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Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | March 7, 2013 | No Comment |

As I write this, my computer screen displays this word document as well as one ginormous spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is not just any ordinary numbers-y (clearly I have been thoroughly trained in the secret arts of Excel) spreadsheet. This spreadsheet spans columns and columns and exists for one reason: to coordinate interviews for over 100 ExCollege applicants.

The ExCollege offers interviews to a good portion of potential instructors. The interviews serve as our method of getting into their heads, to sneak around a little bit and to understand how the paper version of the course will translate into real life. Subcommittees consisting of two current students and one faculty member interview all of the applicants. Each subcommittee usually meets for 2 to 3 hours and interviews 4 to 6 applicants. With the 100 or so applicants called in for an interview, it means that I get the oh so exciting task of piecing together the schedules of about 20 faculty members, 45 students, and 100 applicants into approximately 21 neat and tidy subcommittees.

When I first got this job, Melissa Burke (last year’s Program Assistant) fully warned me that this was a task that many would balk at. She showed me her spreadsheet, and my senior self giggled a little and thought “eh, not too bad.” My senior self was so so wrong.

Cindy Stewart (the ExCollege’s Assistant Director and secret wizard) told me that the subcommittee puzzle equated to one massive GRE puzzle. (She is absolutely 100% correct, and I’m glad that I am getting some GRE practice…because I have yet to open my GRE practice book, oops.) To solve this puzzle, I need a few things:

  1. Coffee (personal favorite: a Voldemort from the Res)
  2. A mountain of paper clips (to clip together the hard copies of everyone’s schedules into subcommittees)
  3. The correct brain mode (an awake brain = a productive brain)

When all of these things align, I begin madly scheduling for a few days. After the spreadsheet comes together, I sigh, take a victory lap, and call all of the applicants. Yes. I do call each and every applicant to let them know about their pending interview. Despite this taking a few hours, I love this part of subcommittee scheduling because people get excited!! Really truly excited! I feel like I’m magic and just raining down happiness on the people I call—it’s a pretty good feeling after the end of a very long process.

under: Courses, Staff, Uncategorized, Visiting Lecturers
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Knowing and Believing in John Steinbeck

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | March 4, 2013 | No Comment |

Written by Madeline Hall (A13), who co-taught the fall 2012 Explorations seminar “Steinbeck’s Humanity.”

Teaching my Explorations seminar was perhaps the single most beneficial academic choice I made at Tufts; the curiosity and depth of the student’s inquiries shed greater light on the worth of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden than I could have ever guessed. Further, they held a mirror to my own experience at Tufts, launching my mind perpetually to the past of my own freshman year. Be it a trope or not, their genuine and committed involvement in the class taught me more about myself than any class in which I had ever been enrolled.

East of Eden served as my spiritual text from the day I finished it. Completely taken by the story of family strife, Biblical mystique, and the rage between good and evil, East of Eden quickly became the text by which I lived my life. The depth of its contents and every thematic helix that spiraled from its plot made the book an ideal candidate for intensive study. This logic made the absence of East of Eden from virtually every syllabus on Tufts’ campus that much more puzzling; how could it not be taught, with its rich understanding of the intricacy of human conflict and confusion?

My conviction in the book’s offer of salvation was shared by my Explorations seminar co-teacher, the friend who initially encouraged reading the book in the first place. Bolstered by our mutual love of the literature, we crafted a syllabus in the comfort of our own confidence – this book was the best, and surely others would feel the same, right?

Cue the crippling doubt that consumed me on the first day of class. Standing in front of the students called to mind what standing in front of a firing squad must feel like; the intimidating circle of first-years, armed with skepticism and adolescent insolence, were perfect soldiers suited to destroy my flimsy defenses. My understanding of body language became so acutely attuned to each student’s minor movement that a crossed pair of arms suggested utter disinterest and a yawn condemned my every effort to teach.  I was certain of their suspicion as a result of my own disbelief: how did someone decide I was qualified to teach?!

As the semester passed and the students consumed the book, though, my own incredulity abated. I understood that they were as new to college as I was to instruction, and that our respective efforts had brought us together in this class. I knew the book, knew my own passions and abilities, knew the worth of the course; all it took was the introduction of the students, eager and incredibly bright, to turn this knowledge into true belief in myself.

Even now, I cannot fully grasp my good fortune. Perhaps, as I have done so often, Steinbeck can speak more clearly to my greatest marvel in regards to this experience: “It is one of the triumphs of the human that he can know a thing and still not believe it.” I know the class has changed me; I simply still cannot believe it.

under: Courses, Explorations
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Teaching Perspectives

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | February 28, 2013 | No Comment |

Written by Samantha Tye (A13), co-teacher of the Perspectives seminar ‘Films of Genocide.’

I can only imagine the thoughts going through my students’ heads the first time that we met as a group. Sofi Shield and I started out full speed ahead asking for names and dorms and hometowns. We wanted to hear about summer adventures while we simultaneously spewed out advice. I knew we were talking a mile a minute, but our excitement to meet our freshmen was too strong to contain. After about ten minutes of our premature advice-giving, one brave student raised her hand and asked, “Wait, isn’t this a class about genocide?”

I guess it wasn’t clear to our freshmen that during orientation week we would act as their advisors; help them get acclimated to campus and registered for their first semester. The stark contrast between new school year excitement and the somber topic of genocide added to the hilarity of the moment. Sofi and I burst out in laughter, realizing how absurd we must have seemed. The class was sitting patiently, ready to delve into crimes against humanity, and there we were, blabbing about our favorite professors. We quickly explained the misunderstanding, and our students joined in with laughter of their own. Needless to say, this broke the ice and set a wonderful tone for the remainder of our semester together.

It is hard to say what my favorite part of each week’s class was. Even as the semester went on, our freshmen never ceased to amaze us with their insight and perspective on the films we watched. They expressed wonderful commentary about portraying genocide through film and thoughtfully spoke about ethical dilemmas within the genre. I truly believe that I learned as much as the students did about genocide films. Sofi and I learned even more about being leaders, working with others and conducting a class.

On a simpler but equally enjoyable note, our weekly check-in at the beginning of each class was refreshing and allowed for continual relationship-building. I think all of us—teachers and students alike—really appreciated the twenty minutes we took to shares highs and lows of the previous week. We got to congratulate successes and suggest solutions for troubles. Our classroom environment was unlike that of any “traditional” Tufts classroom experience. Sofi and I were much more our students’ equals rather than their superiors.

Sometimes, when Sofi and I would be drawing up lesson plans, we would refer to our students as the “little ones.” We would quickly correct ourselves, however, because it didn’t feel right to establish that much distance from our students. Far before the end of the semester, we realized the “little ones” were first and foremost our friends and peers.

under: Perspectives
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The Express!

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | February 1, 2013 | No Comment |

Friday, February 1

Join the ExCollege: Become a Board Member or a Peer Leader!

Dive into the inner-workings of the ExCollege by joining the ExCollege Board or becoming an Explorations or Perspectives Peer Leader.

The ExCollege Board consists of 5 faculty members and 5 students and meets once per month. The Board tackles policy, discusses ExCollege initiatives and programs, and ultimately decides what courses will be offered to all Tufts students each semester. Each Board meeting allows both student and faculty members to plan ahead for the ExCollege while offering a welcoming atmosphere where everyone’s voice is heard. Download an application now and submit it to the ExCollege by February 22nd.

Have you ever wanted to teach at Tufts? Consider becoming a Peer Leader through the Explorations or Perspectives programs. Teams of two upperclassmen lead a first-year seminar in addition to acting as orientation leaders and mentors for their group of first-year students. Design your own course, earn 1.5 credits, and have a great teaching experience! Check out the FAQs for both programs, download an application, and submit your course proposal by March 13th. You can even head over to our blog to read about the experience of a Fall 2012 Explorations leader, John Dame. An Information Meeting for both Explorations and Perspectives will be held on Tuesday, February 5th at 9:30pm in Room 220 of the Campus Center.

A Taste of Tufts Review: Sam Sommers

Written by Lenea Sims, A15 & ExCollege student worker

With the new semester comes a new lineup of A Taste of Tufts! Sponsored by your very own Experimental College and supported by the SPIRIT Fund, A Taste of Tufts is a lecture series dedicated to bringing some of Tufts finest professors in front of a crowd that may not normally get to see them speak. This semester’s series began today with Associate Professor Sam Sommers from the Psychology department. Professor Sommers opened up his talk—titled “Examining Racial Diversity: A Behavioral Science Approach”—by acknowledging the differing views often surrounding his topic. “There’s a lot of discussion and debate about diversity,” he said. “It’s a particularly controversial and polarizing concept.”

After briefly acknowledging the ethical and legal side of the debate, he quickly turned to what he knows best, saying, “What are the effects of diversity? How can we study the question of diversity empirically that tells us something about the societal effects?” He then dove into some of the more recent studies done in his lab at Tufts; each one completed with the aid of undergraduate and graduate students whose names he happily credits in his findings. In one, for example, he found that when white students interact with someone of a different race, they often experience more anxiety and show signs of cognitive depletion—symptoms that they don’t nearly as often display when working with another white student. In other words, when faced with dealing with someone of a different race, students became so concerned about making that person like them, that they became mentally exhausted.

Professor Sommers closed his talk and took a few questions, ending by reminding students to always go into situations looking to have a genuine connection rather than worrying about if the person they were dealing with would like them in the end. It’s a concept he admits is a bit “Mr. Rogers-sounding,” but we can all agree that it’s certainly a nice outlook to have.

Updated Taste of Tufts Schedule

After some minor shuffling around, the ExCollege has updated its schedule for this semester’s Taste of Tufts presentations. Be sure to reserve every Friday from 12pm—1pm on your calendar to catch up on the latest faculty research.

  • February 8: Ken Garden, Religion
  • February 15: Nina Gerassi-Navarro, Romance Languages
  • February 22: Anthony Monaco, President
  • March 1: Mary Davis, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
  • March 8: TBA
  • March 29: Ayanna Thomas, Psychology
  • April 5: Benjamin Hescott, Computer Science
  • April 12: Noe Montez, Drama and Dance
  • April 19: David Harris, Provost and Senior Vice President

Sneak Peek into the Annual Newsletter

Each year, the ExCollege produces a massive newsletter, the E-News, to update current students, faculty members, staffers, and alumni on the most important ExCollege news. A range of articles are written by various authors for a wide range of perspectives! You can look forward to reading articles by:

  • Sara Harari, A12 and creator of “A Taste of Tufts”
  • John Harrison, A12 and former ExCollege student worker
  • Sarah Moser, returning Visiting Lecturer of “Asian Cities in the 21st Century”
  • Mimi Arbeit, Visiting Lecturer of “Sexual Wellness on College Campuses”
  • Kumar Ramanthan, A15 and student ExCollege Board member
  • Phil Starks, ExCollege Board chair
  • Madeline Hall, A13 and former Explorations Leader
  • Samantha Tye, A13 and former Perspectives Leader
  • Robyn Gittleman, Director of the ExCollege
  • Howard Woolf, Associate Director of the ExCollege
  • Beky Stiles, A12 and ExCollege Program Assistant

Be on the lookout for the latest edition of the E-News in late February! In the meantime, glance over archived newsletters to learn about previous ExCollege endeavors.

Still searching for the perfect study group?

Worried about that upcoming test or confused by your homework? Don’t know anyone in your class yet? JumboStudy, a new mobile peer-to-peer study service, can help! Log on at http://jumbostudy.tufts.edu to view available study groups for your classes or propose new study groups. Where and what you study is up to you! For more information, check out http://sites.tufts.edu/atfellows/projects/jumbostudy/.

Did you know…

Every year the ExCollege receives over 140 course proposals from professionals, grad students, educators, and more in the greater-Boston area wanting to teach. The process to whittle that number down to 22/23 takes an entire semester of sending out solicitation materials, processing each application, interviewing each candidate, and holding the full-day Board meeting in order to finalize the upcoming semester’s course list.

Around Campus

New semesters always bring about a lot of ‘firsts’: first semester trip to the Rez, first day of classes, first Sunday Sundae (& Thursday), and (of course) first special event of the semester. If you haven’t yet attended an event, make your first event outing one to remember! Check out these upcoming programs, and be sure to scroll through TuftsLife and Tufts Events for even more insight into happenings on the Hill.

  • Get your art on by heading over to a Tomasso Lecture!

The Department of Art and Art History presents “Michelangelo, Bandinelli, and Bernini: The Long Goodbye.” This Tomasso Lecture will be given by Dr. Maria Loh of University College London. Head over to Granoff 155 at 5:30pm on Monday, February 4th to dive into the world of art history. See the full event flyer here.

  • Want to take your business idea to the next level?

The Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition is gearing up for 2013! An Information Session will be held on Wednesday, February 6th from 12pm to 1pm in Anderson’s Burden Lounge. Be a part of one of the country’s biggest university-sponsored competitions, and earn money to transform your idea into a business. Submissions are due February 22nd.

under: Board, Events, Explorations, Perspectives
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Explorations: An Experience that Enhances a College Career

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | January 30, 2013 | No Comment |

The following blog post comes to you from John Dame, current junior and co-teacher of the fall 2012 Explorations class NCAA: Athletes, Sports, and Money. 

In the spring of 2012, my classmate Jon Sobo approached me about teaching an Experimental College class that coming Fall. I had taken a class taught by my peers as a freshman, but I was fairly skeptical about teaching. The class I took my freshmen year was extremely productive but I was not sure I could handle leading a classroom on a weekly basis. Jon and I are heavily involved in the football program at Tufts, which marginalizes our schedules quite a bit. Therefore, I was concerned I was not going to be able to pledge enough time to the class due to our other commitments.

However, we were able to put forth a lot of energy into the course. We decided to teach about the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), doing classes on everything from recruiting and coaching to life as a Division I athlete. We arrived on campus in late August and engaged in extremely helpful training, learning how to teach the class with its long length of two and a half hours. After the training, we participated in orientation with our students, which was a rewarding experience. The opportunity to spend time with our freshmen on their first day away from their parents was valuable. We immediately became the people they looked to on campus, as they did not have anyone else. This allowed us to form some great relationships with our students.

Once orientation ended and our students settled in, they formed a great relationship with each other. Aside from teaching, this was the most enjoyable thing about running an Experimental College class for freshmen. On the first day, they were awkward, scared, and antagonistic towards each other. However, by the third week, students were bringing in birthday cakes and decorating our classroom for their peers. Their relationships quickly developed and they relied on each other as they endured their first few months of college.

Overall, the teaching experience worked perfectly. The students were respectful each week and we achieved our goals by the end of the course. Each student received a well-rounded education on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and they all delivered excellent final papers that displayed their knowledge of the subject. Each of them took the class very seriously and also made sure to let us know that they appreciated our efforts in teaching them. We had little to no problems in our class and it was an incredible experience that made me value my teachers and the Tufts community even more.

under: Courses, Explorations, Perspectives
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The Express!

Posted by: Cindy Stewart | January 28, 2013 | No Comment |

Join the ExCollege Board!

The ExCollege is beginning the search for new students to join its Board! The ExCollege Board consists of 5 Tufts faculty members as well as 5 current Tufts students. The ExCollege Board meets once a month and works toward setting policy, selecting new courses for each semester, planning campus events, and developing new initiatives for the ExCollege. Get a glimpse into the current ExCollege Board by reading our faculty and student Board members’ biographies!

 

If you are interested or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call the ExCollege at 617-627-3384, email us at excollege@tufts.edu, or drop by our office at 95 Talbot Avenue! The application is available on our website, and all applications are due Friday, February 22nd.

Did You Know…

The ExCollege Board included student members soon after convening for the first time, breaking from previous traditions. By the spring of 1966, the student board members were given full voting rights. It was also at the suggestion of a student board member that the ExCollege invited its first Visiting Lecturer to teach at Tufts in 1968.

Teach at Tufts: Explorations and Perspectives

Have you ever wanted to design a class, mentor first-year students, and become a part of a tight-knit community at Tufts? Apply to be a part of the Explorations or Perspectives program! These programs allow rising juniors and seniors to co-teach a course in addition to advising a group of first-year students through orientation and their first semester on the Hill.

The Explorations program allows leaders to select a topic about which they feel passionate or have an expertise and create a 13-week syllabus. The Perspectives program focuses around a shared topic area, the ‘Movies’ as Business, Art, and Culture. Perspectives leaders do decide on the approaches they will use to teach their class. The Explorations program is coordinated by Director Robyn Gittleman, and the Perspectives program is run by Associate Director Howard Woolf.

 

Read up on the FAQs for Explorations and Perspectives, and download the application! A GIM for all interested students of both programs will take place Friday, February 1st at 2pm in the conference room of our office, 95 Talbot Avenue.

Registration Continues!

Registration for all ExCollege (and Tufts courses) will continue until Thursday, January 31st at 5pm. There is still time to add that perfect class! Spots remain open in these ExCollege classes:

  • EXP-0002-S The Ethnography of Religious Communities, Tuesdays from 6-8:30pm in Olin 107 (This course has been approved by the Religion department to count for Humanities distribution credit. You can reach the instructor at Kirsten.Wesselhoeft@tufts.edu.)
  • EXP-0032-S Sexual Wellness on College Campuses, Thursdays from 6-8:30pm in Aidekman 13 (Review the preliminary syllabus here.)
  • EXP-0060-S Authoritarianism in the Age of the Internet, Tuesdays from 6:30-9pm in Barnum 114 (This course will count toward the Mass Communications and Media Studies minor as a Social Sciences elective.)
  • EXP-0061-S Enemies and Neighbors: Israeli and Palestinian Fiction, Wednesdays from 6-8:30pm in Barnum 114 (Review the preliminary syllabus here.)

You can find the full Spring 2013 course listings on our main website, and register on SIS today!

 

Taste of Tufts: A Sampling of Faculty Research

Taste of Tufts is back for the spring! Meet your favorite professors as well as new Tufts instructors from across the Hill as they discuss their latest research. The first sampling of faculty research will take place one week from today! Sam Sommers, Psychology Department, will speak on Friday, February 1st from 12pm to 1pm, at Pearson 106. Save the date and keep reading for the preliminary Spring 2013 Taste of Tufts schedule!

  • February 8: Ken Garden, Religion
  • February 15: TBA
  • February 22: Anthony Monaco, President
  • March 1: Mary Davis, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
  • March 8: TBA
  • March 29 Ayanna Thomas, Psychology
  • April 5: Ben Hescott, Computer Science
  • April 12: Noe Montez, Drama and Dance
  • April 19: David Harris, Provost

All Taste of Tufts gatherings will meet on Fridays from 12pm to 1pm and a light lunch will be served.

 

Do you want to win $500?

Tisch Library is currently on the hunt for submissions for the Undergraduate Research Award. This award recognizes outstanding use of library resources and the development of expertise in an exemplary research paper or project. Submissions can be made in the following categories:

  • The first-year writing program (ENG 1-4 or any course taken to fulfill the college writing requirement)
  • 001-099 level courses
  • 100-200 level courses

Each category will name one student winner and recipient of $500. The runner-up in each category will receive $250. That is enough (and more!) to foot your Tower Café bill for your next research endeavor! Check out the full description and nitty-gritty details on the Tisch website.

 

Stay updated on all things ExCollege

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

 

Around Campus

Don’t be afraid to brave the cold for some amazing music events taking place around campus this week. Put on that extra scarf, wear gloves under your mittens, and head over to Granoff and Goddard! You’ll be invigorated after your brief stint in the cold, and you’ll be even more ready to appreciate the music (and warmth!) that awaits you.

  • Support an important cause by attending Singing for Sudan!

Singing for Sudan is a benefit concert taking place in Goddard at 7pm on Saturday, January 26th. The suggested donation is $5, and proceeds will go to the Yida Refugee Camp. The concert will feature The Amalgamates, The Jackson Jills, the Ladies of Essence, S-Factor, Barbara Florvil, and Patrick Kabanda. Don’t miss out on this great event presented by the Chaplaincy and the Africana Center. Check out the Facebook event page!

  • Immerse yourself in the music of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East!

Mal Barsamian, performance faculty member, will take over Distler in Granoff this Sunday, January 27th to feature the music of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. Barsamian will be accompanied by percussionist Jay Baronian and will feature works by composers of Armenian, Turkish, and Arab descent. This installment of the Community Concert Series will run from 3pm to 5pm. Mark it on your calendar!

under: Board, Courses, Events, Explorations, Perspectives

What if you could major in the ExCollege?

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | January 4, 2013 | No Comment |

I asked our student workers to imagine a world in which you could major in the ExCollege. I asked them to tell me what courses they would take this spring to fulfill the requirements for this very unique major. This is the response I received from Lynne Koester, senior, English major, and ExCollege veteran.

First of all, I essentially am covertly majoring in the ExCollege.  To date, I have taken ten ExCollege classes (including internships) which is more classes than in my declared major of English.  Basically what I’m saying is that the ExCollege should give me a second diploma in May (hint, hint, Robyn).

The ExCollege’s mission is to add breadth to students’ educations that we might not get otherwise from our chosen paths.  I, on the other hand, focus on ExCollege classes because I realized at the beginning of my sophomore year that I wanted to have a career involving Sports Film/Video.  The ExCollege fills the gaps that Tufts’ offered majors leave, and I’ve consistently taken the film and sports classes that the ExCollege offers.

The End of the Year Evaluation for an ExCollege class asks how impactful the class was for each student.  One of the answers is “life changing.”  While that option seems a bit dramatic, I can say with absolute certainty that my college experience, career path, friends, activities—indeed, my life—would be radically different without classes such as Making Movies and Sports Journalism in the Internet Age.

Anyway, clearly I’m the ExCollege’s biggest groupie, so it should come as no surprise that I had a hard time picking which classes I would take if I could officially major in the ExCollege.  Beky asked for four or five, so here are my top…eight.

1. EXP-0050-CS: Media Literacy

I am hoping to take this class somehow despite the fact that I need to have all my evenings free for my internship (also an ExCollege class…) because it sounds amazing and totally applicable for everyone.

2. EXP-0020-S: Forensic Science: An Exploration

I am unclear as to how a class can get cooler.

3. EXP-0030-S: Sabermetrics: The Objective Analysis of Baseball

This is certainly a class I should take, but I know that I would be SO, SO, SO BAD at it, which is exactly why I should take it.  But, you know…got to keep my weeknights free.  Cop out.

4. EXP-0014-S: The Art of Improvisation

One of the teachers of this class is the owner of overall-jorts, which is hilarity I think speaks for itself.

5. EXP-0026-S: Architecture/Music: Sound and the Built Environment

Here’s a combination of two things that always amaze me and that I know less than nothing about.  Also, the teacher is probably one of the nicest people I know.

6. EXP-0033-S: Campus Community Emergency Response Team

Learning CPR and other, um…stuff that can save lives has been on my to-do list forever.  Hopefully not getting around to it won’t have some seriously not good consequences.  I feel like this class should probably just be mandatory for everyone.

7. EXP-0040-S: Positive Psychology Theory and Application

For when singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” to yourself in the mirror stops working.

8. EXP-0056-CS: Making Movies

As an alum, I’ve got to throw this bad boy in there.  If you have any interest in film, this class will be simultaneously the best and worst thing that will happen to you.

under: Courses, Student Workers
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The Proposal: A Process of Idea Babies, I Do’s and Engagement

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | December 14, 2012 | No Comment |

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.

 

under: Board, Courses, Staff, Student Workers, Visiting Lecturers
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The Express!

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | December 7, 2012 | No Comment |

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.

under: Courses, Events, Explorations, Perspectives, Visiting Lecturers

The Express! News & updates from the ExCollege.

Posted by: Rebekah Stiles | November 30, 2012 | No Comment |

Friday, November 30

Teach First Year Students!

Going away this spring but want to teach a Perspectives or Explorations first year student seminar next fall? You can access the application online from anywhere! Co-teach a course to gain valuable teaching experience, engage a room of first years each week, and get credit! Check out the FAQs for both Explorations and Perspectives, and email us at excollege@tufts.edu, call us at 617-627-3384, or even drop by our 95 Talbot Ave. office with any questions.

Spring Courses & Registration Begin January 16

The pile of course proposals on our desks slowly grows smaller and smaller as we work toward selecting spring classes! On December 11, the ExCollege Board will come together for a daylong meeting to finalize the course offerings for Spring 2013. Be on the lookout for the preliminary list of courses on our website! Updates regarding spring classes will be announced on Facebook, Twitter, and TuftsLife no later than Friday, December 14.

Once you’ve perused the latest ExCollege listings, be prepared to register on the first day of spring semester classes! ExCollege registration will begin promptly at 9am on Wednesday, January 16, and all Wednesday ExCollege classes will hold their first meetings on January 16.

Let the Games Begin!

With the end of the semester approaching, it’s time for extended stays in Tisch, a slight boost in caffeine consumption, and Perspectives Olympics. For the first time ever, five of the Perspectives freshmen seminars will come together in the Terrace Room for the Olympics. Competitors will race around campus on a scavenger hunt, play a few rousing rounds of Scene It, and showcase their skills during a talent show. The winning class will receive eternal bragging rights as the first ever champion of the Games. The winners will be announced in next week’s eXpress as well as on Facebook and Twitter!

TUTV’s latest hit

Earlier this week, TUTV released their latest scripted show. Only four days after its YouTube debut, the pilot of “My Gay Roommate” already has an impressive 24,000 views. The show features two new freshmen college roommates, and it portrays a light-hearted take on the relationship between a very straight and very flamboyantly gay pair. The show highlights some ridiculous situations encountered in their everyday lives and also tackles more heartfelt issues along the way. TUTV’s roots stem back to the ExCollege, and the organization is entirely student run! Check out the pilot episode and join the Facebook group!

In the Classroom

Rebecca Pearl-Martinez, co-instructor of the course Riding Tide: Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation, recently finished working as lead author on “The Art of Implementation: Gender Strategies Transforming Climate Change Decision Making.” The publication is available here and is based on Rebecca’s work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on national climate change strategies in developing countries. Rebecca’s work will be launched at the global climate change negotiations being held in Doha this week!

Tom Nolan, instructor of Forensic Behavioral Analysis, was interviewed by Team 5 Investigates on October 26 to provide insight as both a professor of criminal justice and a former Boston police lieutenant into hazing allegations made toward the MBTA Transit Police Academy. Read the full article and watch the video on wcvb.com.

Did You Know…

In 1988, Perspectives joined Explorations as a first year advising program in the ExCollege. This fall, there are six Perspectives classes—all grounded in the study of movies as culture—for freshmen students including Disney Animated Movies and Films of Genocide.

Around Campus

Only a few weeks stand between you and winter break. Don’t spend your last days on the Hill locked in Tisch! Be sure to work in some fun times at events being held all over campus. Procrastinate a little by working your way through TuftsLife and Tufts Events for full event listings, and keep reading for two upcoming event descriptions.

  • Get in the groove by heading over to the Tufts Choruses Holiday Concert!

Head over to Goddard for the Tufts Choruses Holiday Concert. Listen to your favorite holiday melodies sung by the Tufts Concert Choir and Chamber Singers under the direction of Jamie Kirsch. Mark your calendars for 4:30pm on Wednesday, December 5, and check out the Music Department’s events calendar for more details. Can’t go because of studying? No problem! Live stream the entire concert via the Music Department.

  • Want the full scoop on the relationship between agricultural policies and the environmental impacts of farms? Head over to the December TIE Talk!

The Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) will feature Tim Griffin, Associate Professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environmental Program of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, speaking on the correlations between nation-wide policies and the environmental impacts of farms. Don’t miss “Cash Cow? How Agricultural Policies Affects Farms’ Environmental Impact” on Wednesday, December 5, from 5pm – 6:30pm in the Miller Hall Event Space (next to the door to TIE at the former RezQuad Café)!

under: Courses, Explorations, Perspectives, Staff

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