Students stretch academic imaginations during Jan Term

January 26, 2009

Part 1: Jan Term on campus

For sophomore Jessica Schisler, taking the January Term course, “Latinos in Hollywood,” was a chance to spend her winter break watching movies, learning about a new culture and spending time with a good friend, sophomore Alyssa Barry, who also signed up for the class.

“Before this, I didn’t know anything about Latino culture,” Schisler said after a recent session, where she joined about 20 other students as they delved into stereotypes portrayed in the movie, “My Family.”

“Taking this class gave me something different than the norm,” Schisler added.

And that’s exactly what Jan Term courses, as they are also known, are meant to do – give students and faculty the chance to take on intriguing subjects in a short, and intense, period of time.

Courses for the three-week term, which falls between the fall and spring semesters, are designed to give students and faculty an opportunity to go beyond the basics of a college education and explore unique educational topics and adventures.

For nearly four decades, McDaniel College has offered Jan Term courses. All students are required to take a least one of the courses to graduate.

This year, about 30 Jan Term courses were offered. Many students ventured far and wide to places such as Italy, Belize and Cameroon, while still others took advantage of courses offered on campus. Some of the on-campus offerings included: “Images of Women in Law Enforcement,” “Dialogue Among Jews, Christians and Muslims,” “Modern Photography, Digital Age,” and “Fitness Games.”

In “Latinos in Hollywood,” Professor Amy McNichols used movies spanning several decades from the early 20th century to the present to lead her students through discussions about the history of Latinos in the film industry. They also examined the growth and historical evolution of Latino roles by watching films directed by Latinos and non-Latinos.

McNichols, assistant professor of Spanish, said her goal was to help students become “critical consumers” of film and other forms of popular culture.

“I wanted them to think more deeply,” she said.

Look for story and photos from McDaniel’s Jan Term Study Abroad Tours in the Feb. 10 edition of News@McDaniel.