A new era in educational opportunities arrived on the RIT campus this year, with students experiencing their first intersession term.
Instead of kicking back on a beach or hanging out at home, about 200 students were enrolled in one of 13 three-week courses during RIT’s first intersession.
The classes were offered in a variety of formats, even a travel study course in Los Angeles. Topics included criminology and social justice, statistics, public speaking, clean energy and principles of microeconomics.
“The students and faculty seemed to enjoy their respective roles,” said J. Fernando Naveda, director of the Office of Intersession and Summer. “And the faculty took advantage of building a course they always wanted but never could.”
Naveda expects more classes will be offered during the summer term.
“We will be offering five- and 10-week courses,” he said. “I think there are going to be a variety of courses and formats and we will encourage faculty who want to teach a three-week course. Some courses will be credit bearing, others not. The variety of courses will increase in the summer over time.”
The less formal structure of the courses allows classes to take field trips, have guest speakers and conduct experiments they may not have the opportunity to do otherwise.
Nine students signed up for Writing Genre, Theory and Practice, taught by David Martins, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and director of the University Writing Program.
They met for three hours a day for 15 days, visited the archives at the Wallace Library and the Cary Collection and listened to panel discussions from a historian, photojournalist, chemist and psychologist who talked about different kinds of writing they do.
“So little that I did in the intersession is something that I’ve done before in class,” Martins said. “The new format encouraged me to experiment. It feels fun and doesn’t feel like a typical course.”
He said one of his students, who is majoring in engineering, was very engaged in the class. “She says all she ever gets to write is technical material,” Martins said.
“Initially, I took this course as a way to have something to do over the much longer winter break,” said Leslie Bowen, a third-year electrical engineering major from Frederick, Md., who took the writing course. “My normal coursework is mostly lecture periods and lab sections, so this course deviated as a part lecture, part demonstration course. There was a lot of group work involved as well that was atypical of my other courses. I was taking a full course in a much less stressful way. I would definitely take another intersession course.”
Judy Porter, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, took her class of 10 students to various locations, including a food bank, teen court, the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, the Center for Youth, recreation centers and the United Way. They also participated in two peace circles.
“I was intrigued by the idea of doing an interesting, unique class,” Porter said. “Students were able to do things that were not possible in the regular setting, and they could go out in the field easily without having other class commitments that would hinder their availability.”