We are currently seeking student volunteers to help us interview prospective ExCollege instructors! Check out this infographic for the details on our review subcommittees, and email Rebekah Stiles at firstname.lastname@example.org to fill out an availability form!
Since 1967, the ExCollege has provided Tufts undergraduates with the opportunity to design their own course and teach fellow Jumbos through the Peer Teaching program. Peer-taught courses often revolve around current issues; allowing for dynamic classroom spaces that make students re-think and re-shape the way they view the world. Currently, the ExCollege is on the look-out for Peer Teachers for Spring 2014. If you are a student and want to share your expertise in your own course, please apply! Before you submit your application, please get in touch with us (email@example.com or 617-627-3384) with your course idea. The application is available on our main website. The deadline for applications is November 1.
Peer-taught course topics over the past 46 years continually morph based on changing student needs and contemporary issues. From 1970′s course “The Draft” to 2012′s class “Game Strategy,” exceptional peer instructors challenge their students while igniting dialogue and sparking ideas.
For a glimpse into the world of Peer Teaching, our intrepid summer intern Benji Cohen (A11 and former ExCollege student board member) put together a snapshot of the Spring 2007 course “The Future is Lost: The TV Series as Cultural Phenomenon” taught by Chadwick Matlin (A07) and Ed Kalafarski (A06).
The Course: The Future is Lost: The TV Series as Cultural Phenomenon, Spring 2007
The Peer-Teachers: Chadwick Matlin (A07) and Ed Kalafarski (A06) used ABC’s smash-hit drama “Lost” as an academic text to analyze the future of media and the intersection between technology, media, and economics.
Lost and Society: The class explored how the show has become a pop culture sensation, but equally importantly how ABC markets and positions the show in its television lineup. In addition, the online community devoted to “Lost” demonstrated, in Chad and Ed’s eyes, a significant turning point in the relationship between media and society. As Chad remarked, “the Internet is bringing people together to deal with something that is usually referred to as just a hobby, but here it’s becoming what people do when they come home from work for three hours at night.” Chad marveled that “Lost” mobilized “people in our reality based on a fictional show,” and attempted to teach his students that such mobilization was targeted by ABC executives because showbiz, after all, is a business.
Reception: Chad and Ed’s course received local, national, and even international attention and acclaim. Chad and Ed’s class was featured in the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and NPR, “Lost” producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse caught wind of the class from California and had a conference call to answer students’ questions, and Chad was interviewed by BBC radio.
Reflection: Chad told the Tufts Daily that in the end “Lost” was an entertaining means to an academic end. He said, “we’re instructing students on the new media landscape, and what it means to watch TV in the 21st century in the Internet-dominated world that we live in.” As ExCollege Director Robyn Gittleman told the Globe, Chad and Ed created “a very thoughtful syllabus that explored all aspects of the show. . . . It had many, many layers with different educational goals.”
Where Are They Now: After graduating from Tufts, Chad was an associate editor at TheBigMoney.com, Slate’s business site. He has written for Fortune.com, New York, The Atlantic, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Columbia Journalism Review, and Talking Points Memo. He is currently a senior editor for Reuters Opinion, Reuters’ online commentary arm. Ed received a Masters in Computer Science from Brown University in 2009. He has worked for Google since 2007, focusing on the Google Maps app. In addition, he was the project manager and lead developer for Slate’s “Map the Candidates” tool during the 2008 presidential election.
2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Experimental College at Tufts. In preparation for a series of events this coming spring, we’re very busy sorting through old course books, posters, newspaper articles, instructor bios, and so much more in order to put together a comprehensive look at the past five decades. Diving into such a rich and complex history produces some wonderful ExCollege artifacts that need to be shared! As we come across these interesting ExCollege facts, figures, and photographs, we’ll be sharing them on our blog.
Here is an early sampling of photographs discovered going through old reports created by the ExCollege.
Congratulations to the Class of 2013!! A hush has spread into the ExCollege office (and all over the Hill) with so many seniors taking off to pursue exciting post-Tufts adventures. We’re already missing our seniors, but we can’t wait to start getting email updates and surprise visits!
With the summer slowly rolling in, the Commencement excitement is transforming into an excitement for the fall semester and a new batch of Jumbos. In June, the incoming Class of 2017 will be getting a lot of Tufts-tastic information in the mail, including the coveted advising programs list. Every fall, the ExCollege provides the option for entering freshmen to enroll in either the Explorations or Perspectives advising programs.
Initiated in 1972, Explorations served as an innovative advising program meant to act as both an academic and social introduction to the Hill. Each Explorations seminar is led by 2 upperclassmen who design the syllabus and course topic themselves. From “Robots, Space, and Civilizations of the Future” to “Road Trips and the American Identity” and much more, the 9 Explorations seminars open to the Class of 2017 will continue the tradition of offering an experience that uniquely combines advising, learning, and a sense of community. Check out the current Explorations courses here.
After the awesome success of the Explorations program, Perspectives joined the ExCollege advising line-up in 1988. Unlike Explorations, with course topics wide-ranging, Perspectives classes all work under the large umbrella topic of “media studies.” Pre-2014, Perspectives seminars focused around the idea of movies, but given the surge in new media, the program has been re-structured to encompass all types of media. “The Business of Hollywood,” “Medical Fallacies in TV and Film,” and 7 other seminars will be offered to incoming freshmen this fall. Like Explorations, each Perspectives seminar has been custom-built by two upperclassmen ready to guide freshmen through their first semester as Jumbos. For a full listing of Perspectives courses, head over to our main website.
^2012′s Explorations and Perspectives Peer Leaders in summer training!
Here are some memorable quotes from our 2012 Explorations and Perspectives students:
What did you like best about your Perspectives seminar?
“I loved my group and my leaders. I feel very close with each of them, and I think it has made the transition to Tufts easier and more fun.”
“I really enjoyed the conversation we had in class. I feel like I learned a lot from my classmates.”
What did you like best about your Explorations seminar?
“I really liked the environment. My instructors fostered an atmosphere that blended learning and relaxing. I looked forward to class each week.”
“I loved learning and going in-depth about a subject that I probably would have gone a lifetime without knowing anything about if not for this course.”
What was the most important thing you learned in this course?
“I developed a personal philosophy, and I’m optimistic about humanity.”
“To think openly and abstractly about current issues.”
“The importance of experiencing everything and becoming involved in things at Tufts.”
With such powerful and positive reactions from our most recent Explorations and Perspectives seminars, we’re looking to have a strong and memorable start to our 41st year of offering these programs in 2013. Between both Explorations and Perspectives this fall, incoming first-years will be able to choose between 18 extremely interesting and challenging topics. With 14 spots up for grabs in each course, the ExCollege looks to welcome 252 freshmen into our advising programs this fall! We can’t wait!
Next week, the ExCollege will be making its decisions regarding which classes will be offered to Tufts students in the fall! Mimi Arbeit went through this process last semester, and before jumping into the classroom, she wrote about what she hoped to bring to her students. Now teaching ‘Sexual Wellness on College Campuses,’ Mimi demonstrates the type of ExCollege instructor dedicated to establishing a vibrant and innovative classroom for her students in order to expand upon their current experiences at Tufts.
Written by Mimi Arbeit, Visiting Lecturer
I’ve wanted to teach at the Experimental College since I first accepted the offer to join the MA/PhD program at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development here at Tufts. And I knew what I wanted to teach, too. I even had the name of my class: Sex on Campus.
I came to Tufts after spending two years as the sole Health teacher at a middle school in Quincy. I loved teaching Health, and I really loved teaching the Sex Ed portions of Health. I loved being the one cool and collected person in the room while explaining the human reproductive system in detail. But I was also keenly aware that there’s a lot that I can cover with college students that I couldn’t cover in that middle school classroom.
Prior to my first job as a middle school Health teacher, I was, in fact, a college student, much like the people taking my class. I was a student on a campus with its own sexual culture that, over the course of four years, I observed and tried to understand. But what helped me most in college both personally and professionally was becoming a sexual health advocate—hearing from, counseling, and teaching my peers about how to engage in safe and fulfilling sexual experiences and relationships while at college.
And that’s exactly what students in my class will learn to do. I’m not an undergrad at Tufts and this isn’t my campus, so I can’t tell you what’s going on or how to understand it. In my class, the students will collaborate with each other to describe the sexual arena at Tufts as they understand and experience it. Then, they will weigh the strengths and limitations of various research and theories that might help explain what is going on and why. Furthermore, throughout the semester each student will work step by step to plan and prepare an advocacy project designed to optimize some aspect of sexual wellness on campus in some specific way.
I can’t wait to see what my students share with each other and how they choose to impact and contribute to their community here at Tufts. I can’t wait to see how much I learn, personally, from teaching the class.
We could even extend our impact beyond ourselves and beyond our campus. Scholars from many disciplines are paying increased attention to the sexual behaviors and attitudes of our nation’s college students, and they are making all sorts of claims. Journalists, activists, psychologists, sociologists, public health researchers, and other scholars argue over whether hooking up is “bad” for young women, whether hookup “culture” contributes to high rates of sexual assault on college campuses, or whether long-term relationships “should” be a priority for college students. What is the value in these arguments? Whose agenda are they actually serving?
I think all of these questions are distractions from real conversations about sexual justice and communal wellbeing. I think that Tufts students—that my students—need to talk back to these scholars and tell them about the complexity of sex, relationships, safety, and decision-making on campus. In order to do that, students need the opportunity to assess the institutional and cultural forces that constrain and facilitate what they want and what they do. And then, together, they can think critically and creatively about how to promote positive possibilities for sex on campus that make room for themselves and others in a multiplicity of ways.
And I consider it a pleasure and an honor for me to be starting that process with them.
Written by Sarah Moser, currently teaching ‘Asian Cities in the 21st Century’
This January marks my third semester teaching a course at the Experimental College. I quickly became a fan and promoter of the ExCollege and its unique set of offerings. For me, teaching at the ExCollege is an amazing opportunity to explore topics relating directly to my research interests and expertise that I would not ordinarily get to teach at other institutions. I have taught my fair share of first year requirement courses, and while there is a sound logic behind having a core curriculum for majors, I find my ExCollege courses to be particularly energizing. Designing a one-of-a-kind course that overlaps with my current research and consulting experience is a breath of fresh air that stimulates my research and gives me a chance to integrate the most current and leading-edge material into the classroom.
The main thing that keeps me coming back is the students who take ExCollege courses. I have found Tufts students to be energetic, passionate, engaged in the world around them and rarely shy to take up a debate. They do not take ExCollege courses to simply fill a requirement, but to learn in some depth about a topic that is not offered in any other department. Because my own interests and background are interdisciplinary in focus, I structure my course content to be as interdisciplinary as possible, with readings from urban studies, planning, anthropology, geography, environmental studies, architecture and more. As a result, my classes tend to attract students from a variety of majors and nationalities. In one of my ExCollege classes we did a tally and discovered that there were more languages spoken by people in the class than there were people in the class!
This diversity of views, backgrounds and life experiences greatly enriches the discussions in the class. And it is the class discussions that form the core of each ExCollege class I have taught. From what I have experienced, Tufts students are keenly aware of the value of class discussions and are active learners. Jumbos are generally not the students who are content to sit quietly in the back row and just take notes. Out of the muddiness, confusion and at times tension of classroom discussions emerge flashes of understanding, of new insights, of original ideas and true critical thinking.
It is these ‘flashes’ of collaborative thought and originality that make teaching so deeply satisfying. To me, the ExCollege is the ideal mechanism to engineer such moments. As professors, we are provided with the tools we need to teach to our maximum potential: a group of passionate and highly capable students and the freedom and creative space to teach to our strengths and interests.
I have taught a course called ‘Planned Cities: Power, Ideology and Identity’ twice over the past two years and am now teaching ‘Asian Cities in the 21st Century’. In my current class, we are examining cities in a broad variety of geographical locations and a range of themes, including ‘green’ cities, social / cultural / economic / environmental sustainability, ‘creative’ cities, heritage, tourism, etc. While we are still at the beginning of the semester, I can tell already that it is going to be another fun, stimulating and dynamic class. When students asked last week if we could celebrate Lunar New Year in class this February, I decided to add a component about Chinatowns in Asian cities to justify eating Chinese take-out in class as part of the festivities. Never a dull moment in ExCollege classes!
Written by Erica Rigby, A’15 and student interviewer
There’s something to be said when students are offered the chance to sit on the other end of the interview table, influencing whether the prospective instructor before them is going to drive home all of the ExCollege values we’ve come to know and love. Being on an interview subcommittee sheds light on the vast number of intellectuals in our world who can teach classes. For the student who volunteers, it’s a mere three hours in a morning or afternoon that suits your schedule. Being on a subcommittee reveals the best qualities of our learning community, and ultimately deepens your Jumbo pride.
The handful of enthusiastic Tufts alumni who propose courses, some of whom graduated in the 1950’s and 1960’s, provided the most touching moments for me as the student interviewer. These folks brought you a huge grin. They entered the room garnered in Tufts jerseys and baseball caps, carrying a briefcase of photos from their glory days as a student here. When asked why they wanted to teach their course, they expressed heartfelt desires to be present on the big hill and give back to the learning community that enriched them as a youth. This one older, eccentric Jumbo came into the room with the idea to watch detective films each week and discuss them with students over popped corn. They are thrilled by the prospect of an intergenerational, intellectual Jumbo journey.
How will you treat the topic sensitively? Can you describe how you envision the 2 ½ hours your class meets once a week? What sort of student do you envision signing up for this? How can we pull in students who are international? Does it aim to integrate humanities and sciences? How will this strengthen the student as an active citizen? Can we make this global? These are some of the things we pin on our prospective instructors when we’re learning their visions for the semester. Through the series of inquiries, the values of Tufts arise: social consciousness, active citizenship, interdisciplinary thought, and global mindedness. Being an interviewer in general brings you a deeper pride in this Jumbo nation.
Now is the time of year when we are actively gearing up for Fall 2013 courses. The journey is a long one for the courses proposed, and right now we are at the point where we will be interviewing candidates for the 22 positions open in the fall. Check out this infographic to see the steps required for choosing upcoming ExCollege classes!
Would you like to teach about television? online media? computer-based gaming? digital photography? or the interconnections among them? Now you can!
For twenty years, Perspectives — one of two ExCollege peer-taught seminar programs for entering students — has focused on the movies.
It’s time for a change.
Starting this fall (2013), Perspectives will expand beyond film and invite rising sophomores and juniors to apply whose passions involve many aspects of “media culture.”
As importantly, teaching Perspectives can now be used as an alternative for CMS minors instead of a Senior Project.
The process for applying to be a Perspectives Leader has been reopened in order to accommodate people who want to take advantage of these new opportunities.
Interested? E-mail Howard Woolf (firstname.lastname@example.org) ASAP to set up a time to talk!
Are you a Tufts senior looking for a job for next year? Consider being the next Program Assistant for the ExCollege. The Program Assistant position is a full-time, academic-term, paid position with benefits. The Program Assistant is involved in all aspects of the ExCollege operations, from course selection to filmmaking equipment management and much more! For an application, contact the current Program Assistant, Beky Stiles, at email@example.com or 617-627-3384. Applications are due on April 12th.