Changes to the ExCollege staff, changes to our course listing, changes in the weather…we’re just full of changes over here. First, our Program Assistant for the last two years, Alison Mehlsak, finished up her time with us this past Friday. We’ll miss her a great deal, but we’re excited to announce the new Program Assistant, starting in mid-August, is Melissa Burke! She has big sneakers and Frye boots to fill, but I’m sure she’ll fit right in.

Next, we have a few changes to the course listing we’ve posted. The changes will be up on our website soon, but for now you are the first to know…the course on Nazi war criminals won’t be happening, but instead we’ll be offering a course on gender in conflict and peace-building. Watch the list in the next few weeks for course descriptions and instructor bios.

Back from Houston!

A post from Ali Mehlsak:

So a few weeks ago Cindy mentioned that I was headed to Rice University in Houston for a conference. I promised a blog entry, and finally, here it is!

What to say first about my trip…Well, I left a clear, crisp forty-degree Boston morning for the muggy eighty-degree afternoon of Texas. In retrospect, not too shabby. (But like any New England native I do prefer my heat without the humidity.) I was in the good company of other non-Texans though, so we all managed together. There were representatives at the conference from Brown, James Madison, Pitt, UCLA, Berkely and Oberlin. We were all there to discuss our student-taught course programs, and though my trip was short (just 36 hours!) it was fabulous to trade ideas and lessons with the other schools. (Here at the ExCollege, our student-taught programs include Explorations, Perspectives and Peer Teaching.)

Of the many things I discovered at Rice, one of the most interesting was the fact that the ExCollege is unique in allowing our students to grade their own full-credit courses without faculty or administrative input. Not only do we truly trust our students with the responsibility of teaching and grading, but they live up to our high expectations and often receive wonderful course evaluations.

Throughout the course of the day-long conference, I found that no two programs were exactly alike. Each school put its own unique spin on the simple process of undergraduates teaching undergraduates. However, what did remain constant across the board was the enthusiasm that each school exuded for the concept. Students teaching students is just plain awesome.

My advice? Don’t miss out on your chance to take part in one of these programs while at Tufts!

What happened?

I haven’t blogged all week! What’s happening?

Well it’s been a little crazy around the ExCollege. Let’s see…we are finalizing the Explorations and Perspectives seminars for the fall (see below for a list), getting all of the application information together to make final selections for fall visiting lecturer courses (on our website by May 9), interviewing new Program Assistant candidates, presenting at Admissions Open Houses, helping our current lecturers wrap up their semesters and administer course evaluations, planning for our Faculty-Student Trivia Challenge, and more! Phew. I’ll try to post more next week.

In the meantime, here are the seminars for our two first-year programs — Explorations and Perspectives. If you are an incoming student in the fall and want to take one of these, you’ll have a chance to list it as one of your preferences in an online form in June.

Explorations 2011

Comedy and Culture in the 21st Century
From Woody Allen to Seinfeld: Comedy, Relationships, and the American Jewish Experience
French or Familiar: Why is France Unique?
Food of France
Mental Health in Film
Are you there, God? It’s me, Gossip Girl.
Reliving the Past on Screen: Historical Film in a Modern World
Storytelling: Studying Scripted Television
Sustainable Development Redefined: Lessons from Uganda
The American Political Process and The West Wing
World War II in International Film
The Massachusetts Political Experience
Sports and International Relations in the Modern Era

Perspectives 2011

Film Noir
History of Independent Film
The Impact of Drugs and Alcohol in Film
Food in Film
Popular Flops: A Study of Bad Movies
Blockbusters: Art and Industry of the Popcorn Movie

Tufts Seniors – what are you doing next year?

We have a position available for a Program Assistant for the 2011-2012 academic year. The deadline for applications is SOON — April 1st — so you should apply NOW! Here are some of the specs:

This position is a full-time, 9.5 month position with pay and benefits starting in mid-August 2011 and ending by the end of May 2012. This position provides a recent graduate with a unique opportunity to work, in a collaborative fashion, as part of the Ex College staff. He or she will learn — from the inside — about the complex processes of an innovative academic unit.

The person in this job should have an interest in becoming involved in all aspects of the Experimental College. Responsibilities are varied and include:

Ø  Providing support in the day-to-day operations of the department

Ø  Taking a lead role in planning, creation, and implementation of PR/marketing

Ø  Coordinating the semi-annual review of between 80 and 100 teaching proposals

Ø  Overseeing the scheduling of audio-visual and filmmaking equipment and AV-equipped classrooms

Ø  Assisting in the planning and execution of special projects.

Please Note: the Program Assistant is also a member of the Board of the Experimental College which meets most weeks on Tuesday, 4:00-5:30 p.m.

The ideal candidate should have a high energy level and be a “team player.” He or she should also have excellent organizational skills, strong writing ability, marketing/PR experience, solid computer skills, and an ability to relate well to students, faculty, and administrators. Experience in program planning preferred. Familiarity with desktop publishing, graphics, or design software is a plus.

Best. Students. Ever.

We are very lucky here at the ExCollege. We have a cool house with wireless and air-conditioning (okay the air-conditioning doesn’t seem like a big deal right now, but it will), we get to meet interesting lecturers every semester, and students like us (right? you do like us, right?). But one of the best things about the ExCollege is our staff of office assistants, a.k.a. student workers. Dave, Jessie, Keli, Kyle, John, Sarah, and Ben put in hours and hours of work every week to keep us running smoothly. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to offer many of the programs we manage to offer. They do some of the thankless tasks like postering in freezing weather, alphabetizing countless files, processing hundreds of proposals (see previous “Piles” post), and making lots of copies. So this post is a shout-out to our committed student staff. Thanks for all your hard work!

Keli Young processes new course proposals - with a smile!

Keli Young processes new course proposals – with a smile!

The Next Ali

Sad to say, but our Program Assistant, Ali Mehlsak (A09), will be leaving us soon, and we are on the hunt to fill her Frye boots. We usually hire a just-graduated Tufts alum for the upcoming academic year. Unlike a lot of stuff out there, this is an honest-to-goodness paid position with benefits. If you are interested or know someone who might be, contact Cindy Stewart at