January Term at Trinity College Completes Third Year of Pilot Program

Curriculum Committee will Review Feedback, Offer Recommendations to Faculty

Hartford, Connecticut, January 22, 2016 – Trinity College has concluded the third year of its three-year January Term pilot program, which allowed students to enroll in a half-credit course between the fall and spring semesters. Working closely with a faculty member in a small class setting, students could explore a broad range of innovative topics.


​Stefanie Chambers, associate professor of political science, and Raekwon Wheeler '18, a student in Chambers' 'Envisioning Yourself as a Leader' course during the 2015 January Term. Photo by John Atashian
This year, the J-Term classes met for a total of 20 hours between January 11 and 22, on and off campus. When first considering whether to experiment with this mini-session in the month of January, members of the faculty’s Curriculum Committee heard from some students who expressed a desire to use the break productively.

Professor of Political Science and Interim Dean of the Faculty Sonia Cardenas said that 81 students were enrolled in this year’s J-Term across eight courses. “This represents a 50-percent increase in enrollments from the first year,” Cardenas said.

Taking a course during the January break between semesters can be a focused, enriching academic experience. The 2016 J-Term offered eight classes from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives: “Hip Hop in Film” with Nicholas Conway, visiting lecturer in American studies; “Nutrition: Food and Fads” with Alison Draper, Science Center director and lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Science Program; “French and Belgian Whodunnits: Four Major Francophone Detective Novels” with Jean-Marc Kehres, associate professor of language and culture studies; “The Godfather: The Art of Hard Choices” with John Alcorn, principal lecturer in the Shelby Cullom Davis Endowment; “Envisioning Yourself as a Leader” with Stefanie Chambers, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science; “Voodoo, Zombies, and the Conjured Dead” with Timothy Landry, assistant professor of anthropology and religion; “Exploring the (Un)Known” with Robert Peltier, principal lecturer in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric; and “Campus Sexual Assault: Sociological Perspectives” with Tanetta Andersson, visiting assistant professor of sociology.

Now that the third year of the three-year January Term pilot program has been completed, the College’s Curriculum Committee will begin to review the program’s success and bring its recommendations for next steps to the full faculty this spring.

“The Committee has undertaken annual reviews of the program and suggested improvements along the way,” Cardenas said. “As part of our assessment of the January Term, we’ve collected student evaluations of their experience and faculty feedback annually, so we will be looking at those very carefully as we consider options. In the first two years, the response from both participating students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli