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J-Term 2013 Courses Span the Globe and Spectrum of Students’ Interests

University of Virginia undergraduates enrolled in January Term 2013 have lots of options: more than 30 on-Grounds courses and 10 study-abroad offerings in such countries as Argentina, Bangladesh and India.

A Universitywide initiative sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, J-Term courses – worth three credit hours apiece – are being offered through the College of Arts & Sciences, McIntire School of Commerce, Curry School of Education and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Rachel Miller, associate director of summer and special academic programs, who helps oversee J-Term, said the intensive format of January Term classes, which run from Jan. 2-11, encourages extensive student-faculty contact.

“J-Term is exciting because it allows students and faculty to immerse themselves in a topic of interest,” she said. “Though taking a [three-credit] class in two weeks is exhausting and intense, we hear from both students and professors that January Term is one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve encountered.”

Miller anticipates more than 700 students will participate this term, and said she’s excited about several new on-Grounds courses, including “Mindfulness as a Tool for Learning and Living,” “Political Cinema,” “The Spiritual Life: Visions, Contemplations, and Mystical Experiences,” “Christian Theologies of Liberation” and “Americans in the Middle East.”

The mindfulness course, taught by Susanna Williams and Lynn Crotts, will focus on ways that mindfulness practices can help students cope with stress. Students in the class will learn about “healthy lifestyle choices, learn a bit about yoga and tai chi, and participate in mindfulness exercises,” Miller said. “Williams and Crotts are passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.”

Robert Kolker will teach a media studies course on “Political Cinema,” exploring films with political themes that shed light on particular ideologies and moments in history. 

“The Spiritual Life: Visions, Contemplations and Mystical Experiences,” taught by Kevin Hart, will introduce students to the concept of spirituality through the works of Christian visionary, mystical and contemplative writers. 

In “Christian Theologies of Liberation,” Paul Jones will lead students on an exploration of Liberation Theology, a recent school of thought that connects Christian theology with political ideas. 

In “Americans in the Middle East,” associate professor of history Elizabeth Thompson will take approximately 20 students to Washington, D.C., for two weeks to explore the history and politics of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations. Guest lecturers, visits to various locations and group discussion will be the hallmarks of this course, Miller explained, noting there are still a few spots remaining for interested students.

Registration for on-Grounds classes has been ongoing since mid-November and continues through Jan. 1

Study-abroad J-Term programs are being offered in Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Panama and St. Kitts and Nevis. The International Studies Office manages the application process, Miller said.

Watch for coverage of J-Term 2013 courses on UVA Today early in the New Year.

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