Category: Of Special Interest
CGS is excited to announce a new elective, The Irish in Boston, that will run as part the BU Summer Term.
The Irish in Boston is the second elective for CGS to offer outside of its core curriculum, and will use the same successful interdisciplinary approach. Students can expect to explore the literature, politics, and culture of Irish Bostonians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even digging into the different types of “Irishness” in Boston (who knew?!). Those taking the course can expect to learn from a four-person, expert faculty team: Associate Dean Megan Sullivan, Professors Sally Sommers Smith, Meg Tyler (also chair of the Institute for the Study of Irish Culture), and Tom Whalen. If that’s not enough, the course will also include an experiential learning component, as students will take trips around the Boston area to complement learnings from the classroom.
For more information and details on how to sign up, please visit BU Summer Term.
“In what has become one of the entertainment industry’s most closely watched (and fiercely waged) competitions, the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday announced its annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 list. Topping the list was Bonnie Hammer (CGS’69, COM’71, SED’75), chairman of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment.”
Full text can be found on BU Today.
Matt Trevithick (CGS ’06, CAS 08′) received the University Alumni Award this past fall for his work in Afghanistan, specifically for bringing his passion for rowing to Kabul. However, that’s certainly not the only thing he’s been up to in Afghanistan. Trevithick recently co-authored an article in The Daily Beast, bringing readers to one of the deadliest and most infamous valleys in the Middle East, Korengal Valley. He and his partner, Daniel Seekman, were the first Westerners granted permission to enter the valley in more than three decades. As U.S. presence dwindles, Trevithick and Seckman share this rare experience and offer unique perspective into the current state of Afghanistan.
Full text may be found here: “Heart of Darkness: Into Afghanistan’s Taliban Valley” (The Daily Beast)
Portia came to campus to shadow a CGS Admissions Ambassador for the day, getting a glimpse of the classroom experience and a taste of BU Dining; and she left with a vision of seeing herself here. Fast forward several years later, Portia enjoyed her studies at CGS, and will be graduating with a double major from the School of Hospitality and College of Arts and Sciences this coming May. To hear more about her invaluable experience at CGS, where she found a strong sense of community and discovered her passion for hospitality, click here.
To schedule a visit at CGS, click here.
The College of General Studies congratulates Professor R. Sam Deese on the release of his book, We Are Amphibians. Deese tells the fascinating story of two brothers, Julian and Aldous Huxley, who changed the way we think about the future of our species.
As a pioneering biologist and conservationist, Julian Huxley helped advance the “modern synthesis” in evolutionary biology and played a pivotal role in founding UNESCO and the World Wildlife Fund. His argument that we must accept responsibility for our future evolution as a species has attracted a growing number of scientists and intellectuals who embrace the concept of Transhumanism that he first outlined in the 1950s. Although Aldous Huxley is most widely known for his dystopian novel Brave New World, his writings on religion, ecology, and human consciousness were powerful catalysts for the environmental and human potential movements that grew rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century. While they often disagreed about the role of science and technology in human progress, Julian and Aldous Huxley both believed that the future of our species depends on a saner set of relations with each other and with our environment. Their common concern for ecology has given their ideas about the future of Homo sapiens an enduring resonance in the twenty-first century. The amphibian metaphor that both brothers used to describe humanity highlights not only the complexity and mutability of our species but also our ecologically precarious situation.
The book, published by the University of California Press, is available both in hardcover and as an eBook. Radiant reviews and purchase details can be found on either Amazon or the University of California Press website.
The annual Stanley Stone Distinguished Lecture Series took place last week, drawing in a crowd of current BU students, faculty, local alumni, and members from the public for an engaging conversation around altruism. The lecture, titled “The Evolution of Goodness,” was presented by Dr. Lee Dugatkin, a behavioral ecologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science. Dugatkin provided an evolutionary perspective as to why both humans and other species are altruistic, or as Dugatkin explained, “exhibit goodness.”
Looking at specific behaviors from a variety of species- ranging from bees to humans- Dr. Dugatkin summarized the current understanding of altruistic behavior. He shared questions explored by some of the best-known contributors in the field, such as Charles Darwin and William Hamilton; and let the audience know what the answers turned out to be. For example, Darwin was puzzled by why bees sacrifice themselves in defense of the hive. As it turns out, this behavior can be attributed to genetic relatedness (also known as kin selection). Dugatkin illustrated other models of goodness, including empathy in rats, a sense of injustice in monkeys, and kind gestures exhibited by toddlers. The audience found these powerful and illustrative examples, and others, to be both informative and engaging. Rather than humans evolving to be selfish, perhaps as a species we have involved instead to be altruistic.
The Stanley Stone Distinguished Lecture Series has been running since 1989, bringing an outside guest speaker to campus each year. Lecture topics vary from year-to-year, but always align with one of the four academic divisions at CGS: natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and rhetoric. Made possible by CGS alumni Stanley Stone, the Series seeks to bring top experts in the field to campus, enriching the student learning experience and providing perspective on a subject that might not yet be in textbooks. Next year is the 25th anniversary, and we hope to see you there!
Not your average CGS class: Eighth grade students visit for a day to learn about the college experience
A special “class” took place at the College of General Studies (CGS) on Friday, October 31, as a group of eighth grade students journeyed to Boston University to learn more about the college experience. About thirty students from the Arthur D. Healey school in Somerville met with CGS Dean Natalie McKnight, Dean Megan Sullivan, and Professor Adam Sweeting for an engaging Q&A session. This is the fifth year that students have come to CGS for this type of session, largely coordinated by Professor and Humanities Chair Adam Sweeting, who serves as the Vice Chair of the Somerville Public Schools School Committee. As a member of the Committee (and father of two students in the Somerville system), Sweeting has been pushing for discussions of college readiness among the district’s students, and this opportunity certainly exposes students at an early and critical point of their educational careers.
CGS faculty answered the student’s eager and thoughtful questions about BU, providing a flavor of the virtually boundless student activities opportunities, sharing more details about the majors and courses of study offered. Students also had a lot of questions about college in general- conversation included the distinction between a college and university, and the shift in class schedules and classroom experience between high school and college. Recognizing there’s more than one way to a secondary degree, students left CGS with a better understanding of the associated pros and cons of a community college experience and four-year institution. No matter where that degree is pursued, CGS faculty shared that perseverance and communication with professors are the secrets to a student’s success.
After the Q&A session at CGS, the students ventured over to the George Sherman Union for lunch, and then attended the annual Pumpkin Drop. We hope to see some of the students in the class of 2023!
Join us for the annual Stanley Stone Lecture Series:
We humans often display acts of kindness and generosity, but we’re not alone- animals are also good to one another, sacrificing to help those around them. But… why? Why do both humans and animals show such altruistic, self-sacrificial behavior? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered this subject.
In a fast-moving, action-packed talk, Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin (University of Louisville) will share the roots of goodness by focusing on both the fascinating history of this subject and the latest findings- the cutting-edge research in the field of evolution and behavior, including Dugatkin’s own work on altruism. Dugatkin will look at studies on alarm calls in squirrels, reciprocal acts of goodness in blood-sucking vampire bats, empathy in rats, responses to injustice and inequality in monkeys, and what brain scans tell us about the evolution of goodness in our own species.
BU Today featured an opinion piece written by College of General Studies Dean Megan Sullivan, focused on welcoming people with disabilities. While universities around the nation provide accommodations, Sullivan provokes the question on if universities truly welcome people with disabilities. She shares illustrative, relatable examples of how universities could better welcome this population, both inside and outside of the classroom. With her helpful list of the first steps universities can take, one cannot help but think through the many other places, activities, and events that could be improved for a better experience.
This article channels into a broader conversation, as October is National Diversity Awareness Month and National Disability and Employment Awareness Month. You can find the article here: http://www.bu.edu/today/2014/pov-how-can-universities-welcome-people-with-disabilities/
This past weekend, CGS had the pleasure of not only greeting the parents of its current students, but also of seeing the parents of those who graduated from CGS this past May to continue onto junior year. Friday night, students from the CGS class of 2014 gathered with their proud families in the Katzenberg Center for the Capstone Award Ceremony.
Capstone is an intensive project that challenges CGS sophomores to work in a small group to research a real-world, timely issue, and propose a comprehensive solution. It was conceived and designed as an interdisciplinary experience, as CGS’s pedagogical mission centers around the Liberal Arts, which are, by definition, interdisciplinary. After students put in countless hours of hard work- including desk research, field research, writing the 50-page paper, and preparing for and completing a group oral defense- each team of professors is challenged to select the strongest cases presented.
The 2014 theme, Think Globally, Act Locally, asked students to act as a panel of experts with the responsibility of surveying the history and scope of a particular problem in the Boston metropolitan area and proposing a policy recommendation. The projects explored targeted issues within the following “broader” topics: urban climate; urban resiliency in the face of hazards and crises; the value of urban biodiversity; transportation; urban waste; urban waterways and drainage; fisheries; human health and welfare in the city; and energy use and development in Massachusetts. With competition tough, each CGS team had to identify one winning group; the summaries of the winning projects can be found in the event program.
The Capstone project exemplifies CGS’s belief that a well-rounded education best prepares students to meet the challenges of today’s world; enabling them to think critically, understand and communicate effectively, bring together multiple perspectives to solve real-world problems. Congratulations to all!