At the Crossroads of Theory and Practice
The BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC or HUB XC 433) is the Hub’s signature interdisciplinary project-based, 4-credit elective course open to juniors and seniors from all 10 undergraduate schools and colleges. (Sophomores may enroll at the discretion of an instructor.) The XCC engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Each section is co-led by two faculty members. Student teams work with their faculty as well as with a variety of on-campus and community partners on a substantial, research-based challenge while building their knowledge and skills in 4 key Hub areas:
- Oral and/or Signed Communication
- Research and Information Literacy
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Fall 2020 Sections and Projects
Samantha Myers (CAS) and Robert Weintraub (Wheelock)
Creating a Civic Engagement Guide for High School Students
In the heat of the 2020 presidential campaign, we will lead a project to create a curriculum on democracy and the democratic process for American high school students. Existing programs focus on high school seniors who have reached voting age, but we believe education on democracy – its genesis, how it works, why it matters, and the individual’s role in it — should begin much earlier. Unfortunately, this fundamental and essential element of learning is often squeezed to the edges of public education because of federally- and state-mandated standardized testing, an assessment tool that is likely here to stay in public schooling, at least for now. In light of the current lack of emphasis on social studies in the context of high-stakes testing in math and literacy, we will develop, write about, and advocate for an “Education for Democracy” that fits with current public schooling priorities and expectations, while also helping to create engaged, informed citizens.
Rebecca Nichols (Questrom) and Kim Shuckra-Gomez (CAS)
Cross Cultural Exploration of Music
Music is an accessible form of self-expression, a conscious voice exploring themes of race, identity, social justice, and politics. Music has transformed and evolved into many different pockets around the world. But, what are the connections between music and cultural diversity? How have the generations influenced each other and how can music help enrich cultural awareness? Our project is to assist the BU Arts Initiative in their annual Global Music Festival, connecting students and community organizations from diverse backgrounds through music. Students will assist with the client’s ongoing quest for inclusion and cultural awareness throughout the University and Boston community. Students will also experience music of various cultural and diverse groups to better position themselves on making their proposal. Teams will continue the work of the Fall 2019 class in securing funding sources, community and student engagement for the FALL 2020 event. Students will deliver a proposal for advertising, grants and other media to reach both the BU student body in addition to the surrounding community multi-cultural groups (both academic and social). The goal of the project groups would be to increase awareness of how music can make connections across global communities.
Janine Bempechat (Wheelock) and Ashley Davis (SSW)
Photography for Youth Activism
How can marginalized youth come to see themselves as catalysts of social change?
In this course, we will learn and practice the process of photovoice — an accessible activism tool that uses photographs and narratives to illustrate the unique perspective of individuals within a community — and then teach the process to youth at 826 Boston, a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization located in Roxbury. We will work alongside youth to create a photovoice project that will be displayed at BU and 826 Boston, with an emphasis on photovoice as a tool to empower marginalized youth to pursue social justice in their own communities.
Gavin Benke (CAS) and Stacy Scott (Wheelock)
Stories Across Borders
HUB-XCC’s Spirit of Wonder Course allows students to learn the Spirit of Wonder (SOW) research model, including interviewing, video blogging and essay writing. This course provides students with the opportunity to study and practice social cross-cultural research methodologies, including designing qualitative research questions, connecting and engaging with targeted populations, collecting data through SOW’s storytelling interviews, analyzing data, and presenting their findings in written and visual formats. Students receive the tools they need to interview candidates, analyze their stories and develop narratives, comparative analysis and presentations on various themes. This course also requires students to work effectively in teams to develop creative strategies for presenting their research to a broader public and to recommend additional research strategies and uses of the data. Initially, students will work individually to practice the skills needed to succeed in the class. Subsequently, students will work with their peers to process the interview data as a team. Each team will choose a target population locally or internationally. Students will be supported by the SOW project team as needed.
M 2:30pm – 5:15pm
Shilpa Parnami (CAS)
Marketing BU Smart$ 101
The aim of this project is to design and implement an awareness campaign to promote Boston University’s Smart Money 101 initiative and strategically market it to the BU student community. Smart$ 101 is a BU Financial Assistance initiative established to provide the Boston University community with online tools, information and other resources to promote effective money management. The program is looking to expand its reach and improve student engagement with the financial wellness tools and expertise that they offer. As part of this course, XCC student teams will conduct market research, develop strategies, and offer creative solutions around what their client can do to maximize engagement with the BU student community.
Non-AI Knowledge Assessment Tool For Unscrambling Text
The goal of Knowla (Knowledge Assessment)  is to automatically grade and give feedback on essay-type questions. It is a (non-AI) system for learnind testing based on unscrambling text. I received funding from BU a couple of years ago to develop tools for and and assess Knowla. (It was mentioned at a Board of Trustees meeting, I believe.)
A subject can be expected to select and order perhaps 10 fragments from a list of perhaps 20 alternatives (imagine unscrambling the sentences of the Gettysburg Address combined with those of another Lincoln speech). The goal of the next version of Knowla is to apply it to essays of several pages. I have designed a hierarchical technique to do this, and it needs evaluation.