Beyond Boundaries Seminar (2 credits total)

Led by the Beyond Boundaries Program Director, Rob Morgan and Assistant Director Jenni Harpring, this course will cover selected relevant topics including interdisciplinary projects and lectures, collaboration, ideation exercises, and college student development. It is an interactive seminar in which each program participant will participate in prototyping futures, mind-mapping, salon-type discussions, dialogue, reflection and related activities. There will be opportunities to meet and hear from faculty representing all 7 schools at Washington University. 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, pass/fail course 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. It will meet three days per week. The course will be taught by a faculty member of the College Writing program in sections of 12 students. It will include various contributions from faculty in other departments and across divisions through lecture series, class visits, panels, and interviews.  Students will self-select into one of the following themes: Ampersand Ireland; Citizen Scientist, Dreams & Nightmares; Writing Identity; Writing, Literature & Justice; Place & Perspective; Power & Commodity Culture; Writing Technology; When I’m 64.

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 (one in the Fall and one in the Spring), 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 problems 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 – like our aging population, the nature of creativity, the phenomenon of climate change, and the evolving art of medicine.

These courses will offer first year students in this program tangible examples from interdisciplinary approaches to these topics, including examples of faculty from across schools participating in interdisciplinary exploration. Some courses within the schools, which have been pre-designated by the Faculty Lead Team as meeting the requirements of interdisciplinary courses, may also count towards this requirement in the Spring semester.

Offered Fall 2022:

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

This interdisciplinary, cross-school course illuminates the crucial interaction between medicine, visual culture and the arts. The encounter between medicine and art has been cooperative, leading to numerous innovations such as the microscope, and also fiercely antagonistic, as witnessed during the HIV AIDS pandemic in the1980s and, indeed, in our current Covid era. Together with distinguished guest speakers, we will break down simplistic distinctions between the cultures of art and medicine and confront past and present representations of the corporeal body, health and illness through the lenses of gender, race, disability, transhumanism, and diverse medical cultures. We will meet together each week for lectures and small group discussions. In their final project at the intersection of art and medicine, students will delve creatively into a subject in which they are particularly interested. This course is designed to engage students from all schools, but will be especially fruitful for pre-health and art students. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring Professor Messbarger talking about this class.

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.

Earth’s Future: Causes and consequences of global climate change (Professor Brent Williams)

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.

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.

Religious Freedom in America (Professors John Inazu and Mark Valeri)

The intersection of religion and law in American society has sparked some of the fiercest cultural engagements in recent memory: Should a for-profit religious corporation have a right not to fund birth control for its employees? Can a public college expel campus religious groups whose membership is not open to all students? May a Muslim grow a beard for religious reasons in prison? Should a cake baker or a florist be permitted to refuse services for a gay wedding? Can a church hire and fire its ministers for any reason?  These current debates and the issues that frame them are interwoven in the American story. This course introduces students to the major texts and historical arguments underlying that story. Drawing from the respective expertise of the instructors, it exposes students to a variety of scholarly methods related to the issue: legal history and case law, intellectual history and canonical texts, social history and narrative accounts, and political philosophy and contemporary analyses. Click HERE for the syllabus, and – for more from these professors – listen to their podcast episode.

When I’m 64: Transforming Your Future (Professors Nancy Morrow-Howell, Matthew Picchiello, & 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.

Offered Spring 2023:

Morality and Markets (Professor 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 kind 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 open in unique ways, for the world of fiction helps open the ethical dilemmas of the market we inhabit everyday. In the following 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.

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

In 1987, sustainability entered the mainstream of worldwide policy debates when the Brundtland Commission published, “Our Common Future,” in which they originated what has become the most well-known definition of sustainable development: “development that meets the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development is the pathway to a sustainable society and every discipline has their own sense of what that means and how to pursue it. Thus, this course provides perspectives on sustainability across disciplines. We will examine the subject of sustainability from multiple perspectives to gain an appreciation for its interconnected environmental, social, and economic dimensions. The goal is to integrate knowledge and methods from different disciplines to achieve a holistic understanding of sustainability problems and solutions. Class lessons will consist of lectures, guest speakers, and small group workshops and discussions. Assignments will include readings, case studies, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. Listen to this podcast episode to learn more about the course.

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 featuring these faculty members talking about their class

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.

First-Year Bear Bridge Courses (3 credits): Spring Semester Only 

In the Spring semester, students in the Beyond Boundaries cohort only 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.
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 class will introduce integrating 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, reflection, and discussion. Course activities will build cohort connections via collaboration with a community partner in the St. Louis region. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring these faculty members talking about their class!