January Term courses offer art, advocacy, travel and more

Jan. 17, 2013
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

“Every student's program of study centers on the familiar work of classroom and laboratory, library and studio. Yet important learning also takes place in less familiar settings, where the student is called upon to adapt to a new environment, to act without one's customary support system, to develop trust in one's own resources of intelligence and discipline. It is to encourage that kind of learning, so critical to personal maturity, that the College makes available a variety of special programs.”

So reads a portion of the Maryville College catalog that explains the College’s attitude toward learning by experience. In a nutshell, it’s vital to a student’s education. And January Term is a great time for students to earn experiential learning credits.

Classes during this three-week academic session occur between the fall and spring semesters and typically begin on the Monday following New Year's Day. Since the length of the term is compressed, classes are longer and more frequent (generally between 9 a.m. and noon each day) for more intense and concentrated study.

Students enroll in one course during J-Term and usually earn three credit hours, which are applied toward the 60 credit hours needed to fulfill general education requirements. Off-campus trips scheduled as part of course syllabi can last an afternoon or two weeks and can take students places as near as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or as far away as South Africa.

During J-Term, freshmen are required to enroll in First-Year Seminar 120: Communications Strategies. In this new course, students combine theory and practice to explore human communication. Speeches and face-to-face networking experiences complement lectures, readings, discussion and individual group work.

Seniors often take the opportunity during J-Term to enroll in Ethics 490: Philosophical and Theological Foundations of Ethical Thought. A senior capstone, interdisciplinary course, ETH490 asks students to consider the ethical dimension of the human experience, including historic and contemporary ethical frameworks designed to engage the students' ethical stances.

Experiential education courses vary

What about sophomores and juniors? A variety of courses are available to them.

J-Term provides ample opportunity for students to express themselves through various art forms. In the 2013 Music Scenes 349: Opera Scenes course, 15 students (who were selected based on auditions) are working with mezzo-soprano and MC alumna Delores Ziegler ’73 and accomplished musician Melanie Kohn Day ’75 to prepare for a Feb. 1 performance of scenes from several famous operas.

Alumna Ruth Ann Wilbanks Amentastro '78 leads the Theatre Studies 200: Readers Theatre course, where students perfect storytelling techniques using their voices, faces and bodies to bring characters to life.

In Adrienne Schwarte’s Art 200: Sustainable Art course, the focus is ecological minded art and design forms in a variety of media that use fewer resources and provides an opportunity for discussion about ecological issues that brings about social action and change. The finale is a sustainable art show.

Biology professor Dr. Drew Crain gets students outside and shows them how to get close to birds, frogs, deer, horses, and other animals – and then take magnificent shots of them. Biology 200: Wildlife Photography draws students from all disciplines.

Students enrolled in Preston Fields’ Action to Advocacy: Exploring Theory and Practice of Community Engagement J-Term course prepare for – and participate in – a project that aims to count every homeless person (sheltered and unsheltered) in Blount County on Jan. 24. They also study the governmental policies related to the poor.

Other topics for J-Term courses include career development and life planning, ceramic production, equine assisted counseling, human endurance, leadership and the United Nations Security Council.

Two groups enjoy J-Term abroad

The study abroad option for J-Term 2013 is Religion 200: India’s Identities: Religion, Caste & Gender in Contemporary South India, which takes students to South India, where students tour sites in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, exploring issues related to religious studies, women’s and gender studies and history and anthropology, among others. Led by Dr. Brian Pennington, religion professor at Maryville College, and his wife, Dr. Amy Allocco, assistant professor of religious studies at Elon University, the 2013 trip was made available to Elon students, as well as Maryville students.

In the course titled Psychology 200: Diversity, psychology professor Dr. Karen Beale and Mr. Bram Bevins, Esq., lead students to San Francisco, Calif., where they examine diversity through explorations in culture, national heritage, socio-economic status, gender and sexuality and landscape.

Closer to home, history professor Dr. Aaron Astor makes the Civil War more real for students enrolled in his History 200: Civil War and Reconstruction J-Term course. After a few days of traveling to nearby sites of significance, he and students go “on the road” and across the state to visit such historic places as the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Harrogate, the Andrew Johnson Historic Site in Greeneville, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover and the Shiloh National Battlefield near Corinth, Miss.

It’s travel by foot for students enrolled in Dr. Danny Pierce’s course, Physical Education 200: Hike the Appalachian Trail. With advice from thru-hikers, the students plan which portion of the 2,200-mile trail to hike over a span of several days then set out for adventure!


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.