One- to three-day workshops offered by Binghamton University are aiming to help Harpur College students explore fields outside of their liberal arts curricula.
The workshops, called Harpur Crash Courses, last for three hours each and were introduced last spring in an effort to expand student learning opportunities without adding full-semester courses. This semester, two courses were offered in coding and social media, and a third is being offered in data analysis.
Carolyn Johnston, a senior majoring in psychology, was in attendance for the Python coding courses, which were spread over three days. According to Johnston, coding is something that she has wanted to learn for a while but has never had the time or resources to do. She said the crash courses are perfect opportunities to learn skills outside of standard Harpur classes.
“I think there should be more programs like this,” Johnston said. “This is a great opportunity for liberal arts students to gain knowledge in different careers.”
The courses were created through a Student Association (SA) initiative and are co-sponsored by Harpur Edge and the Harpur College dean’s office. Wendy Neuberger, ’84, director of Harpur Edge, recently took on the task of advertising the courses and signing students up on B-Engaged. She said the response has been positive so far, with several of the courses filling up and creating a waitlist.
“We saw a need to provide opportunities for Harpur students to get some additional applied, skill-based experiences that they could build upon during internships, in classes and for future jobs,” Neuberger said.
Sankung Darboe, a senior majoring in biochemistry, also attended the Python crash courses. According to Darboe, programming was a hobby that he started to learn but stopped because it was not in his major curriculum. He praised the workshops, but expressed concern over their lack of inclusivity.
“I think this should be open to all University students, not just Harpur students,” Darboe said.
On Nov. 3, the social media workshop was held in the Glenn G. Bartle Library, led by Ryan Yarosh, ’09, senior director of media and public relations at BU. According to Yarosh, the workshop provides essential concepts and methods behind successful digital communications. Students heard from the organizers of LUMA and learned about the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into creating large-scale events and movements.
“In the age of social media, employers, groups and institutions all need expert communicators who can craft compelling messages that engage audiences across multiple platforms,” Yarosh said.
Yarosh is scheduled to lead another workshop on Nov. 20, which will also host Spectrum News reporter Vince Briga. Yarosh said his experience at BU and in communications prompted him to host the workshops.
“As a graduate of [BU] and someone who had a passion for journalism and communications during my time here, I am thrilled to be able to give back and offer opportunities to other students with that same passion,” Yarosh said.
Nancy Um, associate dean for faculty development and inclusion at Harpur College and a professor of art history, led a data analysis workshop last semester. Um said she has done many workshops for Harpur College faculty and graduate students, but this was the first one that was oriented toward undergraduates.
According to Um, the response from students in attendance was very positive. Um said students were excited to learn new skills in a forum that was entirely voluntary and would not be graded.
“We live in a world that produces more data than we can possibly ever analyze,” Um said. “All [BU] students need to understand how we generate trails of data in our everyday lives and how that data is then used to make decisions that affect us.”
The next Harpur Crash Course on data analytics will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 in the Alpern Conference Room.