2008/2009 Annual Report
Strengthening Our Community Outreach
Connections with the Boston Community
A central aspect of the Arts & Sciences mission is community outreach. A diverse curriculum and the largest student population of BU’s 17 schools and colleges provide rich opportunities for the College to share its educational, technological, and human resources with local public school students, teachers, and citizens. Here is a sampling of this year’s outreach efforts:
Learning a New Language at Any Age
An unlikely group of language learners congregates each Wednesday in the common room of the Camfield Garden Estates housing development in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Taught by Graduate School of Arts & Sciences student volunteers, many of the class participants are senior citizens, though there are teenagers and working professionals, too. They come from a range of backgrounds, mostly African American, but also Hispanic, Irish, and Lithuanian. All come to class not because they have to, but because they want to be able to communicate with Spanish speakers in their lives or they are intellectually curious about learning a new language. The course is the brainchild of BU alumna Jewelle Anderson (CFA’84), who approached Romance Studies Chair James Iffland, then head of the Spanish section, and asked for graduate students to teach the class on a volunteer basis. Iffland promised to send along some of his best. The class, a partnership between BU and the Women’s Service Club of Boston, took off on a tiny budget in March.
Expanding the STEM Disciplines
CAS offers the Summer Pathways program to girls from inner-city Boston public schools who are interested in the sciences. For a week, students they live in student housing, eat in the dining hall, and participate in a range of activities that can include building circuits in a BU engineering lab, taking trips to Merck & Co.’s pharmaceutical research labs and the Museum of Science, and visiting various University labs and other facilities for introductions to neuroscience, computer science, photonics, and related disciplines. Summer Pathways operates as part of Arts & Sciences’ LERNet center, which serves as a headquarters for education outreach in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.
Building a Community of History Educators
History Professor Bruce Schulman has seen firsthand the ways in which working with teachers contributes to building a citywide community of educators. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (the University offers scholarships to the teachers who participate), the Department of History offers a series of graduate-level courses specifically designed for middle and high school teachers of American history in the Boston public schools. “We talk about historical content, but we also—since we’re all teachers—think about how you might present these materials to students, as well as how to come to grips with it yourself,” Schulman explains. “We are Boston University. Our identity and our destiny are intimately interwoven into the fabric of the city, and our continued success as an institution depends on large part on the flourishing of the larger community.”
Bolstering Physics Education in Local Classrooms
Our Physics Department has been very active with outreach and educational activities in the Boston community. Several graduate students helped to develop new curricula for local high school physics programs. Physics Day attracted 250 urban high school students for a morning of demonstrations and lectures by faculty and graduate students. For a second year, Photon, an undergraduate physics club, taught local middle-school students about sun spots. The Improving the Teaching of Physics Program entered its sixth year, and the department expanded on the Teacher Immersion in Science Program with a two-week workshop on global energy distribution.