A Faculty Guide to January IEX Semester at Gustavus Adolphus College


Gustavus is one of a small number of liberal arts colleges that has an interim January term. During January Interim Experience (IEX), students enroll in one course, which may take the form of an on campus course, a career exploration, a study away course, or a course offered by any approved college also offering interim coursework. The primary focus of this guide is on-campus courses.

The mission of IEX, course approval process for IEX courses, and policies related to IEX are listed in Appendix C of the Faculty Handbook (a.k.a., Yellow Pages), available online. This guide is not intended to replace information contained in the Faculty Handbook, which remains the official record of policies related to the academic program. Rather it is offered as a supplement to the Handbook, providing an informal and logistical orientation to the January Interim Experience for faculty, particularly first time IEX instructors.

The Mission of the January Interim Experience (IEX)

The mission statement of the January Interim Experience provides a statement of the intended purpose of this element of our academic program:

The mission of the Interim Experience (IEX) is to provide ways for faculty and students to take advantage of the January interim’s unique qualities in developing courses and other learning opportunities that enrich and expand upon (but generally do not duplicate) the College’s regular semester curricular offerings. The institutional mission of the College calls for balancing educational tradition with innovation; study within a general framework that is interdisciplinary and international in perspective; and preparation of students to lead lives of leadership and service. The goals of the IEX are consistent with this larger institutional mission. IEX will provide for experiential learning both on campus and off campus through:

  1. International and domestic study away courses
  2. Career exploration and vocational reflection
  3. Courses that are experimental and/or interdisciplinary
  4. Independent studies and student/faculty collaborative research and creativity
  5. Institutional exchanges with other 4-1-4 colleges
  6. Special opportunities for first-year students to continue their transition to college life and the greater expectations placed on adult learners.

Parsing the mission statement: January IEX courses should offer faculty and students opportunities that take advantage of the unique qualities of an interim term. These include the opportunity to engage in an immersive experience and to engage in experiential learning (see below for further details).

Course Criteria for IEX Courses

The first two criteria for IEX course approval listed in the Faculty Handbook offer further indications of the intent for IEX courses:

  1. Approved IEX courses will engage students in ways that specifically capitalize on the unique opportunities provided by the one-month interim schedule. The course proposal will describe activities that can be better accomplished when students have the opportunity to travel or to spend extended periods of time in the laboratory, the studio, the library, or in other places conducive to discovery and creativity.
  2. Approved IEX courses will engage students (alone or collaboratively) in experiential learning activities. Examples include:
    1. Hands-on classroom activities (active learning)
    2. Laboratory or field research
    3. Library scholarship
    4. Creative / performance projects
    5. Composition
    6. Service-Learning / Community Service
    7. Debates and other presentations
    8. Day trips and speaker visits.
    9. Retreats
    10. Travel (domestic and international)
    11. Career Exploration
    12. Leadership development

The course proposal forms (https://gustavus.edu/committees/curriculum/index.php) for new and repeat on-campus IEX courses ask the instructor to describe the goals and objectives of the proposed course and how they reflect the mission of the IEX program, as well as to identify how the course structure, content, and/or learning goals are uniquely suited to the IEX term.

Sample Course Proposals: BIO-205 - January 2016 and COM-107 - January 2017

Parsing the course approval criteria: the nature of the IEX program is expressed in terms of both what it is and what it is not. Courses should capitalize on the unique opportunities offered by the immersive nature of a term in which faculty and students can focus on a single course. Thus the course proposal form requires courses to meet five days a week for a minimum of 10 hours, and to assign a course workload that totals at least 40 hours per week, including class time. IEX courses should engage students in experiential learning. IEX courses should not duplicate the course offerings of the regular semester nor use learning activities better suited to a regular semester course (i.e., an interim IEX course should not be primarily a lecture course, but engage students in experiential learning activities).

Practical Information Related to IEX Courses

Course proposal forms and submission deadlines for new and repeat IEX courses can be found at https://gustavus.edu/committees/curriculum/index.php.

IEX courses must meet 5 days a week for a total of 10 hours or more of formal instruction. Instructors can choose the class meeting time(s), but must avoid scheduling class during daily Sabbath (10:00-10:20 a.m.) and the common meeting time (Friday, 2:30-4:30pm).

Funding to support IEX courses (e.g., for van rental for field trips) may be available through academic departments and/or through the Office of the Provost. See the Department Chairs Handbook (section 4:7) for full details: https://gustavus.edu/provost/deptchairs/section4.php#January.

Application for funds (up to $250) from the Office of the Provost should be included in the IEX course proposal. Instructors may also charge a course fee.

Any travel that is part of an on-campus IEX course requires the trip leader (in this case the faculty member) to submit a trip itinerary and master contact travel form prior to the trip. For details and link to form, see the Provost Office website at: https://gustavus.edu/provost/.

Faculty interested in leading a domestic or international January IEX study away course can find out about relevant policies, proposal deadlines and study-away specific learning outcomes at: https://gustavus.edu/cice/facultyinfo/iex.php

For details of January Career Exploration, see: https://gustavus.edu/jterm/contents/career/.