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POV: Dean Elmore’s Syllabus for Love

A heartfelt assignment and an invitation this Valentine’s Day


New Offering LO21414: Learning How to Dream in Love, an Incomplete Syllabus

Course description

This path of study is an invitation for you to take a moment. A moment to think about the depths of love in your life. We will spend moments together thinking about big questions:

  • Can a society be shaped by love? How can a society be organized by love? What are the politics of love? Does social justice need to have love at its core? What would be the lived realities for power and business in a society shaped by love?
  • Has love contributed to our refinement, sophistication, and culture? If so, how?
  • Is love limited?
Instructor contact information and office hours

Who or what is the public voice and teacher of love? Love is connected to history and to people. If you accept the task, you are your best teacher.

Course goals and objectives

For you to answer: What is your conception of love?

The place and role of the course

The study of love can help us understand human dignity. It roots us and helps us meet each other’s memories. When we love, we acknowledge our own stories, memories, and history. And, we listen to others—hopefully to allow those voices in our conversations.

Course references
  • Your senses
  • Ambition
  • Faith
  • Fear
  • Sway
Course policies and classroom etiquette

Understanding how love defines people’s realities is important to this class. Presence—and periodic attendance—is required. Vulnerability and Desire to be loved are welcomed. No apology is necessary for the sense of Power and Fright you may encounter. Discussion is invited; Manipulation must be left at home. Ideas that end discussion will not receive a warm embrace. A word of advice: use caution when dealing with Cute and Impulsive. Be chary when Smother wants to take you out for coffee.

With the exception of the first one, late submissions are appreciated. Take the time you need to thoroughly live in the depths of love. Accomplishment in this class is not about completing assignments on time. Accomplishment might be better found in the joy of seeking. Confounding, inconvenient external questions and unforeseen struggles are well within the possibilities of this course and will be taken into account in the grading.

The work here is difficult, but full of joy if you do your own work. You can look to others for reference points, but you are not permitted to use someone else’s encounters within your heart. Failure to live your identity around your conception of love may result in a charge of academic dishonesty.

All accommodations welcomed in class. No prior diagnosis required.

First assignment

Course assignments should enable your critical reflection and allow you ample time to swoon.

To experience love, take note of moments. Sit and be aware of the things that touch your senses. You might get that sense of joy and celebration that, perhaps, is really the experience of love. I offer you a sample of my moments (in love):

  • Mention of my wife makes me grin like the Cheshire Cat.
  • Together, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman are sweetness.
  • Even if I cannot eat any, walking into an ice cream shop makes me swoon.
  • Eating a simple sandwich with a friend in the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is beyond description.
  • Pablo Neruda’s Love Poem XVII and Nikki Giovanni’s So Enchanted with You make me feel rooted.
  • I have to fan myself when the conversation gets loud, smart, and playful.
  • A set of kicks fresh out of the box.
  • Watching Bill T. Jones moves makes me giddy.
  • My mobile device feels just right.
  • A dish of red beans and rice is true.
  • Walking throughout a new city has a rhythm that is chaotic bliss.
  • Mary J. Blige (period).

The things that touch my senses give me a chance to reflect, be critical, change my mind, and open up to new ideas. Now, it’s your turn. Your assignment is to take a moment. What do you adore? What makes you swoon? What do you fancy, long for, admire, or enjoy? Give me a tip on what I can listen to, see, taste, and crush on.

Final assignment

This syllabus is incomplete. It needs your experiences. It needs sections on how to study for this course, a detailed course calendar, course requirements, evaluation specifics, information on grading, and a reading list with references.

Complete this syllabus.

(If you need to talk about this assignment, join me at The Castle, 225 Bay State Rd., today, Valentine’s Day, from 3 to 5 p.m. for a special Coffee and Conversation.)

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87) can be reached at kennmore@bu.edu.

“POV” is an opinion page that provides timely commentaries from students, faculty, and staff on a variety of issues: on-campus, local, state, national, or international. Anyone interested in submitting a piece, which should be about 700 words long, should contact Rich Barlow at barlowr@bu.edu.


One Comment on POV: Dean Elmore’s Syllabus for Love

  • Just another BU parent on 02.14.2014 at 11:01 am

    After thirty years of marriage I know I can’t sit back…
    Dean Elmore’s course makes it clear that I have to aspire to being “Evergreen”!
    (BU pun intended)

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