Dive into J Term

Students scuba diving in Bonaire

Many students use the winter break to unwind, hit the slopes with friends, or catch up with family. But for those restless to keep learning, URI offers J Term, a January mini-semester with a variety of options.

Perhaps you’d like to dive into the world of coral reef conservation in Bonaire, study global health in Guatemala, or head to Hawaii to teach children with disabilities how to surf. If those don’t grab you, how about studying sustainable agriculture in Mexico, touring some of the biggest engineering companies in Germany, or choosing one of a dozen other faculty-led programs around the world.

Dive into the world of coral reef conservation in Bonaire, study global health in Guatemala, or head to Hawaii to teach children with disabilities how to surf.

“J Term is a wonderful way for students to participate in unique academic opportunities on campus and abroad,’’ said John Olerio, J Term coordinator. “Students who participate can’t wait to start planning for next January. That says something about the success of our program.’’

The life experience students gain from the courses is invaluable. But they also earn credits that may enable them them to accelerate their path to graduation or reduce their course load for a semester. An added benefit—the J Term per-credit tuition rate is reduced.

Marissa Wolfe, who graduated in May with a degree in marine affairs, spent nine days in Senegal last January studying the African country’s mangrove ecosystem, fisheries, and climate change. “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “Not only was I able to immerse myself in their culture, but I also learned about the environmental issues the people of Senegal are facing.”

One of the most popular J Term offerings is in Cuba where students tour the island, visit museums, universities and hospitals, talk with writers and artists, and study the country’s history, economy, politics, and culture.

In addition to travel classes, there are many J Term classes that take place on campus or online, like Chinese Hollywood, the Business of Innovation, Biology and Society, the History of Jazz, and the Politics of the Vietnam War.

Last year a group of students in a J Term course on Engineering Entrepreneurship spent two weeks in Gilbreth Hall engineering devices that are useful, creative and downright amazing—like a robotic hand to help those with disabilities grasp items beyond their reach: or an app to help drivers find available parking places on campus; or a sensor that measures temperature, humidity, sound and motion in laboratories.

“The class opened me up to a lot of new opportunities that I wouldn’t have experienced in a core curriculum class,” said civil engineering major Adam Mazzantini. “I was happy to give up hiking and biking for that.”

And with more J Term offerings than ever this year, there is probably something to inspire almost every student.

“J Term opened my eyes to see what’s out there,’’ said Marissa Smyrski, a physical therapy student who studied sports medicine during a 10-day J Term class in Florida. Her advice: Sign up. J term is a great program for students eager to dive in.