At the Crossroads of Theory and Practice
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The BU Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is the Hub’s signature interdisciplinary project-based, 4-credit elective course open to juniors and seniors from all of BU’s undergraduate schools and colleges. The XCC engages students in team projects that address a real-world problem or an enduring human question. Students who are especially passionate about a particular subject matter and prepared to be active participants in a rigorous team-based experience are highly recommended to register early as seats are limited.
Each section is co-led by two faculty members from different disciplines. Student teams work with their faculty as well as with a variety of campus and community partners on a substantial, research-based challenge while building their knowledge and skills in 4 key Hub areas.
All of the XCC courses satisfy the Intellectual Toolkit Hub units in Creativity/Innovation, Research and Information Literacy, and Teamwork/Collaboration. The fourth Hub unit addresses Communication in written, oral, and digital forms, and varies by course number.
Fall 2023 Sections and Projects
HUB XC 410 C1
Back to the Past: Gaming for Immersive Role Play
Maria Gapotchenko (CAS) and Kathryn Lamontagne (CGS)
In this game-based course, students will play and then design an immersive role-playing game for the Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consortium. RTTP uses active, experiential learning to help students engage with important social, political, historical, and cultural debates. Student teams will research, create, playtest, and pitch their own micro-games based on controversies broadly related to social justice (for example, suffrage or the Boston busing crisis) and/or focused in the Northeast (ex., Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day and the Wampanoag people or Yawkey’s memory).
Our focus will be on key moments — such as trials, rebellions, strikes, and public debates — involving historically marginalized communities as they pursued their social, economic, and political rights. Who stood with them? Who opposed them? Why? Who were their leaders, and what methods did they and their opponents use to persuade the undecideds to join their side? What spoken and unspoken rules, customs, interests, and values governed these various parties’ decision-making? How can we use this information to help others learn about these crucial historical moments?
Research will be conducted in partnership with a number of repositories, archives, and libraries. Ultimately, students will create a game that is playable, meets or exceeds the community partner’s expectations, and is, most importantly, fun, dynamic and engaging. Successful prototypes may be posted on the RTTP Game Library website for use beyond BU, with an option for submission to the annual RTTP game development conference.
View past syllabus
HUB XC 420 A1
A Story on Every Street: Exploring Walkability in Boston
Tom Anastasi (Questrom) and Carrie Bennet (CAS)
W 2:30 pm-5:15 pm
HUB XC 433 A1
Environmental Equality and Urban Tree Canopies
Salvatore Genovese (CGS) and Joelle Renstrom (CGS)
Urban areas have specific challenges when it comes to rising temperatures. With less tree cover and more asphalt and blacktop, cities can have spots that are 20-50 degrees warmer than the nearby countryside. Lower-income populations without air conditioning are particularly impacted, as are older and chronically ill populations. Trees also sequester carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis, and provide aesthetic benefits to urban human populations. Like climate change in general, the presence of tree canopies is an issue of environmental equality and racism. In this course, students will learn about trees and tree cover, as well as preconceptions and misconceptions about them. Then, students will conduct in-person surveys to assess tree cover in specific Boston neighborhoods. Students will also interview residents to get a sense of what they know and think about tree cover and to chart the history of tree cover and growth in that neighborhood. Ultimately, students will arrive at a recommendation regarding tree cover and will work with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation to request tree planting.
M 2:30 pm-5:15 pm
View past syllabus
HUB XC 433 B1
Spirit of Wonder: Cross-Cultural Storytelling
Kim Schuckra (CAS) and Christiane Kaden (CAS)
HUB-XCC’s Cross-Cultural Storytelling allows students to learn the Spirit of Wonder (SOW) research model, including interviewing, video blogging and essay writing. This course provides students with the opportunity to study and practice social cross-cultural research methodologies, including designing qualitative research questions, connecting and engaging with targeted populations, collecting data through SOW’s storytelling interviews, analyzing data, and presenting their findings in written and visual formats. Students receive the tools they need to interview candidates, analyze their stories and develop narratives, comparative analysis and presentations on various themes. This course also requires students to work effectively in teams to develop creative strategies for presenting their research to a broader public and to recommend additional research strategies and uses of the data.
View past syllabus
HUB XC 433 C1
Marketing and Social Equity in the Cannabis Industry
Seth Blumenthal (CAS) and Jonathan Hibbard (Questrom)
This project intends to have teams work with the leadership of cannabis industry organizations in Massachusetts as they seek to promote entrepreneurial interests among social equity applicants. Teams will design and develop marketing plans, materials, and other wrap around services, for approved applicants. As part of this course, XCC student teams will conduct market research, develop strategies, and offer creative solutions around what those clients can do to generate awareness and market for those new businesses.
View past syllabus
FALL 2023 SPARK! XCC SECTIONS
HUB XC475 A1: SPARK! TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION
HUB XC410 A1: SPARK! JUSTICE MEDIA CO-LAB
HUB XC410 B1: SPARK! DATA SCIENCE FOR GOOD
BU Spark! collaborates with the BU Hub to offer a series of XCC courses focused on computing and data sciences. These courses are offered to students from diverse backgrounds relevant to the topics addressed and include a track with seats reserved for students with a background in computing and data science. There is also a track for majors relevant to the course e.g. journalism, graphic design, social sciences. Because of the specialized nature of these courses, an application is required before registration is confirmed.