Button Menu

The Boulder

For three weeks in January, DePauw students break from the traditional semester schedule to focus on a single interest—on campus or around the world. Join us here every day for 22 days as we check in on student adventures. 

This is Winter Term.


Students preparing for the Indiana EMT-certification exam are getting training in an intensive winter term course.

Those who complete the class, which meets Monday through Saturday for eight hours a day, and pass the state exam will be certified to work as emergency medical technicians in Putnam County and other parts of the country where cross-certification is sanctioned. Students were required to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification before enrolling.

The course teaches basic medical skills that EMTs and paramedics use to treat victims of accidents or sudden illness. Students are learning about human anatomy and physiology, as well as advanced treatments with sophisticated and specialized equipment in ambulances.   

“This class is really helpful for me because it gives me an idea of what I can actually do in the field,” says Alex Peterson ’19, a biology and global health major who plans to study in a physician assistant program after graduation from DePauw. “And it’s skills that I’ll be able to carry throughout my time in the medical field.”

day 15 - Japanese Culture, Technology and Design

After spending a few days on campus learning fundamentals of Japanese culture and language, students in this course ventured off to Japan to experience firsthand its culture, technology and design, with a focus on how the three interrelate.  

Monozukuri, the spirit or determination to produce excellent products and the ability to constantly improve them, is the central theme of the winter term course taught by Asian studies professor Hiroko Chiba and David Berque, associate vice president for student academic life.

In contemporary society, monozukuri is one of the foundations for the production of modern products from cars to robots to video games. And the spirit of monozukuri also can be seen in small items commonly found in Japanese homes.

Students are staying with host families about an hour north of Tokyo in Itakura and are participating in activities, including pottery and judo classes and a tea ceremony, at Toyo University and in the city.

They are focusing on recent technology advancements and innovations, with visits to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and the department of advanced robotics at the Chiba Institute of Technology.

Students are learning about industrial development in Nagoya, with visits to Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology as well as Noritake Museum.

And they’ll learn traditional craftsmanship in Kyoto and visit Nara and Himeji Castle.

“I’ve taken three courses in Japanese language and plan on a minor so coming to Japan was high on my priority list,” sophomore Gavin Ritter says. “I have had a blast so far, and the time spent has already improved my Japanese.”

day 14 - Producing the Short Film: For Actors and Filmmakers

This course for wannabe actors and filmmakers is taught by Alex Thompson, a 2012 DePauw graduate. Thompson is a film producer and director, and is having fun sharing his expertise of short narrative film production with students.

“It's an intense course,” Thompson says, “because not only are most students starting from near zero with their production experience, they're working with limited resources in doing so, and writing several short essays over the course of the term.”

Students are pitching and workshopping executable story ideas, learning proper screenplay format and writing original screenplays of five to seven minutes. Two screenplays will be chosen to produce and cast and crew will be assigned, including director, gaffer, production designer, cinematographer, camera assistant, script supervisor, editing assistant, first assistant director and actors. Both films will be shot.

Students also are learning basic functions of the editing software Adobe Premiere Pro, sound design and score.

The class culminates with a screening of the two films at the Tenzer Technology Center, followed by a discussion session.

“The course is a true marriage of theory and practicum,” Thompson says. “I love both, and think that the theoretical/formalistic training I received at DePauw is what sometimes sets me apart from other filmmakers my age; it allows me to communicate with other departments specifically, as well, since the work is coming from a systemic place. So I like passing that along, and sharing some of my own production experience.”

For Matt Wilson ’22, casting and production have been highlights of the experience. “We’re definitely learning a lot – from enhancing our team-building skills by working with people whom we’ve just met,” he says, “to sculpting an idea and working toward that as a unit.”

Thompson says, “It’s been rewarding to watch students find a new group that might stick together after they graduate or, at the very least, help them make work of their own.

“It can feel overwhelming,” he says, “but I've always thought of DePauw as the perfect sandbox. The resources are there. You just have to muster the drive to utilize them.”


The DePauw Chamber Symphony, the elite core of the DePauw University Orchestra, is spending winter term in Japan for a concert performance tour.

In addition to performing, students are gaining a deeper understanding of the responsibilities that come from performing for new audiences and adding to their knowledge of global citizenship from interacting with this different culture.

“It has been amazing to interact with a culture so much different from my own, and to share music – something so universal – with people from diverse walks of life,” says Keegan Lammers ’22 in an email. “I have enjoyed visiting temples, fish markets and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.”

Writes Abby Foehrkolb ’21, a sophomore percussionist: “Being abroad in Japan has been incredible for many expected reasons, but a little unexpectedly, I have found myself impressed with the personal growth of the orchestra. Even though we have only been here for a few days, I already notice others looking out for one another a little more and myself eager to be dependable for the good of the group. 

“Admittedly, it can be overwhelming and at times even scary to be halfway around the world, but I feel more at ease knowing that I am here with people who have my back.”

Pictured is a rehearsal with DePauw President D. Mark McCoy, in Japan to recruit students, serving as guest conductor for a piece by Keiko Yamada titled “Suyanama” for the group’s first performance, a recruiting event. Orchestra director Orcenith Smith, a professor of music who teaches tuba, is at right. Nicole Brockmann, associate professor of music who teaches viola and musicianship, also made the trip.

DAY 12 - Preparing for Law School and a Future Law Career

Because of winter term’s short duration, it is the ideal time for students to explore both interests and potential careers. This course provides hands-on opportunities for students to develop skills that will help them apply for and be successful in law school. But it isn’t just for students who are on a law-specific track.

“As a senior, I’m getting ready to graduate and move to New Jersey to start my commitment with Teach for America,” says Libby Kaiser ’19. “I hope to attend law school afterward and I was drawn to this class because I felt it would help me decide which avenue of law to pursue and become more familiar with the application process. I hope to come out of the class with more clarity and preparation for my future.”

Nicole Burts ’13, DePauw’s pre-law adviser and Coquillette Peer Consultants coordinator, teaches the course; she holds a law degree. In addition, Gerald “Jerry” Haberkorn ’83, who practices corporate law in Chicago, teaches a multi-day section about corporate law.

To showcase all areas of law and the judicial system, the class travels to the Indiana Supreme Court, meets with justices and judges and attends a naturalization ceremony. Students also mull how to think like a law student and learn about prospective careers they may pursue with a law degree. 

day 11 - The classical tradition in italy

Students visit Roman locations in Italy.

DePauw students are viewing some of the most revered art and visiting some of most famous structures in the world this winter term as part of the Classical Tradition in Italy course.

And they’re dining on some scrumptious food too.

The course focuses on the art, history and politics of Italy and how they are shaped and defined by the country's relationship with ancient Rome. Students are traveling through Italy alongside Dave Guinee, professor of classical studies.

“I’ve always been intrigued with Italian culture and its rich history,” says Ty Hou ’19. “This trip has broadened my perspective with new outlooks and ways of thinking. Trying new foods, witnessing traditional customs and learning the history of the country have reinforced the importance of being global-minded.”

Students are spending a week in Rome, studying and exploring the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican museums, St. Peter's Basilica and early Christian churches. Then they’re heading to southern Italy and the Bay of Naples before traveling to Tuscany to study Florence, Siena and surrounding towns.

Students are spending most days on guided site visits and are responsible for readings, keeping journal entries and preparing presentations during their stay.

day 10 - Adapted Enchantment: Children’s Lit in London and Paris

They aren’t visiting Hogwarts – it’s unlikely any DePauw students can breach the brick wall that hides platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross rail station – but those taking the winter term course called “Adapted Enchantment: Children’s Lit in London and Paris” are exploring plenty of other famous sites cited in children’s books.

The class, led by Kayla Birt Flegal, access and outreach services librarian at Roy O. West Library, and Tamara Stasik, assistant English professor, already have explored Paris sites from the Madeline series, such as Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Pont Neuf and the Eiffel Tower. Also on the agenda are British sites such as Christ Church College at the University of Oxford, where the Harry Potter movies were filmed and Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice in Wonderland,” and Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood.

Visiting those sites have made for “a magical trip,” says Ali Grimm ’19, who was eager to learn “how people like J.K. Rowling were inspired to write their novels and how children fit into both imaginative and real life spaces.”

Grimm says she chose this winter term trip because she has wanted to visit London and Paris since she was a little girl. What’s more, “I also grew up reading and watching several of the children’s literature books and movies and wanted to see them come to life at the exact places they were born.”

Throughout the trip, the students are working on a project with the Tenzer Technology Center using 360-degree cameras. They’re shooting and annotating images with text to answer questions about privilege and diversity, such as “Who is invited here?,” “Who is not invited here?,” “Are children welcome?” and “Would the story be able to happen in this space in its current state?”

day 9 - Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica: Writing Nature

Students who signed up for English professor Joe Heithaus and biology professor Janet Vaglia’s course were asked to be ready to work, hike, listen and write about their experiences during their two-week adventure to one of the most biodiverse and ecologically minded countries in the world.

By exploring Santa Elena Gulf, the Guanacaste Conservation Area and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, students are being introduced to the complex issues of tropical ecology of Costa Rica.

The group is meeting biologists and parataxonomists in Guanacaste Conservation Area, where they work to inventory the area’s immense diversity of flora and fauna using DNA barcoding. In Monteverde, students are participating in sustainable agriculture on a coffee farm and taking guided hikes in the cloud forest.

Heithaus says that students are keeping journals, writing essays and preparing a final project “to better understand and communicate what is at stake in preserving and protecting these critical ecosystems in the face of human threats.”

Becca Sellers ’19 says their first day was spent in the Santa Elena Gulf. “The fishermen who transported us on their boats showed us examples of their conservation efforts,” she says. “They use nets as fish farms for snappers, which were once in danger of being overfished, but now the fishermen are confident the species and their own livelihoods have been saved.”

day 8 - Athletics Administration and Sports Management

One need not be a super athlete to have a career in collegiate or professional sports. Students who want to be close to but not on the playing field can take this course, in its fourth year as a winter term offering, to get a broad overview of the sports industry, including a scan of career opportunities and skill sets needed to succeed in athletics administration.

Who better to teach the course than Stevie Baker-Watson, DePauw’s associate vice president for campus wellness and the Theodore Katula director of athletics and recreational sports, who has 20 years of experience in the field?

Baker-Watson’s knowledge and connections provides opportunities for students in the class to visit with sports organizations such as the Indiana Pacers and hear from alumni in the field, such as Joe Schoen ’01, the assistant general manager for the Buffalo Bills.

Students in the class are seeking to develop a basic understanding of consumer behavior, segmentation, strategic management, budgeting, facility management, risk management and ethics in the sport setting.

day 7- Radio Management and Programming

After just a week of working at DePauw’s WGRE-FM, Ethan Krohne ’22 says he already has evolved from being just a passive radio listener to understanding the workings of a broadcast operation.

“This class has opened up my eyes to other sides of radio that I never thought about before,” Krohne says. “Before this class I looked at radio as simply a form of broadcasting but I never put much thought into the business and that’s something this class has really begun to teach me.”

He and his classmates participate in the daily operation of WGRE-FM – the nation’s first 10-watt college station. They are learning how a station is organized and how to operate facilities for sports and news programs. Students also are taking on roles of production and promotion for the station, which otherwise would sit empty while the university is not in full session.

In addition to class time, students each take an on-air shift during the term, so be sure to tune in on wgre.org to check in on their work.

day 6 - south africa: life after mandela

Nelson Mandela’s life journey took him from anti-apartheid activism through 27 years as a political prisoner and ultimately to the presidency of South Africa. When the international figure died in 2013, news reports depicted the country as having achieved racial harmony. But has it?

With the guidance of political science professor Clarissa Peterson and Emmitt Riley, assistant professor of Africana studies, students are considering that question in their winter term course, South Africa: Life after Mandela. They’re visiting Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and the country’s most important landmarks.

day 5 - star wars

It’s no wonder professor Matt Dillon’s winter term course was wait-listed. Its topic has intrigued science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts for generations: Star Wars.

Students are studying the pop-culture phenomenon Star Wars through a religious studies lens – Dillon’s discipline – by treating the films as a modern myth. 

Using theories and methods from religious studies to analyze the Evil Empire, the Force and the Rebellion, students explore allegorical themes in the galaxy.

Questions used in this study include: How are we to understand the abiding influence and popularity of these films? What meaning do viewers find in them?

Not only will students come away from the course with a deep understanding of the Star Wars films, but the course also aims to provide a working knowledge of theoretical tools used in humanities disciplines. 

day 4 - Art, Community and the Border

DePauw art students are in Texas, where those considering a career in the visual arts are getting practical, tangible and professional experience.

Students taking the Art, Community and the Border winter term class will create an art exhibition, explore the plains of west Texas, camp under the stars, discuss their art with professional visiting artists, visit museums and experience an art residency,” says John Berry, assistant professor of art and art history. “Our art-making, readings, critiques and discussions will examine Minimalism, border politics and the individual and communal purposes of the visual arts.”

Over the three-week excursion, students will visit the world-renowned Chinati and Judd foundations in Marfa, Texas, and stay at 100W, a residency program in Corsicana that was cofounded by Travis LaMothe ’10, who studied studio art at DePauw.

“We will be making art together, culminating in a group exhibition in a neighboring space,” Berry says. “This means the class provides two distinctive professional benefits to students: experience with an art residency program and a group exhibition – both important elements for an artist's resume.”

day 3 - winter term in service: El salvador

Doug Harms tells his students upfront: Don’t apply for his winter-term-in-service course in El Salvador if you’re a picky eater or a nonstop cell phone user who is easily offended.

And don’t apply if you merely want to work on a project.

Apply, he tells them, if you want to wrestle with and reflect on important issues, learn about service (the good, the bad and the ugly, he says) and advance your understanding of the relationship between the United States and Latin American countries.

With those caveats in mind, 14 DePauw students are spending the three weeks of winter term in El Salvador, living with local families, eating food prepared by locals and toiling most of every day to expand a primitive community center in Ichanqueso, a community of about 500 people northeast of San Salvador, the country’s capital. They are accompanied by Harms, a computer science professor, and co-leader Tavia Pigg, assistant director of the Science Research Fellows Program.

The students, whose first taste of El Salvador – literally – was a pupusa, a traditional Salvadoran dish, spent the first two days of the trip learning about Salvadoran history and culture and visiting sites related to St. Óscar Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop assassinated in 1980 and canonized in October.

Students who take the course must sign a “confirmation of understanding” about their visit, which says in part that they understand they are learners, not tourists, saviors, experts or critics. “Cultural humility,” the document says, “is prerequisite for a successful cross-cultural experience.”

day 2 - The Flourishing Life: How to live a meaningful, accomplished, joyful life

What gives life meaning and purpose? How does one move beyond surviving to flourishing?

Doug Smith ’68 developed his winter term course, The Flourishing Life, to encourage students to seek answers to those questions and thereby fulfill DePauw's mission to develop leaders the world needs.

The course challenges students to answer the question: What does it mean to be a successful human being? Required texts include “What Happy People Know” by Dan Baker, who has devoted his life to teaching people how to be happy, and “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

Students will learn skills such as gratitude and flexibility, how to avoid traps and have greater resilience or grit in the face of setbacks in order to live with joy in the present and flourish.

Day 1 - Campanology

Students don’t need musical experience to take computer science professor Brian Howard’s campanology course. Whether they’re accomplished musicians or neophytes, students who take the three-week course in bell ringing will be ready to perform Jan. 24 at an English handbell concert in Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.

Campanology is the art or practice of bell ringing. And during the winter term course, students will not only learn how to play English handbells, they also will learn about the history and practice of bell ringing.

Bells have been used for music and communication since ancient times, and part of the course will be devoted to reading and discussing bell-related literature, including Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Bells” and Dorothy L. Sayers’ “The Nine Tailors.”

Students will examine the physics of bells and their unique harmonics, as well as mathematical patterns in the ringing of bells.

Field trips to bell towers near Greencastle to experience carillon music and change-ringing are scheduled. Presentations on an aspect of the history of bells are required, and students will be evaluated on their contribution to class discussions, rehearsals and the final performance.

Howard says the culminating concert is noteworthy. “The concert we give on the last day, where 11 students who have generally never rung handbells before – and in some cases never read music before –will be about a half an hour of music performance.”

  • Share
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Email