Short courses?

Greetings from (mostly sunny) Champaign-Urbana, where I’m spending the week, teaching a short course on Federalism and the Making of American Corporate Law at the University of Illinois. Under the law school’s short-course program, the brainchild of Ralph Brubaker, my former colleague at Emory and now Associate Dean here at Illinois, anywhere from five to ten professors, judges, and attorneys come to campus each term, to teach a week-long, one-credit course.

I’m told the students generally love the short courses. My own data – consisting of the (fairly high, I think) enrollment of 27 students in the class, and good participation in the first class (yesterday) – would seem to confirm as much. For the visitors, meanwhile, it can be an occasion to try something new, or at least different, and to spend time with academic colleagues they might otherwise only see in passing, in the hallways at AALS. For Illinois, finally, it’s an opportunity to spread good impressions and good will among legal academics, on the bench, and with the bar. (As Charles Tabb – who’s serving as Interim Dean – put it, it’s a great way “to make new friends.”)

At Emory, we have “accelerated courses,” but of a different sort. Visitors, most commonly hailing from overseas, come for four to seven weeks to teach a class or two. Again, students like it, etc. Obviously, though, the longer format engages a completely different set of potential visitors.

Do other schools do anything similar to Illinois? If not, it’s something I suspect might be well-worth considering.

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3 Responses

  1. Geoff says:

    Here at Toledo, we offer short courses under the “Flex course” category of offering. They are typically one credit courses that meet either for a week or two (usually in the “gap” between exams and the start of a new term) or once a week over several weeks. However, the flexibility allows offering even a three-day course on a Friday, Saturday & Sunday (which meets most of the day).

    In addition to the benefits you’ve identified, this kind of course also offers schools like ours — with a small faculty with extensive “bar course” teaching responsibilites — the chance to offer “seminar”-like courses that, for teaching load reasons, would be hard to offer on a semester-long basis. We also use the flex courses to keep emeriti who we can’t convince to come back to the midwest for a whole term to share their wisdom for at least a short time.

  2. Bruce Boyden says:

    Bob, it sounds intriguing, but how does the short class work schedule-wise — do you meet 14 hours in one week?

  3. Robert Ahdieh says:

    We do. Basically, once a day (for a hour and twenty minutes) from Monday to Saturday, and an additional long, evening session on Thursday night.