Experience, Reflection, Action (ERA)

Explore, Grow, Design for Impact

This first-year program focuses on formative education, including cura personalis—care for the whole person—and cura apostolica, or care of the community, while helping students adjust to life at Boston College.

ERA introduces students to elements foundational to their time at BC and over the rest of their lives—how to be complete people, cultivate community, design solutions to help solve complex issues, and discover purpose in their vocations and beyond.

Meeting weekly, the program features internationally renowned speakers, presentations, activities, projects, and discussions that facilitate students’ personal and formative development, discernment of who they are and who they want to be in the world, acquisition of design-thinking tools and new knowledge, and ability to make a positive impact.

Students emerge as authentic leaders who use sound ethical reasoning to improve society and are primed to both lead and support lives of meaning.

Lynch School's ERA Program to Present at Columbia University Conference

ERA was chosen to present its submission at the 38th Annual Winter Roundtable: A Pandemic of Racism hosted by the Teachers College at Columbia University. This year’s roundtable will place emphasis on the effects of systemic racism, specifically in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality, themes that relate to the curriculum of this year’s ERA program. It will run from Feb. 25 through Feb. 27. 

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The Experience, Reflection, Action Program: Formative, Foundational Knowledge for First-Year Students

What do you need to thrive, from your first steps on campus through graduation and across the rest of your life? How can you plant seeds of imagining and designing purposeful work and innovations during the first year? Where can first-year students have the most salient and meaningful positive impact?

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development’s reimagined Experience, Reflection, Action (ERA) program seeks to explore these questions while helping first-year students seamlessly transition to life as a college student in general and at Boston College specifically.

The program focuses on establishing a solid foundation of formative education for students, helping them develop as well-rounded people based on the Jesuit, Catholic value of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, and cura apostolica, or care of the community. At its core, ERA helps students discern who they want to be—including potential purposeful vocations and avocations—and how they can help others flourish.

For many students, ERA is an introduction to the Lynch School’s approach to formative education. As such, it motivates them to grow intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

The course meets weekly and features internationally renowned speakers, presentations, activities, projects, and discussions that facilitate students’ development. Throughout the year, students conduct an applied social impact design-thinking project that culminates in presentations and real-world action steps. The goal? To prepare students to be authentic leaders who use sound ethical reasoning to improve and make a difference in communities.

A New Era for ERA

In the summer of 2017, the Lynch School redesigned ERA to offer a more academically robust and substantive program than previous iterations of the course.

“The new ERA program offers genuine educational excellence alongside design-thinking embedded innovations,” said Dr. Julia DeVoy, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students and Faculty Director for the ERA First-Year Program. “ERA builds a formative foundation for the next generation that puts meaning, purpose, wholeness, and community at the center of addressing and working together to solve complex individual, local, and global challenges. It helps to transform the way students build bridges to the local and global community and provides support while students begin to engage in real action, as well as scholarship of deep importance.”

A multi-level cohort model that includes instructors, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduates helps provide support and creates a network and tapestry of mentorship on which ERA students can always rely across their four years at Lynch and at Boston College.

The combination of this support, educational excellence, introduction of design-thinking tools and innovations, and formative education themes creates something unprecedented among first-year programs. In doing so, ERA lays the robust foundation of the Lynch School’s mission from the moment students first set foot on campus.

Freshman year was definitely the most formative experience I've had here at BC. I learned so much not only in the classroom, but also through out-of-classroom experiences. Being away from my parents for the first time I learned how to become independent, the importance of time management, and prioritizing activities that were most important. Thanks to the course Experience, Reflection, and Action offered by Lynch for freshmen, I learned the value of self-care.
Anthony Docanto, '19


Experience, Reflection, Action (ERA)

This seminar addresses academic decisions, social relationships, spiritual growth, issues of autonomy, vocational choices, mental and physical health, and general fulfillment of each first-year student in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development.