University to hold second Wintersession

With the fall semester quickly coming to a close, it’s almost time for students to begin registering for Wintersession classes.

This is the second year the University has offered courses over winter break. Each course offered during the session is equivalent to 180 hours of work and counts toward one credit, according to the program’s website. Wintersession courses include on-campus, destination and online courses.

While there will be a few minor changes, “the bulk of the structure and programming will remain the same,” said Sarah Mullen, manager of curricular programs. Unlike last year, there is only one registration period, which lasts from Nov. 15 to Dec. 1. There is also an additional online course.

A committee of faculty and administrators was charged with reviewing faculty course proposals in the spring to select courses for the upcoming Wintersession. The committee “prioritizes courses with particularly innovative pedagogical approaches,” Mullen said. This year, the majority of courses are new, with only two returning: ENGN 0110: “Lean LaunchPad” and the online course ENGL 0930: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction.”

The courses offered this year focus on niche and creative topics. LITR 1151N: “Zoologic: Wild Animals in the Surveillance State,” is taught by Thalia Field, professor of literary arts. The course gives students a chance to learn about animal welfare through virtual and in-person visits to animal sanctuaries, as well as conduct their own hands-on research in the digital lab, Field said.

The destination courses are equally multifaceted. BIOL 1980: “HIV/AIDS in Diverse Settings: Focus on Israel” is taught by Rami Kantor, associate professor of medicine, and will teach students about HIV as a global pandemic. Students will then spend 10 days in Israel meeting guest lecturers and visiting HIV clinics to gain perspective on the global epidemic and an understanding of the diverse settings in which people live, Kantor said.

Caroline Frank, adjunct assistant professor of American studies, is teaching another destination course entitled AMST 1906I: “Decolonizing Museums: Collecting Indigenous Culture in Taiwan and North America,” in which students will travel to Taiwan. It focuses on “how objects in ethnographic collections are narrated given the colonial circumstances under which they were originally collected and deposited in these museums,” Frank said.

Taiwan is “a fascinating crossroads on the edge of China,” Frank said, adding that the trip reinforces the course’s goal to compare Taiwan and the United States.

Wintersession also offers students online options in the form of ENGL 0930: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction,” taught by Elizabeth Taylor, senior lecturer in English, and ENGL 0511C: “Fantastic Places, Unhuman Humans,” taught by James Egan, professor of English. While it’s tempting to assume online course require less work and time, “students should be aware when they pre-register that the amount of time they would put into a Brown course is the amount of time they would put into an online course,” said Dean of the College Maud Mandel.

For some professors, compressing a full-length course into three to five weeks presents a challenge. With an already “reading heavy” syllabus, Frank points out that one of her biggest challenges is squeezing a semester’s amount of reading into the shorter time span.

While Kantor expressed some similar concerns, he said Wintersession makes it easier to teach a course at the University. “I see patients, I have clinic, I’m in the hospital, I have a lab that I run. Personally, I think it’s easier for me to condense everything into a shorter amount of time rather than to make it a semester long one,” Kantor said.

Wintersession offers financial aid packages based on a student’s aid during the academic year. If you’re fully aided, that aid transfers directly to the financial aid for Wintersession, and, if you’re partially aided, it’s proportional, Mandel said. “We had robust numbers from students on financial aid” last year, she added.

After a “good enrollment” in last year’s Wintersession, the University is hoping to continue its success. “We were really happy with it, pretty much on all measures. For a first year, … you never know how it’s going to go, but student feedback was very positive,” Mandel said.

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