The Express: Weekly Updates from the ExCollege


Friday, October 5, 2012 

Applications, Applications, and Even More Applications

Today is the day: Visiting Lecturer applications are due! The stack of applications grows higher and higher on our desk. The sheer number of creative course ideas that flow into our office makes our minds spin. Even after almost 50 years, the proposals maintain a high level of originality, very thought-provoking content, and clear expertise on the part of the applicants.

 The student workers continue to pump all of this information into our database so that we can prepare for the upcoming interviews and final reviews. Out of these mountains of proposals, our spring courses await their discovery!

To find our spring courses, we rely on the input of both faculty members and students! Keep reading to learn how to get involved in the selection process!

 Get Involved!

With the busy season upon us, it is time for you to become involved in the ExCollege! We rely on input from students and faculty when selecting courses for upcoming semesters.

So volunteer on one of our subcommittees! Each subcommittee consists of 1 faculty member and 2 students. The subcommittees interview 4 to 6 excited applicants, and the time commitment is only 3 hours total between 10/29 and 11/9.

So if talking with a cool faculty member, a fellow Jumbo, and an exuberant applicant (all while helping out the ExCollege!) sounds like the perfect way to spend 3 hours, then volunteer now! Email to receive a volunteer form.

As always, call us at 617-627-3384, email us at, or drop by 95 Talbot Ave. with any questions!

The Half Century Mark

In a mere 18 months (April 2014!), the ExCollege turns 50! 50 years of experimenting on the Hill, enriching the undergraduate experience and curriculum, and bringing together the greater Boston and Tufts communities. Explore the ExCollege’s history during the upcoming months as we gear up for our 50th anniversary. We will be posting interesting tidbits on Facebook, Twitter, our Blog, this e-newsletter, and more! Be sure to also check out the ExCollege’s most monumental historic events now added to our Facebook timeline.

In the Classroom

Did you happen to spot two groups of freshmen running around campus this past week? They may have been the students in Kerry Eaton’s and Sabrina Gordon’s Explorations course “The Impact of Social Media. Kerry and Sabrina gave their students the task of completing a scavenger hunt, with the catch being that one group received the use of one iPhone while the other group was forbidden to use any technological resource.

As the students rushed around campus, the team with the iPhone completed the tasks (ranging from scoping out the number of treadmills in the gym to finding the hours for Carmichael Dining Hall) more quickly and easily than the team banished from technology. However, the team that got their workout running up and down and all around the Hill without the iPhone interacted much more with each other and with the people around campus. Kerry and Sabrina chose to complete this exercise to showcase that the amount of information available to us 24/7 through the use of a smartphone can hinder our interactions with other people.

Did you know…

Computer Science courses began in the ExCollege back in 1968. The Computer Science Department is now a popular and thriving part of Tufts, with 35 students graduating in 2011 with a degree in Computer Science.

Around Campus

With the halfway mark to the semester quickly approaching, do not forget to take advantage of the events held around campus! With guest speakers, special luncheons, conferences, and more all being a part of the Hill’s dynamic atmosphere, everyone will find something to excite them. Keep reading for information about two upcoming events!

  • Interested in understanding the ways in which we can actively work toward social and racial justice? Attend “An Evening with Mel King” on Wednesday, October 10th!

Mel King stands as a crucial member of the great-Boston community. His roles as a teacher, youth worker, state representative, historic mayoral candidate, and more all reflect his importance in the community development movement in Boston. Come hear King speak on Wednesday, October 10th at 6pm in Alumnae Lounge! Admission is free. Check out the Tufts events page for more information.

  • Passionate about global health issues? Then watch next week’s Friedman Seminar Series!

The Friedman Seminar Series will feature Roger Thurow, award-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal and now Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in a seminar titled The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change. The talk will be live webcast beginning at 12:15pm on Wednesday, October 10th. Register on Wednesday through the Friedman School’s website to watch the live webcast.

Behind the Scenes: The Student Worker Perspective

Ever wonder what it would be like to work at the ExCollege? Lenea Sims, sophomore and new student worker at the ExCollege, reflects on why she chose to work here at the little brown house on Talbot Ave!

Like most other students here, Tufts is the only university I’ve ever attended. However, I think I speak for all students that go here when I say that this place, this home away from home, is like no other university—no other place, frankly—in the world. I love that when I wake up everyday, I’m destined to meet someone with an entirely different background than me. While this could surely happen at any other school, something about this dynamic at Tufts is different. Maybe it’s because I have a Canadian roommate from Hong Kong, and suitemates that have lived not only all around the globe, but also in Tufts’ backyard of Boston. Or perhaps it’s how these people interact with each other: in a way that is both engaging and educational. Most likely, however, is that Tufts goes to great lengths to facilitate these conversations between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and interests. This dedication to enriching students reaches the depths of all disciplines at Tutfs, but is perhaps most thoughtfully embodied in the Experimental College.

When a position at the ExCollege was brought to my attention, I jumped at the chance to work in the cute little brown house, which has quickly become my home away from home (away from home). No matter how simple my work may seem in the moment—researching contacts for a mailing list, picking up copies of films from Tisch, advertising our teaching series all around Davis—I take so much pride in knowing that I am contributing to one of the most progressive teaching institutions on not only this campus, but also on campuses worldwide. The very idea of bringing people with different views and stories to teach to us (very lucky) students, is just plain awesome. We often overlook how lucky we are to have a program like this, one that really wants to see us become more well-rounded students, students capable of creating stories of our own. Now that I work at the ExCollege, though, I come face to face with this realization everyday. I am thrilled to see ideas coming in for new classes and even more thrilled to hear from students in current classes how much they love their ExCollege courses.

We are all so privileged to go a school like this one and to have a program that embodies our university’s ideals so beautifully. With that, I encourage you to take full advantage and enroll yourself in something fun—something meaningful— next semester: an ExCollege course!

And It Begins!

This past Thursday, we welcomed our Explorations and Perspectives student leaders back to the Hill with one very delicious dinner. The meal ended with a multi-layered chocolate cake and a talk about what it truly means to be an inspiring, courageous, and effective teacher. Steve Cohen, a senior lecturer in the Education Department, highlighted the fact that to critically engage a room full of students and to awaken their passion for learning, the method of relying material and cold hard facts needed to meld together for a truly outstanding educational experience. With this thought freshly imprinted on their minds, Steve sent our student leaders to work creating propaganda posters. Armed with speeches delivered by Communist, Nazi, and Socialist leaders from the World War II era (as well as one very large bag of crayons), groups of students chose which party they would represent with their poster.

Groups huddled around blank posters discussing their party’s point of view and how it would best be captured in propaganda form. Once inspiration hit, each group took up their crayons of choice and set out to convert the masses. The last few minutes of the exercise crept up quickly on quite a few groups, and teams furiously colored their posters together in order to finish their masterpieces.

The presentations followed, and each group provided strong reasoning behind their choice of word and image on the poster as they related to the ideals of their chosen party. As Steve wrapped up his lesson, he posed a very simple question to the entire group, “Will you remember that lesson? Will you remember what you learned?” Everyone nodded their head up and down enthusiastically.

As our student leaders soon welcome first year students to Tufts and begin their teaching journey, Steve’s lesson of what it means to engage and challenge a classroom remain on their minds. They have the tools necessary to tackle the upcoming semester with vigor and excitement. Here’s to our 30 student leaders creating classroom environments that will not only positively impact the way their students think about the world, but what it means to be a dynamic member of the Tufts’ community.

Catching our breath

Phew! We’re a bit behind the ball on posts, but it’s because we had a fantastic spring semester! Faculty presentations from A Taste of Tufts and student films from TuftsFilmWorks and great reviews of our spring courses … it’s all good. Now that things are quieting down a bit, I’ll try to post a bit in the next few weeks about what’s happening over the summer and what’s coming up for fall. Stay tuned!

April what?

Nothing to say but … snow?!?!?! We really should have expected it, what with the kind of winter we’ve had, but New Englanders have the kind of selective memory that allows us to forget every spring that last spring wasn’t really very spring-y either. It allows us to continue to live here. So here’s to one last chance at sledding the President’s Lawn! (You could try sledding our front lawn, but you’d end up in the street. Not very safe.)

Our house at 95 Talbot Avenue in the snow

Our house at 95 Talbot Avenue in the snow