For 750 Freshmen, an Interdisciplinary Education

Since 2015, Boston College freshmen have been able to take interdisciplinary courses to fulfill two core requirements in one six-credit class. Similar to the Perspectives program, these interdisciplinary offerings, currently in the second year of a three-year pilot program, bring together two departments and explore the intersectionality of the disciplines. The classes include multiple different approaches to the two disciplines, including reflection sessions, guest speakers, film projects, and museum visits. As BC reworks the core to create the most effective curriculum possible, these interdisciplinary programs are useful tools and offer freshmen worthwhile opportunities.

The program was immensely popular last year and, as a result, the number of classes is being expanded dramatically this year. While there were only 350 open spots last year, there will be 750 this year. The spots filled quickly last year and the growth reflects that. This expansion marks a positive step for the program, which remains a creative approach to the core. Often, students view the core as a chore, classes that must be taken to get to classes that really interest the student. The interdisciplinary program is a good way to offer students options for completing their core, while also encouraging the exploration of multiple disciplines. Students who might not be able to take a class in one field due to core restrictions are presented with options to integrate  different fields.

The intersectional classes make the core more attractive, a benefit for the school, considering the comparative inflexibility of the program as it stands. Freshmen are given the opportunity to expand their connections and understanding in a way that normal core classes don’t offer.

One potential problem could arise if a student chooses both Perspectives and an interdisciplinary course—meaning that his or her GPA is extremely dependent on these courses, which count as six credits. As both Perspectives and the core pilot classes are pushed upon incoming freshmen when they register for classes, this potential pitfall should be avoided. While this should be taken into account as the program expands, it is also something that each student should understand when he or she registers for courses.

Depending on feedback after the pilot program is completed, the classes might be expanded to include offerings for sophomores or maybe a senior capstone class. It is important, however, that these offerings not be rushed and that feedback is taken into account. The slow unveiling of the program allows it to be better developed through repeated trials so that if it is ever brought to other grades, it will be of the same high quality.

Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Archives

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