The Student News Site of Wofford College

Old Gold & Black

Breaking News
  • Issue 12 Out Now! Good Luck with Exams and Safe Travels!

Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Faculty to vote on two Interim models next month 

Two potential new models for interim will be voted on by faculty on Dec. 6. This will be an endorsement vote, not finalizing any decisions but pointing the college in a recommended direction.

The proposals in the works do not address the campus-wide debate of Interim remaining a January term or switching over to an April or May semester. 

Making this decision would affect more than just interim but scheduling in general, as it would impact move-in, move-out, winter break, spring break, etc. 

Instead, the models proposed consider students’ in-class structure and experience, such as whether interim should be pass-fail or graded and whether or not faculty should stick to teaching courses within their respective departments. 

Story continues below advertisement

Karen Goodchild, professor of art history and interim coordinator, and Anne Catllá, associate provost for curriculum and co-curriculum and associate professor of mathematics, were selected to head this project by now-Provost Timothy Schmitz.

Their strategy was to survey students, faculty and staff about their thoughts on interim, hold listening sessions to gather faculty’s experiences and assemble a summer working group to investigate different opinions and approaches to Interim. 

Working group members include Associate Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies Peter Brewitt, Associate Professor of Accounting Ben Cartwright, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Beau Christ, Associate Professor of Biology Geoffrey Mitchell and Associate Professor of Spanish Britton Newman. 

Also included are Assistant Professor of Biology Katie Putney, Professor of Physics Mackay Salley, Assistant Professor of Studio Art Jessica Scott-Felder, Associate Professor and Chair of English Julie Sexeny, Assistant professor of History Jess Tomkins, Assistant Professor of Art History Gillian Young and Associate Professor of Chinese and Coordinator of Chinese Program Yongfang Zhang.

This group first looked at survey data and faculty listening session notes to curate a rough Interim mission statement. 

The mission statement they settled on reads as follows: “Interim is an immersive, innovative component of a Wofford liberal arts education. Students will deepen their perspectives, build skills, take initiative and push boundaries, collaborate across campus, and engage with local and global communities.”

From there, they assembled four working groups to collect data about how interim works at Wofford and how other schools teach in one-month long terms. From this, three model-making groups suggested ideas. Ultimately, they left the summer with two concrete proposals for how Interim should function in the future. 

The proposals have much in common. The first recommendation in both strategies is making interim another graded term, rather than the previous pass-fail-honors system. This is to “give students external motivation to more fully engage in a course and ensure that students don’t intentionally disengage at some point in Interim.” 

The student is only required to take three total interims in these two models. Catllá said this will make room for students who transfer into Wofford, desire to graduate early or, for some other reason, cannot or do not want to complete a fourth interim. 

Both Goodchild and Catllá describe this as being a more equitable approach to the Interim system, by not requiring that such students pay to complete an Interim in summer school.

Lastly, the proposals share the idea that each interim should come with a standard attribute that students can identify, knowing what kind of work they will engage in for the month-long course. 

Categories that they listed include wellness-based, skill development, academic deep dives, traveling and pre-professional options. However, the models, labeled the Three Selves Model and the ICEC, recommend differing lists of attributes.

The Three Selves Model requires that students complete three interim courses, satisfying at least two of the three attributes listed: self-enrichment, self in community and professional self. 

The ICEC Model has a similar structure, but requires three of four attributes: inquire, create, experience and care. 

Both proposals allow instructors to teach within their departmental expertise when designing a course, implementing an “Interim twist.” 

This would allow the same level of enjoyment as before but with the added benefit of being taught by an expert within a field of study, rather than learning alongside the professor as currently practiced. 

“Students could take departmental courses within these models as courses that fulfill major or minor requirements, general education requirements or electives,” Goodchild said. 

Other benefits to offering general education courses during Interim are that it would allow for faculty to lessen their course load and could potentially lead to greater benefits for students when registering for courses. 

The Three Selves Model would allow both the traditional “JAN” courses and discipline-coded courses. The ICEC Model would require that most courses are discipline-coded, except for global and internship courses. Neither model allows for “regular” catalog courses. 

What this means is that both models require the courses offered to be more than “just” a mathematics, biology, economics, etc. course. There must be something additional to it. 

Examples of this would include a biology course focused on crime scene investigation, a psychology course focused on art therapy, a religion course based on religious identity in food and more. The possibilities are endless, and they hope it will lead to even more faculty creativity in their approach to courses. 

“There have been a few changes, such as changing from 4 hours to 3 hours, but there has been no comprehensive reform since Interim was first created in 1968,” Goodchild explained. 

“Additional areas of reform that the summer committee recommended include a proposal, now being considered by the administration, that addresses unequal access students have to Interim options,” Goodchild said. “The summer group hopes that Wofford will find resources to allow more students to travel during Interim, and to access more expensive on-campus course options.”

However, not everyone is as pleased with the two Interim proposal options as the summer working group is. Associate Professor of Accounting Ryan Johnson falls in this group. He believes that more complex administration of the term will not solve what he perceives as a problem of “resources, tone and perception.”

“Interim has been asked to do a lot with a little,” Johnson said.

He believes that it is too soon to be voting on the proposals, as they should still be thinking about what they desire to see in Interim. 

“I think, instead of voting on two specific proposals in December, we need to consider and vote on program attributes. We need to decide first what we want Interim to look like generally,” Johnson said.“I am an Interim purist. I look at it as a blank slate, and there’s nothing more exciting than a blank slate. I think the study abroad part of Interim works very well, it’s just the on-campus part of Interim that needs energy and resources.” 

Part of the resources which Johnson is referring to comes in the form of scholarships, allowing for equity in the affordability of different on-campus and off-campus options. 

Johnson curated “An Alternative Model for the Revitalization of Interim,” expressing some of these ideals and giving his ideas for expansion within the curriculum. 

Essentially, he wants to keep Interim the same “blank slate” that it is now. He wants the possibilities to remain open and stay rooted in what alumni resonate with when they think of Interim. 

“We should expand the useable space in Interim by creating two distinct term tracks within the month of January,” one of his proposal points reads. 

He believes that opening up the Interim period to hold two tracks would allow students to have the option of taking two courses, obtaining 6 credit hours. He would not change the requirement of 12 required Interim credit hours but would instead allow students to double up, if they wish. 

“This does not require a change in the calendar, but rather just requires that faculty allow students the option to take up to two courses in January,” Johnson said. “We already use morning and afternoon sessions.”

Johnson also recommends giving teachers the ability to “flex” some of their traditional courses into the Interim term, lessening the course loads for the Fall and Spring semesters. The major difference here would be that Johnson’s model requires faculty to teach a regular “JAN” course and a discipline-specific course. 

He finally suggested empowering the departments to allow different “JAN” courses to count toward major requirements, similarly to the education department’s practicum requirement during Interim. 

Ultimately, it was decided that his proposal would not be included in this vote, though, because of the research that the summer working group put into the Three Selves and ICEC Models. 

Once the vote is made, one will be officially endorsed, and the future of Interim could see major changes. 

Donate to Old Gold & Black
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Wofford College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brandi Wylie
Brandi Wylie, Editor-In-Chief
Education Major from Spartanburg, SC
Donate to Old Gold & Black
Our Goal