Cornerstone Programs

Cornerstone Program

The Cornerstone Programs at Boston College offer first-year students unique courses in which they are encouraged to reflect on their lives as students and to get to know the faculty member leading the course, who serves as their academic adviser during the first year. Students may register for only one course as a Cornerstone option.

Elizabeth Bracher
Director, Courage To Know


Cornerstone: Course-based Advising Opportunities for First-Year Students

Courage to Know

A cornerstone elective for first-year students

The college experience can be seen as a puzzle, a myriad of pieces that fit together to create a picture- a road map per se- of what the Good Life ought to be and how to live it.  During your time at Boston College, it is your challenge to put these pieces together in a way that makes sense for the person you are becoming.  The Courage to Know is a first-year elective designed to confront students with the most fundamental formational questions that will guide your years at Boston College and beyond:

Who am I?
What am I good at?
Who am I called to become?

In this seminar, you will examine the process of identity development through contemporary literature, current research, and social commentary.  Discussion topics include the nature of learning, social justice, faith development, race, class, gender, sexuality, intimacy, and vocational discernment within the context of this Catholic Jesuit education.  

This three-credit seminar is offered to first-year undergraduates who may chose to take it in either the fall or spring semester. For those taking this course in the fall semester, the course instructor will serve as your academic advisor until you move into major advising sometime in your sophomore year. Instructors are faculty and administrators from across the University.

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Fall 2020

Freshman Topic Seminar

The Freshman Topic Seminar is a twelve-week, one-credit elective that offers first-year students in the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences the opportunity to meet with a faculty member once a week to enjoy small group discussions (limited to 14 students) on a research topic in which the instructor has expertise. The Topic Seminars are designed to allow students to explore new academic areas and require no background knowledge of the topic. Some of the topics in past seminars include evolution, the role of law in society, the 2012 presidential election, race in American cinema, Boston theatre, genetics, and modern African short stories.

Students will get to know a faculty member in a more informal setting both in the classroom and outside in co-curricular activities around Boston. The instructor will serve as the student’s academic advisor for the entire first year.

The course ends at Thanksgiving and is graded Pass/Fail.

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Fall 2020



The First-Year Writing Seminar fulfills the core requirement in Writing.  Designed as a workshop in which each student develops a portfolio of personal and academic writing, the writing seminar features regular individual conferences with the instructor.  Students write and rewrite essays continuously, discuss their works-in-progress in class, and read a wide range of texts, including various forms of nonfiction prose. 

In certain designated sections (highlighted in the Schedule of Courses), your professor is also your academic advisor for the entire year.



This is a two-semester, twelve-credit course that fulfills all the Core requirements in Philosophy and Theology. The course will introduce students to the philosophical and religious heritage of the West through a study of the major thinkers who have formed Western cultural traditions.

In certain designated sections (highlighted in the Schedule of Courses), your professor is also your academic advisor for the entire year.

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Fall 2020