Final January Term underway at Hastings College

From traveling to Paris, London and Honduras to learning how to brew and market beer to the chemistry of cooking, Hastings College students are immersing themselves in a variety of unique classes for January Term (J-Term).

J-Term began January 3, with classes meeting daily through January 22. During J-Term, students take one course on campus, travel the country or abroad for a learning experience, or grow their skills through an internship or practicum.

This year’s J-Term includes 60 sophomores going to Paris, France, as a pilot of the College’s study abroad program, which begins in full next year and will allow all sophomores the opportunity to study abroad.

Other international travel locations include London, Honduras and Quebec, while domestic travel includes classes going to Jackson, Mississippi, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

This is the 53rd and final J-Term at the College — yet elements of the popular J-Term will continue into the new College’s academic calendar that begins in the fall.

“One of the key components of J-Term is focusing on one class and becoming fully immersed in a single subject. Next year, students will take one two-week class twice each year, once in the fall and once in the spring,” said Dr. Barbara Sunderman, vice president for academic affairs. “Other aspects of J-Term, including travel and internship  opportunities, as well as unique classes, will be offered more times for our students. So while J-Term may be ending, we’re carrying the best elements of it forward and, in a sense, expanding them.”

Below are some of the courses offered this year, with the first list being those involving significant travel (abroad or domestic). Select on-campus courses follow.

Study Abroad and Courses with Travel


Sophomore Study Abroad (three courses)
International Business with Amy Black
Sports and Culture with Travis Feezell
Leadership and Travel Writing with Maggie Callahan

Location: Paris, France

Sixty sophomores are split between three courses as part of a pilot of the Hastings College study abroad program. Students applied to be part of program and chose their class. Students will experience the culture of France, as well as hone in on details of their class through hands-on learning experiences, behind the scenes tours and meeting time with experts in their field. Experiences will occur throughout Paris and other locations in France.

Marine Conservation Biology
Instructors: Bill Beachly and Diane Beachly

Location: Honduras

A survey of conservation issues in marine biology including coral reef preservation, mangroves, sustainable fishing practices, species diversity and ecosystem threats due to climate change.

New York City and London Theatre
Instructor: Dr. Barbara Sunderman

Locations: New York City and London, England

This course focuses on cultural sites in both the cities. Students will study information about each site and present information on the work to the class comparing the cites and the relevant cultural facts of each stop. During the travel component, students will explore the New York downtown, Ellis Island, 9/11 site, attend a workshop and professional Broadway show, and visit MoMA. In London, participants will visit the areas included in a city walk, National Gallery, Piccadilly Circus, interact with the area of the Kensington and the British Museum.

Quebec in the Winter
Instructor: Amanda Solem

Location: Quebec, Canada

This course will explore the language, history, culture and environment of the Quebec region in general and Quebec City.

Educating in a MultiCultural Society
Instructors: Lisa Smith

Location: Jackson, Mississippi

An awareness and understanding of the diversity present in a pluralistic society and an examination of how this diversity relates to the educational system. A field experience is required which involves observation and participation in classrooms of diverse learners.

Couch to Triathlon For the Busy Person
Instructors: Audrey Jensen and Nick Dinan

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

This course is designed to coach and train students from “Couch to Triathlon.” Students will apply coaching and nutrition through the sport of triathlon.

On Campus Courses


Game Design
Instructor: Sara Gevurtz

This course introduces the foundational knowledge of game design. The course will focus on the theory, development, and psychology of creating compelling games through play and analysis. Students will learn the process of creating board games, from research and development, rapid prototyping, play-testing and the production of a final product.

Cinematography – Theory and Practice
Instructor: Ken Keys

A three week lecture and hands-on course introducing the critical elements of cinematography in both theory and practice. Students will learn through lecture presentations with a wide variety of film clips and live camera practical demonstrations, as well as in the creation of short films.

Art & Video Game Aesthetics
Instructor: Kevin Mercer

An interdisciplinary course combining hands-on studio practices, art history and critical theory. In addition to creating projects that respond to video game graphics, students will play games, discuss them and read and write literature pertaining to the fusion of video games and pop culture over the past several decades.

Soft Sculpture
Instructor: Aaron Badham

This course allows students to investigate and develop sculptural statements through the use of non-rigid materials. Foam, cloth, leather, plastic and various fibers will introduce students to pattern-making, upholstery, sewing and basic weaving techniques.

The Business of Brew
Instructors: Anthony May and Damen Heitman

Students will experience the process of creating a unique brew with the crew at Steeple Brewery. Following a brew from start to finish, the class will cover business start-up topics, the entire brewing process, economics of getting a new brew to market, marketing and culminate in a launch party at the brewery. Must be 21 at the time of the class.

Organizational Communication (and The Office)
Instructor: Kittie Grace

Students will study the role of communication in organizations. Units include organizational networks, personality/leadership styles, power/status, and ethnographic study of organizations. Students will observe organizations in the community and will help organize and host a campus event. Episodes of The Office will inform our work with organizations.

Digital Logic
Instructor: Mark Hall

The fundamentals of the digital logic circuits that are the heart of all computers and many other electronic devices. Topics include Boolean logic, Karnaugh maps, combinatorial circuits, gates, adders, multiplexers/demultiplexers, comparators, and encoders/decoders; clocks, sequential circuits, latches, flip-flops, counters, and registers. The course will conclude with the design of a simple microprocessor.

“You Can’t Make Me”
Instructor: Ann Auten

No matter what one chooses for a career path, all adults will interact with children. The old African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child” suggests that all members of a community have a responsibility to its children. After all, they are one third of our population and our future leaders. Class participants will explore positive discipline strategies to manage resistant behaviors in children. Students will participate in a service learning project for children in the local community and complete a short field assignment in their interest area.

J.R.R. Tolkien
Instructor: Benjamin Waller

An exploration of the sources, language, mythology, themes and adaptation of Tolkien’s major fantasy works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Kursk: Battle of the Tanks
Instructors: Glenn Avent and Rob Babcock

The Battle of Kursk in July 1943 is often remembered as the greatest tank battle in history. As many as 6,000 tanks and their crews participated in the battle, which was a desperate attempt by the German Wehrmacht to stall the Soviet counteroffensive after Stalingrad. This course is the military history of the campaign known as Operation Citadel. Students in the course will examine the strategy and tactics of the battle, place it in its context on the Eastern Front of WWII, and come to understand changing interpretations of the battle and its meaning. Part of that understanding will be to put Kursk into the context of tank design and tank warfare from the imagination of Leonardo da Vinci to Russia’s contemporary Armata Universal Combat Platform.

Learn to play piano in three weeks
Instructor: Jonathan Sokasits

Learn the basics of playing the piano without prior musical instruction. You will play in both popular and classical styles and learn note-reading, basic music theory, harmonization, improvisation, and composition.

Guitar from Scratch
Instructor: Richard Klentz

Learn to play the guitar from tuning to strumming (and chords in between).

Race, Gender & Sexuality in Film
Instructor: Dr. Ali Beheler

This course will explore issues of race, gender, and sexuality by attending to their representations in film. We will view and discuss a variety of films (features, shorts, and documentaries), supplementing each film with contemporary readings in sociology, philosophy, and journalism. Our films will include moonlight (2016), 13th (2016), The Danish Girl (2015), the Black Power Mixtape (2011), and Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria (2005), among many others.

I’m Right, You’re Wrong How Our Righteous Minds Lead to a Heated Political Climate
Instructors: Robert Amyot and Stephanie Furrer

This course explores the development of moral psychology in human beings, and how that development has lead to the highly polarized political and religious world we live in today. Using both a scientific and philosophical approach, we will try to understand how human beings come to see what is right, and what is wrong, and how the ability to make those judgements helps explain humans’ greatest accomplishments — and failures.

Animal Cognition
Instructors: Jeri Thompson

This course consists of an overview of philosophic and scientific research on the thought processes of various species of animals. The possibilities of animal self-awareness, problem-solving and language will be discussed in relation to human cognitive processes. We will also consider why this comparison seems to be so important (to us, probably not to them).

Humor and Joy in Healing and Wholeness
Instructor: Lee R. Wigert

The course will examine the role of Humor and Joy in emotional, psychological, mental, physical and spiritual healing and wholeness. The class will be experiential, using such things as laughter Yoga, DVD’s and guest speakers.

Book Production
Instructor: Patricia Oman

Have you ever wondered how books are made? In this class we will simulate an actual press working environment, focusing on the production side of book publishing, with students serving as proofreaders, typesetters, production assistants and project managers.

Chemistry of Cooking
Instructor: John Bohmfalk

How does flour thicken a sauce? Why does bread rise? Why does cooked meat look and taste better than raw? What is the difference between “taste” and “flavor”? What are these weird compounds used in Modernist Cuisine? Food preparation is one of the hallmarks of humanity. The processes by which we modify natural products before consumption involve huge amounts of (often very complex) chemistry. Some of these chemical processes are well understood while others may not be so clear. In this class, we will investigate the chemistry of food preparation and will experimentally examine some of these processes through the preparation and consumption of many different food items. For novices, you will learn basic kitchen skills and equipment use. We will dissect recipes and culinary techniques and investigate a number of common culinary myths and misconceptions.

Factors Influencing Marital Quality
Instructor: Robert E. Kettlitz

This course is intended to provide an understanding of several categories of variables that have been found to have a significant impact on individuals’ perceptions of the quality of their marriage. Sociological theories will be used to explain various aspects of the marital relationship. Variables to be explored include but are not limited to: dating choices, marital and spousal expectations; interaction (oral communication) and physical activities; spousal bonding; and marital adjustment.

Beginning Mahjongg
Instructor: Dr. Hillary Watter

MahJongg originated in China and is still played there not only as a high-stakes gambling game, but also as a traditional family activity. There are several different interpretations of the term “mahjongg.” Loosely translated, the name means “clattering sparrows,” which refers to the sound of the tiles when they are mixed or shuffled. Mahjongg is actually a synthesis of many different Chinese games, some using cards and some using tiles, played over the centuries. American Mahjongg is a game that requires logic, critical thinking and a little bit of luck! By the end of three weeks, you should be able to play well both offensively and defensively.

Instructor: Neil Heckman

The struggle is real. Eventually the struggles change from trying to keep a streak on SnapChat to understanding an employer retirement plan. This course will discuss and have activities that are associated with the transition to complete independence. The topics covered will be wide and will include things such as automobile maintenance, meal planning, budgeting, and time management.

Instructor: Annette Vargas

This hands-on course introduces students to the fascinating and enchanting world of Puppetry. Students will learn how to construct and manipulate several styles of puppets (including: finger puppets, sock puppets, shadow puppets, as well as, designing and creating their own Muppet style puppet) and then use their puppet creations to perform an (optional) original Puppet Show at the end of the term.

Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to

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