URI to launch winter mini-semester

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J Term offers opportunity to catch up, dabble in new ideas

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 29, 2013 – The University of Rhode Island will launch its inaugural “mini-semester” January Term this winter at its Kingston and Providence campuses.

The J Term will run from Jan. 2 to Jan. 17, during the break between fall and spring semesters, and will offer 21 undergraduate- and graduate-level on-campus, online and 9 travel courses. According to Provost Donald DeHayes “the Winter J Term will provide students with a full spectrum of academic opportunities, ranging from getting a chance to complete a prerequisite before the spring semester, to catching up on a needed general education course, or enjoying the prospect of traveling the world to learn new subject matter not possible within the confines of the traditional classroom or academic semesters.”

The concept of a new winter term began two years ago when a group of faculty approached the Provost Office with the idea of creating new, exciting educational opportunities for students over the winter session. Developed by Dean Libutti, URI vice provost for Enrollment Management and a collaborative team of faculty and staff from across the institution, the rollout of the Winter J Term concept was officially announced to faculty members last May. Faculty members were asked to submit proposals for courses that would best fit the mission of the Winter J Term. According to Coordinator John Olerio, the courses submitted by faculty fell into four categories: high-demand fall and spring semester general education and major courses, courses with high repeat rates , courses that encompass specific research interests and special topics that are better suited for a shorter timeframe, and courses that allow students to travel and explore the world for credit.

“Having these courses offered between semesters allows students to meet major requirements without falling behind,” Olerio said. “We’re looking to give students a chance to stay on track for graduation in a setting where they can focus on one course at a time.

“URI also has many different faculty members with varying research interests and specialties. Some of those interests translate into unique courses, but would be better in that 2- to 3-week model. The J Term is offering such courses. Also, through the URI Office of International Education, we are offering travel opportunities for credit located in the United States and abroad specific to a number of majors.”

In addition to various general education courses, the J Term will also offer an alternative winter break community service experience and a career development seminar (EDC 279) for one credit, which allows undeclared students to explore different majors and careers. A special topics course in journalism (JOR 445) will also be available, with the topic being sports television production. Led by veteran Rhode Island sports reporter Don Coyne, 12 students will learn the process of producing sports clips, which they will then market to the local media. Other unique offerings include a graduate class on mediation and conflict resolution, a film travel course to Belize, a history of jazz course that begins in Kingston and ends in New Orleans, and a computer-aided textile and apparel design course.

Registration opened Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. for all students and all course levels. Travel courses are already open for registration. Courses will be open for enrollment through mid-December, with travel registration ending Nov. 15. Students may register for a maximum of four credits.

The cost per credit for undergraduate Winter J Term courses is $278 for in-state students, $417 for regional students, and $461 for out-of-state students. Graduate courses are $356 for in-state students, $445 for regional students, and $515 for out-of-state students. Travel and program fees may apply to various courses.

Olerio said that accessibility is a high priority. “We are very cognizant of making sure that the J Term is affordable,” he said. “The price per credit is significantly lower than the spring and fall semesters’ costs. We also have limited need-based scholarships available, with some made possible through alumni who have stepped forward and donated to the Winter J Term.”

According to Olerio, the Winter J Term is expected to have a successful start. The early results of marketing efforts through social media, email and the web are encouraging. “We could potentially see over 200 J Term students sign up this first pilot year alone,” he said. “There are students with many different kinds of needs that will benefit from these course offerings. I’ve been in contact with various departments and student groups. The Honors Program will also be well represented this year with four course offerings. There are lots of neat niches we are looking to fill with unique and different classes. There’s something for everybody.”

For more information regarding URI’s Winter J Term, visit: http://www.uri.edu/provost/jterm/.