New, Returning Students Offered Free Virtual Summer Courses

Dominican is offering a series of free virtual courses this summer designed to welcome new students to the University while supporting returning students’ progress toward graduation.

The courses reflect instructors’ expertise and interests – from examining the origins of COVID-19, to developing a radio show, to studying Hollywood blockbusters through the lens of understanding the connection between aesthetics, capital, and politics.

Building community and making sure students feel connected and supported are goals of the new virtual summer term, says Dr. Mojgan Behmand, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of the Dominican Experience. Students enrolling in the virtual summer term, which runs July 13-Aug. 6, can earn up to two units without being charged tuition or a campus fee.

“We wanted to do something for our students in recognition of today’s unprecedented times and to acknowledge the financial hardships caused by this pandemic,” Behmand says. “This has been a hard time for many of our students, and we want to help them either earn some credits that will aid their progress toward graduation or gain a head start on their first year while getting to know faculty and each other before our fall semester begins.”

Virtual summer term courses are offered by faculty in Dominican’s three schools: The Barowsky School of Business, the School of Liberal Arts and Education, and the School of Health and Natural Sciences. Two courses – “Mastering College” and “Life Skills” – will be led by staff mentors (“Integrative Coaches”) who work with students to help them adapt to college and new learning environments.

The detailed course descriptions on the Dominican website include the online platforms utilized in the course. To be eligible for the special summer term, all students must be registered for Fall 2020.

Some courses are specifically for new first-year students, including one of the two Excel classes led by Dr. Yung-Jae Lee, Dean of the Barowsky School of Business.

“We wanted to include courses that will provide our new students an opportunity to get to know each other and to get a taste for life at Dominican,” Behmand said. “This is an excellent opportunity for new students to engage with faculty - not many incoming freshmen can say they have attended a course led by the dean of their business school.”

Some courses were designed with returning students in mind, with the goal of enabling students to earn units if their work was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the spring semester. Returning Honors Program students can earn one unit toward their global learning requirement by enrolling in “Murals & Street Art: Global & Local.” The course, led by Honors Program Director Lynn Sondag examines public art in Buenos Aires, Paris, Tokyo, and New York; as well as street art in San Francisco and San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood.

 “We recognize that it could be difficult for our students to study overseas, so we have created a way for them to make progress toward their global learning requirement through this unique course,” Behmand says.

Other courses best suited for returning students – as well as new students comfortable working independently – include the psychological, social, neurobiological and evolutionary explanations of murder by Dr. Afshin Gharib and a study of the museums of the world by art historian Dr. Leslie Ross.
Courses open to all students – including Adult Degree Completion students – include an introduction to acting led by Dr. Perry Guevara; an examination of how cartoon characters were central to censorship and propaganda efforts in World War II led by Dr. Jordan Lieser; and lessons in how social media memes, graphics, and images are used as tools to activate and inspire by Steven Polacco.

Public health professors Dr. Brett Bayles and Dr. Patti Culross will examine the origins, spread, and response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Bayles recently talked to San Francisco/Oakland station KTVU Channel 2 about his work with Dominican’s undergraduates.

“Our faculty and our staff quickly and enthusiastically rose to the challenge and created 20 engaging courses,” Behmand says. “I had originally thought we would have five courses at the most, but everyone wanted to participate. We've all really missed being with students.”

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