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Experiential Liberal Arts Courses

Examples

Course prefix Course numberCourse titleBriefly describe how students will engage in rigorous study of culture, society, politics, and/or ethicsBriefly describe how students will apply and transform liberal arts knowledge and capacities across and beyond university contexts (i.e., experiential learning: community projects, service-learning, applied research or field work, etc.)Briefly describe how students will study issues of diversity and inclusion in theory and in practiceBriefly describe how students will develop awareness of how their undergraduate experiences impact and are impacted by the city of Boston
ANTH 3415Anthropology of Travel and TourismThrough the anthropological study of travel and tourism, students examine the tourist "desire," the tourist "gaze," cultural appropriation and exploitation, commodification and the ways in which hosts manipulate the relationship. Students conduct field research in a potential "tourist site" in Boston. Students are asked to develop a plan presenting local culture in a way that could attract tourists.Throughout the course, students think about power relationships between hosts, tourists, and members of the cultural groups being presented. These relationships entail questions about social inclusion and exclusion, as well as what kinds of diverse spaces are more attractive to tourists.Students learn to look at Boston differently when they think about a particular site through the distinct lenses of tourist, tour host, and local.
CRIM4120Courts and SentencingAfter exposing students to the cases, principles and rules of the criminal justice system in the traditional classroom setting, the course then takes them to see how those same cases, principles and rules are applied in the real world. They visit the Boston Municipal Court, the Boston Juvenile Court, the Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the Suffolk County Jail. During each visit they have the opportunity to talk to court personnel, including the judges. Guest speakers are 1) a public defender; 2) an assistant district attorney; and 3) a sitting judge from one of the busiest and "hottest" district courts in the state. Students are able to ask them questions about their work and their philosophies. We also look at several films during the semester: The Plea, a documentary that examines the pros and cons of plea bargaining in our criminal justice system; The Central Park Five, which discusses police misconduct and wrongful convictions; Twelve Angry Men, which shows the jury deliberation process in a murder trial when only one juror questions the defendant's guilt. Each component of the course, including lectures, causes the students to engage in the rigorous study of culture, society, politics and ethics.
By first studying the cases, the principles and the rules of the criminal justice system, and then observing the law in action, in the District, Superior, appellate courts, and then the jail, students learn across and beyond the university contexts. Class lectures, which always include articles from the daily newspapers, the assigned readings, the guest speakers, the films, and the field trips to the courts and the jail, all either directly or indirectly raise issues of diversity and inclusion in theory and in practice.Because we visit the Boston Municipal Court, the Boston Juvenile Court, the Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the Suffolk County Jail, all of which are located in the heart of Boston, students develop awareness of how their undergraduate experiences impact and are impacted by the city of Boston.
ENGL4400Opening the ArchiveReading and analysis of archival studies literature (what is an archive? what is in an archive? where are archive? -all questions of culture, society, politics, ethics)Fieldwork, applied research: students visit and work in local archives and create their own archivesArchives are inherently about diversity and inclusion in practice. Archivists, and those studying archives, must decide who and what will be included and how best to represent the phenomena or communities in question.Fieldwork, applied research: students visit and work in local archives and create their own archives
HIST1120Public History, Public MemoryDraws on contemporary debates over memorials, museum displays, television and film, and other popular sources of historical information to answer the questions: How does memory become history? How, where, and why do people encounter and interpret history outside of the classroom? Why are certain versions of the past so controversial?Explores the politics surrounding the creation and consumption of history outside the classroom. Visits to and guided observations of places of public memory form an important part of the course.A key part of the course is the study of how different stakeholders, including women and historically oppressed racial and ethnic groups, have sought to remember their histories as against dominant narratives. Visits/guided observations are nearly all local to Boston places of public memory.
HUSV3570Strategic Philanthropy & Nonprofit ManagementThroughout the course, students identify key social problems and their place within the broader society. For example, a discussion of child abuse and neglect considers the risk and protective factors associated with parenting (including factors associated with mental health, poverty, cognitive ability, and physical health), but also considers the role of systems/institutions such as schools, child welfare agencies, and access to health care. The goals and objectives of this foundation learning is to better understand the targets for prevention, intervention, and treatment, which are often needed at both the personal and structural level (and therefore represent both clinical and institutional levels of change). Students engage in a consensus-based experiential philanthropy process dubbed Northeastern Students4Giving that includes analyzing community needs assessments, selection of a funding priority, development of a request for proposals including guidelines and an application form, review of proposals, site visits to high performing applicants, and selection of a grantee. Throughout the process, students identify all of the theoretical, practical, and ethical standards they will apply to their interactions with applicants and each other as they execute their responsibilities as grant makers. They also develop network and systems maps to visualize the relationships between actors and forces that influence complex social problems in Boston and reflect on how attributes such as empathy, perspective taking, and cultural agility can positively influence those relationships. The course utilizes a social justice philanthropy framework to challenge students to consider the power dynamic and inequities between stakeholders who: control resources intended to effect social change; seek resources to engage in the work of social change; and are the intended beneficiaries of social change. Students consider how some philanthropic structures and strategies for redistributing resources across this continuum may unintentionally reinforce the power and privilege of wealth holders while further disenfranchising marginalized and under-represented populations. They examine alternative approaches that value diversity and inclusion as both strategic and ethical considerations throughout the philanthropic process and strive to achieve them in their own grant making. Students have developed the following mission statement: "Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G) ... enables students to make a positive and lasting impact in the communities where we live and learn through grant making." The notion that students simultaneously learn from the grant applicants and community and bring value to them is implicit in the the conceptual and practical framework of their grant making. The notions of respect, recognition, and reciprocity are reinforced throughout the course, but most prominently when students are preparing to conduct site visits to applicant organizations.
POLS2357Growth and Decline and Cities and SuburbsStudents engage in rigorous study of the processes of growth and decline of cities and suburbs in metropolitan America. Students consider the culture, politics, and equality of how patterns of growth and decline impact vulnerable populations differently. Students participate in active learning and field work in the city of Boston. Student participate in tours of urban neighborhoods in Boston and explain how the patterns of growth and decline are expressed in our city through an applied research project. Students consider how divisions of race, ethnicity, and class impact the growth and decline of cities and suburbs as well as the policy responses. Students engage in the Boston community through tours and interviews to apply the theories of population and economic growth and decline to local issues facing the residents of Boston.
SOCL1220Sociology of BostonCourse provides an introduction to central topics in urban sociology, the spatialization of difference, economic development, community formation and place-based social networks, urban social movements, etc.Brief field work assignments that send students out into Boston, to use the city as a laboratory for study of urban sociology. Students also complete neighborhood case studies.Major focus on spatialized patterns of inequality and difference -- segregation, immigrant enclaves, gender and space, gentrification, etc.Students get to know Boston's history and contemporary social structures, as well as how to look sociologically at seemingly familiar spaces.