Power of e: spruce

Power-of-e-Logo

Power of e, Logo by M. Regalado, 2014

“Power of e” is a series of my exploration of student innovative ventures and creations by Tufts students. Tufts students flex their passion through skills they’ve acquired in and out of the classroom and this is the stage to highlight these amazing students. “Power of e” will be featured on the blog at least once a month. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on these features and if there is anything you are working on, contact me :)

In my first feature, seniority takes hold. This week I’m featuring spruce created by current Tufts seniors Angus Schaefer, Bernita Ling, and Misako Ono. spruce heightens individuals visibility through  stylish resumés, elaborative logos, chic business cards, and eye-catching posters to gather a creative design edge against their competitors. But it doesn’t stop there! If you need a stylish design boost in any capacity you can run your idea by spruce.

All great ideas stem from a problem that an entrepreneur wants to solve with their product or service being a unique solution. I contacted Bernita Ling, a fellow Engineering Psychology major and design wiz who is one of the founders, to uncover spruce. Bernita explains: “Image matters. [The problem we] saw was many people here at Tufts who are incapable of generating the image they wanted for themselves, and we saw an opportunity for ourselves to help them.” 

spruce founders

Spruce founders from left: Angus, Bernita, and Misako

Once a great idea has been cultivated and formulated, an A-team is essential to generate this idea to life. This creative trio have been friends since freshmen year and approach their creative work together with immense passion, “which is one of the most important traits to have in a venture like this,” Bernita stresses. All of the founders had been doing creative work on their own before spruce: Angus – poster and logo design, Misako – photography and design, and Bernita – photography and design. Combining talent and centralizing skill set into one service, spruce was born. From the first glance at their website, the design layout is flat, straightforward, minimal, and clean. Bernita expresses the look and feel of the website maximizes the impact, while maintaining their own personal aesthetics without distracting from the content.

spruce has been showing great traction and the founders have been busy! Hopeful, the founders should see growth based on the positive reviews from their early clientele. “We aren’t positive what the future holds, which only makes it more exciting. Whatever happens, we are sure that spruce will remain as an essential starting point for all three of us in our future careers.” From one entrepreneur and designer to another, best of luck my friends! Excited to see what else is in store for you! If you would like to get in contact with spruce, you can use their contact form here on their website.

#PowerOfe #Entrepeurneurship #TuftsIdeas #Seniors

 

 

What I Learned From The Rugby Field

November… The month that is consisted of lingering midterms, the ending of sports seasons, preparing for final papers/projects, and Thanksgiving. The most surreal and bittersweet moment is when something you’ve been a part of is coming to a close. I am talk to all of you student athletes out there. Regardless of whether you’re on intramural, club, or varsity, it’s a groups of students who come together on their athletic interest and skill. A unity consisting of any and all types of people coming together to play the one sport you all love equally.

This is something I’m experiencing at this very moment. Tufts Women’s Rugby ended our season with a loss against a regional championship game against Stonehill College. On the pitch, I looked around the 25+ other women who I’ve been playing side by side either for just this season up to my entire college athletic career. This sport has given me the ability to learn something new, master a skill, and then mentor and teach others joining. I look back and remember when I was the confused freshman. The transitions of skill and identity shifting throughout my career. I had the pleasure of getting to know other women outside of their academic interest and see a side of people that a classroom just doesn’t set the stage for: camaraderie.

Of the million other extra curricular activities I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, Rugby has been one of the few that I carried through all four years here at Tufts and where I can find community and friendship. I’m curious, what has your experience been with your sports team? What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned on or off the field? If there is one thing I could say I took away from rugby, it would have to be learning to mentor others. Mentorship has been a large part of my career regardless of I was the mentor or the mentee. Cheers to a great final season!

#TuftsSports #TWRFC #StudentLife

Course selections: Already!?!

It’s that time in the semester where soon after your blood has slightly cooled off from a hectic midterm season, it’s time to focus on the new set of courses you will endeavor for the following semester. Depending on the amount of course preparation you’ve done for your next installment of courses, this can be a breeze. However, for those of us preoccupied with our current work load, the list of our new course work could have easily been missed.

By the time this post is published, a quarter of the school will have already selected their courses for their final semester of their undergraduate career: the seniors. It’s a bittersweet moment for this round of course selections. It’s the last time we’ll be able to have the free range of course selection that Tufts has to offer, but at the same time finishing off our assigned rigorous course work. Seniors be sure not to waste your last semester and think critically of what you want to challenge yourself with or what else you will want to learn!

I’m not going to lie, picking courses for this last semester was a bit of a challenge. I could do the whole “seniorities” schedule and minor in yoga during my final semester to begin to unwind from the tight-winded course schedule I needed to follow that past three and a half years. But instead, I looked at my final semester as a chance to explore and add more toward my major and personal interest. After needing to complete my sign up for my thesis and capstone project, I had the liberty of taking an course I desired. So, the curious 7 year old me had me enroll in ENP 166: Computer Interface Design with Michael Wiklund, REL 145: Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Joseph Walser, and finally COMP 20: Web Programming with Professor Ming Chow.

This is far from the notorious spring semester senior schedule, but I rather put my young brain to use. Give my toolbox a few each tools to apply in the real world. Continue to meet other curious Tufts students because all I have left is one. One semester. So I’m going to make it count.

#SeniorYear #Scheduling #SIS

 

Maintaining Motivation During Mid-Terms

As a senior, a lot is required from you. Not only are you finalizing your courses for your major(s) and minors and applying for graduation, but due to competitive acceptance rates in the work force, you have to juggle job applications, current internships, senior swag (rings, portraits, etc.) at the same time. Hopefully, if you’ve mapped out your entire Tufts academic career just right, you may be in better shape of giving you leeway to juggle.

The juggle may be difficult, but the courses you are taking now and in the future may be a key factor in keeping you motivate during the entire semester. The biggest advice I always give to students is find courses that intellectually stimulate you, while giving you a breadth of knowledge that can be applied outside the classroom into other facets of your interests, work, activities, and even sports. The most interesting courses I’ve taken here at Tufts, are the ones that compliment my major, yet are not part of the list of required courses needed for my major. These courses assist in your critical thinking skills while encouraging an application of what you are learning to a different audience–truly supporting the interdisciplinary education an elite university like Tufts can provide to its students.

Many friends and colleagues of mine will do just this as well. These are the courses that keep you motivated during midterms and finals because you are applying knowledge and skill in a different manner. Courses offered here at the ExCollege can do just that! They can provide these intellectual stimulus or application of your skill set in a different manner, or even bring your perspective into the class which others benefit from. Keep up the great work! Tufts is a difficult school, but it’s here to teach you to critically think, critically analyze, and formulate opinions and ideas that will benefit you in life after your undergraduate career.

#Midterms #Motivation #Tufts #EngineeringPsychology #HumanFactors

Has Our Creativity and Curiosity Decreased?

In an interesting article I read recently called “What is Creativity?–Cultivating Creativity”, it argues that there has been a steady decline in creativity since in the late 1990s. If we look around to our mobile devices, computers, films, art, design, science, etc., one can argue this may not be the case entirely. Well… with the majority of Hollywood films being adapted from novels and/or comic books, one can say film is one place where creativity has declined in the past two decades… Even if you look at the courses the ExCollege has offered to date have always been considered current, exploratory, innovative, and well received by the student body for decades.

In the article, the author discusses a time when he was in the supermarket with his son. His son asks him either do bananas grow on the trees from top to bottom, or bottom to top. The father pulls out his phone, Google’s the answers and in 30 seconds they knew all about how bananas grew, where, and when. Yet, the father stops himself and is upset to realized he did not give his son room to question and explore his thoughts before finding the answer. This is where I agree with the article, in many facets because we have the privilege of readily information at our finger tips, there is less room for exploration.

Exploration entices your curiosity and fuels your creativity. I’ve always been a very curious person about the things in our world and constantly think and question my surroundings. Growing up I was encouraged to do so by my mother, teachers, mentors, and sports coaches, and I’ve carried that into my early adulthood and will continue to do so. But let’s turn the mic around, do you think curiosity assist creativity? Is the readily available information more to our benefit than this article leads us to believe?

I always urge people to hold on to their imagination, just like when you were younger, careless, and bubbled with imagination. Hold on to seven year old you! Who knows, they might surprise you and help you configurate your paper or presentation in a manner that is innovative and more approachable to your audience. Or lend a hand in looking at your world with a new set of eyes. A fresh perspective. Give it a try! Here at the ExCollege, that’s what they’re all about. Exploration in an academic scope. See how much more you can learn when you start asking questions and ponder solutions before you come to the answer.

For more information on the article, please click HERE.

#Creativity #Curiosity #Exploration

Selecting ExCollege Courses

Over 100 proposals were submitted by candidates eager for the opportunity to teach in the fall semester. In just a few short days, the ExCollege Board will be meeting to determine which 22 of those courses will be offered to Tufts students. But how exactly do we go from the 100+ proposals down to 22?

The Life of a Proposal

 

 

The ExCollege and the Future of Higher Education

Today we began our 50th anniversary celebration weekend with a conference on the future of higher education. One of the conference highlights will be reflecting on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and how their presence will impact the traditional university. During the Fall 2013 semester, the ExCollege created a Quidnunc that allowed students to take MOOCs and discuss the experience with a group of peers. Ken Garden, ExCollege Board Chair and faculty member in the Religion Department, participated in the Quidnunc and shared his thoughts with us on MOOCs.

Written by Ken Garden, Religion Department and ExCollege Board Chair

2013-2014 has been a particularly eventful year at the ExCollege. In addition to our usual offerings of innovative and timely classes taught by practitioners, academic instructors, and students, we are celebrating a half century of the ExCollege at Tufts. The event will be marked by two exhibits on the ExCollege’s history, a gala held on April 12th, and a conference on the future of higher education on April 11th. The longevity of the ExCollege and the outpouring of support for its 50th anniversary speak to the vital role it plays in the life of the Tufts community.

Higher education is in the midst of one of its biggest experiments in years in the form of the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC. The New York Times dubbed 2012 the “Year of the MOOC.” That year, Google’s Sebastian Thrun started a new company, Udacity, to offer free online university courses to as many students as wanted to enroll in them. He was so confident of the promise of MOOCs that he predicted that within 50 years there would remain only a small handful of higher education providers, the rest of the world’s universities having been swept away by this new “disruptive technology.” Stanford sponsored a new MOOC consortium, Coursera, and Harvard and MIT followed suit, launching EdX later that year.

It seemed fitting that the ExCollege should join the conversation on the MOOC. A group of Tufts students and I, including our own Board member Kumar Ramanathan (A’15), set out to look into this experiment ourselves, each of us enrolling in a MOOC. Between us, we enrolled in courses on topics ranging from contraception, to the hero in ancient Greek literature, to irony in the writing of Søren Kierkegaard, to the history of architecture, to the letters of Paul.

Our experiences in many cases echoed what we had read about the MOOC experience. Having paid nothing for the course and with no non-virtual connection to the instructor or other students, several of us stopped taking courses that didn’t interest us and enrolled in other ones. Online multiple choice quizzes, discussion boards, and peer-graded essays were a pale substitute for classroom interaction and instructor-graded assignments. While we all saw a real threat to companies that sell university courses on CD or DVD, we saw no mortal threat to the traditional brick and mortar university. Sebastian Thrun came to a similar conclusion at the end of 2013, declaring that his own Udacity had a “lousy product.”

Still, we also saw ongoing experimentation with the MOOC and all of us felt we learned from the courses we took. It will be interesting to see what it evolves into and what kind of role online courses, massive or otherwise, come to play in higher education.

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TuftsNow also reflected on the ExCollege’s exploration into the world of MOOCs with an article written by Gail Bambrick.

Neuroscience and the Movies

Last fall, Emily Hueske and Steve Ramirez submitted a course proposal aiming to fuse together the worlds of neuroscience and the big screen. After a rigorous course selection process, their proposal was selected to be taught this spring! They’ve had an incredibly successful semester thus far, and they took a few minutes to reflect on the early weeks of their truly experimental classroom.

“Why is it that Jason Bourne can remember how to maneuver a car at 120mph, how to disarm an assailant in a second, and how to land properly after jumping off a building, yet he can’t remember his own name or past?”

 This is one of the first questions we were asked while introducing our experimental course on neuroscience and Hollywood. The answer lies in a remarkable property of the brain’s multiple memory systems, but the first week was just a teaser. To learn the full answer, we asked our students to join us on a semester-long tour of the brain’s structures and functions, but viewed through the lens of Hollywood. We were beyond thrilled at the turnout on day one and immediately realized a wonderful nugget of truth regarding the multi-disciplinary culture at Tufts: only at the ExCollege could such a symbiotic relationship between movies and neuroscience exist and be taught.

When you think about it, Hollywood has infused some of the most influential scenes in cinema with neuroscientific backdrops: Neo uploading Kung Fu to his mind; Cobb incepting an idea within a dream; Tyler Durden’s true alter-ego; Jason Bourne’s high-octane amnesia. A common thread that ties these movies together is the idea that the brain is the mind’s physical substrate through which ideas, memories, and personalities can be artificially enhanced or distorted. Each week, we use neuroscience as an arc to weave in and out of what Hollywood often gets right or wrong. Every class is sprinkled with movies clips, culturally relevant and science-tinged scenarios that are to be addressed in groups, and, of course, adrenaline-friendly discussions.

The level of engagement each student brought to the table blew us both away. For example, early on we voyaged into the world of memory manipulation and Inception. After teaching our students the nitty-gritty science behind distorting real memories, we began our Socratic style dialogue.

Nearly every student had a unique, scientifically sound interpretation of Inception that neither of us had originally considered. This, simply put, was as delightful as it was enriching. It was a very real two-way street of insight between the students and us. Everyone was both student and teacher at a given point throughout the class. Indeed, having Hollywood and neuroscience both act as pedagogical tools to teach the Tufts community was originally experimental, but the results in this first pass have been an inspiring testament to the ExCollege’s mission.

In our class, we ask our students to digest the following: neuroscience currently is reaching a point where ideas are rapidly being plucked from the tree of science fiction and grounded in experimental reality. We believe that with our team-oriented approach to teaching and learning, suddenly Jason Bourne’s amnesia and its neural underpinnings are—like the mind—not just orderly, but intelligible.

Young Alumni: Where are they now?

Over the years, our undergraduates have blown us away with their amazing ideas, unique perspectives, and ability to catalyze change. Even after graduation, ExCollege alums seek out challenges in order to positively impact their community. I reached out to recent graduates to see where they landed after leaving the Hill, and it’s no surprise that our young alumni are now located around the world pursuing their goals in a variety of fields!

“During my time at Tufts I was a Perspectives Peer Leader, Station Manager, and Producer of the TUTV YouTube show “My Gay Roommate,” and an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with a strong focus in the Communications and Mass Media Program.  Post-graduation, I booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles where I now attend UCLA School of Law.  I am hoping to concentrate in Entertainment Law after I survive 1L year.  In my free time, I’ve been conducting Tufts interviews and dreaming of Dave’s Fresh Pasta.” -Demi Marks, A13

“My year on the ExCollege Board undoubtedly helped define my Tufts experience. It’s very rare for an undergraduate to have a seat at the table (literally!), informing ExCollege policy and shaping the future of ExCollege courses and its role for years to come. From my first ExCollege class as a freshman (Reality TV in American Society) to my last seminar as a senior (Multiplatform Journalism), the application-based approach of the College and its instructors gave me a tangible, real-world edge and insight when planning my next steps and igniting my interests in research, media, social analysis, journalism, and beyond. I now work at Dateline NBC in New York.” -Brionna Jimerson, A13

Brionna at her senior CMS internship.

“My senior year was, in a word, busy, and so I never expected to be able to spin one more plate: teaching an Explorations seminar to incoming freshmen. My seminar, World War II in International Film, was however arguably the very best thing I did while on the Hill. Getting to design and teach this course was not only the perfect capstone to my undergraduate career, but it also made me realize that though I’ve been all over the world, the classroom will forever be my home—as I now wait for news from various PhD programs for Italian Studies.” –Niki Krieg, A12

“In Fall 2011, I co-taught an Explorations course entitled Food of France with my friend Lindsay Eckhaus. When we pitched the idea to Robyn Gittleman, she said, “Let me get this straight: You want to have freshmen cook you dinner?” We did incorporate sampling into each class, but we used cuisine as a prism through which to examine French history, politics, geography, and culture. Our students gave presentations about regional identity and specialties, and we had lively debates about the Michelin star system for restaurants and the increasing presence of fast food.

Alyson eating a French dinner with her Explorations class.

Alyson eating a French dinner with her Explorations class.

After graduating, Lindsay spent a year teaching English in Paris, and I am currently living in Rennes, where I work in a microbiology lab studying the bacteria responsible for cheese flavor. My project is funded by a Fulbright grant. Of course, I spend a fair amount of time tasting cheese, too.” –Alyson Yee, A12

“I served two terms on the ExCollege Board and also taught an Explorations course on soccer and society.  As a result of my service, I fell in love with higher education and enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania in Higher Education Administration.  After receiving my Master’s, I found a position at Drexel University in graduate admissions where I help enroll students for Drexel’s College of Nursing and Westphal College of Media, Arts, & Design.  Although I work in admissions, I one day dream of starting an ExCollege at another university, and I continue to discuss my experience at the ExCollege with anyone who will listen.” –Danny Wittels, A11

“At the same time I was making movies for my Film Practice minor and working for the ExCollege’s Digital Imaging Center, I interned for several professional sports teams.   My last internship—as the Video Intern for the Boston Bruins—lasted past graduation and through the Stanley Cup Finals.  After nursing the ensuing broken heart for a month, I went to work as a Video Production Assistant for the Boston Red Sox, whose season ended just a bit more happily.  While I anxiously wait for Opening Day, I do freelance video work for the Bruins and for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team.” –Lynne Koester, A13

“As an undergraduate at Tufts, I had the honor of serving on the ExCollege Board during my junior and senior years. My ExCollege highlights include: students vs. faculty trivia nights, marathon Money Meetings, and, of course, taking ExCollege classes. I am currently in my second year of graduate school at the University of Virginia pursuing a PhD in American history. My dissertation focuses on the corporate restructuring of urban public education and examines the roots of why, amidst the partisan rancor of Obama’s presidency, there is a bipartisan consensus on public education policy.” –Benji Cohen, A11

ExCollege Beginnings

In 1953 when Nils Wessel began his tenure at Tufts, he set out to transform Tufts from a “good, gray school” into a “small university of high quality.” Wessel’s desire for concrete change on campus sparked years of committees, meetings, and investigative groups on the Hill; focusing efforts on change, innovation, and taking the kinds of risks essential to the vitality of an academic community. During the process, Wessel stated, “We discussed, argued, discarded, and amended a host of ‘brilliant ideas.’ Finally one day Sandy [Tredinnick], perhaps out of impatience, said to me, ‘OK, Bosso, if you had full say what would you do?’ I said immediately, without hesitation, ‘I would create an experimental college.’” That idea quickly took root, and the Experimental College came into focus in 1964 with the colloquium Contemporary European Novels, which was the first comparative literature class taught at Tufts and was open to the entire Tufts community.

President Nils Wessel Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, http://hdl.handle.net/10427/2354

President Nils Wessel
Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, http://hdl.handle.net/10427/2354

Fast forward 50 years, and the ExCollege now offers over 100 courses each year to almost 1,500 Tufts students! Over those 50 years, the ExCollege continues to represent Wessel’s original vision of a continually evolving, experimental institution on campus. Programs originally fostered through the ExCollege have even found their way into the main Tufts curriculum, showcasing the ability of the ExCollege to make a long-lasting impact on Tufts!

We’ve listed just a few of the languages, courses, and programs that began through the ExCollege:

LANGUAGES THAT BEGAN AT THE EXCOLLEGE

  • Hebrew
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Swahili
  • American Sign Language
  • Portuguese

PROGRAMS AND AREA STUDIES THAT GREW OUT OF THE EXCOLLEGE

  • Dance
  • Computer Science
  • Women’s Studies
  • African American Studies
  • Photography
  • Peace and Justice Studies
  • Institute of Global Leadership and EPIIC
  • Native American Studies
  • Communications and Media Studies

COURSES THAT WERE FIRST TAUGHT THROUGH THE EXCOLLEGE

  • History of Jazz
  • Race and Awareness within American Society
  • Homelessness in America
  • Death Penalty in America
  • Screenwriting