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All class, no quiz: Alumni back in the classroom at Homecoming

Alumni returning to campus for Homecoming had eight mini-classes to choose from in a new offering for 2016. 

Dozens of alumni headed back to the classroom on Friday as part of a new offering for Elon Homecoming — Classes Without Quizzes. 

Religious Studies Professor L.D. Russell talks with alumni during his session of Classes Without Quizzes. 

For some, it was a chance to catch up with a favorite professor, while others saw it as a way to put aside their professional lives and return to the life of a student, if only for 45 minutes. These new mini-classes taught by Elon faculty presented the opportunity to learn and discuss a broad range of topics with fellow alumni. 

Classes Without Quizzes included eight 45-minutes classes taught concurrently on Friday afternoon, all without the pressure of a quiz or a paper at the end. The new offering enhances the Elon Homecoming experience beyond reconnecting with former classmates and the campus. It's allows for additional interaction with faculty, and provides a way to dive into an academic topic, though briefly, as alumni did during their years at Elon. 

Senior Lecturer L.D. Russell from the Religious Studies Department welcomed his students for the afternoon into his Lindner Hall classroom, finding a few he taught during their time at Elon, and others who had wanted to take a class with him while here but were unable to. 

For his class, "Can We Talk? Religion, Politics and the Role of Empathy," Russell offered up the question - During a contentious election season, and a world in turmoil, how do we have the conversations we need to have to understand each other and move beyond divisions?

"How do we even talk about politics?" Russell asked. "How many Facebook friends have you lost in the  last six months? We need to be able to talk in a respectful way."

A member of the class of 2011 explained that social circles are becoming more polarized, particularly those that exist within the realm of social media. "It becomes an echo chamber," she said. 

In another Lindner Hall classroom, Aunchalee Palmquist, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, walked her students through how the development of human babies differs from that of nonhuman primates and other mammals in a session titled, "Oh Baby! The Anthropology of Tiny Humans."

Palmquist explained how the various senses factor into a human baby's "fourth trimester," as the young child begins to develop outside the womb and build relationships with parents and other people. Humans differ in that human babies are born with larger brains, but typically take longer to develop in other areas than other mammals, she said. 

"The trade-off is we are cultural beings," Palmquist explained. 

Political Science Professor and Elon Poll Director Jason Husser explains how polling is playing out in the 2016 presidential election during Classes Without Quizzes. 

‚ÄčIn the Department of Political Science and Policy Studies in Gray Pavilion, Professor Jason Husser, who directs the Elon Poll, used public opinion research data to explain evolving attitudes about government, the media and civic engagement. Looking at how credible people of different political parties find various media outlets, Husser said that "we almost live in two different worlds" based upon differing views on which sources are more trustworthy. 

Beyond these topics, alumni turned out for:

What matters most in college? with Peter Felten, professor of history and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning and the Center for Engaged Learning

There's a TV in my pocket!, with Assistant Professor of Communications Gerald Gibson

It's always the little things that seem to count the most: The importance of the microbiome, with Associate Professor of Biology Antonio Izzo

Leadership, Leaders and Followers: Improving our leadership by understanding why followers seek leaders, with Frank S. Holt Jr. Professor of Business Leadership Rob Moorman

Why is reading so easy for my friends but so difficult for me? with Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Access & Success Jean Rattigan-Rohr

Owen Covington,
10/21/2016 3:25 PM