Strategic Direction I
Re-envision liberal arts education at Boston College by sustained attention to the Core Curriculum, enhancing faculty quality and engagement, and leveraging the strengths of undergraduate programs in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Carroll School of Management, Connell School of Nursing, and Lynch School of Education.
From its beginning in the 16th century, Jesuit education has sought to prepare capable and passionate leaders, individuals who could be a leaven for good. It has encouraged students to explore the liberal arts, courses in such disciplines as literature, philosophy, classical and modern languages, the natural sciences, and theology. In the process, this approach deepens understanding of what it means to be human, free, and responsible, and promotes inquiry and engagement, especially in regard to contemporary issues.
Many problems facing society today require fresh thinking and solutions that cross the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines. The University will, therefore, keep working to foster an educational culture that increasingly values creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, and entrepreneurship, and that promotes opportunities for students to integrate traditional liberal arts disciplines with professional preparation and vocational discernment.
It proposes to implement this Strategic Direction by:
- reaffirming the Core Curriculum as the foundation for the Boston College undergraduate experience;
- strengthening the student experience at Boston College by hiring and rewarding faculty committed to quality teaching, research, and mentorship;
- leveraging the strengths of the four undergraduate schools and developing additional undergraduate opportunities utilizing resources and possibilities within these academic units; and
- investing additional resources in enrollment management.
Current revisions of the Core Curriculum at Boston College began in 2014 and have had initial success in fostering appreciation of the Core’s importance to undergraduate education and life. These efforts have been guided by key principles articulated in “The Vision Animating the Boston College Core Curriculum,” which notes that:
The Jesuit, Catholic character of Boston College gives direction to the Core Curriculum by shaping both what is taught and how it is taught. The world in which Jesuits first founded schools was marked by two competing educational ideals: the intellectual and disciplinary professionalism of the university and the humanistic schools’ desire to form students’ characters for meaningful lives oriented toward the common good.... The Jesuit method of education that provides direction to the Core integrates those two educational ideals: (1) the university ideal of intellectual rigor in pursuit of truth and growth in knowledge of the whole of reality, and (2) the humanistic ideal of developing the habits of mind, heart, and imagination that will equip students to contribute to the common good and live meaningful lives.
The call of this “Vision” document is for a reconceptualized Core that will lead to dramatic reimagining of existing courses, in addition to the creation of new classes incorporating the dual goals of intellectual development and character formation.
The quality of the undergraduate liberal arts experience is tied directly to the recruitment and retention of talented, dedicated teachers and scholars interested in the intellectual and personal growth of students. To support the development of such individuals, and in recognition of the essential role of the University’s faculty, the number of endowed chairs will be increased by 100 during the coming decade, particularly in priority areas and focused on academics involved in more than one school or department. Such faculty will strengthen Boston College, but the liberal arts goals of the University will be achieved only if new and veteran faculty deepen their commitment to the ambitious goals of the Core Curriculum. Existing programs, such as Intersections, have contributed significantly to faculty engagement, and similar programs will be considered. In addition, a postdoctoral fellow program within the Core will train the next generation of teacher-scholars in the liberal arts tradition.
The University will explore the creation of minors within the Carroll, Connell, and Lynch schools that are open to Morrissey College undergraduates to enhance their preparation for postgraduate opportunities and professional leadership. Boston College will also expand opportunities for CSOM, CSON, and LSOE students to engage more deeply in humanistic studies. Such programs would provide distinctive options for undergraduates at Boston College, and would be a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talented students.
Besides sustaining its significant annual investment in student financial aid, additional resources will be provided for targeted recruiting in response to shifting demographic patterns. Boston College will also implement a Constituent Relationship Management system to enhance its enrollment management efforts.