SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Take a walk on the Wofford College campus during the month of January and there’s a chance you may encounter a group of students debating American foreign policy, tasting their newest vegetarian dish, or preparing for their very own pro wrestling show.
While the encounter might sound odd to outsiders, Wofford students can sum it up with one simple word: Interim.
Interim, which begins Jan. 3, is Wofford’s month-long academic program designed to foster hands-on, experiential learning. To say that courses offered during Interim defy typical expectations is an understatement. Students on-campus will have the opportunity to learn everything from how to knit to how to write a screenplay. There’s even a course on how to properly watch college basketball.
In addition to the innovative on-campus projects, Wofford students can use Interim to travel across the globe with faculty members as guides, participate in an off-campus internship, or conduct an independent study project individually or in a small group.
This year’s course offerings include “January Smackdown: A Cultural History of Professional Wrestling.” Taught by Drs. Matthew Cathey and Dan Mathewson, a mathematics and religion professor, respectively, the class asks students to examine the popularity of professional wrestling and its effect on its devoted fan base. Participating students also will create their own wrestling personas and will put on a wrestling show for the Wofford community.
In “Debating Contemporary American Foreign Policy,” students will learn about American foreign policy from 1895 to present through documentary films, lectures, class discussion, and student debates. Government professor Dr. John Farrenkopf will divide students into teams and pair them against one another in a debate about contemporary issues and challenges facing American foreign policy.
Philosophy professor Dr. Nancy Williams’ course, “Have a Cow, Don’t Eat One! Exploring Vegetarianism,” will help students discover the nutritional benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets. Students also will uncover some of the religious, environmental, and ethical reasons for choosing a meat-free diet, and will learn how to cook various vegetarian and vegan meals.
Students taking part in physics professor Dr. Mackay Salley’s travel project will spend 14 days in Costa Rica. “Costa Rica—A Kayaking Ecotour” will allow students to kayak through the lush Costa Rican forests. Participants will not merely be studying ecotourism, they will be ecotourists themselves.
Among the independents study projects are “Ghosts of the Palmetto State,” in which students will travel around South Carolina visiting the states’ most popular (and spookiest) haunted places. One student will be participating in a medical internship in Cambodia, while another learns the ins and outs of being a member of a mountain ski patrol.
While the course offerings during Interim are certainly off the beaten path, they are all required to have an academic component, and students are required to complete four Interim programs to graduate.