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Complex Problems

core curriculum

In these six-credit courses, students examine an issue of contemporary urgency and global significance. Classes might understand one global challenge from multiple viewpoints, considering historical context, various interpretations, and attempted solutions. By studying cultural, economic, historical, political, religious, scientific, and/or social currents in relation to their own experience, students foster habits of mind that are alert to global connections, differences, or comparisons. They will be asked to put themselves into the equation: How are they implicated in what they study? How does it affect who they are? What future courses do they want to take? What sort of lives do they want to lead?

Two faculty members share the same classroom for the normal three hours of weekly instructional time. In addition, students attend smaller weekly 75-minute lab sessions led by graduate students or lecturers in which they learn by doing, working in teams to apply knowledge to real-world issues. Often these involve an audience beyond the students in the classroom. Examples of lab sections from previous Core Pilot classes include:

  • Developing anti-violence programs with the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition and Women’s Resource Center (for a class on Race, Gender, and Violence)
  • Working with the Boston Climate Action Plan Office on projects to address climate change in specific neighborhoods (for a class on Human Impacts on the Planet)
  • Prototype, development, and presentation of a new product (for a class on Creativity and Innovation)
  • Creation of a group film project (for a class on Social Problems on the Silver Screen)

Finally, weekly two-hours evening sessions provide additional possibilities for shared learning experiences and reflection.

In the pilot phase, these classes have target enrollments between 75 and 150 students. Lab session enrollments will be capped at 19 students.