By: Hannah Wargo, Transcript Correspondent
For the first time ever, Ohio Wesleyan will be offering sections of UC 160 courses in the spring semester; and for the class of 2020, it will be mandatory.
For about five years, these quarter-credit courses have provided incoming freshmen and other students new to OWU with information about the liberal arts, the programs and resources available to them on campus.
“For the last few years, we’ve been talking about offering spring sessions,” said Zachary Long, director of UC 160 programs and associate professor of English. “In general, our preference is for students to take them in the fall, but it seems worthwhile to have a backup option.”
Long had spring UC 160 course offerings approved by administration last spring and has been planning it since.
“Some who are interested in taking UC 160 cannot take it in the fall due to athletics, labs that eat up a lot of time or because they want to proceed with caution with their course load,” Long said.
Transfer students that come in the second semester will have the opportunity to take UC 160 as well, Long said.
“This is a big year for experimentation,” Long said.
Only three sections will be offered this spring so that faculty can monitor student interest.
These three sections are titled “Travel as a Political Act,” “Serial” and “Sustainability,” according to the OWU website.
There is some universal subject matter, but the professors and the text or themes of each course differentiate them, Long said.
Because this is the first time these first-year introductory courses will be offered in the spring, the course timeline will have to change, Long said.
“I’m as interested as other professors about where is the best place to start this,” Long said. “Students will have already learned some of (the curriculum) such as how to register for classes.”
The addition of spring sections isn’t the only change on the UC 160 front.
On Monday Nov. 16, the faculty voted and approved making UC 160 courses mandatory for all first-year students starting next fall, Long said.
Many schools have required first-year courses, Long said, but those courses tend to be full-unit academic topics or something like an extended orientation.
“Our course is unique in that it’s a hybrid model,” Long said. “We’re trying to tag some academic or philosophical heft to it, but don’t want to make it a full-unit course because we want it to be accessible to students.”
As Long went on to explain, the hybrid model isn’t the only thing that makes OWU’s first-year courses unique.
Each course partakes in a community service project, which introduces students to the local community and not just the campus community.
Rather than having campus-wide required readings, faculty are encouraged to teach texts and themes that resonate with them.
For example, “Brain Rules,” a section of UC 160 offered in the fall, is taught by professor Jennifer Yates, director of the neuroscience program, according to the UC 160 fall brochure.
“This isn’t an accident,” Long said. “We want to get students connected with a professor whom they have a common interest with.”
In the fall or spring, UC 160 gives students the opportunity to get to know professors in a more informal setting and get something like a mentorship experience, Long said.