On Thursday, November 7, the Experimental College hosted The ExCollege Experience, an event focused on promoting next semester’s courses while also showcasing new spaces for students. Some of these courses, like the peer-taught course “Gender, Justice, and True Crime,” had activities set up for the event—the true crime course had an interactive crime scene for students to participate in while learning more about the course. Other courses, like the visiting lecturer courses “Biofrabricated Food: Cellular Agriculture & Sustainability” and “An Insider’s Guide to the World of Food Media,” had tasty treats for students to try, like Impossible Whoppers from Burger King. The event’s goal was to allow students the opportunity to interact with various members of the ExCollege community. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks—ice cream sundaes, chips, and hot chocolate.
Bringing students into the space was also intentional—just this fall, the Film and Media Studies department was relocated to a newly remodeled Barnum Hall. Now, the house located at 95 Talbot Avenue has much more room for students to use, including a new student lounge and a downstairs crafts and maker’s space. During the event, that lounge was occupied by ExCollege Assistant Director Amy Goldstein, who is co-teaching a course next semester titled “Sheep to Shawl: A Hands-On Exploration.” In the half-semester course, Goldstein and her co-teacher will lead students through the process of creating a handmade woolen product from scrap, which includes looking into how fiber is made into art in various cultures and how its use has changed over time. During The ExCollege Experience, Goldstein was knitting various patterns and colors and had books on knitting for students to peruse.
The ExCollege staff designed this open house to kickoff advising for next semester—as students meet with their advisors to pick courses for the spring, many of their enrollment carts will feature various ExCollege courses, which are always outside-the-box and timely. Madeleine Delpha, the ExCollege’s Program Administrator, discussed organizing the event. “The students on our board thought this would be a great opportunity to experience the new space and get a preview of courses,” Delpha said, “and they had the great idea to set up fun activities where students could be introduced to the course topic in a casual and engaging way.” One of the event’s most interesting courses was junior Jacob Shaw’s “Face It: The Art & Science of Caricature.” Shaw’s course looks at caricatures and the development of the creative and physiological lenses behind drawing them. Shaw had multiple caricatures he had drawn available for students to see—including one of ExCollege Director Howard Woolf, which was later made into pins for students to take—and he discussed the course’ objectives with students throughout the evening.
Woolf noted that the event highlighted what the ExCollege has always been about: students. “The ExCollege is a place where students not only get a chance to take courses to which they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed,” Woolf said, “But also a place where they get to have a genuine say.” He commented on student involvement in the ExCollege being integral. “We have students who are on our board, students who work in the office and write for the newsletter, and we have students who teach for us as undergrads.” There’s hope that The ExCollege Experience event might occur in future semesters as a way to connect students to the ExCollege as both an intellectually stimulating space and a community of students and teachers.