Beyond Boundaries Seminar (2 credits total)

Led by the Beyond Boundaries Program Director, Rob Morgan, 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 per semester, 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 2020:

Earth’s Future: Causes and consequences of global climate change (Professors T.R. Kidder & 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 and check out an article and video on the course HERE.

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.

Religious Freedom in America (Professors John InazuMark 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. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring Professors Valeri and Inazu talking about this class and click HERE for the syllabus.

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

This course will focus on understanding the primary and Presidential elections, particularly the 2020 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. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring Professor Malter talking about this class!

Offered Spring 2021:

The Art of Medicine (Professors Piroska Kopar, Patricia Olynyk, & Shanti Parikh)

This interdisciplinary, cross-school course at the intersection of history and the visual arts 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.  Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring Professor Messbarger (a previous instructor for this course) talking about this class and for a link to final projects, go HERE.

Gender, Youth, & Global Health (Professors Rachel Brathwaite & Caline Mattar)

Through in-depth case studies, this course provides an introduction to gender specific issues in the context of childhood and adolescence, poverty, and global health. Students will learn to identify how gender and gender differences affect conditions of life in the areas of reproductive health, nutrition, conflict, access to healthcare, and the social determinants of health, especially for young people. Students will learn to analyze health conditions and disparities in relation to both the micro dynamics of local worlds and the macro dynamics of large-scale social forces in the postcolonial global field. Additionally, they will come to understand the current challenges that global health practitioners and institutions confront in achieving gender equity and the current efforts towards closing the gap. These learning objectives will be achieved using lectures, but also discussions-based sessions and Skype-based interactions with NGOs and experts who are currently working in the field.

When I’m 64: Transforming Your Future (Professors Brian Carpenter, Nancy Morrow-Howell, & Susy Stark)

Whether you know it or not, you’re living in the midst of a revolution – a revolution that’s going to change your personal and professional lives. You’ll live into your 80s and 90s, with a 50% chance of seeing your 100th birthday. This demographic revolution is going to change the health care you receive, the house you live in, the car you drive, the jobs you do, and the relationships you have with family and friends. In other words, this revolution will shape every aspect of your life. This class will give you an edge in understanding how you can harness these forces to shape your career and life. During the semester you’ll have the opportunity to learn from a multidisciplinary group of educators and professionals who are addressing issues related to aging right now. You’ll also have an opportunity to get off campus and witness for yourself how businesses, organizations, and the community are getting ready for the change in the city’s demographics. Be sure to check out the podcast episode featuring these faculty members talking about their class and check out this article and video on the course HERE.

Morality and 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 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 Avni Solanki & David Webb)

To Sustainability and Beyond: People, Planet, Prosperity is a course designed for first-year students that combines interdisciplinary instruction with applied project work. Students will be introduced to global concepts in sustainability and examine how they relate to specific issues in the greater St. Louis community, learning what it means to be civic-minded stewards of social and ecological systems. Additionally, they will work on developing critical “soft” skills needed for success on the job, such as effective communication techniques, project management, and leadership. Students will emerge from the course with a systems-level understanding of sustainability, a working knowledge of the fundamentals of community engagement, and an appreciation for values-based civic stewardship. Experience in this course will prepare students for applied project-based work in other courses or internships, regardless of academic discipline.

The Endgame of Entrepreneurship: Leveraging Capitalism for Good (Professors Heather Cameron, II Luscri, Joe Steensma, & Doug Villhard)

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.