Lying, Wine, Dogs and Dance—Jan Term Off the Grid

Whether it’s a little white lie or a big whopper, we’ve all stretched the truth a time or two. But a new Jan Term offering looks at lying as a fascinating part of human communication. 

“Lying can be very funny,” says instructor Rob Weiner in his syllabus. “Most comedy involves some kind of deception—but it can also be quite painful.” 

Lying 101 is just one of the eclectic offerings for Jan Term 2014 at Saint Mary’s College. The cacao bean’s journey from drink, to candy, to the beauty industry is another class getting lip service.  Filomena Borges and her students will explore everything from the history of chocolate to cacao’s role in the $35 billion cosmetic industry. The hands-on portion has the class making lip balm and moisturizer and even pecan caramel turtles.

Canine lovers will be learning about man’s best friend from Patrizia Longo. She’ll step out of the Politics Department to teach Survival of the friendliest: Dogs’ evolution, behavior and interaction with people. 

Among the 15 or so travel courses is Aaron Sachs’ trip to Nicaragua, where his students will study the impact and ethics of climate change. They’ll visit with cacao growers in the north and meet with government, corporate and non-profit leaders in Managua. The course also includes a service project and an element of fun at the end. “We end up on the beach for a couple of days, hanging out and de-briefing and doing some relaxing and surfing and boogie boarding,” says Sachs.

Wine, women and song are all celebrated with Jan Term courses ranging from Alexander J. Pandell’s Wine: From A to Zin to Marshall Welch’s class The Metamorphosis of U2: Musically, Spiritually and Politically.  

Both courses could partner with a Jan Term dance class called If you ain’t got that Swing, taught by Patrick Doyle and Jane Corey. The class is for singles and couples, but, as in life, students must be willing to lead, as well as follow. 

The mission of Jan Term is to offer unique courses outside students’ usual realms of inquiry. These off-the-grid classes fit the bill, mixing learning with fun and personal transformation.

See a video of last year's Jan Term swing class.