Interdisciplinary Seminars

A university is a place where scholars talk to one another. A university is as vital as these conversations. Hence the Institute sponsors a considerable number of interdisciplinary faculty seminars and international seminars. The interdisciplinary faculty seminars meet regularly to address from a variety of disciplines the issues that emerge in the encounter between faith and culture. The seminars continue for some three to four years and have typically resulted in a volume of essays, scholarly journal, international conference, or a set of lectures. 

Professors of the Practice

This seminar provides an important cross-disciplinary opportunity for Professors of the Practice to meet, discuss the joys and challenges of teaching, and share in purposeful fellowship as we consider the big questions facing our undergraduate students today and how we can best serve to guide them to constructive solutions and to open doors to campus-wide conversations. At the same time, we learn more about each other’s work and how we can support each other in our research, writing, and service. In the best of the Ignatian tradition, we seek to respond generously to God's call that has led us to our own professions in order to love and serve our students and each other in concrete ways. 


 

Junior Scholars in Conversation

A seminar, designed to integrate junior faculty members into the BC academic community by providing a forum for them to discuss their own work in progress. The idea is to demonstrate how research and collaborative interchange are possible in a modern university, and how it is valuable for us to have opportunities to talk about the interconnections between our lives, our teaching, and our research and writing projects, sharing our work even across the disciplinary boundaries that define the modern university.


 

Our Common Home Working Group

Starting as a response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home, a working group of faculty across the university developed a four day conference in September 2015 entitled Our Common Home. Among speakers were Cardinal Peter Turkson, Senator Edward Markey and Dr. John Holdren (see website). Given its success, the Working Group now seeks to sponsor a variety of events and programs to raise university consciousness about the issues of Our Common Home.


 

Catholicism and the University

This seminar is not designed to form policies, but rather to entertain questions about how Catholicism can and does influence our understanding of the university, particularly a major research one like Boston College.  In light of the new University Strategic Plan that emphasizes student formation, research/scholarship oriented toward the common good, and global outreach, the seminar will consider Catholicism’s influence with not only the university’s mission, but also the university’s specific culture, faculty research/scholarship, hiring policies, student affairs, development, actual identity, etc.

John Butler
University Mission & Ministry

Thomas Chiles
Biology

Mary Crane
English

Brian Gareau
Sociology

Mara Hermano
Institutional Research & Planning

Burt Howell
Intersections

Welkin Johnson
Biology

James Keenan
Jesuit Institute

Joy Moore
Student Affairs

Michael Naughton
Physics

Vincent Rougeau
Law School

Akua Sarr
Office of the Provost

Billy Soo
Office of the Provost

Thomas Stegman
School of Theology & Ministry

Amy Yancey
Office of the President

John Zona
Treasurer's Office


 

Administrators

The seminar is a cross section of staff and administrators at Boston College to engage in conversations with one another about our work here, how we are connected to the university, and to discuss topics of interest about community building.

Mark Benjamin
Media Technology Services

Maura Colleary
School of Theology & Ministry

Katie Dalton
Women’s Center

Tracy Downing
English

Bryan Fleming
Global Engagement

Jon McGrath
Communications & Training

Maureen Preskenis
Office of the President

Toni Ross
Jesuit Institute

Nancy Samya
School Development

Kwasi Sarkodie-Mensah
Instructional Services

Elaine Testa
Institutional Research, Planning & Assessment

Bonnie Waldron
Center for Human Rights & International Justice

Past Seminars
 

Religion and the Modern State: Mutual Accomodation (Fall 2017–Spring 2019)

This seminar aims to support the many excellent scholars thinking about religion and politics on our faculty by assembling them from the far corners of the university into an interdisciplinary community. As the name implies, we hope to bring together not just experts on the relationship between religion and the state, broadly construed, but also experts on the ways in which the two “sides” have adjusted to one another. We will take an expansive view of these questions and want to include a variety of scholarly and intellectual approaches.

Spiritual Practice, Compassion, and the Transformation of Desire (Fall 2016–Spring 2017) 

This faculty seminar conducts an interdisciplinary investigation into the dynamics of human desire and the spiritual practices that allow human persons to become more free and compassionate. With attention to a variety of ascetical, contemplative, aesthetic, and ethical practices that have as their aim the discernment and transformation of human desire, the seminar also draws upon the distinctive contributions that scientific and humanistic disciplines can make to understanding the barriers to and cultivation of compassion.

Economic Inequality (Fall 2015–Spring 2016)

The seminar is examining the phenomenon of economic inequality from an interdisciplinary perspective with faculty representing five of the university's schools. There is a dual focus on when does economic inequality become pernicious and what strategies might be employed to alleviate the worst consequences of the growing gap between rich and poor in the U.S.

Mental Health, Suffering and Stigma (Fall 2015–Spring 2016) 

As both researchers on and off campus as well as professionals on campus, we address these three issues. We are hoping to look interdisciplinarily at both how stigma, suffering and mental health play out on our campus and how we investigate it in our research. We are currently each presenting our interests and work and from there will decide on projects for the University community.

Alienation of Intellectuals from Religion within American Culture (1994–2015)

The seminar explores the widespread alienation from religion among American intellectuals and professional elites in media. It addresses a cultural climate that has rendered many in these communities hostile, skeptical, or indifferent to religious claims and has fostered a dismissal of religious discourse or institutions. This seminar attempts to gauge this situation, i.e., to explore its originating influences, the various forms in which it exists, and its present consequences within American culture.

Jewish/Christian Relations (1998–2015)

On April 23, 1998, the Jesuit Institute sponsored a public discussion entitled "The Holocaust: Remembering for the Future," an event which generated widespread interest. Faculty members from various departments within the University formed a seminar to continue the discussions with a collaborative analysis of the present state of Jewish / Christian relations and of the theologies by which each community understands itself and its relationship the the other.

Meaning and Transcendence (1999–2015)

This seminar addresses the questions surrounding the apparent absence of meaning inherent in the 20th Century's loss of traditional ethics and belief systems. The participants in this seminar strive to find the value still available in the narrative of the new millennium by exploring the forms of meaning, transcendence and ethical value to be found in the arts and thought of the 21st century and beyond.