UI to launch seminar for increasing cultural awareness in 2013


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In an attempt to both enrich the lives of University of Iowa students and raise cultural awareness, UI officials will be launching a new first-year seminar for the Spring 2013 semester.

The seminar, dubbed “Passport Project: Exploring Knowledge,” will engage students by requiring them to attend 12 cultural events offered by the UI. Students can choose from events such as art workshops, dance recitals, political forums, as well as others.

Patrick Reed, academic coordinator for the seminar, said students will be exposed to different cultures, themes, and events that they may not have previously been aware of.

“[The project] aims to introduce them to the wide variety of high quality cultural and scholarly activity happening at the University and in Iowa City,” he said. “It also aims to assist students in exploring other areas of potential or even unexpected interest that are outside their given realms of study.”

Jon Winet, director of the UI Virtual Writing University and supervisor for the Passport Project, said students for the inaugural semester will be very important in the development of the seminar.                 

“We’re going to deputize students to be researchers,” he said. “We want them to help shape the class.”

While the class is currently limited to Honors students, Winet said he hopes the class will become available for all students in the near future.

“When we’re able to fully implement the class, we’re hoping to have as many as 650 students in the course,” he said.

According to the ISIS website, there are currently three of 50 students enrolled in the course as of Tuesday evening.

John Logsdon, director of the Pentacrest Museums and supervisor for the seminar, cited a lack of attendance at cultural events as a recurring issue at the UI.

“We noticed that a lot of students don’t show up for these types of events,” he said. “By implementing this course, we’re trying to promote the enrichment opportunity that these events offer.”

The class will include small group discussions regarding the attended events, as well as multimedia reviews and reflections that students will complete during and after the events.

Reed stressed that while the seminar is a class, it offers unparalleled opportunities for students to become more involved with and aware of the different people and cultures that help shape the UI.

Logsdon said the core goal of the seminar is to broaden the perspectives of students and help encourage students to pursue lifelong learning opportunities.

“Part of the definition of university is universe,” he said.

Reed, Logsdon, and Winet all said they felt the seminar can serve a major purpose in the required coursework for UI students.

“It’d be great to have this be a part of the inherent curriculum,” Logsdon said.

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