, more than 20 students are on campus studying the geography and history of the city in preparation for the trip.

Grady Patterson Professor of Politics Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss will also take his 14 students away from Due West, but they will journey only as far the state capital for “Erskine in Columbia.” After some work on campus this week, the class will repair to Columbia Jan. 8-15, meeting with “members of both parties and officials in the three branches of state government, various interest groups, members of the Columbia political media, think tanks and state party organizations,” Woodiwiss said.

Associate Professor of Education Dr. Joanne Jumper and Instructor of Secondary Education R. Todd Bruce serve as a teaching team for “Foundations and Teacher Shadow,” a survey course that is recommended for freshmen and offered only during Winter Term. A 35-hour field experience in PK-12 school settings is part of the course.

Hands-on classes include Professor of Biology Dr. Mary Lang Edwards’ “Histology,” in which students will learn to produce and preserve slides and use a microtome to slice tissue, skills that will serve them well in medical school or in research laboratories.

Some 25 classes are being conducted during Winter Term 2011, representing a wide range of disciplines.

Pre-professional externships in various fields and independent studies are also offered during January. Externships are designed to provide students with realistic, day-to-day experience of professions they hope to pursue.

The 4-1-4 calendar at Erskine College, inaugurated in 1970-71, provides for fall and spring semesters centered on the school’s liberal arts tradition and a winter term providing opportunities for innovative learning experiences on and off campus.

Some faculty members see Winter Term as “an opportunity to supplement their major programs, to offer courses they don’t regularly offer in the fall or spring terms,” Christie said. “Others view the Winter Term as a low-risk opportunity for students to explore topics and disciplines other than their major. But both kinds of Winter Term opportunities are valid and valuable to students, and that’s the main thing.”

Erskine Theological Seminary begins its January Term this week.

Spring classes begin Jan. 31 at Erskine College as well as at Erskine Seminary.