The 2015 Virginia Tech winter session, running Dec. 27, 2014, through Jan. 17, 2015, will offer a wide range of unique courses from filmmaking to greenhouse management. 

While enrollment remains open through the first day of winter session, students are encouraged to enroll now to ensure course preferences are met.

Students have the option of taking on-campus, virtual (100 percent online) and blended (a combination of online and on-campus) courses during winter session. Winter experience courses involving domestic and international travel are also available.

There are several first-time course offerings available during winter session. 

One new course offered through the Department of Communication is COMM 4984: PR Goes to the Movies: The Practitioner and Pop Culture. Students will travel to Orlando, Florida, with Assistant Professor Kelly McBride, where they will investigate the role of public relations in five films and discuss filmmaking with Universal Studio Florida employees.

According to McBride, the course was a good fit for the winter session timeframe.

“One week will be spent watching the movies with group discussion, and the second week, back in Virginia, students will focus a paper on one of the films, detailing what they thought the characters did correctly and what they might have done better,” McBride said.

While on this trip, students will have the opportunity to explore Orlando in their free time. This course is open to both majors and non-majors.

Another first-time offering is an online course on urban transport study called UAP 4984 Special Study: Walking, Cycling and Public Transportation for Sustainable Cities.

Ralph Buehler, associate professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning in the National Capital Region, will be teaching this course. Students will examine increased walking, cycling, and public transport could benefit the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of urban transport systems. By studying the history of U.S. urban transport, sustainable transport in the U.S. today and transport policy and planning, students will gain a better understanding of sustainable urban transport.

“There is no undergraduate course offered in Blacksburg that deals with the important subject of transport policy,” Buehler said. “This is an exciting time to study urban transport.”

This course will be taught online, so students can keep their usual holiday plans while still getting ahead on coursework.

A new course for graduate students and senior undergraduates is PAPA 5924: Realizing the Promise of Big Data in the Public Sphere, which will allow students to better gain an understanding of big data; what it can do for the public sector; and how they – as future leaders – can use it effectively. 

Offered in the National Capital Region, the course includes three online lectures; five seminar discussions; and a three-day summit from Thursday, Jan. 8 to Saturday, Jan. 10, in Washington, D.C. 

“This course makes a lot of sense for the winter session because students at the Blacksburg campus can spend time in the Washington, D.C., area gaining intensive exposure to one of the hottest issues in management and policy,” said Patrick Roberts, associate professor and director of the Center of Public Administration and Policy in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, located in Old Town Alexandria. “An added opportunity is to actually meet, in person, and learn from professionals working on data analytics.”

Another new course, MGT 4984 SS: Career Planning Strategy, will be taught in Blacksburg. This course in the Department of Management will help students get ahead in their job search by identifying career options and creating a plan to differentiate and market themselves. The course will give students a better understanding of recruiters, resumes, networking, internships, and interviewing. 

Barry O’Donnell, who serves as the instructor for the course, has worked as a vice president and human resources generalist with Bank of America and is currently associate director of the Pamplin MBA Program. He will share his knowledge on recruitment and career services to students.

“When asked if I might be interested in Pamplin's MBA career services role, I visualized sharing with students the view ‘from the other side of the desk’” O’Donnell said. “That's the basis for the career planning strategy course.”

O’Donnell describes this winter class as a “just-in-time” course that will prepare students for job and internship searches this spring.

The following courses highlight additional subjects being taught during winter session 2015:

  • PHS 1514: Personal Health, Online – This online course on personal health will be taught by Professor Kerry Redican in the Department of Population Health Sciences. The course focuses on giving students crucial health information that will help them address their current and future personal health needs. The class will emphasize wellness and health promotion.
  • ENGL 3774: Business Writing, Online – This writing course through the Department of English will be taught online by Serena Frost and Rebecca Morrison. The class is designed to help students in all curricula improve their writing in a business context. Students will practice persuasive and informative writing, including memos, case analyses, reports, abstracts and letters.
  • HORT 4324: Greenhouse Management, Online – Students interested in a career in greenhouse management can take this online course taught by Associate Professor Holly Scoggins in the Department of Horticulture. The class focuses on teaching skills needed to manage a greenhouse or advise those managing greenhouses. Students will learn about greenhouse construction, environmental controls, control of plant growth, root-zone management, and more.
  • REAL 2984: Principles of Real Estate Sales, Blacksburg – The Virginia Tech Program in Real Estate will be offering an on-campus course that prepares students for careers in the real estate industry. Students will learn how to use Argus, CoStar and Excel, tools with practical applications in the real estate industry. By learning these tools, students will gain a better understanding of how to conduct analysis of real estate financial and market data.

Visit the Virginia Tech winter session website for more information and 2015 course availability.

Written by Rebecca Robertson of Richmond, Virginia, a junior majoring in public relations in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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