Category: Of Special Interest
The past two weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye over in London. Many students and professors are packing their bags to head back home today and tomorrow; with a few others extending their time in Europe to travel with friends or family. How can it be?
The last experiential learning trip of the semester was France. Students spent the last two weeks of the program wrapping up the semester with final papers and exams, yet still finding time to indulge in their favorite local spots and soak up the final days as Londoners.
Aside from those that we’ve already shared, here’s a mix of our favorite photos from throughout the semester. A big thank you to our student photographers who volunteered to help make this post series possible!
To supplement the plays, poetry, and art that students have been studying, week three ended with some students seeing The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe, and others opting to check out the London sports scene by seeing some polo. After another few days back in the classroom for week four, everyone packed their bags to head to France for a few days. It was a fine line between “school” and “play”; students took in the amazing views, tasty cuisine, and rich culture. Both teams had the chance to appreciate world-renowned art from centuries past, with Team B visiting the Louvre and Team C going to D’Orsay. And both teams took in the dramatic architecture and pristine gardens of Versailles to reinforce classroom readings about the French Revolution. As the final two weeks approach, the curriculum will shift to the Digital Revolution.
The 6-week semester in London is nearly half-way done! This week, students went to the prehistoric site Stonehenge; Bath, where they visited the Roman Baths; and also went to the Warhorse Theatre. Check out the photos below, which are submitted by students in London.
Scholars landed in London nearly two weeks ago and have been avidly exploring the city, studying hard, and adjusting to the London culture. Upon arrival on May 18, students embarked on a scenic walking tour of the city, and have been busy since visiting other historical sites as they delve into the interdisciplinary curriculum. Students have traveled to Westminster Abbey, seen War Horse at the New London Theatre, and learned about the infamous Jack the Ripper through a spooky walking tour. Check out photos taken by members of the Class of 2018 January Boston-London Program.
Students and faculty on the CGS sophomore teams gathered on Friday to turn in the written portion of the Capstone project and recognize the hard work of classmates and notable accomplishments over the past two years. In addition to announcing the students with the top 10 GPAs, the following awards were given:
Judson Rea Butler Award
This award is made annually to the sophomore students who best exemplified the highest standards of leadership, citizenship, and loyalty in contributing to the student life of the College of General Studies.
2015 Recipient: Jennifer Wong
Linda Bondy-Ives Advisee Award
This annual award is given to a deserving sophomore student who embodies the values and spirit of Linda Bondy-Ives, who was a dear friend and colleague at CGS . For over 25 years, Linda touched the lives of many students through her energy, kindness, and compassion.
2015 Recipient: Cindy Shaw
Brendan Gilbane Award
This award was established to honor long-time faculty member and dean Brendan F. Gilbane, who served as dean from 1974-2000. Initially nominated by a faculty member, this scholarship is given to a student based on following criteria:
- plans to continue into either CAS or COM (Dean Gilbane received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from COM and his Ph.D. in history from CAS)
- excellence in academic performance, as reflected in the faculty nomination and in the student’s academic record
- a two-page personal statement written by the nominated student, linking the first two years of interdisciplinary general education at CGS with plans for the next two years of study at CAS or COM.
2015 Recipient: James Patrick King
Given to students who have demonstrated growth and achievement over the past two years through participation in e-Portfolio.
2015 sophomore recipients: Jonathan Caflun, Hayley Kohler
Sophomore will begin the oral arguments portion of the Capstone project today. Commonly referred to as “Capstone”, this final research project serves as the culmination of the College of General Studies experience. Sophomore students are challenged to solve a real-world issue using an interdisciplinary approach. This year’s topics, focusing on the theme Ethics, Politics, and the Law, challenges students to explore pressing political, legal, and constitutional issues of our time, including: internet regulation, teacher tenure in public schools, war crimes, immigration enforcement, affirmative action and higher education, money in politics, genetic privacy, and more. For the full syllabus, please see CGSNow.
As the 2014- 2015 academic year draws to a close, many student groups are transitioning leadership, inducting the next generation of executive boards and charging them to continue the legacy. While this is bittersweet for some and exciting for others, it’s the perfect time to reflect on this year’s accomplishments, and pass along wisdom for next year. CGS sat down with this year’s Executive Board of the Student Government Association (SGA) to gain insight on their secrets for success. Not only did the SGA make a huge impact on the CGS community, organizing numerous successful events, they were also nominated as a top group across campus for the prestigious Excellence in Student Activities award, given by Student Activities. CGS thanks the SGA for not only sharing their wisdom and advice below, but for all that they’ve done to make the CGS community more vibrant than ever!
Advice on… how to work together as a leadership unit
Jennifer Wong, President (CGS 15, COM 17): CGS represents scholars with a multitude of majors, talents and passions– and this benefit is what makes our college so unique. In any team setting, respect and communication are crucial. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other beforehand, grabbing meals and constantly planning logistics over the summer before the semester started. Everyone on the e-board is extremely dedicated and like we tell our general assembly members, being a student leader should be considered a 24/7 commitment, not just a role you play during a weekly meeting. We wanted to “take the politics out of politics” and create a community rather than a bureaucracy. We aimed to create an environment that fostered genuine leaders with a passion for making a difference. We always like to say that this community has become so much more than just a student government, we’re a family.
Advice on… working with administration
Anushka Pinto, Student Senator (CGS 15, CAS 17): It is extremely important to build relationships with the faculty and administrators because they are a key resource when it comes to event execution and operations. Communication is critical. We proactively set up meetings, emailed, or stopped by for an informal conversation to let them know what we were planning and how things were going. That way, we could work together to offer the best events possible. This approach worked well– it’s much more pleasant to be nice and respectful rather than throwing in last minute surprises (or demands).
Advice on… running effective meetings and planning events
Anushka: Always have an agenda. That way, meetings are structured, conversation runs smoothly, and you stay on time. Activities and events should always be planned sooner, rather than later. With more time to plan, you can work out the details that otherwise might be overlooked, have time to sold any unforeseen obstacles or challenges, and ultimately create a better event experience.
Advice on… member recruitment and engagement
Anushka: It’s important to recruit members in a way that highlights the benefits of being a member. While SGA is about helping others and catering to the CGS community, our recruitment efforts are framed around what SGA can deliver to the potential member. We position it as a great way to gain leadership skills, build your resume, make friends at CGS, and form relationships with the administration. Students are more likely to join if they know they can get something out of joining.
Advice on… event execution
Amanda Gee, Secretary (CGS 15, Questrom 17): Plan ahead. Events seem simple but they actually take a lot of planning and creativity. Making reservations and marketing events should be done 1-2 weeks in advance to create awareness and to make sure everything is in place.
Advice on… anything else!
Jennifer: We strive to cultivate an environment of positive change by building student leaders who excel both within the College and across the greater BU network.
A new initiative we started this year is the CGS mentorship program. We understand that continuing from CGS into another college can be complex, so we matched freshmen with sophomore student leaders who are planning on going into the same major field as them to guide them academically, provide support and follow our theme of building community here at CGS. Mentorship is a valuable resource that I would like to see SGA exhibit for years to come.
The purpose of being a leader isn’t to grow more followers, it’s build more leaders, and that’s what we at CGS Student Government aim to do.
CGS is thrilled to share that Professors Sam Hammer and Meg Tyler have been awarded Fulbright scholarships for next year. One of the most prestigious awards programs world-wide, the Fulbright Scholarship Program sponsors U.S. and foreign participants for international educational exchanges across disciplines (e.g., the sciences, business, academia, public service, government, and the arts), with the goal to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Only 800 faculty nationwide receive this highly coveted award.
Sam Hammer, a professor in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at CGS, will be going to Sri Lanka to assist with development efforts, specifically intensive landscape planning, as part of the country’s peace and reconciliation process. Hammer will focus on landscapes in transition: contemporary urban landscapes and rural sustainable landscapes dating back to antiquity. He will be working with colleagues and students at the University of Moratuwa, located in the Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
Prof. Meg Tyler, a professor in the Division of Humanities and chair of the Institute for Irish Studies, will be a Fulbright Professor of Anglophone IrishLiterature and Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tyler will teach two poetry courses, one undergraduate and one postgraduate. One of Tyler’s course will be called “American Influences on Contemporary Irish Poetry.” Tyler will also be conducting research, specifically completing a collection of essays, on Belfast Poet Michael Longley. Tyler will be in Northern Ireland from January to June 2016.
We’ll admit that we’re ready for the nice spring weather. But, we haven’t only been experiencing snow flurries at CGS this winter. Over the past few months, there’s been a regular flurry of tweets mentioning @BUCGS with photos of our students having fun while doing their science lab work. It was also a fun surprise to see students tweeting about urban ecology during one of the snow days this past semester. So, we sat down with the faculty member behind it all, CGS Natural Sciences and Mathematics Professor Sam Hammer (@SamHammer), to learn more about how he’s using social media in the classroom.
CGS: First, tell us what inspired the idea to use social media during class. We’ll admit, using social media in a natural sciences course takes some creativity.
SH: Sometimes students are shy about communicating in class, especially in science classes. I wanted to expand the ways in which to connect with students– more conversation, more feedback, more flow of ideas– so I thought I would try Twitter. Since a lot of students seem to “live” on their devices this seemed like a good “natural habitat” where we could engage.
CGS: How are you using Twitter to connect with students?
SH: Sometimes, I ask students to tweet me a response to a question I pose during lecture. After class, I respond to their tweets, which often leads to substantive conversations and lots of exploration of ideas. During labs, which I designed to encourage as much student engagement as possible, people tweet me with their progress on their work. Often, this includes photoraphs, which makes it both a visual and verbal environment. I can tweet right back with a positive comment! I also use Twitter to comment on the awesome in-class energy. Students see those tweets and retweet them, which builds a really positive culture.
CGS: What social media channels have you been using? Why have you chosen these channels?
SH: I primarily use Twitter, but I also use Storify, Flickr, and blogs. Storify is a great way to summarize the activities surrounding a class or lab. I don’t collect all student tweets there, instead I choose a few to highlight what we did and tell a story about it (see here). I work out a lot of ideas for my labs in one of my blogs, where I explore teaching and learning. I also ask students to read some of these posts and respond to me, you can see their detailed comments under some of the posts.
I use the latter two to encourage more detailed written responses from students, because Twitter obviously has the character limit.
CGS: How have students taken onto it? Do you think it’s enhanced their learning experience? Does it ever detract from the classroom experience (i.e., students using social when it’s not part of the lesson)
I asked my students to quantitatively address a series of questions about my primary teaching goal, which is engagement in class. From their responses it looks like their engagement is very high (I can share the statistics with you if you’re interested). Our use of social media seems to enhance that engagement.
As for distractions, I have to say that I trust my students as adults and I trust their learning process. They are well able to monitor their own work and stay on track. There are professors who will not allow devices, including laptops into their classrooms. I would rather not restrict the learning environment. Distractions are a part of life. I think we need to encourage responsibility and trust that our students will act accordingly.
CGS: We saw you tweeting with students on a recent snow day. Tell us more!
SH: We are studying urban ecology this semester; a huge, complex topic that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Given the snow day and classes being cancelled, we were missing a lecture on substantive, foundational material. So, as a Plan B, I sent a note out to my students early that morning, asking them to read and tweet me on one of several readings in our Blackboard site. Rather than being “sage on stage,” Twitter gave me the chance to get some great conversations going with students, and for others to track the conversation and learn from their classmates. It wasn’t how I initially intended to deliver some of the important concepts, but it worked pretty well and we merrily tweeted our way through the drifting snow!
CGS: Any advice on how can other teachers begin to think about integrating social media into their course?
SH: It’s up to the personal style of every professor. Some people don’t feel comfortable with social media and I respect that. It’s only a tool—not an end in itself. It’s really that whether you use technology or not, so much of teaching has to do with gauging where students are in their learning—observing your students closely, picking up on their energy levels, etc.
In order to get the best response rates, I am extremely intentional in the planning process: I outline what I want to get out of each tweet, and what I want to put into it. I also use it in moderation. Asking students to tweet me during every lecture might risk loosing the novelty of including social media as part of the course. I also try to respond to every student who tweets me, not during lecture, but during down time at home. This is a great way to start conversations and get to know students and their ideas better, but it also calls for a time commitment on my part.
There are so many ways to use social media. Here are some starting questions I would pose to a colleague interested in bringing social media into the classroom:
- What social channel(s) are you comfortable using? What do you like about it? Do you feel comfortable using it with students?
- How would you like to see social media enhance your students creativity? Critical thinking? Observational skills? Communication? Do you think it can spark enhanced engagement in your course?
- Can students use it in an unencumbered way? For example, at the beginning of the semester I ask students to invest time in signing up for twitter, flickr, and my blog site, and to follow me in all three. Once students have made this commitment it’s relatively easy to get in and use the sites. I do not want to impose “learning how to get into the site” on my students. If they can’t use it quickly and easily I don’t want to make them delve into it. So even something easy like twitter takes a bit of time to get into. And don’t expect that students “know how” to use social media. They may be fluent in Facebook but may not have ever used twitter. And most have never used flickr.
Bottom line: To identify opportunities in bringing social media to your course, outline what you want to get out of it as a faculty member, and what you want your students to get out of it. Then have fun.
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.