Seminars

The seminars listed below were offered in Summer 2014. Please check back on December 15 for more details about our 2015 Summer Challenge seminars.

Boston University's Summer Challenge seminars allow you to engage in a high level of learning and achievement with other high school students—without focusing on grades. Choosing two non-credit seminars (one morning, one afternoon), you'll participate in lectures, discussions, individual and group work, project-based assignments, and field trips. Small class sizes of about twenty students ensure ample attention from experienced college instructors as you meet the challenges of college-level study. Each seminar culminates in a final class presentation.

In August/September, a certificate of completion and letters of evaluation from both seminar instructors will be mailed to you.

Abnormal Psychology

This course investigates the experience and expression of psychological disorders—what it means to be "abnormal" and its effect on peoples’ lives. Students are encouraged to think analytically and challenge their beliefs regarding abnormal behavior and personality. Through dynamic group exercises and discussions, students gain a working knowledge of psychological disorders and an appreciation for the challenges of experiencing mental illness.

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Business: From the Ground Up

Explore fundamental business principles and how they are applied in today's marketplace. Learn what a business plan is and the importance of developing one to effectively market and finance any new venture. Students work in groups to develop their product ideas.

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Chemistry of Medicine

Students gain an appreciation for medicinal chemistry through lecture and laboratory experiments, with a focus on the mechanisms of action of drugs and other biologically-active compounds. Experiments focus on detection, isolation, and purification of these compounds from drugs and natural sources. Students also have the opportunity to synthesize the active ingredients of an over-the-counter painkiller. The laboratory portion of the course introduces students to important techniques and procedures commonly used in medicinal, organic, and biochemistry laboratories.

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Computer Science

This course is designed to provide an overview of computer science concepts as well as teach basic programming skills. Students learn about algorithms, variables and expressions, input and output, if-else statements, for and while loops, functions and parameters, and simple data structures. The course introduces the history of computer science, artificial intelligence, software engineering, computer networking, and computer-human interaction. Students work in groups to code in two programming languages—Scratch and Java, and will choose one language to use for a final project.

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Creative Writing

Through reading and discussion, students analyze different styles of writing. In addition, students write original creative pieces and improve their writing skills by discussing their work in class as a group.

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Economics

This seminar examines the principles of economic behavior of individuals and firms. Students become familiar with the theory of consumer choice and strategic behavior of individuals and firms through use of class experiments and lectures. By the end of the seminar, students are able to use game theory to create a model of strategic decision and find the predicted outcome of the game.

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Electrical Engineering

Investigation of engineering methods through topical challenges provided by the Smart Lighting Center. Students investigate and experiment with tools and technologies used in the development of novel LED lighting including its adaptation to applications such as visual light communication.

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The History of Boston

Through lectures, discussions, and walking field trips throughout the historical city of Boston, students learn how the city's writers, thinkers, activists, and citizens have helped define American identity into the twenty-first century. The class considers the American Revolution, Transcendentalism, slavery and abolition, urban politics, and immigration and ethnicity.

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Infectious Diseases

The goal of this course is to give students a basic understanding of the causes, pathology and cures of human infectious diseases, by engaging in lectures and conducting experiments. Specific diseases such as influenza, SARS, AIDS, and cancer are used to to illustrate the mechanisms of human disease. The laboratory component of this course functions as an introductory microbiology lab that allows students to study the morphological and physiological characteristics of microorganisms.

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International Politics

This course analyzes several United States foreign policy case studies in-depth through structural, politico-bureaucratic, socio-economic, and individual causes. Students work in groups and participate in class debates to better understand the intricacies of decision making in resolving international conflict situations.

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Journalism

This course examines various aspects of journalism, from print to newsreels, television, and the Internet. Through lectures and practical exercises, students learn concepts such as objective versus subjective reporting, features, reviews, photojournalism, ethics, and commentary. Class time is spent learning the histories of print and electronic media, studying the differences between the two formats, and presenting students' work.

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Law

Receive an introduction to the United States court system. Learn to read, interpret, and brief a court opinion, as well as discuss the importance and effect of precedent under the common law. Students have the opportunity to sample the law school experience, to gain fluency in legal vocabulary and procedures, and to engage in mock adjudication sessions.

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Mass Communication

Learn about advertising, public relations, journalism, film, and television. Classes focus on the history, current trends, and future of these media in America. Students work in groups on communication-related projects such as the advertising pitch, film analysis, news reporting, and television and print advertising.

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Nutrition

Learn how to translate the latest nutrition guidelines into appealing food choices for health promotion and disease prevention. Explore nutrition basics including carbohydrate, protein, fat, calories, vitamins, and minerals, as well as nutrition preferences such as vegetarianism. Students will calculate their unique nutrition needs for individualized meal planning and develop skills and strategies to implement a healthy lifestyle through interactive sessions.

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Persuasive Writing

Learn persuasive ways to express your thoughts. Write convincing essays with emphasis on research techniques, including the location, evaluation, and synthesis of secondary sources. Explore the special impact of evidence on persuasion as you develop core skills—analysis, argument, and source use—for academic writing.

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Photography

Students learn the technical and aesthetic possibilities available when working in digital photography. Through a series of sequential assignments students explore the "digital darkroom" using digital imaging software and output a portfolio of printed images. This course introduces the basic tools, techniques, and concepts of photographic media. Emphasis is placed on composition, narrative, and use of natural light. Each student must arrive equipped with a digital SLR camera with manual features.

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Topics in Philosophy

Topic for summer 2014: Philosophy and Self-Identity.Do you really know who you are? The Ancient Greeks believed that self-knowledge was the seat of wisdom. In the 2500 years since, philosophers have continued to wonder about selfhood and personal identity. Technology and globalization have made these questions even more pressing. Do our online profiles, minds, or bodies reflect our true identities? Can our smart phones and computers be understood as extensions of our mind? This seminar looks at readings from philosophy, literature and psychology as well as contemporary film in order to examine what personal identity and selfhood means today. 

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Visual Arts

See a student presentation
See one of our Visual Arts students' final projects

Through drawing and painting, this course offers students an opportunity to work from observation and memory while exploring the use of representation, color, and abstraction to capture feeling and meaning. On-site drawing experiences at locations around the city and a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts provide inspiration for students. No previous experience required.

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