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Students submit course ideas for summer curriculum

Students submitted ideas for the upcoming summer curriculum in a competition held by Student Government Association and the Office of Academic Affairs this past week.

The competition called for submissions that were either pre-existing courses at Concordia or entirely new courses that the college, or any other college, has yet to offer. Buzzfeed, Fantasy Football Analytics and Monty Python were only a few of the potential course titles submitted to the competition, which ran from Nov. 30 through Dec. 1.

Students sent in 56 different course suggestions over the two days. The complete list was sent to Dean Eric Eliason and Dr. Cynthia Carver, division chair of pre-professional programs and communication studies, who will narrow the proposals based on feasibility and interest. Once the finalists are chosen, SGA will proctor a formal vote and the student body will select the winning courses, which will be offered in the 2016 summer term.

The finalists will be announced in the beginning of the spring semester and SGA will open the vote to the student body. After the winners are announced, Carver will reach out to faculty who may be interested in teaching the courses, and the Curriculum Committee will assist in creating the course for the upcoming summer term.

The competition, initially proposed by Eliason, was intended as a way to promote summer school opportunities at Concordia. After cutting the cost of summer courses last year, the Office of Academic Affairs was searching for new ways to attract students to the classrooms during the warmer months.

“It’s a way for us to sort of say, ‘What educational needs and aspirations of Concordia students could we be meeting in summer that we’re not meeting during the regular semester?’” Eliason said.

Tanner Knutson, president of SGA, worked with Carver and Eliason to make the competition a reality. He believes the competition provides a great opportunity for students to get involved in shaping the summer curriculum in order to make it more appealing and exciting.

“I know so many people who have taken summer class and, predominantly, it’s purely logistical,” Knutson said. “They want to get organic chemistry over with in the summer, or biochem, so they’re not so overwhelmed junior year. So, I think this really opens doors to having people be excited about summer school instead of just checking off a box.”

Eliason said that the summer term also provides an opportunity for experimentation for both students and professors.

“We know that students have all of these great ideas that we’re not going to think about on our own, like existing courses that people just wish were a summer school option,” Eliason said. “But, I also think it’s an exciting time for students to say ‘I wish this course existed,’ and when we can match it up with a faculty member who’s qualified to teach it, it’s a chance to get beyond the ordinary courses that are already in the catalog.”

The submitted ideas varied from the bizarre to the practical, and most submissions were courses that Concordia does not currently offer. The inevitable Underwater Basket Weaving suggestion also found a spot on the list.

Even though he will be graduating in the spring, Knutson submitted a course idea to the competition as well.

“I submitted the Science and Impact of Flooding, something really relevant to the Fargo-Moorhead area,” Knutson said. “Maybe it would be kind of an environmental studies and sociology course. I think there could be a really good experiential learning aspect.”

The winning courses, while guaranteed an offering in the 2016 summer term, also have the opportunity to become regularly offered classes during the academic year.

“I think student interest and summer success helps a department see that this could be a regular part of their line up,” Eliason said. “There is every opportunity for a department to make it part of their regular offerings.”

This article was submitted by Sydni Kreps, contributing writer.

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