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J-Term at Carthage

J is For…

What does the ‘J’ in J-Term stand for? Pretty much anything you want. Whatever you choose, don’t limit your imagination.


Look out, world. Carthage is coming.

Every J-Term, Carthage students spread out across the globe on study tours led by faculty. In fact, our J-Term study tours have earned Carthage the No. 6 spot in the country among baccalaureate institutions for student participation in study abroad. Students have traveled to places like Guatemala, Ghana, Taiwan, India, Paris, Cuba, Italy, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Ireland, and more.

These study tours are more than just fun in the sun (or snow, as the case may be). These destinations are classrooms where Carthage groups study firsthand the roots of the African slave trade; take video footage for a tourism program; perform an original play written by an international playwright; and provide medical care and water quality improvements to rural residents.

Read more about J-Term study tours


Jaw Dropping Views

With sunsets, sunrises, expansive views, classical architecture, fascinating people, and other local color, J-Term provides plenty of incredible photo opportunities. Get a glimpse at the ways Carthage students expand their views by perusing photo galleries from recent study tours and on-campus classes. Photos are shared by students, professors, and our own staff photographers.

See J-Term photos on Carthage’s Flickr page 



J-Term can be jarring — in a good way, that is. Here’s a look at how students get out of their comfort zone during J-Term:

“I’m taking Introduction to Acting, and it has been a wonderful experience. … I feel like it’s helping me get over my fear of talking in front of people.”— Rachel Casey ’16

“I’m taking Business Ethics, and it has really made me think of the business world in a different light.” — Ryan McGuire ’16

“I’m taking Consumer Health Issues, and we have to do an examination of our eating and exercise habits.” — Kelly Baumgartner ’15



J-Term is an opportunity for more than 120 student organizations to gear up for spring term. Watch Carthage students in the video above speak about the groups that hold their interest. Then visit our clubs and orgs page to learn more about any of the student organizations that intrigue you. Finally, look out for the Spring Org Fair, held every February in the Todd Wehr Center.


Just Dance

J-Term isn’t just studying and traveling. During J-Term 2013, a student video team took a camera around campus, catching students, faculty, and staff off guard for this fun compilation.



Just “J”

Photo by Johanna Heidorn '12.Photo by Johanna Heidorn '12.

Drifting toward antique status, the manual typewriter earned a reprieve during J-Term 2013. Clicking sounds could be heard down a few hallways, as students in Richard Meier’s Creative Writing Studio, typed on these clickety dinosaurs. Other students chose to hand-write their pieces, following the no-technology policy in the classroom.

Students spent the vast majority of each period working on their projects. They’re encouraged to shift back and forth from writing to doing something repetitive involving their hands, such as knitting or drawing. Prof. Meier carves driftwood.

Raised on word processors, the students have been interested to learn how to load paper and operate the carriage return.

“Typing seems very magical and mysterious, like a computer would’ve been 25 years ago,” said Prof. Meier, Carthage’s Writer in Residence.



Students in the Life After Carthage class participated in mock interviews at Jockey International on Monday, Jan. 28. Photo by Johanna Heidorn '12.Students in the Life After Carthage class participated in mock interviews at Jockey International on Monday, Jan. 28. Photo by Johanna Heidorn '12.

Some Carthage upperclassmen use J-Term to help them land their first jobs. Juniors and seniors in the Life After Carthage J-Term course learn valuable tips to help them make a smooth transition from Carthage to the work force.

“We do more than tell students how make a resume that’ll appeal to prospective employers,” said Jason Pruitt, associate director of Career Services, who teaches the class. “We teach them how to evaluate themselves alongside their competition, as well as things that could be overlooked like how to manage student loan repayments and what employers look at on social media.”

At the end of the class, students get to showcase what they learned at the Life After Carthage Career Fair. 



It’s easy to forget that not everyone gets to experience J-Term. So we asked Carthage students how their friends back home or at other colleges react to the stories they tell about study tours and targeted classes during January. Here are a couple of their responses:

“J-Term might be my favorite thing about Carthage,” said Daniel Wetherald, a computer science major who graduated in May 2013. “When I tell my friends about it, they are definitely a little jealous.” During his last J-Term at Carthage, he traveled to Honduras and went scuba diving. “It was definitely the trip of a lifetime.”

“J-Term trips have given me the chance to experience the world while making new friends and experiencing new cultures,” said Nathan Moore, an accounting student who graduated in May 2013. “I have taken two trips so far, and they have definitely been the highlight of my time at Carthage. My friends at other schools keep asking me how I get to keep traveling to all of these marvelous destinations.”



Students are shown preparing to depart for Honduras, one of several 2013 J-Term study tour destinations. Photo courtesy of Professor Daniel Miller.Students are shown preparing to depart for Honduras, one of several 2013 J-Term study tour destinations. Photo courtesy of Professor Daniel Miller.Feel free to paint the globe Carthage red.

By our calculations, students will have covered more than 101,000 miles by air, sea, and land before J-Term glides in for a final landing.
And that only includes the study tours. The total inches even higher when professors with on-campus classes take their students on day trips to Frank Lloyd Wright sites in nearby Racine, Wis., a windmill farm near Madison, the outdoorsy Bong State Recreation Area, and other destinations.

Hey, it’s cold, but nobody has to hibernate.





Carthage students are cleared for takeoff on runway J.

Not only do students in Professor Walter Smith’s Introduction to Aviation course get to learn the basics of flight, they also can take their Federal Aviation Administration ground school exam. That’s the first step in getting a pilot’s license.

The class features field trips to flight museums, flight schools, and the control tower at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, but perhaps the most interesting day during the course happens right here at Carthage.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the class is that we’ll have a Tuskegee Airman come in and speak to the class,” Prof. Smith said. “Having students be able to hear not only about his flight experiences, but about dealing with segregation is something I think is invaluable.”



During the London leg of their sportswriting study tour, Carthage students spent time at the Chelsea Football Club's home stadium. Photo courtesy of Evan Polito '15.During the London leg of their sportswriting study tour, Carthage students spent time at the Chelsea Football Club's home stadium. Photo courtesy of Evan Polito '15.

You know that sport with bicycle kicks, goalies, and David Beckham? Don’t call it soccer. During a J-Term study tour titled Sports Journalism: European Football, that’ll draw a yellow card.

Communication and digital media professor Jonathan Bruning has led the sportswriting trek through Europe for four times, as of J-Term 2014. In 2013, the group added a new destination, Munich, where they saw a match.

The tour also includes stays in London and Barcelona. Students attend three (and probably more) matches, but not as rowdy fans. They’re objective journalists, required to write previews and recaps of the football matches, along with feature stories. Along the way, they’ll sneak in some European sights.


Silent ‘J’

Photo by Abigail Smallwood '15.Photo by Abigail Smallwood '15.

Imagine 24 hours of continuous silence — no talking, no texting. To plenty of people in our ultraconnected society, that would be an ugly existence.

In a unique J-Term class, though, the absence of chatter allowed students to focus on the beauty around them. Titled Beauty Will Save the World explores the historical, aesthetic, moral, and spiritual aspects of beauty. This Carthage Symposium, led by professors Stephanie Mitchell and Susanne Sklar, is based on the famous quote by author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Students participated in a spiritual retreat at the DeKoven Center in nearby Racine, Wis. Students called the exercise “interesting” and “eye-opening.”


John Wayne

Growing up watching Western movies gives Americans one view of the Wild West. Professor Daniel Magurshak is determined to give Carthage students a more authentic view.

To illustrate that contrast, he screens several movies — most older, some recent — for students in the J-Term class American West: Myth, Film Reality. That means they’ll see plenty of the most famous screen cowboy in history: John Wayne.

For a less Hollywood treatment of frontier life from 1840 to 1890, Prof. Magurshak provides the history. Class discussions follow each film, and he expects students to become more attuned to the way movies are made and how they fed into the Western myth.



Ready for a little wager? OK. Bet you’ll learn something from Professor William Miller, who teaches a J-Term class titled Strategic Interaction: Gambling in Popular Film and Books.

“We look at the social psychology of gambling, how gamblers try to influence one another’s decision-making in ways that lead to an advantageous outcome for themselves,” said Prof. Miller, who teaches sociology and criminal justice and has studied gambling extensively. Students watch popular films involving different types of gambling and analyze the characters’ social and psychological techniques.

Like card tricks? Check out this video for a demonstration of those techniques by Prof. Miller, who has done enough gaming to have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Read a story about the class from the 2012 J-Term


Je t’aime

Carthage students in Paris pose in front of a bookstore with a familiar name. Photo courtesy of Diane Hahn '14.Carthage students in Paris pose in front of a bookstore with a familiar name. Photo courtesy of Diane Hahn '14.

For the non-French speakers, Je t’aime translates to “I love you.” It’s very possible that Carthage students will be spouting that phrase about Paris when they return to the U.S.

Pascal Rollet, a professor of modern languages, and Clémence Brion, a Target Language Expert from France, led a 17-day study tour to France’s capital. Prof. Rollet’s specialties include modern French culture, so students will receive an insider’s perspective on the City of Light.

Their students are learning about French people by observing and interacting with them. The itinerary features daily, guided visits to points of interest to boost their knowledge of history, architecture, and the arts.

Read about Prof. Rollet’s use of music in teaching



Law is considered cold, remote, and unemotional, and justice is supposed to be blind. But Carthage professors Seemee Ali and Paul Kirkland are opening students’ eyes to the raw and emotional aspects of law in their J-Term class, The Tragedy of Law and the Law of Tragedy.

“Tragedy is a word that sometimes feels hollowed out when we think of its overuse in mass media,” said Prof. Ali, chair of the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies. “This course focuses on tragedy as an art form, an art form that is particular to a democratic society.”

Art serves as a reflection of society, and students in the class examine how writers like Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Nietzsche portrayed the conflict that arises when the chaotic nature of society meets the unbending nature of law.



No, they aren’t bound for the seaside community of Amity depicted in the classic thriller, but students visiting Honduras have a chance to see sharks up close.
Professors Daniel Miller and Scott Hegrenes lead the Biodiversity, Brains, and Behavior study tour. The students spend much of the tour scuba diving off Roatan island, examining how the nervous system evolves across a variety of species. Before returning, they usually participate in a popular shark dive.
The course has also included a two-day visit to the Pico Bonito cloud forest, where students observe terrestrial biodiversity, and an expedition to the Mayan ruins in Copan.
See story and photos from the 2012 J-Term study tour to Honduras



Photo by Gonzalo AndrésMaybe Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones “can’t get no satisfaction,” but Carthage students taking the History of Rock course during J-Term can.

“The ultimate goal is to have students realize why they like a certain song,” said Rachel Tollett, adjunct professor of music.

Rock music often is described as the place where structure and chaos coexist, and the course is no different. For part of the week, students learn a chronological history of the genre; then, in the other part of the week, they can bring in a song and the class will deconstruct it as a case study. The analysis can stretch beyond the usual suspects like John Lennon and Kurt Cobain.

“A student once brought in a hip-hop song and thought it had no place in the history of rock,” Prof. Tollett said. “We went through and unraveled aspects of ’70s folk and other periods and traced the history of the song. It’s kind of like a medical examination in how you can see how different parts comprise the whole.”



Students can participate in an annual summer paleontology dig in Montana.Students can participate in an annual summer paleontology dig in Montana.Students can participate in an annual summer paleontology dig in Montana.

For Carthage students who aren’t able to travel in January, summer offers a second chance. Additional study tours are offered in June. Recent June J-Term tours include a study tour to Turkey, Ukraine, and possibly other nations along the Black Sea rim to study their political and economic systems.

Other June destinations are India, Israel, Namibia, Poland, and Spain. Closer to home, dinosaur hunters can dig in Montana. Many of these classes have space remaining, so interested students should contact the professors soon.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …