Mini-terms are short, intense immersions in another culture accompanied by further study at Union. Engineering mini-terms normally have a series of seminars that are held the term before the foreign travel. These encompass cultural expectations, technical and social issues associated with the theme of the mini-term and pre-travel logistics. The time spent abroad is typically three weeks, and occurs during summer or intersession to avoid conflicts with regular classes. Mini-terms involve extensive touring around the host country to compliment the theme of the mini-term. The student group for a mini-term will ideally be half engineers and half liberal arts students. Interdisciplinary teams complete a comprehensive report on a topic related to the mini-term. Union has received several grants to help develop and run mini-terms. To date interdisciplinary (engineering & liberal arts) mini-terms have been conducted in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Scotland, France, and Spain. In 2007 a new mini-term was introduced in Egypt. Two of the mini-terms illustrate the diversity of themes that have been developed. In New Zealand, the mini-term studies the technology and economics of power generation, transmission, and retailing. New Zealand has a unique mix of hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, and both traditional and advanced thermal power production. They have also recently deregulated their electricity markets, similarly to what has been going on in the U.S. All of these factors, plus the fact that New Zealand is a beautiful country, make for a very successful mini-term. An equally successful, but altogether different mini-term was conducted in Southern Spain. Its theme was the technology and cultural issues that made Cordoba the cultural capital of Europe in 1000 AD. Visits to Roman ruins, antiquities museums, and archeological sites not yet open to the public provided a rich background for the students in their projects. In subsequent offerings, this mini-term has been modified to also include a project for GIS mapping of historic eras in Cordoba.
Mini-terms carry one course credit, and can be used towards fulfilling Linguistic and Cultural Competency credit. (A mini-term with pre-trip seminars will fulfill the Linguistic and Cultural Competency portion of CCC. Mini-terms without pre-trip seminars will require the student to take one additional L&CC course.) Your academic advisor can help you with what course you should take.
Students will be charged $3,500 for the cost of the mini-term. The $3,500 is in addition to their regular tuition. Students who are on financial aid may be eligible for a loan to pay for a mini-term. Those eligible should consult with the Financial Aid Office. The course is considered extra credit, and tuition is not deducted from the tuition for their last term at Union College. Students who are behind by a credit may use this credit to get caught up. Students who have enough credits may choose to take two courses, rather than three, in their last term as a senior; however, they must pay full tuition (as must any student registering for two courses). Note that last term seniors will not be allowed to register for only one course.
Current Interdisciplinary Mini-terms
There are also numerous non-engineering mini-terms offered through the International Programs Office. These occur both during the summer, and during the winter break. Watch for the advertisements to be placed around campus at the start of the winter and spring terms.