Have you ever wondered about the origins of your favorite music genre? Been curious about how COVID-19 fits into a longer history of public health crises? Dreamed of developing your own web application, but didn’t know where to start?
Clark University’s Winter Intersession will explore these topics and more through a wide range of courses designed to keep students engaged — and working toward their academic goals — during the extended winter break. The accelerated six-week term, which runs from Jan. 4 to Feb. 12, will provide an opportunity to learn new skills, engage in deep discussions, and connect with faculty through an entirely online program.
“We knew that this winter break will be unprecedentedly long as we weather the ravages of COVID, and so we built an online Intersession term to provide ways for those who wish to continue their academic progress — or to simply stay connected to other Clarkies and to our faculty — to do so,” says Betsy Huang, associate provost and dean of the college. “Think of our Intersession offerings as a heady, intellectually rewarding alternative to social media that allows you to advance your work toward your Clark degree.”
Intersession courses, which are strictly voluntary, aim to provide engaging and inspiring learning opportunities while helping undergraduates fulfill requirements toward their major. Courses will also be offered for graduate students, giving them the opportunity to fulfill prerequisites and get a head start on program requirements before spring semester.
Clarkies who do not plan on enrolling in classes also will find plenty of opportunities to stay connected with the campus community through virtual events like leadership programming, drop-in hours with staff, and creative tutorials.
“Intersession isn’t for everyone,” Huang says. “Some will hold on to the long break as a much needed and deserved period to recuperate from a challenging fall semester and to rest up those precious neurons for the spring semester. Others, however, will appreciate the opportunity to stay connected academically and to make up or catch up on a course credit.”
While most of the Intersession courses satisfy program or University requirements, Clark is also offering a slate of Clark Commons courses for those who are not looking to fulfill requirements but to deepen their understanding of an important topic of the times. Currently in the pilot stage, Clark Commons courses are team-taught, online, interdisciplinary, and respond to current, complex topics through a diversity of lenses. These courses encourage faculty collaboration across the disciplines, amplify curricular diversification and anti-racist initiatives, and provide strong, innovative online courses to engage students during the long winter break, according to Huang.
The three Commons courses offered for Intersession are: Black Lives Matter, with lead instructors Asha Best and Nicole Overstreet; COVID, Power, Inequality, with lead instructors Cynthia Caron and Jie Park; and a reprise of Pandemic: From Horror to Hope, with lead instructor Doug Little.
For those interested in the sciences, BioFrontiers: Introductory Python for Life Sciences will introduce the Python language as a tool for low-level programming that can be applied to biological sciences — including functional genome annotation, structural biology, phylogenetics, image processing, and chemistry. Science of Weapons of Mass Destruction — a chemistry course that fulfills the undergraduate Science Perspective requirement — will explore the science behind low-technology explosives, nerve agents, biological agents, and nuclear devices. The class will cover historical examples like the Oklahoma City bombing, World War I gas attacks, anthrax letters, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; it also will delve into the technical basis for preventing the use of these weapons.
Hosted by the Higgins School of Humanities, Mindful Choices is an excellent option for students looking to engage in creative practice and self-reflection over the Intersession, offering guided, intensive arts immersion in the visual arts, music, or creative writing. This half-credit class encourages undergraduates to make a more conscious commitment to the direction of their education as they explore paths of study.
Pop Music in the USA will give students a chance to explore the stylistic and historical practices of genres ranging from blues and country to R&B, heavy metal, and beyond. No previous music experience is required.
Entrepreneurial students may wish to consider classes including Marketing to You, Student Run Ventures, or Entrepreneurship: Art of the New, while Low-Code Web Development, Introductory Computer Programming and Animation, and Object-Oriented Programming in C++ provide opportunities for those interested in computer science to hone their skills.
A complete list of Intersession course offerings can be viewed online.
Clarkies should also be on the lookout for exciting virtual events this winter, including leadership workshops ranging from general sessions to club-specific opportunities, as well as online workshops and video tutorials from the Craft Studio. The Office of Student Leadership and Programming is also working with a team of students to coordinate virtual engagement opportunities, support connection-making between students, and provide social media content to keep students engaged with campus life this winter.
“Students persevered through historically challenging circumstances this year while remaining compassionate and supportive of one another, and we hope winter break will provide a much-needed time to rest and recharge,” says Allie Shilling, director of campus life for Student Leadership and Programming. “Virtual events, social media engagement, Intersession classes, and a variety of resources and workshops can all help Clarkies stay connected virtually over the next several months.”
SLP staff will also host general and topic-specific drop-in hours during the break.
Winter Fest (previously known as Fall Fest) will be held via Moodle on Feb. 5. The event will showcase student research and projects, with links to presentations on the Digital Commons website. Students must be invited to participate by a sponsoring faculty member. Registration and submissions will remain open until Jan. 4 at 11:59 p.m.
Students can keep up with University news at Clark Now to find out what their classmates are up to over break, learn about the research their professors are doing, and stay current on all the developments in the Clarkiverse.
Announcements about additional events taking place during winter break and Intersession will be forthcoming.