Interdisciplinary Studies Undergraduate Courses

Click on any course title below to read its description. Courses offered in the upcoming semester include a schedule, and are indicated by a label to the right of the title.

This introduction to philosophy revolves around selected films and related texts that provoke serious reflection on issues of knowledge, ethics, and personal identity. The main objective of the course is to provide an introduction to the nature of philosophical inquiry and analysis by exposing the student to specific philosophical problems and issues. By focusing on film as the visual and narrative medium in which these problems and issues emerge, the student will also consider the ways in which art (with the focus here being on cinematic art) can represent and embody philosophical questions, ideas, and positions. Related objectives include the development of critical thinking and writing skills as well as the cultivation of the student's appreciation of film as an art form.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course, we will explore biological principles in the context of food. It will focus on biodiversity, evolution, biochemistry, symbioses, and humans in the biosphere. Students will be encouraged to make their own connections about the world of food by learning about biological interactions and relationships.   [ 4 cr. ]

The purpose of the course is threefold: first, to introduce students to a wide variety of essay forms, arranged historically and considered in historical context; second, to provide the opportunity to practice these forms and by imitating models to become more adept and polished writers of the essay, and finally, to explore the theory of the essay, by examining discussions among literary critics concerning the defining characteristics of the genre.  [ 4 cr. ]

The course examines the philosophical underpinnings of what it means to be an American and the experiences of ordinary men and women in the making of modern America. It will look closely at the ideas of those who founded the nation and how this affected the idealism which became the American identity. The role of immigration, the change from agrarian to urban industrialized society, the growth and influence of labor unions, the shift of the U.S. from maker to buyer of goods and services, and how the ideological notion of what it means to be American evolved will be examined. How events shaped lives and national identity will be discussed. The course will look at ordinary workers and their communities and how they adjusted to changing events and forces around them.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
SO1 IND Alpert ARR

This course will explore the science behind new technologies in biology, but it will also address the ethical questions that define and direct the application of these approaches, especially in humans. Students initially will be expected to master the basic biology of DNA, gene expression, and genomics. The course will require students to learn the basic components of ethical theory and apply them to living organisms in general and to human life in particular.  [ 4 cr. ]

Sabermetrics: An Introduction to Baseball Analytics - Data is everywhere and Big Data is becoming a common phase in business, policy, education, and most human endeavors. This course will be an introduction to Big Data, data science, and data analytics using sports data, specifically baseball data. You do not have to be a fan of baseball, or even know the rules of the game for this course! By the end of the course you should know more about the game of baseball, understand the fundamentals of the emerging science of sabermetrics, and know how to work with data using current software tools.  [ 4 cr. ]

This interdisciplinary course pairs well-known "classic" texts with more contemporary, perhaps lesser-known works that, in one way or another, respond to the earlier examples. The course focuses on traditions (literary, cinematic, and so forth) to emphasize genre and cultural history, and, as one of its goals, moves toward discussions of aesthetics. The course will examine the timeless quality of any work we consider a "classic" and also challenge the idea of timelessness by thinking about dialogues that exist between centuries and cultures and art. Contemporary examples will allow students to think of how other voices and perspectives (gender, ethnic, racial) may question the stability of what we often deem enduring or artistic. The course pushes beyond a simple comparison/contrast approach and mere discussions of influence. Instead, we will think through the implications (theoretical, political and aesthetic) of revision, adaptation, and the intertextual. Finally, the class asks students to formulate their own aesthetic criteria through a close reading of both primary texts and secondary critical essays which will supplement the readings, film screenings, and artwork.  [ 4 cr. ]

Over time and throughout cultures, human understanding of a divine presence, of a god or gods, has been intimately connected to our relationship with nature. In some myths, the divine is thought to be inherent in the forces of nature; in others, God stands outside, controlling nature and passing that control to human beings. Still another world view suggests that humans, nature, and the divine are all one thing, as represented in metaphors such as the circle or web of life. This course introduces students to some of the world's mythic traditions, applying them to the enduring cultural issues surrounding humanity's relationship to nature and our role as stewards of the environment. We will follow a roughly chronological syllabus, with readings from the Bible and classical mythology through the writings of Emerson and modern works such as Ceremony by Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko. Students will also be exposed to visual art (including Celtic Christian and Native American design) and some film.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
O1 IND Hansen ARR

This course will examine the nature of the American Dream as seen through fiction, essays, poetry, autobiography, historical documents, and art. It will follow a chronological pattern with the Dream evolving from the Puritan fathers? desire for religious freedom to the Revolution's emphasis on political liberty, the 19th century's focus on self reliance, and the quest for the good life characteristic of the 20th century. At the same time, such characteristic thematic elements as the desire for equality, individual expansion and achievement, and the maturation of the soul will be examined in terms of their impact on all the different permutations of the Dream.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
SO1 IND Cordner ARR

In this course students will expand their knowledge of the mathematics of probability, algebraic thinking, geometry, and statistics, with a focus on contemporary developments and applications. The course will examine the applications of mathematics in contemporary contexts via readings and explorations. 4 cr  [ 4 cr. ]

This course introduces fundamental concepts of micro and macro economics within the context of the labor market. In micro economics, we focus on the supply and demand for labor, looking at trends in labor force participation, college attendance, and wage differentials. In macro economics, we focus on the ability of the economy to create enough jobs to maintain full employment. We will also cover current topics related to the functioning of the labor market, including a discussion of income distribution and poverty, and the employment impact of international trade and outsourcing.  [ 4 cr. ]

Online offering. The course will assess whether China will remain a friend or become a foe for the U.S., argue whether China's road to modernization is an apt model for other developing nations, analyze China's past to discover patterns and traditions that still exist, and study the interaction between China and the world community to determine its future role as a world leader. For further information, please call the Office of Distance Education at 617-358-1960.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course will provide students with an introduction to environmental science with a dual focus in physical geography and climatology. Students will learn to interpret major themes in Earth History and human affairs through interactive lessons that include online lectures, outside reading, and extensive online maps, diagrams, and animations. We will discuss the interactions of climate, physical geography, and human activities in the formation of a dynamic, living Earth. The action of weather, humans, and non-human organisms on the Earth's surface will tie the course together as we end with biogeochemistry and a look at the origin of life. (4 credits)  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
O2 IND Hammer ARR

The indigenous people of North America have a unique experience of negotiating cultural boundaries, alien ideologies, and inscrutable behaviors that appear in everything from personal interactions to national policy, and their own cultural and religious traditions have survived despite a dominant culture that has sought to both annihilate and romanticize them. This course is about that cultural interaction and offers an opportunity to understand Native American cultures in their own terms through the voices of their people expressing themselves in literature, film, and other cultural productions and to understand America from the perspective of the cultures of its original inhabitants.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course will complement HU 400 by focusing on the philosophical, scientific, and political concepts that underlie the foundations of modern western history.   [ 4 cr. ]

This undergraduate communication course incorporates writing skills with academic research. Both business and academic writing expectations are covered. This skills- oriented course focuses on the development of oral and written communication techniques, small and large group dynamics, presentations, and negotiations.   [ 4 cr. ]

This undergraduate communication course incorporates presentation skills with academic research. It reviews the writing standards of IS 401 Ex and covers interpersonal and management communications for professionals. Course writing and presentation assignments will be posted in student ePortfolios. This course is set in the context of communications skills for professionals.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course will focus on controversial and critical social, environmental, business, and political issues in the various disciplines of science. The natural sciences will be explored in the context of public policy.   [ 4 cr. ]

Traditional American music is a dynamic cultural medium that defines identity and community. It is transmitted by long-practiced modes of observation and imitation, and it engages talented musicians who are part of a long-lived cultural continuum. It is based upon a collective understanding of what tradition is, but it is necessarily altered in each generation as new musicians bring their training, insights, talents, and instruments to the process. The result- never entirely harmonious, always uneasy- holds a continuing power to speak to adherents and new listeners alike. It is not merely the tune that us transmitted in the traditional process, but also a portion of the social fabric that bound the tune as it was played in the past. How traditional music has evolved into the current popular American musical forms, and the history of the creation of a hybrid, but distinctively national, music will be explored in lectures, musical examples, and readings from some of the leading scholars of American traditional music.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
O1 IND Sommers Smit ARR

This course will examine morality through three related yet different lenses: psychology, religion and spirituality. With war, terrorism, global climate change, geological disruptions, and other threats, humans tend to feel more vulnerable, more insecure, and to seek deeper understandings of themselves and their world. Accordingly, issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and stem-cell research take on new meanings as morality evolves with culture. How do we develop a moral understanding of what is appropriate behavior for ourselves and others around us? Is morality carved in stone or is it subject to change, depending upon life experience, religion, secular and social orientation, and other factors? The goal of this course is not to definitively answer questions but to generate them; not to agree on moral issues, but to facilitate understanding of others views; not to criticize, but to comprehend the strengths and limitations of each paradigm.   [ 4 cr. ]

The art of rhetoric is one of the original liberal arts and is a part of the trivium that includes grammar and logic. Rhetoric is as old as human communication and as diverse as the human imagination. In the twenty-first century, rhetoric has new forms and meanings but retains some of the dynamics of the classical age of Greece and Rome. This course is a study of the art of rhetoric in everyday life and work from both theoretical and practical perspectives with an emphasis on writing and interpretation.  [ 4 cr. ]

This seminar explores the psycho/social/spiritual dimensions of the individual's experience of forgiveness. The forgiveness process is investigated through the theoretical work of psychologists such as Carl Jung and Robert Enright and spiritual/political leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Individual narratives by forgivers are considered and analyzed in relation to the frames provided by these researchers and political activists. Through readings, journals and group presentations, students will explore both the beneficial and problematic aspects of forgiving. Students will develop a warranted, personal position on forgiveness and its limitations in personal and social life.  [ 4 cr. ]

Online offering. Introduces students to practical problems in botany with a dual emphasis on plant evolution and plants in human affairs. The course crosses borders in time and geography as we examine the broad sweep of plants and their role on Earth over the past 300 million years. Plant form and function, evolution of seed plants, plant ecology, ethnobotany (human uses of plants), endangered plant communities, and prospects for conserving plant biodiversity are highlighted in this interdisciplinary course designed for undergraduates. While its focus is rigorously scientific, the course incorporates topics in the humanities (for example visual arts), and social sciences (anthropology) to illustrate the close relationship between humans and plants. Fur further information, call the Office of Distance Education at 617-358-1960.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course explores various currents, paradoxes, and extensions of Romanticism, especially as this movement took shape in Europe and America, with a special focus on philosophical literature and the visual arts. We will begin with some central ideas and themes of German Romantic thinkers, exploring how these ideas and themes are also evoked by British and American writers as well as by European and American painters. We will identify and analyze Romantic themes and styles in early German expressionist films, in British gothic fantasy movies, and in American motion pictures about western frontier heroes. In the concluding part of the course, we will study twentieth-century extension or offshoots of Romanticism, such as existentialism, depth-psychology, and the philosophy of nature. (4 cr.)  [ 4 cr. ]

This course is designed to examine important archaeological discoveries relating to the Bible. It will focus on two significant cultural settings: the rise of Judah and Israel 3000 years ago, and questions about the historical Jesus. The course will cover the geography and topography of Palestine and the ancient Near East, and archaeological field methods used in Israel and Palestine. The history of writing and significant manuscript discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, will also be examined. Throughout the course, students will examine how archaeologists, looters, forgers, journalists, and theologians fight each other for the opportunity to discover, interpret, and sensationalize artifacts for the religious and irreligious alike. As we examine the archaeological artifacts, students will situate them in terms of their interpretation in documentary films, recent book publications, and other modern media.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
SO1 IND Schoch ARR

Mechanics is the study of the motion of objects and the forces acting on objects. It is hoped that the student will share some of the excitement felt by great scientists such as Galileo and Newton when they discovered many of the principles on which the physics of motion are based. The course assumes that the student has a working knowledge of algebra, but the emphasis will be on a conceptual understanding of physics rather than on advanced mathematics. Many demonstrations and animations will be presented in the course, and the student will become familiar with the physics of many everyday situations.  [ 4 cr. ]

Independent study under faculty guidance. Prior approval of program director required.  [ Var cr. ]

Independent study under faculty guidance. Prior approval of program director required.  [ Var cr. ]