Q&A: CGS’s New Boston-New England Experience

This year, the College of General Studies is offering incoming first-year students the opportunity for an interdisciplinary, experiential education without leaving New England. The Boston-New England experience, hosted for the first time this year, gives students the opportunity to spend their spring semester in Boston, and continue with a Summer 1 semester that takes them to historical sites around New England.

The Boston-New England experience is a great alternative for international students who are already studying abroad in Boston, students who are unable to travel to London, or students who simply prefer to remain in Boston for the summer. The Boston-New England experience provides the same educational benefits as the Boston-London experience. All students who wish to participate in the Boston-New England experience can opt in on their registration day.

We spoke with Master Lecturer of Rhetoric Regina Hansen, the lead professor for the Boston-New England experience, about what students can expect from the new experience.

Q: What is the Boston-New England experience?

A: It is an interdisciplinary and experiential learning experience that focuses on six historical tipping points from the point of view of Rhetoric, Social Science and Humanities and within the context of the history and culture of Boston and the New England region.

Q: Why did CGS choose to offer the Boston-New England experience?  

A: We want to offer this unique experiential learning curriculum to students who want to continue their studies in Boston instead of London. There is a wealth of history and cultural experience in New England that will benefit our students. We live in an area that provides historical and cultural context for the ideas and events our students are studying, from the American Revolution to environmentalism (with Thoreau) to issues of race and gender (the New England history with Indigenous people, the Salem Witch Trials, the legacy of slavery). Students have the opportunity to visit and study the places where these events took place and where these ideas took shapefrom Salem to Walden pond to Longfellow House to the African American Meeting House.

Q: What are some of the locations students will visit during the semester?

A: Newport RI, Salem MA, Martha’s Vineyard and a variety of museums and cultural events.

Q: Which out-of-the-classroom experiences are you most looking forward to?

A: Salem, because I am looking forward to having students discover the ways in which the people of Salem have taken tragic events and both honored them and also profited from the. I’m also interested in students trying to answer the question: Why has Salemwhere people were persecuted as witches even thought they were not witchesbecome a place that celebrates witchcraft and all things spooky, as well as a place where modern day witches and Wiccans congregate? Salem and New Bedford (which we will also visit) are both steeped in tragic history, and yet they have in different ways, made themselves destinations based on those histories.

Q: How is the Boston-New England experience similar to Boston-London? How is it different?

A: We will follow the Tipping Points and engage in experiential learning, just as in London. Aside from location, we also plan to focus on both well-known historical and cultural themes and events and also on the points of view and experiences of marginalized people.

Q: Why is Boston-New England only offered summer session 1?

A: This is a practical solution for students who live far from BU and would find it hard to travel back and forth.

Q: What are the benefits of choosing the Boston-New England option?  

A: This program provides all educational benefits of the CGS team system, as well as interdisciplinary and experiential learning to students who need to or prefer to remain in Massachusetts for their university education.

Q: How do you expect the experience to enhance students’ experiences living and studying in Boston?

A: Many students spend four years studying in Boston and never get to know anything past Newbury Street or Harvard Square. Students in the Boston-New England experience will learn to truly know the area, its history and people. This is important because it would be entirely possible for college students living on campus to almost never interact with people outside of their age group. That is not the real world. College is a bubble. Students learn more when they break out of it.