Service Learning and Social Justice Education at Boston University

If you’ve have taken (or teach!) a course at BU that involves service learning or social justice issues, let us know by emailing!

BU Hub

HUB XC433: Cross-College Challenge Projects

The Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is a unique project-based learning experience in which interdisciplinary student teams from across BU’s undergraduate colleges tackle real-world problems and develop marketable leadership, team work, and communication skills. Students from any major collaborate with both on and off campus sponsors exposing students to current challenges impacting BU and the City of Boston in areas such as arts management, technology, entrepreneurship, environmental justice, and beyond.

Spring 2019: Come to Washington in Spring 2019 and explore a topic worthy of your time: “Gentrification in DC.” Get to know Washington, D.C. as part of the BU Washington Program (BU Study Abroad) during the course of a semester and connect with those in the policy, political, business and urban planning worlds while tackling a serious issue needing your attention. Engage with BU alums working in the city as consultants, residents and policymakers. For more information, visit the BU Hub on the 5th Floor of the GSU at 4pm on October 9th, 17th, 22nd or 25th!

This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Teamwork/Collaboration, Creativity/Innovation, Oral and/or Signed Communication, Research and Information Literacy.

HUB CC121: Cocurricular: Critical Reflection on Community Engagement

Students participate in community engagement experiences with social change organizations in the Greater Boston area and reflect upon how lived experience and relevant issues inform their own as well as others’ perspectives. To be eligible, students must have or plan to have a semester- or year-long community service placement with a Community Service Center program.

This Hub cocurricular fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: The Individual in Community.

For more information on CC121, please contact The Community Service Center at or by visiting us on the 4th Floor of the George Sherman Union!

HUB CC162: Innovation for Social Impact: Applying the Design Thinking Process Towards Social Challenges

This cocurricular experience allows students to investigate social challenges and develop impactful solutions. Through activities, discussions, readings, and reflections, students explore creativity and innovation methods, examine individual and collective behavior, and engage with diverse communities. Students also complete a capstone project in which they draft a design challenge, apply the design thinking process, and set personal and project goals. In addition, students assess personal and institutional factors that support or inhibit creativity.

This Hub cocurricular fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Creativity/Innovation.

College of Arts & Sciences

CAS AA335: Sociology of Race, Class and Gender

Examines race, class, gender, and sexuality as intersecting axes of stratification, identity, and experience. Draws heavily from feminist theories in both sociology and history in order to analyze how these intersections can be applied to understanding social problems and structures. Also offered as CAS SO 335 and CAS WS 335.

Prerequisite: at least one prior 100 or 200 level Sociology course or WS101 and WS102

CAS AM202: What’s Boston?

What’s Boston? explores Boston’s complex urban and natural world. University faculty share cutting-edge research, focusing on Boston as a PLACE and a guiding IDEA, introducing the perspectives of disparate scholarly disciplines. Discover where you stand and where you might go! This course carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. This course fulfills one unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.

CAS AN363: Food and Water: Critical Perspectives on Global Crises

The multiple causes and consequences of global food and water crises. Examines production, consumption, and distribution of food, and studies a range of water management systems–and the politics of water–in different parts of the world.

CAS GE100: Environmental Change and Sustainability

Introduces natural and social science concepts that underlie global environmental change and sustainability. Topics include climate change, biodiversity, energy, water, pollution, deforestation, agriculture, population growth. Sustainable development illustrated with ecological footprint based on student’s lifestyle. Carries social science divisional credit in CAS.

CAS GE150: Sustainable Energy: Technology, Resources, Society and Environment

Examines the social, environmental, and technological aspects of renewable and nonrenewable energy systems, their historical evolution and implications for the future. Discusses energy issues in context of globalization, climate change, and sustainable development. Explores lifestyle and policy decisions related to energy issues. Carries social science divisional credit in CAS. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Scientific Inquiry I, Research and Information Literacy.

CAS GE524: Environmental Justice

Exploration of the origins of and current trends in environmental justice activism and scholarship. Introduces empirical evidence of environmental (in)justice, links contemporary environmental problems to historical and broader political-economic processes, and explores a range of responses to environmental injustice.

Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor

CAS IR242: Globalization and World Poverty

(Meets with CAS SO 242.) Globalization and world poverty; how and why over 80% of the world remains poor and inequality increases despite economic modernization and democratization. Addresses urbanization, immigration, religion, politics, development politics, foreign aid, women, drugs, environment, food security. Special attention to Latin American, African, and Asian experiences. Carries social science divisional credit in CAS. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Social Inquiry I, Ethical Reasoning.

CAS IR304: Environmentally Sustainable Development

(Meets with CAS EE 304.) Traces the emergence of sustainable development as the defining environmental challenge of our times. Surveys and evaluates policies for balancing ecological sustainability and economic development in various parts of the world and at the global level.

CAS IR348: History of International Human Rights

Meets with CAS HI 346. History of international human rights since the eighteenth century. Examines political, social, economic rights, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and related international conventions, enforcement, regionalism, globalization, and NGOs. Analyzes tensions between national sovereignty and human rights.

CAS PH436: Gender, Race, and Science

Examines issues in feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and philosophy of science. Is “race” a genuine scientific category or a social construct? How have views about gender and race changed? Why are there still so few women and minority scientists?

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

CAS PO519: Inequality and American Politics

Combining research from history, political science, economics, and public policy, this course examines the role of income inequality in shaping American politics and policy.

CAS PS361: Racism, Sexism and Prejudice

Similarities and differences in racism and sexism examined as prejudice, cognitions, self-image, and group relations. Tactics, strategies, and programs of changing issues in schools and industry. Student projects.

Prerequisite: PS261

CAS SO210: Confronting Persistent Social Inequalities in American Schools: Educational and Sociological Perspectives

Examines issues of race, culture, gender, and identity in urban elementary classrooms. Course taught at the Trotter School; transportation provided. Includes a field placement.

CAS SO220: The Nonprofit Sector in Society

Examines the empirical composition and dynamics of the nonprofit sector. Introduces the sociological perspective on this societal space, including debates over its origins, behavior, and purpose in the US and abroad. Provides overview of market-based providers of social benefits.

CAS SO306: Boston’s People and Neighborhoods

A comparison between nineteenth- and twentieth-century neighborhoods, connecting changes in everyday life to larger demographic, economic, physical, and political changes affecting the whole city and immediate suburbs. Includes tours of several Boston neighborhoods and archival research using neighborhood newspapers. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area(s): Social Inquiry II, Individual in Community, Teamwork/Collaboration.

Prerequisite: CAS SO244 or instructor consent

CAS SO314: Social Problems and Social Change

Focuses on social problems such as ethnic and sexual discrimination, deviance and crime, and mental disorders. A theoretical approach is taken to identify and interpret changes generated by the contradictions of industrialization and modernization.

CAS WS350: Women and Politics

Readings, discussion, and field research on issues of women’s relationship to the processes of political influence, change, and empowerment. Analysis of public policy related to women and children. Also offered as CAS PO 309.

CAS WS213: Sexism in the 21st Century

This course explores how global expressions of sexism shape all of our lives, experiences, and life chances, with particular attention to how race, class, and sexuality intersect with gender to shape social inequalities. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Social Inquiry I, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.

College of Fine Arts

CFA AR369: Art, Community & Social Engagement

The course provides opportunities for experiential learning, research, reflections, guest lectures, and discussions as tools to understand the creative approaches and philosophies represented in the community art engagement and social practices of cultural workers in contemporary, global and national contexts. A finely crafted final project allows for the demonstration of intercultural literacy, through an innovative execution-ready community- based project proposal designed in collaboration with peers or members of a local community. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Individual in Community, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Creativity/Innovation.

CFA MH331: Music & Social Protest

No prereq; open to all students. Selected topics concerning non-western music and culture, including colonialism and post-colonialism, orientalism, anthropological perspectives, modernization, transmission, migration, diaspora, and the influence of technology. 3 cr.

Questrom School of Business

QST LA346: Business, Justice and Responsibility

This course explores the legal and ethical challenges a leader will face in a highly regulated, complex, global business. We will explore societal issues such as lying, bias, fraud, corruption, stereotyping, religious freedom, discrimination, and whistleblowing, and consider the responsibility of a business and its leaders to address these challenges, and to create a more just society. Students will also consider the competing roles of business, the legislature, and the courts in addressing societal issues. By reading Supreme Court opinions and business cases, participating in oral arguments, engaging in efforts to make social change, and studying current events, students will deepen skills in analyzing ethical dilemmas and thinking critically. This course will teach students to view decisions through multiple frames, develop empathy, and train them to engage in a meaningful, substantive dialogue — written and spoken — about sensitive topics in a professional setting.

Prerequisite: QST LA245

QST OB221: The Dynamics of Leading Organizations

This is an experiential learning-based course that studies what people think, feel and do in organizational settings, focusing on individual, interpersonal, group and organizational processes. The primary objective is to help students understand and manage organizational dynamics as effectively as possible. This is done through: analysis of readings; reflecting on hands-on, real-time experiences in organizations and in teamwork here; practice opportunities in class sessions, creative applications and team exercises; and papers written by students and teams. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Teamwork/Collaboration.

Prerequisites: QST SM131 and QST FE101

QST OB456: Leadership and Management of Social Enterprises

A well-managed social enterprise can translate idealism into action. It can help create a world that is more sustainable, more compassionate, and more just. This course will explore the distinctive aspects of launching, leading, and growing an enterprise — nonprofit or for-profit — whose primary goal is social impact. We will study mission, strategy, cause marketing, social entrepreneurship, and scaling. We will learn that success for social enterprise is driven less by a compelling story or a charismatic advocate than by diligent management and insightful leadership. The course will use a variety of lively in-class learning activities and assignments, including debates, role plays, case studies, site visits, and guest experts. All students will conduct a research project on a social enterprise of their choice, culminating in a paper and presentation.

Prerequisites: QST OB221

College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College

SAR HP252: Health and Disability Across the Lifespan

Overview of healthy development across the lifespan followed by an examination of common conditions that typically begin in certain stages. Each condition will be examined for its individual, group and systemic impacts.

SAR HS325: Introduction to Global Health

This course will provide students with an overview of the complex social, economic, political, environmental, and biological factors that structure the origins, consequences, and possible treatments of illness worldwide, as well as the promotion of health. Students will learn about the major themes and concepts shaping the interdisciplinary field of global health, and will gain an understanding of solutions to health challenges that have been successfully implemented in different parts of the world. Major topics will include the linkages between global health and economic development, the global burden of disease, key actors in global health, and lessons learned from the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

SAR HS432: Urban Design and Global Health

Most of the world’s population now lives in urbanized areas, and virtually all future population growth is expected to be urban. This course will address the impacts and opportunities of cities for public health, the environment, and global equity. We will examine the historical, social, economic, and aesthetic reasons for urban design decisions, along with the impacts of those decisions on public health. We’ll consider the history and future of urban health infrastructure, as well as modern innovations in design and technology that promise to improve (or degrade) public health. Lessons from cities in the developed world will be applied to design in the developing world, and vice versa. Major topics will include transportation; nature in an urban setting; slums and healthy housing; the epidemiologic study of urban health; zoning and other land-use controls; sanitation; and the history and impacts of globalization.

Metropolitan College

MET: SO501: Leadership through Service

This course explores theories of teamwork, leadership, and organizational behavior through a lens of New England’s history and culture. By studying the social and environmental challenges Bostonians have faced, students will gain a deeper understanding of how communities can solve issues facing the world today. Through service learning, students will work in teams and volunteer with non-profit organizations in the Boston area. By the end of the semester, students will have a deeper understanding of major social issues as well as the skills and experience to help solve them.

Wheelock College of Education and Human Development

Wheelock ED410: Social Context of Education

How culture, race, language, poverty, social change, urban pressures, and rural isolation affect the work of schools and other educational institutions, based upon reading, discussion, field research, and extensive writing by students. SED ED 410 A1 and ED 412 A1 must be taken in the same semester or ED 410 B1 in the fall and ED 412 B1 in the spring. 2cr.

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing

Wheelock SE 250: Disability, Education and Public Policy

Designed to develop an understanding of the impact of disability on individuals and their families, and the necessary educational and public policies to support them. 4 cr.