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Wofford students explore new interests during Interim 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wofford students dance the salsa during the 2006 Interim.SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The 2007 Interim is providing Wofford College students with a myriad of opportunities for non-traditional study, internships and travel, giving them a chance to explore everything from learning to play the guitar, producing and performing in a musical production, learning Chinese writing and calligraphy, practicing yoga, and becoming a skilled fencer to studying the common ground found between religion and science, learning new computer skills and programs, and exploring issues of the environment.

In keeping with Wofford’s academic year-long project The War Year, this year’s Interim also includes a number of courses aimed at studying various aspects of war and its impact on our world.  Also new this year, students have the option of participating in a pair of two-week courses over the month, rather than one four-week program.

Interim is a time to provide students and faculty an opportunity for non-traditional learning.  Innovation and experiment are the foundation of Interim, permitting and encouraging students and professors to explore the new and untried, and in doing so, to run risks that could not be justified in the traditional academic semesters.  Students are offered a variety of choices for Interim – traveling with faculty members as guides, participating in an off-campus internship, conducting an independent study project individually or in small groups, or participating in innovative and interesting on-campus courses and programs.  All programs include an academic component, and all Wofford students are required to complete four Interim programs to graduate.

While some of the Interim projects sound like just fun and games – such as “Is Cooking an Art or Science?,” “Interim Musical: ‘Into the Woods,’” “Functional Beauty: The Art and Craft of Pottery,” and “Guitar, Anyone?” – within these projects exist studies of people, cultures and activities that students may not get to explore during the traditional academic year.

In “Buon Appetito!: The Culinary Culture of Italy,” for example, students are immersed in the exciting culinary traditions of Italy – its cuisine and how it relates to its arts, culture and history.  During the course, taught by Dr. Kirsten Krick-Aigner, a German professor, has students participating in food tastings, research on the food’s history, production process and use in Italian cuisine, plus the preparation of a meal at a local cooking school.  In “Is Cooking an Art or Science?,” Dr. Kara Bopp, a psychology professor, and Dr. Bryan Splawn, who teaches chemistry, are guiding students through the hands-on experience of learning to cook, with plans for an “Iron Chef”-type competition at the end of the course.

Students in “Screenplays R Us,” being taught by English professor Dr. Jim Neighbors, are working with an accomplished screenwriter to show them the ropes, review their screenplays and tell them how to sell them.

In “Drawing from Nature: Writing the Landscape,” Dr. Gerald Thurmond, a sociology professor, will lead students on hikes, where they will make sketches of what they see.  Local artist Helen Correll will teach the class how to draw, and students will read and write nature essays.  At the end of the Interim, each student will crate an illustrated collection of essays describing the natural beauties of a Carolina winter.

Dr. Deno Trakas and John Lane, two English professors, and a dozen students are taking a road trip throughout the Southeast visiting some of the region’s most acclaimed literary talents.  The “Cornbread and Sushi on the Road” Interim course is a follow-up to the fall academic course, “Cornbread and Sushi: Exploring the Real and Imagined Rural South,” which brought to campus an impressive slate of visiting writers, historians and performers. With financial support from the Watson-Brown Foundation of Georgia, the road trip will have the spirit of a rolling seminar, as the students and faculty members will travel around the South in vans.

The War Year offerings include “Journey’s through Middle Earth: Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ in Story, Film and Criticism,” “Battles of Wits: Games of War and Peace,” “Abraham Lincoln: A Quest for Understanding,” and “En Garde: The Study and Practice of Saber Fencing.”

Among the independent study projects are “Flip This House: Wofford Edition,” in which a student is interning at a Charleston, S.C., real estate firm that is the focus of the TV show “Flip This House;” “Exotic Animal Veterinary” internship at the University of Georgia’s School of Veterinary Medicine; and “Exploring America’s Ghost Towns along Route 66,” in which three students are traveling along that route.

Students also are studying abroad or conducting independent projects abroad in a variety of locations, including Peru, Japan, Greece, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Russia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Boliva.