Trinity College January Term Courses Include New Study Away Options

Enrollment Continues to Grow in Fourth Year of Program

​Hartford, Connecticut, January 30, 2017 – Trinity’s January Term program, which offers half-credit courses on campus between the fall and spring semesters, expanded this year to include four new study-away options. This year, J-Term courses in Trinidad, Nepal, and two in Paris gave students the chance to explore a wide range of innovative topics as they worked closely with faculty members around the world.

​Left to right: In Trinidad, Rachel Therrien ’18, Jack Lazor ’19, Bailey D'Antonio ’18, Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy Joseph Chambers, Megan Logan, Celeste Gander ’19, Anders Slicklen ’17, Dominique Ramsawak ’18, and Kathleen Meersman ’17 visited the University of the West Indies Cocoa Gene Bank, which is part of the Cocoa Research Centre. Photo courtesy of Joseph Chambers.
“We are so pleased that the J-Term, now in its fourth year, continues to grow,” said Sonia Cardenas, dean of academic affairs and strategic initiatives and professor of political science. “This year we had a substantially broader range of courses and more students enrolled in them, both in Hartford and abroad. The 140 students enrolled represent a 73 percent increase from last year, and that is almost triple the enrollment from the first J-Term offered in 2014.”

Taking a course during the January break between semesters is a great way for students to have a global experience, Cardenas said. “While we already provide $500 scholarships [the courses cost $1,500], our goal moving forward is to broaden access even further, so that more of our students can benefit from this immersive learning experience.”

The Trinity in Trinidad course, “Environmental Sustainability in the Caribbean: Trinidad & Tobago as a Case Study,” examined sustainable development and environmental protection in the Caribbean. Taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy Joseph Chambers, students completed select readings, engaged in discussions, listened to guest speakers, and went on site visits to locations in Trinidad & Tobago including the Cocoa Research Centre, Point-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, and Caroni Swamp Reserve. “Students truly embraced the active learning aspects, shared some snorkeling and hiking adventures, and enjoyed our brief immersion into the culture,” Chambers said. “One very welcome surprise was the great extent to which students engaged with the local people they met; learning about their lives, passions, and careers, and drawing inspiration from their stories. We spent an unforgettable three days in a remote fishing village on Tobago working with the Environmental Research Institute of Charlotteville, an experience that provided a window into the community and a firsthand look at the threat posed by climate change.” Building on its nearly two-decade-old study-away program in Trinidad, Trinity recently launched its Center for Caribbean Studies in Hartford. Chambers added, “The relationship that Trinity College has with Trinidad & Tobago is incredibly unique and valuable. I am gratified that my J-Term course contributed to that relationship.”

​The Trinity College contingent at Boudanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal, just before the start of the trek. Photo by Professor of Physics and Environmental Science Christoph Geiss.
The “Peoples and Cultures of Nepal” course focused on the Tamang and Tibetan people who live near the border with China in northern Nepal. Readings were tied to the histories and traditions of the people who form the population of this isolated region. The course, taught by Associate Professor of History Michael Lestz, was built around a two-and-a-half-week trek in the Langtang region. All of the participants reached Kyanjin Gompa at nearly 14,000 feet. “Five of the 11 J-Term students took part in a first-year seminar I taught in the fall called ‘People and Cultures of the Himalayas’ while others, intrigued by the possibility of seeing the highest mountains in the world at close range, signed up to gain a useful half credit through a unique experience,” Lestz said. “Through participating in J-Term this year for the first time I found that it affords a very promising way of taking students to distant places where they can grow through building on classroom work or, as in this case, encountering alpine life in a region so remote and unfamiliar as northern Nepal.”

​Left to right: Dillon Walker ’17, Caroline Hariri ’17, John Wagner ’18, Matthew Sajer ’18, Claudia Deeley ’19, Cara Daly ’18, Will Johnson ’18, Griffin O'Rourke ’17, and Whitney Hall ’20 outside of Trinity’s study away center in Paris. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre.
The Trinity in Paris course, “The Future of the European Union after the Brexit Vote,” offered students the opportunity to engage with the ongoing debate over the future of the European Union following the historic vote by the U.K. This course, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Thomas Lefebvre, included an exclusive breakfast meeting at the European Commission in Paris, where students were able to put their questions directly to the European Commission’s spokesperson. Also in Paris, “The History of French Wine” provided students with a critical, contextualized understanding of how French wine has evolved over the past three centuries and made its mark on French culture, society, and politics. Taught by Associate Professor of History Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, the course included an exclusive tour of the Paris vineyard Clos Montmartre, a professional wine-tasting, and a visit to the Musee du Vin (museum of wine).

Both the students and the faculty members have offered positive feedback about these courses. Regan-Lefebvre said, “I've been teaching wine history at Trinity for a few years, but this is the first time we’ve been able to discuss the concept of terroir whilst standing in a French vineyard! Teaching J-Term is so satisfying for me because I get to introduce students to cutting-edge research in my field in a small, experiential course. The students were incredibly engaged and it was an unforgettable experience for all of us.”

In Hartford, the J-Term courses included “Hip-Hop in Film” with Visiting Lecturer in American Studies Nicholas Conway, “Analyzing and Communicating Financial Data” with Instructional Technologist Cheryl Cape and Associate Professor of Economics Christopher Hoag, and “Voodoo, Zombies, and the Conjured Dead” with Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies Timothy Landry. The Curriculum Committee approves all J-Term courses, encouraging faculty to propose experimental and innovative courses. Explore all of the 2017 J-Term course topics here.