Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-01-12

Samford University students who are enrolled in January Term classes have access to a  variety of topics not offered during the traditional fall and spring semesters. About 1,000 of Samford’s undergraduate students are spending the three-week term studying dozens of topics that run the gamut from standard-issue, required courses to out-of-the box electives.


While a sports marketing class explores various aspects of the multi-million dollar industry, an art class is learning to use letterpress printmaking processes.

In another course, students use a Christian perspective and social entrepreneurial understanding to consider the myths, beliefs and facts related to poverty in Birmingham. The 15 students in the business and local poverty management course hear daily from speakers who serve the poor as a career or ministry, or who represent agencies such as the Alabama Poverty Project.

Hopefully, says course instructor Barbara Cartledge, the students “will be able to discover their interest and vocation as an outcome” of the class.

Field trips are being taken to area non-profit arenas that serve the poor. Required reading includes Robert Lupton’s Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor, and Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s Same Kind of Different As Me. 

The 25 sports marketing students also have reading assignments and an off-campus travel agenda.

The Wall Street Journal is a source for daily discussion of current events that connect sports and business, says course instructor Dr. Darin White. Recent topics have included whether or not University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is worth his salary, and the impact of the firing of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

The field trip schedule includes visits to Talladega Super Speedway, Birmingham Barons baseball offices and University of Alabama football facilities and Paul Bryant Museum. Guest speakers include marketing directors and executives representing a variety of sports-related enterprises.

About 90 percent of the class members are athletes, with almost equal distribution between business and exercise science majors, says White, a marketing professor who once coached a Union University men’s soccer team to a national championship.

A major class project involves creating a promotional campaign to increase attendance at three Samford home basketball games by 20 percent over usual attendance in January, when most Samford students are still at home awaiting spring semester classes.

The letterpress class members are creating cards, posters and books using the centuries-old method taught by graphic design faculty member Dr. Scott  Fisk.

There is a renewed interest by graphic designers in the process, says Fisk. “Due to its tactile and hand printed quality, many artists are revisiting and utilizing letter press printmaking,” he said, adding that each print produced by letterpress printing varies slightly, making each design and print unique and special.

“Most designers feel that too much time is spent creating behind a computer screen,” says Fisk, who travels the state to speak about the art through a National Endowment of Humanities grant.

“Letterpress printing is a great way to be creative and design in a more traditional way.”

A class of University Fellows meets three times a week for roundtable discussions on local, national and international issues. Led by University Fellows program director Dr. Chris Metress, topics include the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, the Alabama Constitution, and the Manhattan Declaration document that identifies pressing concerns facing Christians today. The final discussion theme on January 20 is “Whither Burma (Myanmar) in 2010?: From Bullets to Ballots.”

While most January Term courses are based on campus, many Samford students are exploring the world in a variety of international travel study opportunities this month.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.