Skip to main content

J-Term at Carthage

National Ranking

Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for student participation in short-term study abroad

Every January since 1973, Carthage students have left wintry Wisconsin to explore new corners of the world. 

“J-Term is one of the most amazing things about Carthage.”

They head to Sweden to study international business and marketing, meeting with top executives at major companies like Volvo Cars, Saab Aerospace, and ABB Robotics.

They head to Rome to study the myth and politics in Shakespeare’s Roman plays. They study art in Senegal; rural development practices in Guatemala; the neurobiology of marine invertebrates by scuba diving off Roatan Island in Honduras.

In India, students examine the benefits and problems that arise from the country’s religious pluralism. In Turkey, they spend weeks exploring the remains of Greco-Roman cities and sanctuaries.

Every year, new destinations are added. HawaiiMore than 400 Carthage students traveled with faculty to 21 countries as part of the College’s January Term 2018.  

“J-Term study tours have become part of the culture of the College,” said David Steege, senior associate provost.  

This culture has earned Carthage a place in the Top 5 among baccalaureate institutions for student participation in short-term study abroad. The Institute of International Education ranked Carthage No. 5 in the nation in its 2018 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange.

• • •

January Term is just one of the many areas in which Carthage excels, said Study Abroad Director Erik Kulke, assistant professor of modern languages. The program allows faculty and students to tackle subjects that don’t fit neatly into textbooks, explore topics normally outside their disciplines, and see first-hand the artwork, architecture, culture, and geography that they are studying.

“If you’re reading Shakespeare in the classroom, that’s one thing, but if you’re actually able to be in Rome and see where these different events took place, or if you’re taking an art history class in Italy and you’re actually seeing these works instead of looking at slides or a book, it makes a huge, huge difference,” Prof. Kulke said.

Every J-Term, Carthage professors offer between 15 and 25 study tours to such destinations as Nicaragua, China, Ireland, and Israel. In recent years, faculty have expanded their J-Term offerings into the summer months, offering study tours during June, July, and August.

There are also more than 90 courses offered on campus, in which students build telescopes, create museum exhibits, study forensic science, examine the biology of cancer, learn cartographic design, prepare for law school, and more. Students must complete at least two J-Term courses during their time at Carthage, although most students choose to participate in J-Term every year.

• • •

Whatever subject students choose, whether on campus or off, Carthage’s J-Term has a history of solidifying career plans, awakening new interests, and changing lives, students and faculty say. The study tours play an enormous role in that.

“J-Term is one of the most amazing things about Carthage,” said Carthage alumna Breannin Beelow ’13. “When I was a freshman, there was a music study tour to Namibia, Africa. It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”

“I went with a group of students and two professors to the island of Ometepe, Nicaragua, where we worked in rural medical clinics,” recalled Carthage alumnus Alex Nelson ’14, who double-majored in biology and music. “The hands-on experience from the clinics is something most pre-med students do not get until they are in medical school. … I will always remember and truly cherish the interaction we had with the people of Nicaragua and the new friends we made.”

• • •

“It’s really thrilling to show students the world. You see dimensions of your students you might never see in a regular classroom.”

“J-Term study tours offer students a short-term study abroad experience that they couldn’t get by simply going on a trip,” said Prof. Steege. “These are academic courses and they offer insights into an area’s culture, geography, and experiences that people would never get on an ordinary trip.” It’s four credits of intense academic work, and students are on site doing oral presentations and research.

Most study tours are led by multiple professors. “You’re getting two different faculty members with two different perspectives so students get a much richer experience,” Prof. Steege continued. “Students are going to Africa and talking to the minister of finance. They’re going to Sweden and seeing how major car companies actually work.”

Professors Seemee Ali and Michael McShane have teamed up to teach Shakespeare in Rome during J-Term. Students read three of Shakespeare’s most famous Roman plays before spending two weeks in Rome visiting locations relevant to Shakespeare’s work.

“J-Term broadens their horizons in a very liberal way,” Prof. Ali said. “Because we were reading Shakespeare, which was very familiar to them, my students could feel at home in Rome. By the time they left, they really knew the city well. They gained a kind of authority in the city and became fearless travelers in the best way.

“It’s really thrilling to show students the world,” she continued, “and you see dimensions of your students you might never see in a regular classroom.”

J-Term Gallery Wind Orchestra Japan 2014

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • 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.

    • More than 90% 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. More than 90% 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. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing 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 more than 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 students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. 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,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition. 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 Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. 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.

    • 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 …