2015–2016 Renewed Core Pilot Courses
To fulfill the University’s Core Curriculum requirement, undergraduates must complete 15 three-credit courses, which they may select from a wide variety of offerings across the academic disciplines. For 2016–17, Boston College is introducing new interdisciplinary courses, open only to first-year students, that will help satisfy the
The centerpiece of Jesuit education has always been a common curriculum that emphasizes the study of defining works in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The Boston College Core is designed to provide a broad understanding of the forces that have shaped world history and culture, challenging students to think across the disciplines, to make good decisions, and to communicate effectively in an increasingly complex world.
To fulfill Core requirements, each student must complete:
- 1 course in Arts—Fine Arts, Music, Theatre
- 1 course in Cultural Diversity
- 2 courses in History
- 1 course in Literature—Classics, English, Germanic Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, Slavic & Eastern Languages and Literatures
- 1 course in Mathematics
- 2 courses in Natural Science—Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics
- 2 courses in Philosophy
- 2 courses in Social Science—Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology
- 2 courses in Theology
- 1 course in Writing
COMPLEX PROBLEMS COURSES
Each of these six-credit courses, team-taught by professors from different disciplines, satisfies two Core requirements. Complex Problems courses consist of three 50-minute lecture classes and one 90-minute lab session each week. There will also be weekly evening meetings for reflection and integration, assisted by staff from the Division of University Mission and Ministry and the Office of Student Affairs. Enrollment in each Complex Problems course will be limited to 76 students.
ENDURING QUESTIONS COURSES
These linked pairs of courses are taught by professors from different disciplines, who collaborate in choosing common readings and questions for consideration. The same group of students takes each class, which meets 150 minutes per week. Four evening meetings for reflection and integration will be scheduled over the course of the semester. Taken together, the courses are worth six credits and fulfill two Core requirements. Enrollment in each Enduring Questions course will be limited to the same 19 students in each pair of classes.
PLANET IN PERIL: THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF HUMAN IMPACTS ON THE PLANET
Prasannan Parthasarathi, History, and Juliet Schor, Sociology
HIST150501 / SOCY150901
This course addresses crises of climate, biodiversity, and the ecosystem from the perspectives of sociology and history. Its focus is on both causes and solutions (e.g., state policy, social movements, individual action, and social innovation). Students will examine ecological overshoot—what happens when humanity’s annual demand exceeds what the earth’s ecosystem can renew each year—and explore the roles of inequality, power, and the state. Topics to be covered include the Columbian exchange, forests, agriculture, water, climate change, toxins, and population.
1 History II + 1 Social SciencePrasannan Parthasarathi, professor, faculty page Juliet Schor, professor, faculty page
Enrollment is now open! To register for this class please complete both steps:
 First, enroll in both HIST150501 and SOCY150901 on UIS (meets MWF at 1 p.m.). You will automatically be enrolled in the course's evening Reflection sessions on Thursdays at 6 p.m.
 Then, select one of the following lab times and enroll in it. The labs are 75 minutes long. It does not matter which departmental prefix is used: HIST150601 (Tues. 9), HIST150602 (Tues. 10:30), HIST150603 (Tues. 4:30), HIST150604 (Tues. 3), SOCY151001 (Thurs. 9), SOCY151002 (Thurs. 10:30), SOCY151003 (Thurs. 4:30), SOCY151004 (Thurs. 3)
CAN CREATIVITY SAVE THE WORLD?
Crystal Tiala, Theatre, and Spencer Harrison, CSOM
SOCY150701 / THTR150101
What are the world’s most complex problems, and how will humans solve them? What knowledge and tools do we need to forge a new and better world? Students explore the best thinking in business and the arts to understand creativity and innovative thinking. Activities, experiments, readings, and reflections help develop the skills and confidence to build a creative community in class. Can creativity save the world? We hope you will be part of the answer.
1 Social Science + 1 ArtsCrystal Tiala, associate professor, faculty page Spencer Harrison, associate professor, faculty page
Enrollment is now open! To register for this class please complete both steps:
 First, enroll in both THTR150101 and SOCY150701 on UIS (meets MWF at 1 p.m.). You will automatically be enrolled in the course's evening Reflection sessions on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
 Then, select one of the following lab times and enroll in it. The labs are 75 minutes long. It does not matter which departmental prefix is used: SOCY150801 (Tues. 12), SOCY150802 (Tues. 1:30), THTR150201 (Thurs. 12), THTR150202 (Thurs. 1:30)
TRUTH-TELLING IN LITERATURE
Allison Adair, English
TRUTH-TELLING IN HISTORY
Sylvia Sellers-Garcia, History
ENGL170101 / HIST170101
Do primary sources tell the truth? Is it possible to know the truth about the past? Is it possible to record or to author truth? What obligations does an author have to tell the truth? History and English understand “truth” in different ways. These courses explore both perspectives, using texts drawn from medieval to modern times and from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Students will explore the challenges of reliable and unreliable narration, cross-cultural translation, and expectations for works of historical fiction.
1 Literature + 1 HistoryAllison Adair, associate professor, faculty page Sylvia Sellers-Garcia, associate professor, faculty page
HUMANS, NATURE, AND CREATIVITY
Min Song, English
INQUIRING ABOUT HUMANS AND NATURE
Holly VandeWall, Philosophy
ENGL170301 / PHIL170301
What does it mean to be human? How do we define nature? What responsibilities do humans have to nature? These courses consider responses to these questions from the time of Western antiquity to the present. Our human experience as rational individuals capable of abstract thought has set us apart from nature, yet we are not wholly outside of it. We have an intimate and interdependent relationship with the rest of creation. Can exploring and critiquing this relationship help us to think about pressing environmental issues in insightful and original ways? What kind of balance can we strike between the “human” and the “natural”?
1 Literature + 1 PhilosophyMin Song, professor, faculty page Holly VandeWall, assistant professor of the practice, faculty page
SPIRITUAL EXERCISES: ENGAGEMENT, EMPATHY, ETHICS
Brian Robinette, Theology
AESTHETIC EXERCISES: ENGAGEMENT, EMPATHY, ETHICS
Daniel Callahan, Music
THEO170101 / MUSA170101
Deeply meaningful experiences of beauty, truth, good, or the divine don’t “just happen.” Students will study influential Western thinkers and examine works of art and performance through the ages to understand how and why profound experiences tend to occur to those who are mindful and prepared to engage. These courses introduce students to a variety of “spiritual exercises” that have helped shape the Christian theological traditions of the East and West and to a range of artwork and performances traversing media and frames, from ancient sculpture to contemporary sports.
1 Theology I + 1 ArtsBrian Robinette, associate professor, faculty page Daniel Callahan, assistant professor, faculty page
LOVE, GENDER, AND MARRIAGE: THE WESTERN LITERARY TRADITION
Franco Mormando, Romance Languages and Literatures
LOVE, GENDER, AND MARRIAGE: WRITING & REWRITING THE TRADITION
Treseanne Ainsworth, English
RLRL337301 / ENGL170401
Examining the concept of romantic love from the Middle Ages to the present, these courses analyze the related realities of gender and marriage through a variety of literary, theological, legal, and political texts as well as forms of popular culture such as film. Students will undertake a range of assignments: rhetorical analyses, personal editorials, event reflections, and a longer research project with a multimedia component. They will also engage current debate in American society over the nature, purpose, and definition of marriage.
1 Writing + 1 LiteratureFranco Mormando, professor, faculty page Treseanne Ainsworth, assistant professor, faculty page
READING AND WRITING HEALTH, ILLNESS, AND DISABILITY
Amy Boesky, English
THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF HEALTH AND ILLNESS
Sara Moorman, Sociology
ENGL170501 / SOCY170301
What is the difference between a sick cow and a sick human being? How does literature express suffering? Do narrative forms constrain or challenge stereotypes of illness or disability? These courses examine the varied meanings societies have given the experience of health and illness over time and across cultures. From social theory and contemporary media to novels, memoirs, poems, and personal essays, representations of suffering, health, illness, and disability have long expressed and shaped our experiences and values.
1 Literature + 1 Social ScienceAmy Boesky, professor, faculty page Sara Moorman, associate professor, faculty page
A PERFECT MORAL STORM: THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
David Storey, Philosophy, and Corinne Wong, Earth and Environmental Sciences
PHIL150101 / EESC150501
Climate change is arguably the defining issue of our time, raising an array of scientific and moral questions: How do we know the climate is changing, and what is the role of human activities? What values should guide climate policies? What responsibilities do we have toward future generations or our planet? This course introduces you to the dynamics of the climate system, the scientific basis for climate change, and its societal implications. It also explores environmental ethics and examines the moral challenges posed by climate change. Our goal is to help students appreciate the sheer complexity and moral gravity of the problem.
1 Natural Science + 1 Philosophy IIDavid Storey, assistant professor of the practice, faculty page Corinne Wong, assistant professor, website
Enrollment is now open! Note: This is a SPRING 2017 course with a Fall 2016 prerequisite. To register please enroll in one of the following Fall 2016 courses on UIS: PHIL150001, PHIL150002, or PHIL150003 (each meets MWF at 2 p.m.).
You will automatically be enrolled in PHIL1501 this spring, and you will be prompted to enroll in EESC1505 and a lab section at that time as well.
Luke Jorgensen, Theatre, and Jennie Purnell, Political Science
THTR150301 / POLI103101
The marginalized and oppressed have long used public and theatrical performance to give voice to human rights and social justice concerns. Students will examine a range of political plays and protest movements, asking how and why relatively powerless people use public performances to make political points—and whether theater can be both good politics and good art. Students will create their own political performances (e.g., short plays, puppet shows, videos, etc.), learning about various aspects of theater while developing a better understanding of their own political views and interests.
1 Arts + 1 Social ScienceLuke Jorgensen, associate professor, faculty page Jennie Purnell, associate professor, faculty page
SOCIAL PROBLEMS ON THE SILVER SCREEN
Lynn Lyerly, History, and John Michalczyk, Fine Arts
HIST150701 / FILM150101
Film, as a sociopolitical witness to a specific historical era, documents the past but also speaks poignantly to the present. In this course we will use film to explore key problems of the modern era—war, hate, and injustice—putting the movies both in historical and aesthetic contexts. Students will not only understand the artistic and historical import of the films in this class but also grapple with the difficult ethical questions they raise. This course will also promote visual literacy in an increasingly visual world.
1 History II + 1 ArtsLynn Lyerly, associate professor, faculty page John Michalczyk, professor, faculty page
WHAT IS THE GOOD LIFE? TOLSTOY TO CHEKHOV
Thomas Epstein, Slavic languages and literature
GOD AND THE GOOD LIFE
Stephen Pope, Theology
SLAV116101 / THEO170201
Students will consider literary and theological ways of thinking about what constitutes “the good life,” exploring major texts in the Christian tradition (St. Ignatius of Loyola, John Calvin, and Dorothy Day) and the works of Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov, giants of 19th-century Russian literature. Key topics include the relation between virtue and human flourishing, the meaning of faith and its relation to reason, the relation of charity and justice, hope in the face of suffering, and personal and social transformation.
1 Literature + 1 Theology IIThomas Epstein, associate professor of the practice Stephen Pope, professor, faculty page
NARRATING BLACK INTIMACIES
Rhonda Frederick, English/AADS
BLACK INTIMACY AND INTERSECTIONALITY IN THE US
Shawn McGuffey, Sociology
ENGL170801 / SOCY170401
These courses use the phrase “Black intimacy” to understand belonging; to know self, others, and place; to investigate “race”; to explore Whiteness as intimately linked with Blackness (and vice versa); and to show how intimate experiences shape race and gender relations. Students will examine the intersections of race and sexuality in the U.S. on both interpersonal and national levels, and explore how intimate relationships and spaces—e.g., friendships, romantic relationships, neighborhoods, and schools—both shape and are shaped by larger discourses and the material realities of race and gender. Students will examine how Black intimate experiences are distinct from yet integral to the U.S. experience.
1 Literature + 1 Social ScienceRhonda Frederick, associate professor, faculty page Shawn McGuffey, associate professor, faculty page
LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
Dunwei Wang, Chemistry
LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
Beth Kowaleski Wallace, English
CHEM170101 / ENGL170901
This class responds to the moral, spiritual, and ethical challenges that follow from the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si by exploring the complex place of the human within the material world. While one class uses a scientific approach to explore questions pertaining to actual energy consumption, the other explores the definition and history of materiality from a literary and humanistic perspective.
1 Natural Science + 1 LiteratureDunwei Wang, associate professor, faculty page Beth Kowaleski Wallace, professor, faculty page
FAMILY MATTERS: HISTORIES OF ADOPTION AND KINSHIP
Arissa Oh, History
FAMILY MATTERS: STORIES OF ADOPTION AND KINSHIP
James Smith, English
HIST170201 / ENGL171001
What makes a family? Why does kinship matter? These courses use the practice of adoption and adoption narratives to examine how empires, nations, religions, and ordinary people have understood concepts of kinship from the late 18th century to the present. Students will examine adoption as narrative (in the Bildungsroman, rags-to-riches stories, and memoirs), as image (the orphan, the unmarried mother), and as metaphor (of dependence and independence, of separation and affiliation, of origins and fresh starts). They will explore top-down efforts to regulate and restrict methods of family-making in settings and situations that range from orphan trains in the American West to international adoption today.
1 History II + 1 LiteratureArissa Oh, associate professor, faculty page James Smith, associate professor, faculty page
BUILDING A HABITABLE PLANET—ORIGINS AND EVOLUTIONS OF THE EARTH: THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
Natana Delong-Bas, Theology
BUILDING A HABITABLE PLANET—ORIGINS AND EVOLUTIONS OF THE EARTH: GEOSCIENCE PERSPECTIVES
Ethan Baxter, Earth and Environmental Sciences
THEO170301 / EESC170101
What is the age and origin of our earth? How and when did earth become a habitable planet? How have life and the Earth itself evolved together through time? These linked courses search for answers in both science and theology. Students in these classes will be introduced to the scientific method and the tools of geology, geochemistry, and geophysics used to unlock the history of the earth from its beginnings as well as to ethics and theology (both Christian and Islamic) on the origins and evolutions of the earth and its diverse life. They will think about how our use of Earth’s resources reflects an understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
1 Theology II + 1 Natural ScienceNatana Delong-Bas, assistant professor of the practice, faculty page Ethan Baxter, associate professor, faculty page
HUMAN DISEASE: PLAGUES, PATHOGENS, AND CHRONIC DISORDERS
Kathy Dunn, Biology
HUMAN DISEASE: HEALTH, THE ECONOMY, AND SOCIETY
Sam Richardson, Economics
BIOL170201 / ECON170101
These paired courses will explore—as broadly as possible—the causes and consequences of human epidemics and disease. From a biological perspective, we will examine the cellular and physiological parameters associated with health and investigate causes of disease through the lens of pathogens, genetic predisposition, and environmental influence. From an economics perspective, we will expand our analysis to the broader social causes and consequences of disease. We will apply economic reasoning to understand why health care resources are deployed the way they are, and how we might improve the efficiency of health systems at the local, national, and global levels.
1 Natural Science + 1 Social ScienceKathy Dunn, associate professor, faculty page Sam Richardson, associate professor of the practice, faculty page