UNCP5532: Boston's College, Your Life

J. Joseph Burns

Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Course is also offered as HIST4601

"Only second to that which is felt for the sacred precincts of home with all its tender associations, is the affection cherished for the school that is so dear to us all, as the fountain at which we derived the mental refreshment and invigoration that makes us to fill acceptably our proper place in the world. Since this is true of the ordinary school, the one designed for development of intellect merely, with how much more force is it true of the loved alma mater, whose beneficent influences combined for the perfecting of our mental and moral stature, the expansion of the heart as well as the brain, that we might not only be able, but good men-men of uplifting moral character as well as of intellectual power. This is the affection that is felt by those who have enjoyed the benefits of Boston College-benefits developing in value and usefulness as the years go on."
—Introduction to the Brochure of Boston College and the Young Men's Catholic Association issued for the Fifteenth Annual reunion of the Association, February 5, 1894

This course will involve students in exploring the history of Boston College and relating their personal college experiences to the traditions and historical development of the University. Students will prepare weekly reflective exercises on the impact, different aspects of the University have had on their personal views of themselves, their pasts, and their futures. Students will also write one longer historical research paper on a BC club, tradition, department, or office that has had an important impact on them. There is also a mid-term essay exam on BC's history.


History of Boston College, Donovan, Dunigan, Fitzgerald, Boston College Press, 1990 (required)

Boston College: Glimpses of the Past, Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Boston College Press, 1994 (recommended)

Til the Echoes Ring Again: A Pictorial History of Boston College Sports, Jack Falla, Stephen Greene Press, 1982

The Dying of the Light, James T. Burtchaell, W. B. Eerdmans, 1998

The Boston Irish, Thomas H. O’Connor, Back Bay Books, 1995

Seminar Topics


Introduction, Preliminary Research Topics
Scavenger Hunt


Paper: How did I come to Boston College?
Scavenger Hunt Answers

WEEK 3; 4:00 P.M.

Introduction to the Archives and Historical Sources
Boston College: the Beginning, 1863; The Boston Irish
Reading: History, chapters 1-6; O’Connor, chapter 3


The Students’ View: 1880-1920
Reading: Glimpses, chapters 3, 4, 5, 11; History, chapters 8, 9
Reports from The Stylus 
Paper: What aspects of BC have made me more or less of an intellectual?


Moving to Chestnut Hill, 1912, Harvard vs. Boston College
Paper: What has been my experience with the Jesuit Tradition?
Reading: History, chapters 12-14; Glimpses, chapters 6-7; Mahoney, Kathleen, Fin-de-Siecle Catholics, U.S. Catholic Historian chapter 13, pp. 19-48 (1995) (copies on reserve)

WEEK 6; SUNDAY 12:30 P.M.

Tour of the original Boston College buildings
Re-read History, chapters 8-9


The Building Years, 1920-1960
Reading: History, chapters 22, 25
Reports from The Heights
Tour of Gasson Hall
Research topic due (1/2 page)


The Sixties and the Strike
Paper: Has my BC experience introduced me to greater diversity?
Reading: History, chapters 29-32



The Monan Era—1970s—The Newton Campus
Paper: What impact has the dominant Student Culture at BC had on me?
Reading: Glimpses, chapter 3; History, chapters 26, 33-35
Research paper outline due (2 pp. plus questions for interviews)


Athletics at Boston College
Paper: How has Boston College athletics influenced my BC experience?
Readings: “It’s How You Play the Game” (excerpts from Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education) pp. 1-18; Falla, chapters 1, 2, 6


Tour of St. Mary’s Hall
Paper: What experiences at BC have affected my spiritual development?
Reading: Burtchaell, pp. 612-630


Professional Development
Paper: What aspects of BC have influenced my choice of career?
Reading: Boston College Magazine on “Jobs”


BC After BC: The Alumni Community
Readings: Boston College Magazine on “Friends,” Alumni Notes
Paper: What kinds of friends have I made at BC?


Development of the Academic Program
Student Catalog Reports and Personal Transcript Analysis
Paper: What were the most important academic choices I made here?
Reading: Glimpses, chapter 12; History, chapters 23, 24, 32


Discussion of The Dying of the Light
How has Boston’s College affected you?
Reading: Burtchaell, selections
Research Paper due


Wrap-Up and Tour of Gasson Tower


Several short essay reflection exercises will be required to be submitted at the class where discussion of the topic is scheduled. A five- to ten-page research paper on some office or organization at Boston College which uses at least one secondary source, two primary sources, and one personal interview is also required.


A three-page integrative essay exam on the history of Boston College will be required. The question will be, “How did the Mission of Boston College change between 1863 and the present and what factors caused those changes?”


Preparation for and participation in class reports and discussions are absolutely essential to making this seminar a success. Students will be expected to do some reading and research each week and be prepared to report on it in class. They will also be expected to discuss their findings and their personal reflections and opinions in the seminar. There will be a quiz each week.


Seminar Preparation, Participation and Attendance 30%
Reflection Exercises 20%
Mid-Term Essay 20%
Research Paper (five to ten pages) 30