For Alma College student Julia McTaggart, taking a Spring Term class on digital film production gave her the opportunity to travel to a film festival, talk directly with professional film directors and make her own short film as part of a production team.
“We spent the first two weeks learning the basics of video — screenwriting, cinematography, sound recording, directing, editing and visual effects,” says McTaggart, a junior from Millington who is majoring in new media studies.
“We then had a weekend excursion to the River Bend Film Festival in Goshen, Ind.,” she says. “We attended the shows, talked to the directors and make great connections with people. After that, we came back to campus and made our own short films.”
The experience helped Julia better define her career goals. She advises students to consider Spring Term courses that broaden their outlook on a topic that grabs their attention. Many courses travel abroad, introducing students to new cultures.
“Talk to the faculty who are teaching Spring Term courses in advance to understand the goals and opportunities of their classes,” she says.
Spring Term is an opportunity for students to study a single academic topic for an entire month. With the option of on-campus or travel courses, students must take two Spring Term courses during their time at Alma.
China, Costa Rica, England, Germany and Italy are among the international destinations for Alma College students during the 2019 Spring Term, which begins April 28 and continues through May 23. Below is a roundup of this year’s courses:
• Two courses will visit Italy. New media studies students enrolled in “Backpack Filmmaking” will analyze advances in mobile cinematography. “Contemporary Art” students will investigate the historical means of art installation and curation at sites in Rome and Venice.
• Students enrolled in “Food Culture, Health and the Environment” will study agricultural processes with field trips to local farms, food processing facilities, restaurants, vineyards and shops in the United States, England, France and Italy.
• Two English courses will travel to England. Students enrolled in “The Empire Writes Back” will sample a variety of short fiction, film, poetry and theatre while exploring museums, theatres, universities, historical sites and English neighborhoods. “Victorian and London” examines the fictional works of mostly Victorian authors such as Charles Dickens and Conan Doyle.
• Two courses will visit Germany. “Holocaust and the Cold War” will examine the 20th century political systems that shaped German history, including a trip to Auschwitz to reflect on the Nazi crimes committed against the Jewish people. “Places of the Reformation” includes a visit to Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament, as well as sites in Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and Wittenberg.
• Two courses will travel to China. Students enrolled in “China Past and Present” will explore the history and culture of China as well as its more recent economic developments and social changes. Religion students will examine the role of religion on China’s past and present, with visits to Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing.
• Biology students will study tropical rainforest ecology in Costa Rica. They will conduct scientific research that includes data collection, analysis and oral presentations.
• Business and health care administration students will examine the fundamentals of emergency management with visits to local, regional and national agencies in the United States and Canada.
Several Spring Term classes will travel but stay within the United States. Biology students will examine marine organisms in Hawaii. Business administration students will study cybersecurity and privacy law in Washington, D.C. Education students will explore classroom leadership strategies in Orlando, Fla.
Students enrolled in “Meals on Wheels” will explore sports nutrition and the relation between the food that is consumed and athletic performance; the course includes extended bicycle tours.
Business administration students studying strategic leadership will interact with Alma College alumni in Detroit and Chicago. Dance students will visit New York City to interview local dance artists, take classes with professional dancers and attend performances.
Classes on campus will cover a variety of topics, including “Game Design,” “Monster Workshop,” “Women as Composers,” “Plagues and Peoples” and “Genetically Engineered Machines.”
Theatre students will develop a play using collaborative creation techniques and then perform the play on campus and in August 2019 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.