Beyond Boundaries Seminar (2 credits total)

The Beyond Boundaries Seminar is designed to support student’s development in interdisciplinary thinking and collaborative problem solving. Over the course of two semesters, students will engage in discussions, workshops, skill building exercises and panel presentations to grow their skills and knowledge in these areas. Over the course of the academic year we will ask the following questions:

1. What role(s) do I want to play on collaborative problem-solving teams?
2. What skills and knowledge are necessary for interdisciplinary work?
3. How can I use my time at Washington University to grow these skills?

The knowledge gained is designed to contribute to academic success, personal development, and a more rewarding social and academic experience over the course of the college experience. This is a 1 credit class offered both Fall & Spring semesters during the first year.

College Writing (3 credits)

During the fall semester of the first year, Beyond Boundaries program students will take a 3-unit common College Writing course – a requirement for most first year students at Washington University. This course will focus on basic writing skills and communication across disciplines.

Beyond Boundaries Courses (3 credits each, open to all first year students)

In addition to the classes mentioned above, first year students in the Beyond Boundaries Program will be required to complete two Beyond Boundaries courses (over the course of their first year), for which they will have priority enrollment.

Beyond Boundaries courses, which are funded by the Office of the Provost and offered to first year students only, are designed to prepare students for a rapidly evolving world characterized by social, political, scientific, and economic challenges that cannot be solved using knowledge from a single discipline. Team-taught by faculty from different schools across Washington University, Beyond Boundaries courses offer a window into how scholars from different disciplines approach big, critical topics such as our aging population, the nature of creativity, the phenomenon of climate change, and the art of medicine.

Bear Bridge Courses (3 credits): Spring Semester 

In the Spring semester, first year students in the Beyond Boundaries have an opportunity to apply their interdisciplinary knowledge to important social and intellectual questions via a ‘Bear Bridge’ course.

Bear Bridge courses are intended to:

  • Apply knowledge and experience from team-taught Beyond Boundaries courses in a project-based, applied context.
  • Reinforce cohort experience within the Beyond Boundaries program. Students enrolled in the Beyond Boundaries program will have additional curricular and co-curricular cohort-building, and Bear Bridge courses will reinforce these connections.
  • Prepare students for on-going interdisciplinary approaches in their following three years on campus. Bear Bridge courses will give students a set of tools to apply interdisciplinary approaches, including informing their choice of major, their approach to capstone, and their self-identity as a scholar.

Offered Fall 2024:

I60 101 – Earth’s Future: Causes and Consequences of Global Climate Change (Professors T.R. Kidder & Michael Wysession)

Climate change is said by many to be one of the most important issues of our time. This course examines 1) the physical basis for climate change; 2) how climates are changing and how we know and assess that climates are changing; and 3) the effects of climate change on natural and human systems. The course is team-taught and will involve participation by scholars across the university with expertise in specific subjects. Earth’s Future is a broad, introductory course for first year students. While this course presumes no special subject matter knowledge on the part of the student you will be exposed to a broad array of scholarship across the sciences, social sciences, engineering, and humanities. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring Professor Kidder talking about this class.

I60 102 – The Business of Elections (Professors Steve Malter & Andrew Reeves)

This course will focus on understanding the primary and Presidential elections, particularly the 2024 election through a multi-disciplinary approach, primarily political science and business. Campaigns are start-ups that rely on strategy, branding, influencing consumers (voters), financing and other concepts to achieve the elections of their candidate. At the same time, American politics is highly polarized with voters who are increasingly hostile to listening to the other side. Given this context, how does a campaign succeed as an entrepreneurial venture? The course will allow students to compare and contrast how different candidate’s policies/platforms may impact different constituencies/sectors of the business/labor world as well as the economy and how the media portrays them and what role they will play in the general election. Here more from Professor Malter with this podcast episode.

I60 105 – The Endgame of Entrepreneurship: Leveraging Capitalism for Good (Professors II Luscri & Joe Steensma)

Historically, profit has been a key driver of human behavior. In this class, students will learn to take advantage of the profit-seeking motive of capitalism while also learning from mistakes and unintended consequences capitalism has caused throughout history. Students will apply these learnings toward profit-seeking solutions for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals — which are global challenges that call us to work together with boldness and urgency. We will explore how skills from entrepreneurship and venture creation can be used to improve water, climate, education and gender equality globally and here in St. Louis. In interdisciplinary teams, students will learn how to define a problem; listen to customers, competitors and collaborators; create value; measure impact; and communicate their vision. Bold entrepreneurial spirit and skills learned in this class will guide students in their further WashU studies and beyond. Learn more about this course on the podcast episode featuring some of the professors.

I60 123 – When I’m 64: Preparing Ourselves and Society for a Good Long Life (Professors Nancy Morrow-Howell, Brian Carpenter, & Susy Stark)

Whether you know it or not, you’re living in the midst of a revolution – a revolution that is going to change your personal and professional lives. Although old age may seem a long way off, you’ll likely live to age 80 or beyond, with a 50% chance of seeing your 100th birthday. The demographic revolution you’re going to live through will change the health care you receive, the house you live in, the car you drive, the jobs you do, and the relationships you have. This class will give you a competitive edge in understanding how you can harness what’s happening to shape your career and lifestyle. In class you’ll be introduced to leaders and ideas from many fields – medicine, engineering, architecture, public health, social work, law, business, art, and psychology – focused on the issues of our aging society. There will also be opportunities to tailor the class to your interests through events on and off campus, including movies, lectures, performances, field trips, and community projects. Each week, we’ll gather for lectures and also break into small groups for discussion. This course will set you on a path to lead the aging revolution and transform the society of tomorrow. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring these faculty members talking about their class as well as this article on the course HERE.

I60 130 – The Art of Medicine (Professors Rebecca Messbarger & Patricia Olynyk)

This interdisciplinary, cross-school course at the intersection of history, visual culture and the visual arts includes a roster of notable speakers and offers students a singular encounter with western medicine from ancient times to the present day. In tandem with the history of medicine, the course examines the capacity of the arts to frame medical practice and to raise questions and influence perceptions, both positively and negatively, of medical advancements. Learn more about this course on the podcast episode featuring Professor Messbarger.

I60 140 – To Sustainability and Beyond: People, Planet, Prosperity (P3) (Professors Ian Trivers & Froggi VanRiper)

This class examines the subject of sustainability from multiple perspectives to gain an appreciation for its interconnected environmental, social, and economic dimensions. We explore foundational concepts and principles through a variety of activities and assignments, including readings, discussions, group work, case studies, presentations, and projects. The goal is to integrate knowledge and methods from different disciplines to achieve a holistic understanding of sustainability problems and solutions.

I60 175 – Designing Creativity: Innovation across disciplines (Professors Bruce Lindsey & Rob Morgan)

From “Ah-ha” epiphanies to slow-developing discoveries, the creative process has been employed by innovators and artists in virtually every corner of the globe for centuries. Designing Creativity is a course that will explore the study and practice of the creative process across many disciplines with input from prominent thinkers and practitioners in the areas of medicine, neuroscience, law, engineering, architecture, human-centered design, business, stage design, and the performing arts. The class will also incorporate practice of design thinking and creativity techniques in a LAB component that will allow students to explore the development of innovative ideas in collaborative teams followed by project presentations to core faculty and classmates.  Course website is HERE.

Offered Spring 2025:

I60 110 – Bear Bridge: Empathy First: Creating Solutions With Heart (Professors Jenni Harpring & Liz Kramer)

Decisions that impact the daily lives of people are often made without consideration of the lived experience of those impacted, resulting in harm and eroded trust. Empathy is a critical tool for understanding the lived experience of others and creating better quality of life for all people. This course will introduce the integration of empathy into decisions through the methods, processes, and approaches used in design and social work. Students will examine how empathy is incorporated into the development and implementation of new solutions to wicked problems through conversations with experts in health, law, and business; community-based team projects; and reflection and discussion. Course activities will build cohort connections. Find out more by listening to the podcast episode with Professors Harpring and Kramer.

I60 115 – Environmental Racism and the Health of Everyone (Professors Angela Hobson & Scott Krummenacher)

Environmental inequalities threaten the health and well-being of low-income communities and communities of color who are increasingly on the frontlines in the fight against climate change, air and water pollution, food security, and many other urgent environmental problems. Like many urban areas, the St. Louis region faces egregious social, environmental and health disparities. In this course, we critically examine the role of racism and other structural policy inequalities that produce unequal environments and how those unequal environments contribute to public health disparities in St. Louis and beyond. We explore the use of public health data, policy options, and case studies that allow for evidence-based solutions to environmental racism and improved population health. This course that combines small group sessions, case studies and speakers working on environmental justice in the St. Louis region. We provide students with interdisciplinary perspectives and methods, challenging them to address racism and environmental policy through a population health lens. Student learning will be assessed through case studies, reflections, online assignments, and exams. Check out the podcast episode about this course.

I60 161 – Morality & Markets (Professors Peter Boumgarden & Abram Van Engen)

What does it look like to live a moral life in today’s market system? We know all too well what it does not look like. The news is filled with moral failures of leaders and executives at top firms. We like to believe that we would behave differently, but what kinds of pressures inform our moral choices? What pulls us, what pushes us, and what persuades us to act one way rather than another? These are the questions that a course combining business and literature can address in unique ways; the world of fiction helps us to examine the ethical dilemmas of the market we inhabit every day. In this course, we use great books, classics of film and modern television, and the tools of modern psychology and business strategy to think critically about what is entailed in living a moral life in the midst of the modern market. Learn more about the professors and this course from their podcast episode.