Interterm to include summer travel options

Associate Professor of History Leonard Ortiz and his students on the Yucatan, Mexico, travel interterm in January.

Associate Professor of History Leonard Ortiz and his students on the Yucatan, Mexico, travel interterm in January. Photo courtesy Logan Pope

Baker students will soon have the option to enroll in a summer travel interterm, and freshmen will no longer be required to take an interterm in their first year at Baker. Faculty Senate has approved these changes, which will now be submitted for administrative approval.

For the past two years, Faculty Senate has been discussing changes to improve the interterm program. According to Associate Professor of Biology Scott Kimball, a committee began evaluating how the interterm program was meeting the needs of the students and fulfilling the idea of being a “distinctive program to Baker that would attract students.”

Interterm has historically been scheduled for two to three weeks at the beginning of January, the time between first and second semester.

The new summer interterm will provide distinctive travel opportunities. The January interterm session will continue to offer both on-campus and travel courses.

Travel interterm trips to some study-abroad destinations are not always feasible in January. Kimball said that several faculty members wanted to offer travel interterms that did not work as well in the winter. Also, traveling domestically in January can be hard due to inclement weather, and the addition of a summer term will open up more options for domestic travel, which is usually cheaper than international travel.

Students who participate in winter sports often miss out on travel interterms because they have to be on campus in January. The summer term will give more students the opportunity to take part in a travel interterm during their time at Baker.

“It [summer term] provides the option for science things that need to happen in warmer weather, or if you want to do mountain climbing or orienteering where you need to be able to be out in the summer season,” Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Martha Harris said.

Students who enter Baker as freshmen are required to complete two interterms, but they can now complete an interterm at any time during their four years.

The previous policy requiring all freshmen to enroll in interterm was not heavily enforced, according to Kimball, so it didn’t make sense to the Faculty Senate to keep telling students that it was a requirement if there was not a continuous effort to enforce it.

The summer term will allow students to complete their interterm requirements in one calendar year. While this increases student opportunities, it could also potentially increase the cost, depending on a student’s particular situation.

Currently, students are allotted three interterm hours in their yearly tuition fees; however, with the new ability to complete two interterms in one calendar year, students will have to pay for additional credit hours if they go beyond three total hours in one year. This will cost $425 per credit hour.

Freshman Erynne Jamison participated in an education practicum over her interterm and believes that the program is a positive experience for Baker students.

“Interterm wasn’t something that drew me to Baker, but being here, I think it is definitely a positive, because it not only allows us to get credit over that break, but if we aren’t here, it gives us a longer break to enjoy at home,” Jamison said.

Interterm courses must satisfy one of three requirements: increase student awareness of cultural experiences and knowledge, increase knowledge of the diversity of life or incorporate a completion of a project as part of a team.

Freshman Hannah Greer found out about the changes through her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and she believes that the summer term could benefit students.

“As long as it’s not mandatory, I feel that it is a good opportunity for people to travel and experience something out of the norm,” Greer said.

Above all, these changes give students more opportunities to participate in a travel interterm.

“My favorite part is the flexibility for students and faculty members and the possibility that we open up some destinations that weren’t available before,” Harris said. “I like the idea that we have opportunities for students to travel that haven’t had it in the past.”

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