The image shows a dance performance with four people on a lit up stage. Three young people motion towards another dancer on the right of the stage.

Special classes pop up on campus 

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Subjects such as book art, dance, and media studies are finding new life on the Mills campus this year in the form of pop-up classes. These unique one-credit electives are offered to students at no additional charge, and accommodate 10 to 20 participants who generally meet for a handful of sessions rather than a full semester. 

Visiting Associate Professor of Biology Helen Walter volunteered to oversee this special slate in the fall semester in conjunction with her role in coordinating global Northeastern programs for the Oakland campus. She reports that seven pop-ups are happening this spring—from Postcards, Mail Art & Zines to Can Comedy Save Democracy?—with surveys among Mills faculty members happening now to set up classes for the fall. 

“We’ll probably offer eight to 10 [next semester], and we’ll likely offer a different selection in the spring when we have different students,” Walter says. “They’re designed for situations in which a student needs to drop a class, but they need another add-in to still be considered full time.” 

Pop-up classes are already part of the Northeastern academic experience, and they’re making an appearance on the Mills campus (for continuing students as well as new ones) with the support of the College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) in Boston. But they’ve largely flown under the radar thus far, and Walter acknowledges that the process of communicating their existence to possible participants has been tough—but will see improvements going forward. “Really, the best way is for us to give information to students at registration,” Walter says. “They don’t have to choose right then, and they may come across something later they may want to take, but we can impress upon them that these classes are a way to add on to their college experience.” 

One pop-up class that took place last semester was Creation to Performance, a dance class in which four Northeastern first-years participated and Mills dance alums choreographed. The students participated in last semester’s dance concert, pictured above.

“Our pop-up was a wonderful opportunity for incoming Northeastern students to quickly get a deeper feeling for the extraordinary history of dance at Mills,” says Sheldon Smith, chair of the Department of Dance and Theater Studies. “And it was so great to get to know these students and realize that there are many more just like them who want to dance, make dances, and share in an artistic community.”  

One of those students was Northeastern first-year Sophia Fettig, who is now attending classes on the Boston campus. “I have danced my whole life in a variety of styles, I love performing, and I wanted to stay active in college,” she says. “I loved performing at Mills because I was able to take advantage of the wonderful theater and studio, and meet a lot of Mills alumnae/i. I’m so thankful I was part of the class.”