January Term Continues to Build on its Successes

January 16, 2008 — The University of Virginia's innovative January Term continues to see increased participation. In its fourth year of operation this month, 637 students participated in 32 courses, including eight study-abroad programs.

The number of participating students this January represents an 8 percent increase over a year ago and 58 percent over the first January Term in 2005.

"We had both a bigger and an earlier response to the course registration this year than last," said Rachel Nottingham Miller, assistant director of Summer and Special Academic Programs. "Students clearly have begun to look forward to the January Term experience."

The January Term is an intensive two-week program in which new three-credit courses are offered to address topics of current interest, foster extensive student-faculty contact and allow students to immerse themselves in a subject.

Of the 32 courses offered in the most recent January Term, which concluded Jan. 11, several were offered for the first time. One new course designed specifically with the January Term format in mind was "The Advice Business," an introductory course focusing on the advisory services that traditional management consulting, accounting and technology consulting firms provide to their clients.

Elizabeth Thurston, assistant professor of commerce and director of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Center for Innovation in Professional Services, designed and taught the course "to stimulate what it feels like to be a consultant."

"The intense J-term learning format is not too dissimilar to what a consulting training program would be like," Thurston said. "What I also loved about this class was the number of firms we had coming to work with the students to tackle client cases and discuss the skills and mindset necessary to be a successful consultant."

Other new courses in the most recent January Term included: Topics in Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry, The American Health Care System, HIV/AIDS: A Personal and Social Perspective, and The Lives of Wives, a cross-listed course encompassing history and gender studies.

The eight study-abroad programs drew 157 participants and featured trips to Ghana, Italy, Belize, Nicaragua, Ireland, Germany and Spain.

Among the first-time study-abroad offerings was a session in Ghana that was cross-listed with African-American Studies and architecture and co-taught by Maurice Cox, associate professor of architecture, and Scot French, director of the Virginia Center for Digital History and associate professor. Students in the course not only had traditional classroom experiences, but also engaged in community-based service learning projects in Cape Coast, Ghana.

Two classes were held in Italy, one on Renaissance art and the other on the history, cultural significance and performance technique of commedia dell'arte. A course in Nicaragua examined the impact that globalization had on emerging economies, while an English course that was held in Dublin and Galway, Ireland, explored Irish literature.  Building on the previous success, the Berlin in Life and Letters course taught by Gordon Stewart examined the rich history of Germany through art, literature, history and architecture.