Boston Course

Get to know your city in all its complexity. Classes for Fall 2016 include:

What the Health is going on in Boston?

Taught by: John Lowe
Boston is a health care “Mecca.” What does this mean historically, economically, culturally, politically? How and why does Obamacare find its roots in Massachusetts? How and why do clinical and technical advances and health care policy reforms originate here? What careers are available in health care?

Support Your Local Business

Taught by: Erin DeCurtis
Students in this course study the direct impact that locally based businesses have on local economies. The course gives incoming first year students a basic history and introduction to economics of Boston neighborhoods to give them a better understanding of the unique business districts throughout the city. Through this course, students will learn how supporting local businesses within Boston creates economic improvement for neighborhood residents and business owners.

Food is Love: an Exploration of Food, Culture, and Identity

Taught by: Lisa Brown
Food is closely tied to identity. From our self-created identity rooted in current popular culture, to our family’s traditional identity, food reflects many aspects of who we are. This course will explore the role of food in development of identity, highlighting journeys of Boston immigrant populations spanning the city’s history.

Innovation at the Intersection of Art and Science

Taught by: Michael Berger
Many scientists are accomplished artists, and their art informs their science; many artists employ either well-established scientific principles or ground breaking science to create their art. Historically, artists and scientists have both been at the forefront of significant changes and innovation in society. Students will first examine the examples of several well-known artists/scientists and then examine their own interests in art and science to determine how cultivating both can enhance their own creativity.

Toxic Consumables

Taught by: Rich Gurney
Chemicals provide the function consumers demand in everyday products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients before cosmetics are sold. The potential unintended consequences of such hazardous chemicals are disproportionally impacting children and adults in low income, minority neighborhoods. This violates our definition of social and environmental justice where all people, regardless of race or economic status, have the right to live, work, play and learn in healthy, safe environments. The course will focus on: (1) key issues of social disparities related to exposure to hazardous chemicals; (2) how the field of green chemistry might offer solutions to achieve social and environmental justice; and (3) how to bring about awareness and change through education and outreach in Boston in collaboration with the Silent Spring Institute, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry and the Beyond Benign Foundation.

A Field Guide to Art in Boston

Taught by: Bridget Lynch
A Field Guide to Art in Boston visits Boston’s world-class institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Gardner Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, university and contemporary galleries. The course is about learning to look and express visual concepts through writing and analysis. The study of different times and cultures will enrich understanding of art of our own time.

Unnatural Causes: A Story of Racial and Ethnic Health Inequities in Boston

Taught by: Raja Staggers-Hakim
This course examines why diverse and less advantaged communities experience more sickness than more affluent communities. Students will have the opportunity to explore historic and ethnic communities and visit community health and social service programs. Students will be introduced to public health language such as epidemiology, social determinants of health, prevalence and incidence rates, and health equity.

Astronomer's Boston: The Hub of the Universe?

Taught by: Michael Jordan
Why am I here? Where is 'here? and "How do I know that?" We address the questions by experiments and observations – on campus, at observatories, and around Boston. Students use our telescopes and their phones/laptops to take astronomical images and establish their place on planet Earth and in the Universe.

Bos-play (a)-ton (Boston playgrounds)

Taught by: Viktor Grigoryan
What, where and how do children play in Boston? We will answer these and other questions about facilitated physical play spaces of Boston, the birthplace of the American playground. Even though it’s about a child’s play, the makings of a modern playground are quite complex. Safety guidelines, accessibility concerns, inspiring design that promotes physical and mental development of children, social interactions between the children in the playground are just a few of the aspects that shape the playgrounds of today. We’ll study, visit and play in Boston’s play spaces. Be ready to have fun and fall in love with playgrounds all over again!

Boston’s Women of Color Entrepreneurs

Taught by: Areen Shahbari
In this course students will tell the stories of Boston’s women of color entrepreneurs through writings, video and photography. In addition, students will write a research paper that discusses the trends, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and challenges that Boston’s women of color entrepreneurs face, and the solutions to these challenges.

Sports and Race in Boston

Taught by: Daren Graves
The realms of sports and sports entertainment have served as venues where US society has struggled with its conceptions, conventions, and policies with regard to race. In this course we will use the landscape of Boston sports and sports entertainment as a means to begin to critically analyze the construct of race and the dynamics of racism. 

Grasping Happiness in Boston

Taught by: Shriong Luo
Many famous venues in Boston can put you into the state of mind we call “happiness.” But what exactly is happiness? Is it the same as or more than pleasure? Is there a right way to pursue happiness? How is happiness related to religion, race, morality or neuroscience? This course invites students to ponder, discuss, and write about these questions, drawing insights from celebrated Bostonians Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William James, Malcolm X, Noam Chomsky, Robert Nozick, Daniel Dennett, Daniel Gilbert, Steven Pinker, and Nancy Etcoff.

Class, Gender, and Ethnicity in Boston, Through Film

Taught by: Lena Zuckerwise
This course aims to introduce students to issues of social identity in Boston, using film. From mid-century Film noir to the present, we explore representations of class, race, gender, and ethnicity, and consider ways these reflect the politics and culture of the city.


Taught by: Andrew Porter
This course examines how the people of Boston get news—past and present. We’ll look at print, radio, broadcast TV, cable, web and social media, with a specific focus on the information needs of the Fenway community. We also will work with the mayor’s Fenway liaison and conduct field trips to local and citywide news organizations. Students will identify an issue of importance to the Fenway community and write a weekly blog about that issue.

The City on the Hill: A History of Boston

Taught by: Steve Berry
This course investigates the history of Boston from colonial settlements to 1970s busing crises. In particular, it examines the tougher aspects of our city’s memory – slavery and racism, industrialization and urbanization, immigration and nativism, urban redevelopment and slum clearance – and how these difficult historical aspects affect people in the present.

Navigating Boston: Accessibility for All

Taught by: Jane Hardin
Have you ever wondered what it means to call something "Handicapped Accessible?" In this course, we will examine some of the barriers to navigating the City of Boston and surrounding areas and meet some exceptional people who will share their stories about what it means to be "disabled and mobile" in Boston. Readings for this course will include articles and excerpts from books that will serve as background for your research on disability laws, etc. In addition, you will be doing your own community investigations on businesses, educational institutions, and places that provide entertainment and how they have provided access for their clients with disabilities.

Busing: Can Racial Integration Be Forced

Taught by: Janie Ward
Students in this class will study the desegregation of the public schools of Boston, an effort that led to the Boston Busing Crisis in the 1970s. Did court-ordered busing achieve the goal of racial integration in Boston? What lessons were learned about power, freedom, community rights, identity, and human behavior? How can social activists who are addressing inequality and discrimination today build on the lessons of the past?

Humans in Boston: Writing and Place

Taught by: Renée Bergland
Where are we? In this course we will explore the human geography of Boston: the history, art, literature, cultural politics and environmental science of this place. We will read some great writing, look at some great art and architecture, and write our own narratives of space and place.

Storytelling through Graphics: The Power of Art

Taught by: Chris Cormier Hayes
This class will examine storytelling and identity through three mediums: graphic novels, community murals and graffiti (street art). We will investigate the relationship between art, specifically in Boston, and either individual identity or neighborhood/community identity. Students will be asked to think about the implication art and identity have for their own lives.

Speech Communities in the City: We’re Talking Boston Here

Taught by: Janet Chumley
Our course uses field work/observations, outside speakers, videos and readings to explore what speech patterns reveal about life in Boston in particular and in our larger society as well, and how they vary along patterns of ethnicity, race, gender, class, and nationality. High quality academic writing is a goal. Students will use the T.

Text Content: Boston writers in the 19th century

Faculty Member: Sheldon George
This course investigates issues of authority, voice, and persuasion in writing. It examines how an author's rhetorical choices and strategic self-presentations may be informed by location. Organized around works by famous antebellum and postbellum authors of the greater Boston area, the course focuses upon texts that often engage anti-slavery and women's rights issues. Some included authors are Nathanial Hawthorne, Harriet Wilson, Henry David Thoreau, William Wells Brown, and Louisa May Alcott.

Virtual Boston

Taught by: Kristin Scott
This course combines introductory theoretical and practical approaches to the understanding of how emerging communication technologies mediate and help construct urban experiences. We explore, specifically, how smartphone apps, virtual tours, civic technology, social media, and online maps affect our understanding of and engagement with historical and present-day Boston.