The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Discover New York: Revamped

The schedule change implemented this semester forced the structure of Discover New York courses to change drastically. Meeting every other Wednesday, each section will log only twenty-one hours of class time.

The supplements to the decreased class meetings are guest lecturers and Field Based Learning Excursions, called “FBL’s.”

Robert Pecorella, the director of the Institute of Core Studies spoke of the advantages of achieving more commonality in DNY classes.

“In previous years, we would have 100 sections and everyone’s experience was different,” Pecorella said. “They were all doing their own thing. This change is an effort to bring students together.”

Wednesday would effectively become “freshman days,” according to Pecorella. Students will attend class in the morning, and have their FBL’s and guest speakers in the afternoons.

Some of the FBL’s would require students to commit a large portion of their evening to the trip. The trip to Ellis Island itself takes up several hours, but includes dinner and private tours.

Freshman Peter Quinn said he was looking forward to DNY this semester.

“I like how its every other week, and the way my professor set up his required classes; we don’t have to go on field-trip days,” he said. “I feel like Central Park will be really cool.”

The University has rented Ellis Island for two separate days in order to accommodate the 3,000 students that are enrolled in DNY.

The New York City Park service will give the students historic tours of the Island and they will also hear a lecture from author Nancy Foner.

Foner is the author of From Ellis Island to JFK:New York’s Two Great Waves of Immigration.

Dissent to the new schedule was not limited to the students. Faculty members that teach DNY courses have had to make adjustments to their lesson planning to make the most of the class time that they have.

“Very few faculty members are pleased with the changes made to the overall schedule last year, but we have made the best of it,” Pecorella said.

Some FBL’s, like the Ellis Island trip, require students to devote a large portion of their evening to the excursion, as well as balance their classes for the next day after getting back to campus or home late at night.

“My view, as a faculty member is that the cost is worth the reward,” Pecorella said.

The cohesiveness of the DNY course is the focal point amidst all the changes. Pecorella vocalized the necessity of creating this “commonality” for all freshman students.

Freshman Robert Whetsell noticed that his core classes related on varied levels, including DNY.

“I like how the classes seemed to be themed,” he said. “My DNY class is connected to my history class and vice versa.”

Whetsell and Quinn both said that they were most excited to tour Central Park.

“It seems really fun, the tour guides are going to show us around and provide some activities for us,” Whetsell said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Office of Student Affairs created the current format of DNY for this semester, and it will be changed again in the near future to include weekly meetings in the classroom that will total 28 hours.

“This next schedule change will allow for more time with the professors in a classroom setting,” Pecorella said

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