Robert Barth

Capstone programs and other initiatives designed for college seniors now flourish across the United States. Some programs summarize aspects of a student's major, some assist the writing of a senior thesis, and some explore issues like leadership, the job search, or life skills.

As its distinctive goal, the Boston College Capstone program seeks to unify the undergraduate experience both personal and academic, by a review of the moral, intellectual and spiritual ideals at the heart of the Jesuit tradition. In 1990, at a suggestion from some theology professors, the late J. Robert Barth, S.J., former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, convened senior faculty from across the university, who then consulted with experts from student development, housing, student counseling, and the chaplaincy.

By 1991, 10 faculty eagerly piloted the new program. Each year since then three additional faculty have added distinctively new courses. Today more than 30 faculty from 20 departments have served in the program. About 30 Capstone seminars are offered annually, some of them every year, some every second or third year.

The original 10 faculty developed similar courses, even using some texts and assignments in common. As the Program expanded, the model of a common course gave way to a framework of common themes in order to draw more fully on the expertise and interests of a wider range of colleagues. Yet the Capstone faculty maintain an unusually close collaboration. Their new course proposals are subject to peer review, they meet periodically and they end the spring semester with intensive workshops to explore new materials and to refine teaching techniques.