Learning Communities

Fall 2018

1. Community Food Systems (8 credits)

This Learning Community addresses the central question of what policies and practices are needed to develop sustainable and just community food systems. The LC offers an interdisciplinary approach to examining community food systems with particular emphasis on urban areas, using Boston as an example. We examine the many ways food shapes urban sustainability, public health, community, and economic development. We also consider federal, state, and municipal food policies along with urban planning initiatives for community-based food systems.

Weekly classes are complemented by field trips at least two of which will be held on Wednesday afternoon (2:00 - 5:00 p.m.).
The field trips will be to some of the exciting alternative food initiatives in Boston, such as The Food Project (a youth leadership development organization), The Daily Table (a nonprofit grocery store), the Boston Public Market, and Fenway Community Gardens.

ECON-235-LC, From Farm to Table: The Political Economy of Food Systems
Biewener (3 credits) (SH)
W 11:00 AM - 12:50 PM
This course provides a political economy approach to the study of food systems. Using New England and Boston as examples of regional and urban food systems, we follow the food chain, from farms and factories, to retail, restaurants, and homes. Throughout, justice and sustainability are emphasized, as well as the interplay between the conventional, “industrial” food system and “alternative” regional and local food system initiatives. We pay particular attention to the racialized and gendered divisions of labor, and the unequal distribution of benefits and burdens within the food system.

POLS-227-LC, Food Policy
Pechulis (3 credits) (SH)
M 12:00 - 1:50 PM
This course examines food policy issues and how government and the food industry influences what and how much we eat. We look at introductory food policy concepts, including how laws, regulations, and decisions and actions of governments influence food production, distribution, and consumption.

LCIS-201-05, Integrative Seminar: Community Food Systems
Biewener and Pechulis (2 credits)
TH 12:30 - 1:50 PM
The integrative seminar will serve as an incubator lab for students to develop proposals for projects that would contribute to creating a more sustainable and just community food system – at Simmons, in the greater Boston area, or elsewhere. In order to accomplish this, students need to understand and consider the interplay of social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental issues as they relate to food systems

2. Inequality, Education, and Social Justice: Moving from Critique to Action (8 credits)

This learning community combines a broad overview of social inequality with an in-depth view of inequality in education. As a learning community we will deepen our understanding of inequality and interrogate how and why we believe these inequalities are “unjust.” The integrated seminar then provides an opportunity to think about and work towards social justice in relationship to these inequalities. Students will learn about multiple perspectives on social justice in order to refine their own working definitions, and consider the challenges and benefits of taking action to mitigate inequality.

EDUC-210-LC, Critical Issues in Education
Ballin (3 credits) (SH)
W 11:00 AM - 12:50 PM
This course will explore the history and current practices in education through a critical lens that highlights how race, socio-economic class, gender, and ability affect students’ access to education. In addition, we will examine ways in which social justice activism has worked to counter systems of social reproduction. Finally, we will explore concepts such as rights and privileges in education.

SOCI-249-LC, Inequalities
Doran (3 credits) (GC)
M 3:00 - 4:50 PM
Prereq: SOCI-101
Social inequality is both omnipresent and highly variable across societies. Though sociological and anthropological research shows us that we can expect some degree of inequality in our social life, this does not mean we should normalize and accept all inequality. This course is a critical exploration of social inequality in the United States along the highly salient axes of race, class, and gender, asking what is the nature of these inequalities, why do they exist/how are they reproduced, and how are they experienced in everyday life? Throughout we will consider inequality as an issue of social justice, and will explore efforts to reduce and mitigate inequalities.

LCIS-201-06, Integrative Seminar: Moving From Critique to Action for Social Justice
Ballin and Doran (2 credits)
TH 9:30 - 10:50 AM
What can I do to help create a more just and equitable society? This course aims to answer this question by challenging students to define and explore their role as an activist. Through case studies of grassroots organizing and a service-learning project, students will learn about the possibilities and challenges of making social change towards a more equitable society through activism.

3. Medicine and Race in the World of Henrietta Lacks (8 credits)

Inspired in part by a Boston Globe Spotlight series (December 2017) discussing racial and ethnic distributions among patients at the major Boston hospitals, this course will examine the disturbing history of race related discrimination and inequitable treatment of people of African descent in the field of medical science. This course examines racial and gender stereotypes as interactive influences within medical science --shaping how medical professionals think about race and what they do with that knowledge.

HIST-211-LC, Medicine and the African-American Experience
Parr (3 credits) (SH)
TH 3:00 - 4:50 PM
The course will provide students with an overview of the experience of African-Americans with medicine. Beginning with the eighteenth-century, we will talk about the ways the medical community viewed African-Americans, and also how medical science contributed to modern notions of race. We will also discuss controversies concerning the experimentation of African-American women during the early years of gynecology, as well as eugenics. This part of the course will conclude in the 21st century, including discussions of racial difference in treating pain.

AST-211-LC, Baltimore and Boston: Urban Medical Communities
Ward (3 credits) (SH)
T 12:00 - 1:50 PM
The course focuses on the cities of Baltimore and Boston as two comparative case studies in which racial disparities in health care have been the subject of recent public dialogue. Students will explore institutional policies and interpersonal dynamics underlying these inequalities. The Boston Globe recently discussed racial and ethnic distributions among patients at the major Boston hospitals. Baltimore is included both because of its large black community, and because of John Hopkins Hospital's longstanding (if troubled) position in the city. It was also “ground zero” for the Henrietta Lacks case.

LCIS-201-03, Integrative Seminar: Learning from Henrietta Lacks
Ward and Parr (2 credits)
F 3:00 - 4:20 PM
The seminar will focus on the Henrietta Lacks’ story and the issues raised by these events. We will examine her experiences as portrayed in book and film and will be contextualized in the cumulative knowledge from the first two classes. We will also use digital media to discuss medical ethics, race and informed consent.

4. Newton's Insights: Integrated Calculus and Physics (8 credits)

MATH-121-LC, Calculus 2
Brown (3 credits) (QL)
M/W/F 10:00 - 10:50 AM
Prerequisite: MATH 120 or equivalent.
Covers integral calculus and applications to area, volume, etc., transcendental functions, techniques of integration, polar coordinates, and improper integrals.

PHYS-112-LC, Fundamentals of Physics
Jordan (3 credits) (SCI)
M/W/F 9:00 - 9:50 AM
LAB  F 3:00 - 6:00 PM
Operates on the subjects of mechanics, electricity, and magnetism and on the concepts of particle and field, motion, mass, force, energy, and momentum. Additional material drawn from kinetic theory, heat, and thermodynamics.First course in physics for science majors.

LCIS-201-01, Integrative Seminar: Newton's Insights
Brown and Jordan (2 credits)
M 2:00 - 2:50 PM
In this seminar we will use the abstraction of calculus to solve physics problems and reinforce our understanding of physics, and will use the physical insights of physics to bolster our understanding of calculus. It is not an accident that Newton invented freshman calculus in order to formulate freshman physics. Following in his footsteps, we will use each subject to support our understanding of the other.

5. On the High Seas (8 credits)

This Learning Community joins literature about pirates, privateers, sailors, and enslaved peoples with the history of the Atlantic world. Focusing on oceanic exchanges and interactions, the course interrogates the idea of the nation-state by asking how the United States developed both a national identity and geopolitical policies in response to actions on the high seas. Through stories and history from the Golden Age of Piracy to today, the class will illuminate the enduring popularity and the cultural work of these freedom-loving maritime figures.

HIST-245-LC Oceans Connect
Berry (3 credits) (SH)
TH 12:00 - 1:50 PM
This course will study the influence of the oceans on the history of the United States through the histories of sailors, slaves, passengers, and pirates who bridged the aquatic barriers between continents. Their diverse experiences demonstrate the distinct social and cultural connections and conflicts forged aboard ships traversing the seas.

ENGL-166-LC Piratical Stories
Fash (3 credits) (ALA)
T 12:00 - 1:50 PM
This course will investigate the tropes of piratical literature in ballads, plays, short stories, and novels. As we move through centuries and genres, we will consider sea encounters, buried treasure, war tactics, whaling, and slavery to illuminate why and how stories about these transgressors expose the fears and wishes of a US readership.

LCIS-201-04, Integrative Seminar: On the High Seas
Berry and Fash (2 credits)
M 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
The integrative seminar will focus on the common cultural literary and historical themes that emerge from the variety of stories people circulated about shipboard life and what those tales reveal about the development of the cultural identity, social systems, and national policies of the United States.

6. Reading the World as Agents for Social Justice (8 credits)

This learning community will explore how we make sense of the world through our interactions with mass and social medias. Building on the two courses described below, this integrative seminar will examine how information is produced, disseminated, and evaluated through traditional and newer forms of media with a focus on bringing together theory and practice to understand ways to work toward social change. Understanding how race, ethnicity, gender, social class, sexual orientation, religion, and many other factors shape inequities is a crucial part of this work; as is understanding how power and privilege influence our priorities, approaches, assumptions, networks, and vision.

SOCI-222-LC, Organizing for Social Change
Goodfriend (3 credits) (GC)
T 8:00 - 9:50 AM
This course hopes to provide students with the foundation of organizing for social change. The course will look at examples of community organizing past and current, asking students to analyze and evaluate methods and strategies of organizing. Along with readings, students will be required to complete fieldwork in a community-­‐based organization engaged in organizing and advocating to broaden their understanding of theory and practice. Students will be encouraged to view social, economic, and political problems and issues from an organizer’s perspective. We will address practices and approaches related to building effective social change organizations, mobilizing constituencies, identifying issues, planning campaigns, engaging in advocacy, building leadership, marshaling resources, and negotiating conflicts of interest and power.

SOCI-223-LC, Mass Media and Pop Culture
Selod (3 credits) (SH)
TH 12:00 - 1:50 PM
This course explores how representations are constructed in the media. Students will examine how film, television, print media, and social media influence American culture. In this class students will become critics of the media that surrounds them and examine ways that media enables compliance and resistance.

LCIS-201-08, Integrative Seminar: Reading the World as Agents for Social Justice
Goodfriend and Selod (2 credits)
M 9:30 - 10:50 AM
This learning community will explore how we make sense of the world through our interactions with mass and social medias. Building on the two courses described below, this integrative seminar will examine how information is produced, disseminated, and evaluated through traditional and newer forms of media with a focus on bringing together theory and practice to understand ways to work toward social change.

7. Reading Your Genome (8 credits)

This course is an interdisciplinary approach to integrating Biology and Computer Science. We will use bioinformatics to examine the intimate relationship between the estimated 30 trillion microbes living in our bodies and human biology. This course explores the numerous ways in which the Human Microbiome contributes to the normal biological function of the body and the role it plays in disease. Using tools from multiple scientific disciplines, will design and implement bioinformatics based research projects in Genomics and Proteomics to answer biological questions.

BIOL-200-LC, The Human Microbiome and Disease
Saitow (3 credits) (SCI)
W 9:00 - 10:50 AM
This course is an interdisciplinary science experience that explores the microorganisms that live in our bodies and how they affect human biology. Using modern chemical, biological, mathematical theory, and bioinformatics tools we will illustrate core topics in general biology, genetics, microbiology, and biochemistry through the human microbiome.

CS-112-LC, Introduction to Computer Science
Menzin (3 credits) (SCI)
M 9:00 - 10:50 AM
LAB W 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
This course provides an introduction to computing in python, but with an emphasis on the problems that are important in bioinformatics (notably pattern matching and a consideration of the efficiency of algorithms.) The course includes the material in CS112, but goes beyond it to cover algorithms not normally taught in a first computing course, such as those for Least Common Substring and Levenshtein distance. It also includes regular expressions and an introduction to biopython. Fulfills CS 112.

LCIS-201-07, Integrative Seminar: Reading Your Genome
Saitow and Menzin (2 credits)
M 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
We will use tools from both courses to answer biological questions about molecular evolution and the impact it has on the development of the body’s microbial community. We will design and implement bioinformatics based research projects in genomics and synthetic biology. In the integrative seminar we will use the insights of course 1 and the methods of course 2 to examine the relationship between the human microbiome and disease.

Spring 2019

1. Crime and Punishment: Legal Truths and Felonious Fictions (8 credits)

This Learning Community joins literature about law, order, and crime with study of the constitutional standards for arrest, prosecution, and punishment as well as current policies on policing and criminality. Through this juxtaposition, students will gain a basic appreciation and understanding of what law and order is, and how it is portrayed in popular culture.

Crime Literature
Fash (3 credits)
Starting with the birth of detective fiction and ending with a recent novel about a policeman's murder of a black man, this course traces cultural fantasies about crime and criminality. We will consider what the fantasies inherent in whodunits, thrillers, and other crime literature reveal about gender, race, objectivity, morality, and the fundamental soundness of our justice system.

The Criminal Justice System
Pechulis (3 credits)
Following the crime literature class, we will explore the practice of criminal law and the constitutional issues that arise in arrest, prosecutions, and punishments. We will look at policing in the past and policing today, as well as examine the criminal justice system.

Integrative Seminar: Criminals and Villains
Fash and Pechulis (2 credits)
Exploring novels, comics, movies, television shows, podcasts, and news articles, this class will illuminate how crime is narrated and sensationalized, and how legal procedures are misrepresented or undermined in popular media.

2. Multicultural and Feminist Themes in Contemporary American Literature (8 credits)

This Learning Community will explore themes of identity in contemporary American literature in a multicultural, feminist context. It will bring critical insight to literary representations of especially female characters by conjoining readings of short stories and a novella with investigations of socio-historical contexts and theoretical frames provided by scholarly essays and personal narratives. Our work will be organized around themes relating to gender and sexual identity, skin color, and physical appearance in a way that will allow us to understand systems of privilege and oppression as they relate to the lives of women in an intersectional context.

ENGL-178-LC, Multicultural Themes in American Literature
George (3 credits) (ALA)
This course examines literature by American authors from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Focusing primarily on works written during the 20th century, we will analyze thematic themes and differences within the texts of authors from Asian, Irish, Native American, Latino, and Anglo ancestry.

WGST-100-LC, Multicultural Women's Studies
Lusiak (3 credits) (SH)
This course will examine the position of women in society and will introduce an interdisciplinary approach to the study of women. This course will provide a history of the women's movement and feminism along with the dynamics of power and oppression, and will survey the issues that affect women and society as a whole - politically, socially, and psychologically. This course will pay particular attention to issues of intersectionality, or how race, gender, class, ability, religion, and so forth, impact the lives of women, with an ever-turned eye toward social justice and action.

Integrative Seminar: Multicultural and Feminist Themes in Contemporary American Literature
George and Lusiak (2 credits)
This seminar will critically explore contemporary notions of American and female identities. Addressing questions about the relation of gender and national identity to race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity, this integrated seminar will apply knowledge of feminist scholarship and socio-historical contexts gleaned from coursework in Multicultural Women's Studies not only to the literary texts read in Multicultural Themes, but also to significant contemporary events discussed in the news and media. Through weekly reflections and class discussions, students will work through the process of applying a critical contextual lens to literary texts while building, finally, toward application of their literary and contextual understandings to readings of a contemporary news item that students will critically engage in an oral class presentation.

3. Choose Your Own Adventure: Coding and Digital Stories (8 credits)

This learning community takes an interdisciplinary approach to digital storytelling and introductory programming. Students work individually and in teams to produce an interactive mobile website that will include elements such as short-form video documentaries or historical narratives, accompanying audio pieces, photography, and a story script – all based on solid storytelling techniques. Students will gain a foundation in coding basics needed to create a website, which also serves as the entrance to Computer Science.

COMM-250-LC, Digital Storytelling
Erikson (3 credits) (ALA)
In this course, students use digital media to create interactive stories in multiple spaces - both online and through engagement with urban space. Students will research a specific location-based story and create a set of multimedia narratives for the Internet that engages users in a walking tour.

CS-112-LC, Introduction to Computer Science
Stubbs (3 credits) (SCI)
Students will learn basic skills in developing software applications: variables, decision and repetition structures, data structures and modular programming. They will also learn the basics of building web sites, including HTML, CSS, and responsive web design.

Integrative Seminar: Coding and Digital Storytelling
Erickson and Stubbs (2 credits)
Students will use skills learned in both courses to create a multimedia, location-based story with elements of a choose-your-own adventure. Using lived experiences, storytelling techniques and basic media skills learned in Course 1, combined with computer skills gained in Course 2, students will develop an interactive walking tour.

4. Sustaining a Nonprofit Organization (8 credits)

This Learning Community combines a course in environmental science/sustainability and a nonprofit management course and applies the content in both to study a specific nonprofit organization, namely the Star Island Corporation which owns and manages a conference center on an island 10 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. The conference center's age and location provides specific challenges and opportunities for both intentional environmental sustainability as well as financial sustainability. The course will give students the opportunity to integrate these two viewpoints on sustainability in service to an existing organization and develop practical recommendations for additional sustainability efforts.

This LC contains short-term travel components. Students and faculty will travel to Star Island, NH, in June (date TBD). The estimated travel cost is $1500. Students interested in this Learning Community should visit and contact Joe Stanley, Director, Center for Global Education,

BIOL-243-LC, Environmental Sustainability
Aguilera (3 credits) (SCI)
This course introduces students to current environmental issues regarding resource use and sustainability. Topics will include availability of fresh water, waste disposal, agriculture, forestry, and climate change. Students will examine environmental threats in conjunction with the current and potential future sustainability solutions.

MGMT-213-LC, Nonprofit Management
DeCurtis (3 credits)
This course introduces students to all of the structural and functional components of the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit-specific areas that are covered include the roles and responsibilities of boards of directors, fundraising and financial development, management of volunteer programs, financial structures, accountability, strategic planning and organizational growth.

Integrative Seminar: Sustaining a Nonprofit Organization
Aguilera and DeCurtis (2 credits)
In this integrative seminar, students will evaluate the environmental and financial sustainability of the Star Island Corporation nonprofit organization. Students will apply both environmental science and nonprofit management concepts to the evaluation. Students will then make recommendations as to possible improvements that would impact both aspects of sustainability.

5. Visualizing Cultural Change Using Social Network Analysis (8 credits)

The transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century was a period of tremendous innovation in arts, science, and technology; correspondingly, it was also a period of profound societal transformations affecting everyday life. Using the computational and analytical tools of social network analysis, students will identify the key actors in this transitional period, detect the invisible communities of these individuals and their interactions, and gain a deep understanding of the complex dynamics that brought about our modern era.

MATH-213-LC, Introduction to Social Network Analysis
Beers (3 credits) (QL)
Social networks are everywhere today, and the mathematical model for a social network is a graph. With graphs we visualize the actors within a community and any connections between them. This course introduces students to graph theory and to important tools for analyzing networks, e.g., metrics for measuring the centrality of each actor, and algorithms for detecting communities within a network. The course is self-contained, without prerequisites. Fulfills an elective requirement in the Math major.

IDS-208-LC, Innovation at the Intersection of Art and Science, 1890-1920
Berger (3 credits) (SH)
We will explore the parallel revolutions in art and science from 1890 - 1920 in the context of the concurrent cultural and social dynamics of that period. We will also understand how advances in technology played a key role in stimulating and facilitating change. The groundbreaking work of Einstein, Picasso, Freud, and others will be examined through the lenses of their disciplines to better understand the social and cultural structures of their times.

Integrative Seminar: Visualizing Cultural Change Using Social Network Analysis
Beers and Berger (2 credits)
The goal of this integrative seminar is for students to use the computational tools of social network analysis in order to arrive at an understanding of the drivers that led to the dawn of the modern era. In particular, students will analyze the cultural changes of the period 1890-1920 through the lenses of art, science, and technology, and uncover those individuals and communities that were most influential as agents of change.

6. France and its Cultural Legacy (8 credits)

In a recent survey about American attitudes towards the French, 50% of Americans stated that France was a world leader in culture. Indeed, Americans have been fascinated by the culture of this country, a fact attested to by the many intellectuals who sojourned or chose to live in Paris, such as Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Baldwin, to mention but a few of the most famous. Though many people seem to agree that culture is at the core of French identity, few understand exactly what this means. This course is designed to begin answering these questions through a chronological study of French civilization – namely, all cultural products – historical, institutional, artistic and symbolic – produced in France from the Gaulois to the present day.

This course includes a travel component to Paris, France (dates TBD). The estimated travel costs are $3150. Students interested in this Learning Community should visit and contact Joe Stanley, Director, Center for Global Education,

MUS-239-LC, The Music that Changed the World
Slowik (3 credits) (SH)
Looking for new means of self-expression, musicians, artists and writers rejected traditional forms and methods of creativity in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. Students study these explosive new ways of creating music, art, and literature that changed the world forever. Topics include Debussy, Impressionism, Stravinsky, Picasso, Gertrude Stein.

FREN-310-LC, Inside France: Studies in French Culture
Febles (3 credits) (GC)
Address the question "What is French culture?" through a multimedia study of topics drawn from French geography, history, artistic traditions, and institutions. Includes topics such as Paris and its legacy, the formation of a citizen of the republic, and World War II. Taught in English.

Integrative Seminar: France and its Cultural Legacy
Slowik and Febles (2 credits)
The integrative seminar will take place mostly in Paris as a travel course where students can experience first-hand the cultural products studied in class via excursions (to museums and monuments) and performances at the many Parisian venues (l'Opera Garnier, l'Opera Bastille, concerts at selected churches such as the madeleine or Notre-Dame, and other venues as available).

7. Social Justice, Innovation, and Corporate Responsibility (8 credits)

How does change happen? How do organizations, businesses and people create change and work to sustain it? This LC will bring together theory and practice to understanding ways to work toward social change. We will examine social justice issues both historical and current, organizations and people that are working to address them.

People, Planets, and Profits
Herrmann (3 credits) (SH)
This course on social innovation and corporate responsibility will train students to be leaders who will catalyze this management revolution. Students will learn key concepts that can be applied to corporate initiatives aimed at addressing a variety of social issues, including human rights, environment, diversity, and development. Students will also be exposed to best practices in corporate social responsibility and to principles and codes in the field.

Organizing for Social Justice
Goodfriend (3 credits) (GC)
In this course, students will gain a theoretical and practical foundation for understanding social change strategies. Students will examine local and national grassroots organizing in issues of racial justice, economic inequality, school choice, and affordable housing. Through case studies of historical and present day community organizing, students will analyze practices and approaches related to building effective social change movements.

Integrative Seminar: Social Justice, Innovation, and Corporate Responsibility
Herrmann and Goodfriend (2 credits)
The integrative seminar will introduce students to leaders from social enterprises and civil society who are catalysts for social change. Students will have opportunities to work together in teams to address challenges facing leading organizations in the community.

8. Word + Image (8 credits)

In this learning community, students learn to craft personal narratives that are both language-based and image-based. Ultimately, through the integrative seminar, students synthesize work and image to create a form that transcends the limits of each modality.

Creative Writing Non-Fiction
Pei (3 credits) (ALA)
Designed for students with a solid base of writing skills who wish to grow further as writers. Teaches writing of non-fiction that a non-captive audience would willingly read. Focuses primarily on personal narrative.

Visual Communication
Grabiner (3 credits) (ALA)
Introduces visual culture and visual literacy with an emphasis on looking at looking. From the perspective of the producer of images, visual experience is deconstructed to illuminate visual meaning-making practices, including photography, comics, fine art, advertising, film, TV, and the graphic novel.

Integrative Seminar: Word + Image
Pei and Grabiner (2 credits)
This integrative seminar asks: what are the distinctive properties of a word + image artwork that are different from those of either medium on its own, and what are the distinctive creative processes of working with the two synergistically, as opposed to the creative process of doing either separately?