J-Term 2015 lineup offers hands-on opportunities

J-Term 2015 lineup offers hands-on opportunities

Jan. 5, 2015

Learning by experience is valued by the Maryville College community, and January Term, or “J-Term” as it is more commonly known, helps guarantee that students are given opportunities for up-close, hands-on experience and reflection.

Classes during this three-week academic session occur between the fall and spring semesters and typically begin on the Monday following New Year's Day. Since the length of the term is compressed, classes are longer and more frequent (generally between 9 a.m. and noon each day) for more intense and concentrated study.

Students enroll in one course during J-Term and usually earn three credit hours, which are applied toward the 60 credit hours needed to fulfill general education requirements. Off-campus trips scheduled as part of course syllabi can last an afternoon or two weeks and can take students places as near as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or as far away as South Africa.

During J-Term, freshmen are required to enroll in First-Year Seminar 120: Communications Strategies. Combining theory and practice, this course explores human communication. Students will have opportunities to gain greater understanding of various communicative media and rhetorical modes, further develop analytical and critical thinking skills and refine public speaking skills.

Seniors often take the opportunity during J-Term to enroll in Ethics 490: Philosophical and Theological Foundations of Ethical Thought. A senior capstone, interdisciplinary course, ETH490 asks students to consider the ethical dimension of the human experience, including historic and contemporary ethical frameworks designed to engage the students' ethical stances. 

Experiential education courses vary

What about sophomores and juniors? A variety of courses are open to them. “Career Development and Life Planning.” “Travel and Tourism: How to be a Traveler, not a Tourist.” “Ceramic Tile Production.” “Wildlife Photography.”

Students enrolled in Amy Gilliland’s “Action and Advocacy” J-Term course will focus on working with the homeless in Blount County and explore the complex issues of hunger and homelessness. Students will engage in hands-on learning at local community agencies and will explore service motivations, community organizing and coalition building as well as political policy and nonprofit business models.

Assistant Professor of Writing/Communication Kim Trevathan, the author of Liminal Zones: Where Lakes End and Rivers BeginColdhearted River: A Canoe Odyssey Down the Cumberland and Paddling the Tennessee River: A Voyage on Easy Water, will give 13 students the opportunity to explore creative writing in different genres in response to themes or issues that emerge from thoughtful interactions with the natural world. His “Words and the Land: Creating Literature from Nature” J-Term course includes hikes in the Smoky Mountains and other areas in the region.

Emphasizing the importance of relationships as the best predictor of life satisfaction, Bruce Holt’s “Human Relationships” course will explore the theories, research and applications that promote relationship success. Topics include gender differences in expectations about romantic relationships and characteristics of siblings, parents and platonic relationships.

Dr. Robert Bonham’s “Searching for Sacredness” J-Term course will explore the sense of sacred, both externally and internally.

“From our earliest known history, we have designated certain places and structures as sacred,” the course description reads. “Some find special power and beauty in specific sites in nature. Questions arise: What is sacred? How is it distinguished from religion? Are there commonalities across all cultures, regions of the world and eras?”

Kim Henry’s “Hoof to Heart” course will introduce students to the healing power of the horse in grief counseling and will provide hands-on experiences that teach the value and benefits of equine assisted grief counseling. 

Students in “Opera Scenes” have an opportunity to study under Maryville College alumna and renowned mezzo-soprano Delores Bowen Ziegler, who has performed in the world’s greatest opera houses. Students in the course will spend J-Term preparing for “An Evening of Opera Scenes” on Jan. 29 and 30. The performances, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall, are free and open to the public, although a printed ticket from the Clayton Center Box Office is required for admission.

Two groups enjoy J-Term abroad

There are also two study abroad options for J-Term 2015. During “Costa Rica: From Turtles to Surfing, Biology & Adventure,” students will engage in outdoor adventure fitness and learn about the unique biology of Costa Rica through hands-on work with plants and animals in field research settings with Costa Rican and international scientists. Led by Bruce Guillaume and Dr. Jerilyn Swann, the course will also include numerous outdoor physical activities, such as hiking, biking, running, yoga, snorkeling and surfing.

“India’s Identities: Religion, Caste & Gender in Contemporary South India” will introduce Maryville College and Elon University students to the diversity of contemporary South India and address global issues of social structure, class, religious identity and gender. Led by Dr. Brian Pennington and Dr. Amy Allocco of Elon University, the course will include opportunities to make friends with locals to learn about the rapidly changing society in South India. 

By Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”