J-Term 2017 offers a variety of experiential education courses

J-Term 2017 offers a variety of experiential education courses

Dec. 15, 2016

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 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 New Zealand.

A variety of experiential education courses are being offered to students in January 2017, including:

Wildlife Photography with Dr. Drew Crain
This course introduces students to the skills and processes needed to photograph wildlife in their natural environment. Using both the College Woods and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, students will deepen their appreciation and enjoyment for wildlife observation and photography. Students will need their own camera (either a compact digital, iPhone, or DSLR camera), but will also learn photography using MC’s Nikon DSLR cameras and lenses. Students will create a collection of images and participate in a photo contest.

Personal Finance with Kevin Gormley
Adults in our society are expected to be able to pay their taxes, buy insurance (home, auto, life, etc.), purchase a home and cars, use credit, and save for future goals. In this course, students will participate in hands-on tasks such as opening a Roth IRA, completing a 1040 tax form, comparison shopping for auto insurance, developing a retirement plan, identifying financial scams, evaluating different mortgage scenarios and other activities. Students will learn the basics of life-long financial planning as well as strategies to overcome typical mistakes of the average American investor. 

Greek and Roman Mythology with Ted Higgs
Designed to enhance cultural literacy through the discussion and examination of the content and nature of myth, this course will familiarize students with the characters, themes, and patterns of Greek and Roman mythologies. As the course progresses, the students will develop an in-depth understanding of the nature and function of myth in human society and, by the completion of the course, have developed an understanding of the cultural context from which classical myth arose, its appearance in literature and art, and the effect it has had on Western literature, art, religion, and philosophy. Activities include film analyses, a museum trip, and development and display of myth-inspired pieces of art. 

Propaganda with Dr. Natalie Rice
Information guides action. A free press and the free flow of information is vital feature for a liberal democracy. Primary information sources are changing rapidly with increasing dependence on social media connections. However, these and mainstream media sources are vulnerable to persuasive techniques that can lead to inaccurate and uninformed conclusions. Propaganda strategies are powerful tools that can be used to sway individual and public opinion. This course introduces students to propaganda techniques and guides them in discovering how they are used in a variety of media sources. Students will find, create, and present examples of propaganda in common news and social media outlets.

Words and the Land: Creating Literature from Nature with Kim Trevathan
Presented by the author of “Coldhearted River: A Canoe Odyssey Down the Cumberland” and “Paddling the Tennessee River: A Voyage on Easy Water,” the course provides an opportunity to explore creative writing in different genres in response to themes or issues that emerge from thoughtful interactions with the natural world. Activities will include easy to moderate hikes in the Smoky Mountains and other areas in the region. Students will transfer these experiences into a final project of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction and will engage in activities that promote reflection, discussion and thoughtful criticism. 

Action and Advocacy with Jordan Conerty
This course focuses on working with the homeless in Blount County and explores 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. Time in the classroom and the community will provide students with the opportunity to gather information, deepen their understanding of community issues, and to challenge previously held perspectives and assumptions.

Human Relationships with Bruce Holt
Emphasizing the importance of relationships as the best predictor of life satisfaction, this course will explore the theories, research and applications that promote relationship success. Gender differences in expectations about romantic relationships will be addressed as well as characteristics of siblings, parents, and platonic relationships. 

Appalachian Music with Dr. Jay Clark
Presented by a professional Appalachian musician, students will experience the cultural richness of the musical traditions of the Southern Appalachian region. Students will learn about the history and traditions that influence American music and culture and become knowledgeable about the various styles, rhythms, instruments and sounds associated with the music from Southern Appalachia. Content will be presented via lectures, demonstrations, and live performances from professional artists. Class hours will vary to enable participation in some afternoon and evening events (e.g., live performances in the Knoxville area).

Lifelong Personal Health and Wellness with Tanya McNamara
Create new habits for optimal health and well-being. Designed to help students incorporate the latest health information in development of a personal health plan. The course incorporates multiple aspects of total lifestyle enhancement that includes both group and personal goal setting. 

Hoof to Heart with Kim Henry
Winston Churchill once remarked that, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person.” Nowhere is this more evident than with equine assisted therapy modalities. As highly sensitive social animals who possess a profound awareness of nonverbal communication, horses mirror human thoughts and feelings and provide immediate feedback to people who interact or attempt to interact with them. This dynamic creates a rich opportunity to use the horses’ sensitivity as an avenue toward emotional growth and development for children and adults. This course introduces participants to the healing power of the horse in grief counseling and will provide hands on experiences for personal skill discovery, effective evaluation techniques and activity ideas associated with the value and benefits of equine assisted grief counseling. The class will meet both on campus as well as the Mane Support facility located within minutes of the College. 

Introduction to Law and Criminal Justice with Bram Bevins, Esq.
Focusing on the structure of the U.S. court systems and the processes involved in the functioning and decision making of the courts, students will learn about the history and structure of the US courts, constitutional law, criminal law and historic court decisions, basic legal concepts such as due process and the right to counsel, and civil and criminal procedure. Students will visit local government and related agencies, crime scene investigation departments and research groups as well as observe live court cases. Students will review past court cases and learn about different and sometimes competing perspectives regarding each case. This is a particularly useful course for those interested in studying law or criminal justice.

The Road to Justice with Dr. Anne McKee and Mr. Zane Dukes
Incorporating a significant regional travel component, students will focus on a particular social justice issue that affects the lives of people in the United States. Topics begin with a focus on civil rights and will include analyses related to human rights issues related to food, shelter, health care, protection from violence and other relevant topics. The course incorporates day trips as well as six days of travel to destinations that include Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Nashville.

Opera Scenes with Dr. Christy Lee and Dr. Heather McMahon (co-directors)
The class develops the technical and artistic performing abilities of each student and prepares each person for real-world expectations in singing on stage. In this year’s course, the students will study repertoire that comes from the great works of American opera and musical theater and prepare for public performances on Feb. 2 and 3 at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Delores Ziegler, Maryville College alumna and professor of vocal performance at the University of Maryland School of Music, will serve as artist-in-residence; Carroll Freeman, the Valerie Adams Distinguished Professor in Opera Studies at Georgia State University, will serve as guest stage director; and Courtney Vanderpool will serve as movement instructor.

Connecting ESL Students to Campus and the Community with Delie Bullock
For J-term 2017, Maryville College’s ESL program is implementing a community engagement curriculum that integrates the students’ intensive English studies with service projects in partnership with community institutions/organizations. A community engagement/service learning curriculum allows ESL students to apply their language learning in practical situations through community service projects at organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank, Clayton-Bradley Academy (wetlands project – removal of invasive species), Knox Area Rescue Ministries and BRIDGE Refugee Services. Student participants are from China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Japan.

Four Groups Enjoy J-Term Abroad

There are also four study abroad options for J-Term 2017:

Celtic Connections with Appalachia takes students to England, Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland to experience Celtic culture; explore the cultural connections and heritage of Celtic lands and Southern Appalachia; and explore the natural history of the region and connections with Southern Appalachia. Led by Dr. Lori Schmied and Dr. Paul Threadgill, the tour takes students to major international cities such as London and Dublin but also makes stops at a former mining village, castles and the walled city of Chester. Follow the group's journey on the "MC Celtic Connections" blog.

India’s Identities 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. Follow the group's journey on the "India's Identities 2017" blog.

New Zealand Ecology and Culture will give a group of Maryville College students the opportunity to study in one of the most ecologically diverse countries on the planet. Through readings, lectures and experience, students will be familiarized with the New Zealand biota (plants and animals) and their relationships with the environment. Local animals and their ecology will be covered in addition to ethnobotany, culture, history and economics of New Zealand. Led by Dr. Dave Unger, the course will provide “hands-on” experience in the study of local ecosystems and the challenges facing them. Follow the group's journey on the "MC in NZ" Facebook page.

Denmark & Sweden: In Search of Hygge Through Design and Sustainability in Scandinavia (January course with travel in May) will immerse students in the process of understanding sustainable urban development and planning by participating in the infrastructure as other Scandinavians do, by riding bicycles on a daily basis within the city. This course will address socio-economic, mobility, ecological and aesthetic issues surrounding a city that utilizes sustainable urban planning to unify spaces. Led by Dr. Mark O’Gorman and Adrienne Schwarte, the course will teach students about concepts and styles of architectural design, industrial design and ecological design theories, with specific comparison on Danish and Swedish design components. Sustainability concepts, theory and history will be taught to students and reinforced via immersion in two of Europe’s most sustainable countries.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.