CGS Capstone Projects Make the Invisible Visible

A dance performance dramatized the struggle of  anxiety. A documentary investigated gentrification in Cambridge and Somerville. And a group of college students traveled out of the city to talk with former prisoners. These are a few of the Capstone projects that Boston University College of General Studies (CGS) students created in response to the theme, “Making the Invisible Visible.”

This year, the faculty of Team Y — Meg Tyler, John Mackey, and Samuel Hammer — spearheaded a pilot capstone project with the aim of “exploring beyond the traditional CGS capstone boundaries.” They issued a theme, “Making the invisible visible” and gave students full license to find and explore a topic within the theme. The final products: an individual log that records and describes the students’ experiences; a group annotated bibliography; a group creative work; a cooperatively generated exploratory essay; a group capstone defense.

Many of the group creative projects took bold risks. One group’s project grew out of a teammate’s personal experience with anxiety. “We realized that in modern day society, mental illnesses often goes unnoticed in college students,” the team said in a description of their project. They decided to produce a live, moving performance on the 5th floor of 808 Commonwealth Avenue, the art gallery building used by CFA students. Using spoken poetry, music and dance,  they said, “We were able to express ourselves, as well as bring to light the serious problem of mental disorders in college students.”

Another team took on the issue of mental health by going out into the BU community and inviting students to “paint your mental health on me.” Classmates painted a jail cell to show how mental health struggles can feel isolating, or smiling faces to represent healing. In their personal reflections, each teammate focused on a different facet of mental health and what the experience was like for each of them.

One team created care packages for Boston homeless women and then took a journey through Boston to deliver the packages and talk to women about their experience. Their group painting showed a Boston city-scape with ghostly outlines of homeless people in the streets.

Amanda Pelrine Mural

The team below visited a nonprofit that provides transitional housing for formerly incarcerated people. Students reflected on the visit through artwork and poetry and curated a gallery of photos from their trip.


Another team investigated the issue of gentrification in Boston by creating a 24-minute documentary, interviewing residents and activists who are working to get access to affordable housing in a rapidly gentrifying Cambridge and Somerville.

Another team, a self-described “diverse group of girls,” looked at how microaggressions affect people, creating a sculpture that reflected the invisibility of microaggressions and the damage they cause people. “Even though our microaggressions differed we were all effected in the same ways mentally,” said the team. “With the realization that our aggressors walked away harmless while the victims  (us) were damaged, we wanted to teach people what microaggressions, were so they can be identified, and stopped.”