Interims at Wofford College are month-long projects each January in which instructors and students explore topics outside of their academic discipline. For me, interims are not traditional classrooms but move (push!)both instructor and student out of their comfort zone in terms of the topic as well as the extremely collaborative nature of the projects. Although instructors are, of course, planning their projects carefully, they are not experts in it.
My first interim in 2013 (repeated in 2015) was Activism and developed out of my interest in politics, social justice, and feminism. Prior to the beginning of the interim, I selected general topics (Poverty, Gender/Sexuality, Education) and academic and non-academic readings, and I invited speakers for the class. The small group of students surprised me in terms of their dedication and energy and their willingness to explore new topics. Besides giving a presentation on a topic related to activism (activist groups, activist causes, history, etc), they also developed a workshop on Poverty, which was part of the MLK day of service, and another workshop on inclusive language, which the group hopes will be implemented into orientation for first-year students.
In 2014, Philip Swicegood and I led a travel interim to Europe: Europe through the Back Door: Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City, San Marino, and Malta.
We visited Europe’s micro-states and tried our best to use the few phrases of Catalan, French and Italian that we learned before our departure. Each micro-state was unique in its culture, economic policies, and its connection to the European Union. The landscapes from the Pyrenees Mountains in Andorra to the Mediterranean and somewhat Middle Eastern flair changed dramatically and long train rides through southern Europe turned into opportunities for window-sightseeing.