Academics

Johnston Center Courses

Entrance to Bekins Hall

A "pure" Johnston Center course may be specially created for (and often by) Johnston students. It does not appear in the University catalog. It is a contracted course that must be taken for narrative evaluation. They are generally small and operate in a "seminar" or "tutorial" style. Most important, students assume a major share of the responsibility for the class's success.

Johnston courses come into being through a process of negotiated "curriculum building." Courses are envisioned constantly in Johnston, as students and facility discuss their ideas. We focus these energies twice a semester in curriculum brainstorming sessions when students and faculty meet and collectively plan courses for the upcoming semesters. If you are interested in a particular topic and/or a professor to teach a Johnston course, the chances of the course happening will depend on your lobbying and entrepreneurial skills.

For example, let's say you are interested in having a seminar - not an independent study - on Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts. No such course is listed in the University catalog. First, find out if other students are interested in this topic. Second, figure out which facility might have expertise on this topic. In this case, Bill Huntley, Professor of Religion, is a logical person. Third, when you have enlisted several other students in your cause, contact Bill individually or en masse. Clearly, the more students who want the course, the more clout you will have with Bill, and the more "willing he will be to negotiate a course contract with your group. Fourth, contact the Director of the Johnston Center, who will not only discuss the course with Bill, but more importantly, will arrange with the University's academic administration to make the course part of his teaching load. It may take at least a semester for such negotiations to materialize, so planning ahead is the key to your success in creating "pure" Johnston courses. In the absence of student pressure, some faculty offer Johnston Center courses each semester that usually have wide student appeal.

"I have my own business-we (my partner and I) provide strategic marketing and international business consulting. Three areas of the Johnston process stand out for me: learning how to learn, cross cultural communications and the blurring of lines between student and teacher. What I currently do is mostly self-taught. That is, during college there was no way for me to “learn" everything I needed to know, and at Johnston, I really learned how to learn. Much of our work, particularly graphic design/web design is with computers and software that was barely conceivable when I graduated. My foundation for marketing work is public relations, which again, I learned by doing, and by learning from others who were willing to teach me. The concept that you need to get everything in college in a degree—that someone else needs to say you "know it" is an interesting notion that is not very practical. It took me a long time to realize this, as I was always feeling that "I didn't know" in my first career in public relations. After a few years in the PR business, I took an exam for professional accreditation, and as I read the textbook, I realized I did in fact "know it," and that I knew more than the textbook on how to consult clients successfully in their relations with the media and the public. While I was waiting for someone to validate what I knew, I was doing it."  Judy Smith, JC class of 1976

Student taught courses

Occasionally, students develop a great idea for a course they would like to facilitate on their own, or with a few other students. A faculty member sponsors this learning contract-like all others. It's essential to use an individualized study with the faculty member to plan a course one semester prior to its offering. You also want to see the Director for the "student taught courses" file. It contains advice, samples, and a video prepared by students who have gone before you. Be sure to clearly define the role of sponsoring faculty, since it can vary from co-teaching responsibilities to supervisory discussions.

"I don't know of any alternative educational program that would give me the opportunity to propose, design, and facilitate my own course: Minority Communities in Southern California. Working with John Lujan, the Assistant to the President for Diversity Programs, I could learn outside the sphere of traditional pedagogy. This is everything that 1 could want out of education: not only having the chance to sculpt my learning in ways beyond the traditional, but having faculty willing to take that risk with me." T.J. Stutman, JC class of 2000


Do you know the Och Tamale?
bulldog athletics logo

The non-sensical Och Tamale chant was originally titled the "Psalm of Collegiate Thanksgiving."

More »