News & Events

Events — Fall 2018

November 14 at 6pm: James McNaughton (and Christopher Ricks, moderator) on Samuel Beckett. Co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Irish Culture at CITL and the Center for the Study of Europe. Details here.

A Look at Undergraduate Research: The Robot Revolution

By Alisa Harris
December 4th, 2018 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, News and Events, Research, Students.

When a woman took a nap on her floor and her robot vacuum cleaner sucked up her hair, the media response was predictably sensational: “A robot vacuum cleaner has fired the opening salvo in the impending war between man and machine” and “Woman is attacked as she sleeps by her ROBOT vacuum cleaner!” It’s perhaps an overreaction when you consider the robot was just doing its job. This sensationalism is one trend College of General Studies Lecturer Joelle Renstrom is trying to counter in a new book she’s writing about robotics and artificial intelligence. With the assistance of undergraduate researcher Sofia Zalaquett (CGS’19, CAS’21), Renstrom is diving into topics such as technological unemployment, love and sex with robots, artist robots, and the always-intriguing question of robot consciousness. Renstrom is trying to translate the science for a general audience and answer how the AI revolution will affect ordinary people. She says, “I don’t own a company, I don’t represent a lab, I don’t have a vested interest in this other than curiosity and wanting readers to … think about where the future is going so they potentially have some say in whether they’re pulled along or not.” Thanks to funding from the Center for... More

A Look at Undergraduate Research: A Philosopher-Director from Hollywood’s Golden Age

By Alisa Harris
September 12th, 2018 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, News and Events, Research, Students.

You’ve probably seen his movies, but you may not know his name. King Vidor directed some of the boundary-breaking films of the Golden Age of Hollywood. From the silent era classic The Big Parade to the Kansas scenes in The Wizard of Oz to the sweeping epic, War and Peace, Vidor moved with Hollywood from the silent era to sound—mastering the craft of filmmaking as it evolved and changed. He directed Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Yul Brynner, and Judy Garland, yet he’s not as well-known as his Hollywood contemporaries such as John Ford or Frank Capra. College of General Studies Associate Professor of Humanities Kevin Stoehr is writing a book on King Vidor with some research assistance from Luke Bonzani (CGS’18, COM’20, CAS’20), funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning Undergraduate Research Experience. Thanks to donations from generous alumni and parents, CITL funds a semester-long stipend for students to collaborate with professors on research projects. Bonzani and Stoehr connected, with an assist from another professor, because Luke is majoring in both film and philosophy and interested in how the two subjects intersect. Vidor shared that interest. Raised as a Christian Scientist, Vidor’s interest in spirituality and philosophy intertwined... More

CGS Hosts London Conference on Writing and the Nation

By Alisa Harris
July 9th, 2018 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Faculty, News and Events.

On June 30, 2018, an interdisciplinary group of scholars-- hailing from colleges and universities in at least seven countries (the US, the UK, France, Ireland, Germany, Malta, and the Netherlands)--convened at Boston University's Harrington Gardens building, in South Kensington. The gathering was a conference hosted by the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning at the College of General Studies, with the support of BU-London, on the topic of "Writing, the State, and the Rise of Neo-Nationalism: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Concerns.” The conference was organized by CGS Humanities Division faculty members Christopher K. Coffman and E. Thomas Finan. Finan offered a talk, “Motifs of Particularity and Pluralism in American Literature," and several other BU faculty presented. The CGS Divisional Chair of Humanities, Adam Sweeting, presented a paper entitled “‘I am Almost Glad not to Know Any Law for the Winds’: Thoreau’s Resistance to National Weather Discourse." Master Lecturer of Rhetoric John Regan chaired a panel on nationalism in 20th- and 21st-century Russia, and BU–London faculty members Andy Charlton and Aleks Sierz chaired panels on contemporary nationalism and New World nationalisms, respectively. The conference’s keynote speech, “Dylan and the Presidents,” by University of Bristol's Winterstoke Professor of English Daniel Karlin, offered a serious and... More

A Look at Undergraduate Research: Women Writers, Food, and Wartime

By Alisa Harris
May 4th, 2018 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Faculty, News and Events, Research, Students.

When a computer engineering student and an English major help a rhetoric professor with a book about British women writers and food, you’re seeing the interdisciplinary synergy of undergraduate research in action. College of General Studies Lecturer Kate Nash is writing a book on how twentieth-century writers—among them Virginia Woolf, Betty Miller, and Muriel Spark—incorporated wartime food ephemera into their fiction. During the austere years of World War I and World War II, governments aimed to manage food consumption through mass-media campaigns. Nash looks at how women writers incorporate these propaganda materials—from posters to infant feeding manuals to domestic pamphlets—into their writing as they confront how the state regulates femininity and the female body in service of the nation. In the books that Nash studies, young women use chocolate as a form of currency during the hungry years of wartime London, and a restaurant meal becomes a symbol of racial assimilation. This may not sound like the kind of project a computer engineering student would sign up to work on, but Rene Colato (CGS’18, ENG’20) was up for the challenge. After the topic of political propaganda came up in his rhetoric class with Nash, he became interested in helping with her research. The... More

Do Probiotics Work?

By Alisa Harris
November 28th, 2017 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Faculty, Natural Sciences, News and Events, Research.

Manufacturers are always promoting their newest probiotic by promising it will get rid of the bad bacteria in your body by bringing in the good bacteria. But are these probiotics doing what they are supposed to be doing? Professor Sandra Buerger,  a lecturer in natural science and mathematics at the College of General Studies, and Alexander Smith (CGS’19) wanted to find out if these probiotics were the real deal. With a grant from the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Buerger and Smith went to the drugstore and got samples of different probiotics. After going back to the lab, Buerger and Smith ran their experiment by putting the pill's diluted bacterial powder onto petri dishes. Buerger also decided to test the probiotics against naturally fermented foods like miso soup and apple-cider vinegar.  According to Buerger, “The numbers from our methods have been a little lower than what’s claimed on the box, but there are definitely living bacteria" in the probiotic pills.  According to BU Research, the next step for Buerger is finding out whether all those bacteria actually make it through the digestive system to the small intestine. To do this, Buerger and Smith plan on building an artificial stomach that will... More