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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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The College Program

The CAS College Program is based on the principles of a liberal education, and on our dedication to the goal that all CAS undergraduates should receive a rigorous and engaging education that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

The College Program is a common framework of three elements that drive the basic requirements for every BA earned in the College of Arts & Sciences: critical skills and competencies graduates will need to continue to learn, create, and flourish; a breadth of knowledge and understanding provided by the general education requirement; and a depth of knowledge and expertise gained through completing a major. The College Program is also dedicated to exploration and discovery as a fundamental part of the undergraduate experience. Flexibility is built into all courses of study to encourage students to delve into any of the many fascinating fields of learning available in CAS or other colleges or to take advantage of some of the special academic opportunities we offer.

For more information about completing the College Program, see Degree Requirements.

Skills and Competencies

The Writing Program at the College of Arts & Sciences offers a year-long sequence of freshman writing seminars on a wide range of engaging topics and questions.

These seminars are taught by BU faculty members and an experienced staff of full-time writing instructors. A comprehensive Writing Center, where students can have one-on-one conversations about their writing with seasoned tutors, supports and augments classroom work.

Most entering College of Arts & Sciences students satisfy their writing requirement through the Writing Program’s two-semester writing sequence—most often, WR 100 (Writing Seminar) in the fall and WR 150 (Writing and Research Seminar) in the spring. These courses differ in content, but are all designed to help students acquire skills and habits of mind essential to their full participation in the intellectual life of the University. By providing students with an opportunity to work intensively on their writing, the courses lay the foundation of a strong liberal education.

Seminars in the Writing Program are provocative and stimulating, ranging broadly across all liberal arts disciplines. A sampling includes: African Story-Telling; A Fool’s Paradise: Nineteenth-Century Travel Writing; The Ethical Imagination; Franz Kafka and His World; The Gothic; Heroes, Saints, and Martyrs; The History and Literature of the American West; Justice and Law in U.S. History; Modern Irish Literature; Minds, Brains, and Souls; Music and Word: The Articulation of Ideas; Prometheus and the Limits of Science; Technology and Ethics; Time, Memory, and Narrative; Tragedy and Thought; Twentieth-Century Literature and Film; Victorian Tales of the Mysterious and Supernatural; and Writing on War.

Language is the most important vehicle of culture. Learning a second language forces us out of our deeply ingrained habits of mind and broadens our range of thinking. Knowledge of a foreign language permits direct access to the creative achievements and everyday life of other peoples, fostering awareness of cross-cultural differences and leading to heightened self-understanding. The ability to communicate in a foreign language prepares CAS students to travel and live abroad, and increases employment opportunities in all professions of the global economy.

For more information on foreign language studies at CAS, visit the Language Learning webpage and the BU Bulletin.

All students must demonstrate basic mathematics skills. The comprehension of mathematical principles is vital to the study of the natural and social sciences.

For more information, visit the BU Bulletin.

General Education

There are two ways to complete the General Education requirement, through which students achieve a breadth of knowledge and understanding: the Core Curriculum and Divisional Studies.

The Core Curriculum is an innovative and wide-ranging interdisciplinary program and a coherent way to complete the general education requirement.

It is based on in-depth study of classic works (Western and non-Western) in the humanities, important ideas in the natural sciences, and the concerns and theoretical bases of the social sciences. The Core’s eight courses emphasize careful, analytic reading of great works in small faculty-led seminars, an understanding of the most important scientific thinking of our times, the development of critical and logical thinking, and clarity and precision in writing and oral expression. Regular lecture series supplement the seminars.

The Core Curriculum offers the advantages of a small learning community within a large and diverse university.

The Divisional Studies Program introduces students to a variety of disciplines. The curriculum comprises four divisions: humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics and computer science.

Students choose a division in which to major and must also take at least two courses in each of the three other divisions. If the major falls into the humanities, social sciences, or mathematics and computer science division, one of the chosen natural sciences courses must have a laboratory component.

Beyond mastery of specific content, the Divisional Studies courses aim to promote general understanding of the given discipline’s area of study and principal modes of inquiry.

More information of Divisional Studies can be found on the BU Bulletin.

Majors and Minors

The role of majors in the curriculum is to ensure that all graduates have experienced the challenges and rewards of studying an academic discipline or interdisciplinary subject in consider­able depth. With the help of an advisor, each student chooses and completes one major of between 9 and 18 courses. Some students elect to double-major, or to supplement their major with a minor in a sec­ond field of strong personal interest.

Most students select their major from a comprehensive list of existing departmental and interdisciplinary majors, but in certain cases, students may instead complete an independent major planned in consultation with an advisor.

Because engaging in wide-ranging academic exploration is fundamental to the undergraduate experience at the College of Arts & Sciences, space is preserved in every student’s course of study for several free electives such as minors.

Although minors are not required, they are available to students who wish to study an area other than their major. Each minor consists of a coherent sequence of five to eight courses in a single department or interdisciplinary field.