The Proposal: A Process of Idea Babies, I Do’s and Engagement

Written by Nick Golden, Marcy Regalado, and Beky Stiles

Every semester, a new list of Experimental College courses appears on our website. This magical listing jumps across disciplines and contains unique courses like “A History of Pir‘arrrgh’cy” (I’m sorry…I couldn’t resist…). Each hand-crafted class goes through an intensive series of steps (I would say the academic equivalent to the Tough Mudder) to make it from proposal to classroom. The competition for a spot at the ExCollege begins with approximately 150 applicants, and it is the difficult duty of the Board to whittle that number down to 22.

The Idea

From scribbling down a thought in the middle of the night to being inspired by a project at work, ideas for courses pop up in very interesting ways. Professionals propose topics based on techniques and strategies used in the work place, grad students share ideas embedded within personal experience and their research, and current educators piece together dynamic courses related to contemporary issues. The ExCollege wants to hear from passionate and knowledgeable people; people who want to share their lives, knowledge, and ideas with Tufts students.

Manic Writing

The idea wiggling around in an applicant’s mind manifests itself onto paper and slowly transforms into an elaborate 13-week course syllabus. Applicants research reading ideas, brainstorm class discussions, and carefully craft writing assignments. Even after the creation of the syllabus, applicants must answer 9 other questions posed on the application regarding their background and the creation of the course. (I can only imagine the amounts of caffeine necessary to finish this proposal!)

Submittal

After completing the proposal, many happy applicants jump around excitedly while simultaneously hugging housemates and partners (this would be my chosen method of displaying post-proposal adrenaline-fueled excitement). The finalized proposal then finds itself sitting comfortably in an envelope destined for 95 Talbot Avenue. A few brave souls even follow their feet to Tufts to hand deliver their proposal to our front desk. (Note to self: invest in some ‘I submitted my ExCollege proposal!!’ stickers for future semesters.)

Bins & Processing!

New proposals get handed over to a student worker at our secret back desk. After skimming through the proposal to check out the syllabus, the student plunks the proposal in a bin to get copied, filed, scanned, and entered into our database.

Faculty Reviews

Robyn Gittleman (our Director) reads through each proposal and pieces together which proposals get sent to which faculty members. The newly scanned PDF versions of proposals electronically zip over to approximately 115 faculty members all across the Hill. After clicking on the PDF attachment and reading through the proposal, faculty members provide input on the depth, challenge, and clarity of the syllabus in addition to any overlap with existing Tufts classes.

Subcommittees, Subcommittees, and Even More Subcommittees

Subcommittees represent one of the most important steps in the course selection process. Subcommittees comprised of one faculty member and two students interview each candidate. The schedules of over 40 super busy Tufts students, 20 faculty members, and 150 applicants must be coordinated into 20 neat and tidy subcommittees. Beky Stiles (me! the Program Assistant) drinks enormous amounts of coffee during this task.

The subcommittee members ask applicants about the proposal, its creation, their background, and the purpose of the course. Subcommittees allow the ExCollege to receive crucial feedback as to how a proposal would translate into the classroom environment.

Selection

The ExCollege Board (made up of 5 students, 5 faculty, and the ExCollege staff) holes up in the conference room for an all-day meeting to determine what courses will make it to the coveted ‘Upcoming Courses’ list on the ExCollege website. The Board spends hours drinking caffeine, voting, and (most importantly) discussing the proposals. At the end of the day, the Board hand picks 22 strong courses that exemplify the ExCollege’s commitment to providing Tufts with innovative classes meant to expand upon the existing undergraduate curriculum.

The Class

Tufts students scurry to register for their top ExCollege choices at 9am on the first day of classes. Classes fill up quickly, and a former idea nudging at the back of someone’s mind finally becomes a reality.

Take a Class!

Now you should check out the 23 classes that made it through this process! Our list of upcoming courses is on our website for Spring 2013! Make your list of ExCollege class to take, and register at 9am on Wednesday, January 16.

 

The Express!

Friday, December 7: The Last Express of the Semester

Be a part of the ExCollege!

If you have ever wanted to command a classroom, think about joining either the Explorations or Perspectives freshmen seminar programs as a Peer Leader! Our Peer Leaders co-teach a seminar, lead their students through orientation, and act as student advisors during the fall semester. Going abroad in the spring but still want to teach in the fall? Our application is available on our website and can be submitted online! Check out the FAQs about Explorations and Perspectives, and download the application today.

Gearing up for the spring!

Despite the warm weather still months away, we over here at the ExCollege have already set our sights on the upcoming semester. Since the deadline for spring course proposals on October 5, our office has worked to whittle through the pile to bring Tufts students the very best ExCollege offerings for next semester. The ExCollege Board will come together for a daylong meeting next week to finalize what 22 courses will claim both a classroom and room full of Tufts students. A preliminary list of spring classes will be listed on our website on December 14.

Registration for all ExCollege courses begins at 9am on the first day of spring semester classes, Wednesday, January 16. All Wednesday ExCollege courses will begin the night of January 16!

Stay updated on all things ExCollege

Like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging? So do we! Be sure to catch up with us online to stay on top of the latest ExCollege news.

Semester in Review

When the temperature drops and students huddle in Tisch cubicles with caffeine in one hand and a textbook in the other, you know the end of the semester is near. As the ExCollege wraps up another semester, we took the time to reminisce about the past four months. The ExCollege tackled some major milestones this fall:

  • Welcoming in and training 30 new Perspectives and Explorations Leaders
  • Beginning preparation for our 50th Anniversary (April 2014—mark your calendars!)
  • Creating a brand new database to digitize the course proposal reading process
  • Reaching out to Admissions to create ExCollege videos and articles for the Admissions website and magazine
  • Planning and running the Election Night Extravaganza 2012
  • Supporting 23 phenomenal Visiting Lecturer courses
  • Watching Howard Woolf’s film premiere of Marranos
  • Holding the first ever Perspectives Olympics

Phew! This long list certainly kept us busy this semester, and after we take a quick moment to inhale, our office will continue to put together the course offerings for the spring semester. To check out pictures and descriptions of our fall events, head over to our Facebook album!

In the Classroom

Instructor A. David Lewis and his class “Religion and the Graphic Novel” invited artist JT Waldman, who worked with Harvey Pekar on the graphic novel “Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me,” to speak in their last class. Dave opened the discussion to both Tufts students not enrolled in his class and the entire online community! The Sequart Research and Literary Organization broadcasted the talk live, and Dave recently uploaded a full unedited version of JT Waldman’s talk at Tufts to YouTube! Stay tuned for Dave’s edited cut of the class.

Need a study break before diving head first into reading period? Attend the Comedy Night in Hotung, hosted and presented by the students of Steve Kapica’s “Analyzing Stand-up Comedy” class. These comedians will each give a five minute set to the crowd in Hotung. Stop by Hotung on Monday, December 10 to chortle with some friends, cheer on your peers, and celebrate the last day of fall semester classes! The event begins at 8:30pm and will run until 11pm.

And the winner is…

After an intense competition last Friday, the Sidekicks in Film class earned the right to call themselves the first ever champions of Perspectives Olympics! Despite the very close race among teams throughout the scavenger hunt, Scene It trivia game, and talent show, the Sidekicks class ultimately won and put on a great talent show performance with their take on the now classic Napoleon Dynamite dance.

To get a glimpse into the Games, take a look at the Twitter feed for #PerspectivesOlympics and scroll through the @ExCollege page for pictures collected along the scavenger hunt. All teams, Sports Movies (aka Team Denzel), Hollywood’s Army, Films of Genocide (aka Team Didn’t See Us Coming), and Sidekicks showed some great competitive spirit and made the first ever Perspectives Olympics a success!

Did You Know…

The first board of the ExCollege was composed of faculty members representing four different fields: engineering, social science, natural science, and humanities, with one member-at-large. Almost immediately after convening, the board broke from Tufts tradition by including students in the decision-making process of the college. By the spring of 1966, the board unanimously agreed that its four student members be given full voting rights.

Around Campus

Make sure to get your fill of all things Jumbo before heading off of the Hill for winter break! Scroll through full listings of the final events of the semester on both Tufts Events and TuftsLife. Keep reading for two great upcoming programs!

  • Love filmmaking? Watch the final film projects of the ‘Producing Films for Social Change’ class!

The Communications and Media Studies (CMS) Department will be holding this annual screening on Tuesday, December 11 at 7pm in Tisch 304. Support your peers and your friends as three groups of students present their final films! The films include The Receipt of Happiness, a film by Robert Collins, Grace Demyan, Jacob Passy, and Doug Stone, Finding Refuge, by Charmaine Poh, Maya Navon, and Annie Garau, and The Day After Tomorrow, by Ethan Freedman, Yijia Wang, and Gabriela Ros. For more details and insight into these films, head over to the CMS website and join the Facebook group!

  • Enjoy dance? Check out the end of the semester Kiniwe performance!

This year’s Kiniwe performance includes new choreography by director Nani Agbeli. The pieces represent strong connections to the Ewe tradition of Ghana. Follow your feet to the Distler Performance Hall on Sunday, December 9! Kiniwe begins at 8pm and runs until 10pm. Get more Kiniwe details on the Music Department website.