Learning Communities

The Learning Community provides you with the opportunity to understand a topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Thanks to the course's focus on integrative learning, you will learn the intricacies of two different disciplines (via two standalone courses) and how they relate to a topic, issue or problem (via an integrative seminar taught jointly by the two course instructors). Examples of Learning Communities may include: "France and its Cultural Legacy," "Community Food Systems," and "Sustaining a Nonprofit Organization."

Students in class

Fall 2019

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.

Food Policy

Faculty: 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.

From Farm to Table: The Political Economy of Food Systems

Faculty: 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.

Integrative Seminar: Community Food Systems

Faculty: Biewener and Pechulis
(2 credits): TH 12:30- 1:50pm

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.


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.

Baltimore and Boston: Urban Medical Communities

Faculty: 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.

Medicine and the African-American Experience

Faculty: Parr
(3 credits) (SH): TH 3:00 - 4:20 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.

Integrative Seminar: Learning from Henrietta Lacks

Faculty: Ward and Parr
(2 credits): W 9:30 - 10:50 am

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.


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.

Piratical Stories

Faculty: Fash
(3 credits) (ALA): T 12:00 - 1:50pm

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.

Oceans Connect

Faculty: 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.

Integrative Seminar: On the High Seas

Faculty: Berry and Fash
(2 credits): W 12:30-1:50 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.


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

In these meetings we will use calculus to solve fundamental problems in physics, such as simple harmonic motion, planetary motion, and calculating moments of inertia. The insights we get from very real world physics also help to bolster our understanding of the fundamental calculus processes of differentiation and integration. The two subjects are intrinsically linked, and studying them together makes each one easier.

Calculus 2

Faculty: Brown
(3 credits) (QL) : MWF 11:00 - 11:50 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.

Fundamentals of Physics 1
Fundamentals of Physics Lab
Fundamentals of Physics GIL

Faculty: White 
(3 credits) (SCI) 
MWF 9:00 - 9:50 am
M 3:00 - 5:50 pm
F 2:00 - 2:50 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.

Integrative Seminar: Newton's Insights

Faculty: Brown and White
(2 credits) : W 1-1:50pm

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.


Skills for Business Success (8 credits)

This course focuses on the interfaces between organizational behavior and management accounting by taking a contemporary approach to understanding how people behave in organizations and the financial decision-making required to succeed. Topics covered include human behaviors within organizations, managerial problem-solving and decision-making, communication skills, budgeting, responsibility accounting, and break-even analysis. The integrative seminar utilizes the organizational skills, team project management, and communication skills gained in the organizational behavior course and the managerial accounting decision making skills gained in managerial accounting to develop a semester long project to be presented in a "Shark Tank" setting.

Organization Communication and Behavior

Faculty: Shapiro
(3 credits) (SH): TH 3:00 - 4:50 pm

Organizational Behavior (OB) is the systematic study, and the careful application of knowledge about how people think and behave within organizations. In successful organizations, leaders competently manage and organize a complex system of personalities, talent, teamwork and resources to meet strategic objectives. This course takes a contemporary approach to the interdisciplinary study of human behavior within organizations. It combines social science and psychology theories with practical workplace applications in an analytical framework that explores individual, interpersonal, and system-wide dynamics. Throughout the semester you will gain insight into your strengths as an individual, team-member, and leader; identify areas for personal improvement; and hone your managerial problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Managerial Accounting

Faculty: Spiceland
(3 credits): T 12:00 -1:50 pm

This course focuses on the interfaces between organizational behavior and management accounting by taking a contemporary approach to understanding how people behave in organizations and the financial 
decision-making required to succeed. Topics covered include human behaviors within organizations, managerial problem-solving and decision-making, communication skills, budgeting, responsibility accounting, and break-even analysis. The integrative seminar utilizes the organizational skills, team project management, and communication skills gained in the organizational behavior course and the managerial accounting decision making skills gained in managerial accounting to develop a semester long project to be presented in a "Shark Tank" setting.

Integrative Seminar: Skills for Business Success

Faculty: Shapiro, Spiceland
(2 credits): TH 12:30-1:50pm

The integrative seminar utilizes the organizational skills, team project management, and communication skills gained in the organizational behavior course and the managerial accounting decision making skills gained in managerial accounting to develop a semester-long project to be presented in a "Shark Tank" setting.


Surveillance in Modern America (8 credits)

This Learning Community uses the War on Drugs and the War on Terror to investigate the modern history and consequences of surveillance in America. In doing so, the course examines the rhetoric and politics used to promote surveillance, the different policies and tools that make up its application, and the impact that increased levels of surveillance have had on American society. Using the unique but occasionally overlapping histories and consequences of these two wars, the course will emphasize the intersection of American surveillance with the social dimensions of race, class, ethnicity, religion, and gender.

The War on Drugs

Faculty: Rosenthal
(3 credits) (SH): M 12:00 - 1:50 pm

This course explores the War on Drugs that has been waged in the United States over the last fifty years. In doing so, it focuses on the history and development of the war, considers its various consequences, evaluates its effectiveness, and analyzes current reform efforts.

The War on Terror

Faculty: Selod
(3 credits) (GC): W 11:00 - 12:50 pm

This course examines the history and impact of the War on Terror in the United States and globally. The course will examine the cultural, political and economic motivations for the War on Terror and the impact it has had on communities of color in the United States.

Integrative Seminar: Surveillance in Modern America

Faculty: Rosenthal, Selod
(2 credits): TH 12:30-1:50 pm

This integrative seminar will compare and contrast the histories, consequences, and reform efforts of the surveillance involved in these two wars. In doing so, it will emphasize how these wars have cut across dimensions of race, class, ethnicity, religion, and gender.


How People Change the World (8 credits)

This Learning Community builds a bridge between the arts, business, and social justice activism by examining how the expressive arts and business practices give people tools to create collective action to change the world. We apply a transnational, inter-sectional feminist focus to examine case studies of organizations and individuals working for social justice through social entrepreneurship in the areas of sustainability, the migration-refugee experience, human rights through freedom of person-hood, representative democracy, girls' education, the end to mass incarceration, and health care for all. This interdisciplinary expanse enables learning and conversation about the complexity, contradiction, and potential of social justice organizing globally in the context of challenges (patriarchy, racism, settler colonialism, and capitalism) and opportunities (humanity, goodwill, empathy, hope, and spirituality).

"I Sing the Body Electric:" Social Justice and the Expressive Arts

Faculty: Thompson
(3 credits): T 12:00 - 1:50 pm

Sociology has long understood that a creative spirit is key to what makes us human. This course focuses on expressive arts (poetry, graphic novel, film) that deepen our understanding of contemporary social justice movements globally. We turn to expressive arts to widen our consciousness and illuminate key sociological concepts.

Social Entrepreneurship

Faculty: Nelson
(3 credits) (SH): M 12:00 - 1:50 pm

Shares the ideas, motivations, and impact of social entrepreneurship as a practice: action through organizations to solve pernicious social problems—poverty, racism, environmental degradation and sexism. Builds student capabilities to lead social change, specifically to build best practice knowledge of opportunity identification and assessment, blogging, teleconferencing, pitching, and meeting leading.

Social Justice and Social Entrepreneurship

Faculty: Thompson, Nelson
(2 credits): M 3:00 - 4:20 pm

This course builds a bridge between the arts, business, and social justice activism by examining how the expressive arts and business practices give people tools to create collective action to change the world. We apply a transnational, inter-sectional feminist focus to examine case studies of organizations and individuals working for social justice through social entrepreneurship in the areas of sustainability, the migration-refugee experience, human rights through freedom of person-hood, representative democracy, girls' education, the end to mass incarceration, and health care for all. This interdisciplinary expanse enables learning and conversation about the complexity, contradiction, and potential of social justice organizing globally in the context of challenges (patriarchy, racism, settler colonialism, and capitalism) and opportunities (humanity, goodwill, empathy, hope, and spirituality).