SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Why would anyone drop out of college and follow the Grateful Dead? Why does anyone need to see the same band three nights in a row? Why are there still so many Deadheads nearly 20 years after Jerry Garcia’s death?

The short answer is that members of the Grateful Dead lived lives, both professional and personal, based on a fierce belief in the infinite possibilities of the creative process; lives built upon the joys of innovation and improvisation. 

Now, some Wofford College students will explore the nature of that creativity and the creative process by looking at the history and work of the Grateful Dead, and they’ll learn to play some of the iconic band’s songs on two of the most accessible folk instruments – the harmonica and the ukulele. They’ll also form jug bands and will perform at the inaugural So Many Roads Festival to share with the college community what they’ve learned. 

“Innovation, Improvisation and the Grateful Dead” is one of the non-traditional courses being offered this month during Wofford’s Interim 2014 – a time for exploration and experiential learning away from the rigors of traditional academic courses for students and faculty alike. 

Students may choose from a variety of on-campus courses, professional internships and research projects, study abroad opportunities or their own independent study project, approved and guided by a faculty adviser. 

Here is a sampling of other on-campus offerings: 

• “Brooklyn is Not Expanding – the films of Woody Allen” – A close look at the more important films as well as humorous writings of the screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, author, playwright and musician. 
• “Artists and the Trading Card” – An exploration of the art on slices of our culture that measure only 2.5 x 3.5 inches; in addition to examining collections and games, students will create 30 original “artist trading cards” and organize a community swap event. 
• “Artisan Bread” – Students will learn the craft of baking artisan breads by going into the kitchen and preparing a dozen different loaves; they will maintain a blog with photos and comments on each bread they bake. 
• “Woodworkers Workshop” – Students will learn how to create functional art using multiple woodworking techniques; they will turn bowls and construct furniture, and develop basic skills with a variety of tools. 
• “Inventor’s Lab” – Students will use, adapt and modify current and emerging technologies in new and novel ways to create new things and to discover new uses of extant technology. 
• “Behind the Music” – An exploration of literary works and their musical counterparts, incorporating books, videos and live performances. 
• “Experience the Forest” – A look at the contributions that forests have made to our culture and well-being. 
• “Living with Dogs” – A project that will foster responsible pet ownership with a focus on dogs; students will gain an understanding of the way dogs think and learn, how they relate to people, and health and nutrition issues; afternoons will be devoted to volunteer work at the Spartanburg Humane Society animal shelter. 
• “Become Certified as a Medical Emergency First Responder” – Each student will receive approximately 60 hours of formal training to become nationally certified as a medical first responder. 
• “Moby Dick Retold … with Legos” – After reading Herman Melville’s 1851 epic novel, students will use Legos to illustrate two chapters each; the scenes will be photographed or filmed. 
• “The 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination: Critical Analysis after the Onslaught” -- Based on a review of the official investigation, students will turn their attention to a critical analysis of a select portion of the expected flood of commentary on this controversial episode in American history. 
• “Urban Legends: (Mostly) True Stories Verified by a Friend of a Friend” – All types of urban legends will be explored; students will research and present on various topics, and will compose an original urban legend to be incorporated into the class anthology. 
• “Outdoors in the Upstate” – Students will learn the basic skills of a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, mountain biking and kayaking. 
• “Introduction to Community Development” – An examination of the role of institutions and ordinary citizens in community development; students will learn from experienced community organizers and activists; the course aims to provide students with understanding, effective tools and real-world skills in six primary areas of community development: understanding community context, collaborative planning, developing leadership and enhancing participation, community action and intervention, evaluation, and promoting and sustaining. 
• “A Community of Service” – Creates a community of students involved in intensive civic engagement and service; students individually will pursue service projects they have designed in consultation with project leaders in communities here and around the globe. 

A full listing of the on-campus Interim courses can be found here: 

Independent study projects include a variety of medical, dental and veterinary internships as well as scientific research and projects developed by individual students or small groups of students. Some examples include: two students working at the Dream Center in Los Angeles for two weeks; a student working in India to help educate students in schools in rural areas about personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness; a student doing unmanned air vehicle research at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; and a student working at the Hospital Albert Schweitze in Deschapelle, Haiti, studying global health and nursing. 

Scientific research being conducted by students includes the study of the potential of saliva, resolution of chronic pain, the histology of the rat brain, and research related to human diet, behavior and obesity. 

For more details on these and other independent projects, contact Laura Corbin at 597-4180 or

Study abroad offerings include visits and study in: Ireland, Italy, Chile, China, Argentina, Namibia, France, Germany and Mexico. 

Interim 2014 ends on Thursday, Jan. 30, with Spring Semester classes beginning on Monday, Feb. 3.