Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Interim filled with depth, discovery

January offers non-traditional opportunities

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2019-01-07

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Hayley Younginer’s footprints in the sands of the beaches of Costa Rica may wash away and disappear, but the Interim trip for the Wofford College senior will leave a lasting impression for future students.

Younginer and her classmates in the group will watch for nesting turtles on the beaches as part of their course, “The Biodiversity of Costa Rica.” The course will include other outdoor activities, including hiking, snorkeling and zip-lining. The group, led by Dr. Lori Cruze, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Kimberly Hall, assistant professor of English, also will examine how tourism affects the areas they visit, both culturally and environmentally.

When they return to campus, the group will build a digital guide to Interim for future students based on the trip.

Interim, which began Thursday, Jan. 3, frees students and faculty to spend the month focused on a single topic designed to expand 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.

“We are entering the second half-century of Interim at Wofford,” Provost Mike Sosulski says, “and today it still harkens back to its original purpose – to give both teacher and student the opportunity to explore, experiment and try new approaches. Interim, at its best, is filled with depth, discovery, reflection, challenge, experimentation, exploration and intellectual adventure.” Younginer, an English major with a minor in finance from Irmo, S.C., says Interim was a main draw to her when making her college decision as a prospective student. “I like that it allows students to take courses that are not directly related to their major. The travel opportunities it offers also are great, especially for students who aren’t able to study abroad for a full semester,” she says, adding that during her junior year she was able to travel to the islands of Italy for Interim.

“I knew I had to take advantage of one more travel experience before I graduate in the spring,” she adds. “Interim is a really great learning and growing experience, and I hope to learn a lot about Costa Rica and all it has to offer.”

While Younginer and her classmates explore Costa Rica, other students are participating in a variety of faculty-led travel-study experiences around the globe and even stateside. Here’s a sampling:

• Morocco: Crossroads of Culture
• Traditions of Japan
• Journey to the End of the World – Chile 2019: Cultural Impacts of Adventure Tourism in the Land of Fire and Ice
• Greece: A Tour and Introduction to its History and Culture
• Marine Ecosystems: The Diverse Aquatic Habitats of the Galapagos Islands
• From Pontius Pilate to Theodosius: The Advent of Christianity
• Health Studies: Clinical Observation and the Cultural Aspects of Health Care in Chile
• Cape Town: From Rhodes to Mandela and from Apartheid to AIDS
• Berlin: Holocaust Studies
• Little Cayman SCUBA Adventure
• Thailand: Culture, Geology and Wildlife
• Living the Arabian Nights: A Journey through Oman
• Central Europe: Medieval Castles and Modern Technology (Germany, Czech Republic, Austria)
• An Oxford Odyssey: The Life and Works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein

Due in part to Interim travel-study, since 2007 more than 2,200 Wofford students have studied in 70 countries on seven continents.

“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.

“Study abroad experiences provide students with the opportunity to learn many transferable skills that are important in the workplace, including cross-cultural competencies, adaptability, confidence, creativity, flexibility and independence,” Braun continues.

Back on campus, students have a variety of innovative courses from which to choose, including:

Fieldwork in Archaeology – A hands-on opportunity to investigate the historic archaeological features of Upper Glendale Shoals near Wofford’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center, which includes features such as late 18th century iron works and mills, sites of Revolutionary War skirmishes, an old colonial road and house sites, an early 20th century trolley line and an early 20th century baseball field where the textile mill baseball leagues once played.

WoCoWriMo – A course whose idea is that students will write the first draft of a novel in a month, even without going into the class with an idea for a novel.

Living in a Microbial World – Even though we can’t see them with our naked eye, microorganisms are everywhere. Students will investigate the interactions between man and microbes, learning about how some cause deadly diseases and others have been genetically engineered to remove pollutants from the environment.

A Tale of Two Cemeteries: Celebrating Spartanburg’s Ancestors – A project that focuses on two very different historic cemeteries – one for a Revolutionary War-era plantation and another for a Civil War and Reconstruction-era community for formerly enslaved persons.

Living with Dogs – Students will study the relationships between humans and pets and will explore the behavior, evolution and cognition of dogs and other animals. They also will spend afternoons at the Spartanburg Humane Society learning and practicing the techniques they use to assess and condition dogs for successful adoptions.

Furniture Design-Build – Students will learn the process of creating a custom piece of furniture from their own design using hand and power tools while incorporating creativity and problem-solving in designing and building their pieces.

Some students use Interim as an opportunity to participate in professional internships, such as medicine, law, public policy and government, business, education, the ministry, research and criminal justice. Several students participate each year in the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP), organized by the United Methodist College Washington Consortium, which provides experiential learning internships tailored to student interests. Participants work four days per week at their internships in Washington, D.C., and attend a seminar every week relevant to the internships and to providing a broader view of American politics.

Some students elect to conduct independent research, overseen by a faculty adviser, or other independent study projects during Interim.

Interim 2019 concludes Thursday, Jan. 31, and spring semester classes begin Monday, Feb. 4.

For a full listing of the Interim courses (on-campus projects, travel-study projects and internships projects), visit www.wofford.edu/interim.