SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Fifty years ago – back in January 1968 – many Wofford College students were given the opportunity to take their first airplane flight, go on their first trip outside the United States and have their first experience with another culture and way of life.
During that inaugural January Interim at Wofford, students left their chalkboards and desks to live among the ruins of the ancient Roma Empire, or with Spanish-speaking families in Mexico or with hippies in San Francisco.
They studied jazz in New Orleans, art in Italy and international politics at the United Nations. They explored possible careers in the ministry, teaching and medical research. They developed and produced the college’s first play and created the foundation for Wofford Theatre.
Interim frees students and faculty to spend the month focused on a single topic designed to push through the walls of the traditional classroom, explore new and untried topics, take academic risks, observe issues in action, develop capabilities for independent learning and consider different peoples, places and professional options. Students have the opportunity to study abroad; participate in local, national and international internships; conduct research; or participate in on-campus non-traditional courses.
Since that first Interim, the walls of Wofford have been expanding along with student consciousness. Interim today still harkens back to the original Interim proposal, giving “both teacher and student the liberty to explore, to experiment, to try new approaches, and in doing so, to run risks that cannot be run during the regular semester when the emphasis is different…. The Interim program has as its keynote innovation and experiment.” While the offerings of Interim of 2018 may be quite different from those of 50 years ago, one class, “Remember the Cowpens: A Half Century Later,” is looking back to that first year. In 1968, one group of students and faculty undertook a detailed study of the Battle of Cowpens, a pivotal battle of the Revolutionary War that occurred near Spartanburg. This year, a group – led by Dr. Phillip Stone, the college’s archivist – will take another look at that January 1781 battle, regarded by many American military historians as the turning point of the war in the South.
Other on-campus courses offered this year include:
Stories of Spartanburg – This course revolves around readings of authors from or currently living in Spartanburg. Students also will work on a social media project that mimics Humans of New York, which will capture the stories of citizens of Spartanburg.
Shakespeare in Depth – “Othello” and “The Tempest” will be studied for their exploration of race and difference, diversity and hierarchy, passion and control, and love and illusion. Students will focus on the historical context of ideas that shaped the plays and will consider how a contemporary reading of them necessarily is shaped by modern concepts of race, gender and political power.
Animal Cognition – An exploration of the ways in which animals of many species perceive the world, solve problems, remember events and locations, forage for food, communicate, and interact socially with each other and with humans.
Inventor’s Lab – Students will use, adapt and modify several current and emerging technologies in new and novel ways, both to create new things and to discover new uses for extant technology. They will develop their own projects using 3D computer-aided design software, 3D printers and electronics prototyping tools.
Farm to Table: South Carolina’s Agricultural and Culinary Past and Present – Through the exploration of the South’s agricultural and culinary history, students will examine the continuity, discontinuity and effects on today’s culinary scene, especially the current farm-to-table movement.
Let Freedom Read!: Reading American Slave Narratives – An exploration of the experiences of slave authors in four major works: Frederick Douglass’ “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” Sam Northrup’s “Twelve Years’ a Slave,” and compare these to the fictional work of Harriet Beecher Stowe, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Water Conservation – Students will examine issues in water conservation from a local and global perspective, exploring the local watershed and learning how to conduct various water quality measurements.
Everything Old is New Again: Using the Digital Liberal Arts to Create Online Historical Collections – Students will explore how information is organized, preserved in physical form and transmitted through the years. They will examine rare materials from Wofford’s Sandor Teszler Library, from a 16th century manuscript to Civil War diaries, to letters and other historical objects and memorabilia. They then will take a look at an important local history collection – testimonies from Spartanburg citizens in the Reconstruction era – and design an online digital exhibit.
January Smackdown: A Cultural History of Professional Wrestling – After studying the demographics of wrestling fans, students will develop their own wrestling characters, attend a professional wrestling school and perform in their own professional wrestling show on campus.
Social and Visual Culture of American Theme Parks: Past and Present – Students will examine contemporary and historical ideas associated with leisure in the U.S., especially theme parks and the related visual culture. They then will work collaboratively and creatively to reimagine and develop individual art projects to showcase model amusement parks.
Wofford students interested in the law, medicine or other professions after graduation have the opportunity to use Interim for internships in a variety of fields.
A pre-dental medicine internship allows students to work with dental professionals for three weeks, then spend a week visiting a dental lab and attending classes at the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of Charleston.
The pre-law internship introduces students to both the theory and practice of the legal profession in the U.S. They get a foundation in the legal system, prepare for the LSAT exam for law school and are exposed to the practical aspects of being a lawyer. Students also intern for an attorney or a judge and meet with admission officers of Charleston College of Law, the University of South Carolina Law School and the University of Richmond School of Law.
In the Capitol Hill Internship Program, students participate in internships in Washington, D.C., with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, associations, lobbying firms and private corporations in addition to the Capitol and in House and Senate offices.
Clinical internships in medicine allow students to work one-on-one with health care professionals in various settings – hospitals, clinics and private practice.
Students participating in the public policy and government internship program work with a public policy or government-related organization locally, throughout South Carolina or at the national level. The internship enables students to apply what is learned in the classroom to real-world governmental, political and organizational situations.
In an internship program called Learning Work, students complete an internship in a field of interest to them, under the supervision of a variety of Wofford faculty. Students are responsible for securing the internship and identifying a supervisor at the workplace. They work 30 to 40 hours each week, completing the requirements and expectations developed in collaboration with their faculty sponsors.
Many students choose Interim for travel/study projects. “Interim travel/study projects offer Wofford students the opportunity to study abroad for a shorter period of time with a focus on a particular topic of study,” says Laura Braun, assistant dean for international programs. “For some students, an Interim experience abroad provides them with their first study abroad experience. After doing this, they may feel more comfortable going overseas for a semester or a year or are able to improve language skills before embarking on an international experience for a longer period of time.”
Faculty-led travel/study opportunities, including state-side travel, include:
Introduction to Community Development (Washington, D.C.)
Snapshots from the Strait of Gibraltar
England: Living with History
Vietnam and Cambodia
Exploring Costa Rica’s Rich Biodiversity
Ireland: Then, Now and Forever
Sustainability in Africa
Mediterranean Melting Pots: Sicily, Sardinia and Malta
To the Roof of the World: Life in the Shadow of Mount Everest
SCUBA Dive Bonaire
Interim 2018 began Thursday, Jan. 4, and concludes on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Spring semester classes begin on Monday, Feb. 5.
For a full listing of the Interim courses (on-campus projects, travel/study projects and internships projects), visit www.wofford.edu/interim.
For details on Interim, contact Laura Corbin at 864-597-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.