IEX Underway at Gustavus

Posted on January 15th, 2007 by

With a theme focused on “Leadership,” Gustavus Adolphus College recently began its annual January Interim Experience, previously known as J-term.

During the month of January, Gustavus students and faculty take a break from their normal routines to become immersed in the study of one particular subject matter. Differing from the regular semester, classes only last for one month and they generally meet five days a week, three hours a day. The experience is intended to enrich and expand upon the College’s regular semester curricular offerings.

Many students use the experience to take a class on campus, while more adventurous students use the opportunity to study abroad. Classes available to students emphasize innovation, experimentation, and interdisciplinary study. A short list of classes available to students includes: “Stem Cell Power and Politics,” “Online Investing,” “Global Diversity in Minnesota,” and “Robotics Workshop.”

Neil Petrash, a criminal justice and psychology double major at Gustavus, is taking a class that explores the relationship between mental illness and legal concepts such as competency, criminal responsibility, civil commitment, and personal injury.

“Taking Forensic Psychology for J-term has awarded me the opportunity to expand on the knowledge I have gained during the normal academic year,” Petrash said. “I have gained practical, working knowledge of a subject matter that would normally only be briefly discussed during the semester.”

Some of the classes intend to take learning out of the classroom and into the community. For instance, Professor June Kloubec’s “Fast Food Nation class” is planning what she calls “The 100-Mile Challenge.” The class was divided into four groups and challenged to plan and prepare a meal in the college’s cafeteria. The true difficulty of the assignment lies in the fact that each meal must be prepared with ingredients produced within 100-miles of St. Peter. On Jan. 19 and 22-24, her class will prepare and sell their meals in the Gustavus Market Place, located in the college’s Jackson Campus Center. The students will also publicize the benefits of eating both healthily and locally.

In the world of academia, curriculums are becoming increasingly static and programs like the January Interim Experience are becoming an exception, as opposed to the norm. With many colleges eliminating similar programs, Gustavus is constantly evaluating if the experience is worthwhile. The experience has remained an integral part of Gustavus because it supports its mission to balance educational tradition with innovation, study within a general framework that is interdisciplinary and international in perspective, and preparation of students to lead lives of leadership and service.

To enhance the classroom offerings associated with the “Leadership” theme, a series of lectures on leadership has been planned for 7 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday during the month. The public is welcome to attend these free lectures in Alumni Hall of the O.J. Johnson Student Union. The schedule of speakers is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 16 — “The Chemistry of Leadership Presence: You Had Me At Hello” by Dean Hyers and Pete Machalek, of Sage Presenting
  • Thursday, Jan. 18 — “Making the Case for Women Judges” by Sally Kenney, Professor and Director of the Center on Women and Public Policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23 — “Building Your Leadership Bench: How to Develop Yourself and Others to Become Outstanding Leaders” by Kathi Tunheim, of the Tunheim Leadership Group


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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