In the fall of 2018, Boston University launched a school-wide general education program known as BU Hub. This new program has become a university requirement and hopes to prepare students for their professional lives as well as unite the campus through cross-college engagement. Life after graduation is complex and diverse so BU Hub aims to provide students with the opportunity to work across disciplines while they are still in an academic setting.

There are a variety of courses and innovative learning experiences students can choose from as they develop what BU Hub has identified as its six essential capacities:

  1. Philosophical, aesthetic, and historical interpretation
  2. Scientific and social inquiry
  3. Quantitative reasoning
  4. Diversity, civic engagement, and global citizenship
  5. Communication
  6. Intellectual Toolkit (skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and research)

 A signature experience available to upper year BU students is known as the Cross-College Experience (XCC). This interdisciplinary project-based experience allows students to combine theory with practice and work with students from other colleges across campus. After graduation, regardless of what industry they pursue, students will find themselves in a position where they must work with other colleagues. Their fellow colleagues may come from diverse backgrounds so it is important to provide early exposure to the potential challenges of working collaboratively and provide opportunities to work with various perspectives.

Students across all of Boston University’s 10 different undergraduate schools and colleges are eligible to enroll in the XCC. Once enrolled, students will be grouped into small teams of 4-6 co-led by two faculty members and in partnership with various community partners. These small groups then work with a client to tackle a real-world problem and produce a tangible product. The XCC enables students to get to know individuals outside of their major or college and as a result, introduce them to new skills and ways of thinking.

Michaela Johnston, a senior at Boston University’s College of Communication said that she became involved with XCC because of the interactive approach the program took towards education. She said she is looking forward to “combining [her] skills with those of other students, learning new skills, and growing as a student and as a person.”

The scope of projects students may work on can vary depending on their interests as well as the sponsors and partners involved in that semesters’ XCC. Below are a couple of examples of the types of projects students may take part in.

Rebecca Nichols, of the Questrom School of Business, and Kim Shuckra-Gomez, Boston College of Arts and Science, came together to work on a cross-cultural exploration of music. Their project assists the Boston University Arts Initiative with its annual Global Music Festival, using artistic expression through the medium of music to connect global communities, students, and community organizations. Students involved in this project will assist with securing funding, community and student engagement, and preparing a proposal for advertising, grants, and other media.

Another project as part of the XCC is “The Data Game” led by Andry Andres, Division of Natural Sciences at the College of General Studies, and Kathryn Webster, Athletic Training at Sargent College. This project explores the makings of a great baseball player. Baseball performance success will be analyzed through various lenses including biomechanics, injury prevention, performance testing, and physiology just to name a few. The project seeks to discover what elements are important to be the best baseball player and is there a way to measure these elements to predict success. The ability for students to work collaboratively across colleges is extremely beneficial in preparation for a real workplace.

“The idea of creativity, collaboration, and communication resembles exactly what life after college is going to be like and cross-college challenge encompasses all three of them,” said Umang Desai, student of economics with the College of Arts and Science. “If you think about it, in the working world you’ll be working with people from different backgrounds, different expertise, different mindsets, different perspectives and you need to be able to understand and dissect all of them.”

Wesley Jones, student of health sciences at Sargent College, also comments on the value of working with those outside of your field of study.

“When we think about some of the challenges that I personally want to work on in my life going into public health as a future career path … a lot of those challenges aren’t just one silo, one tract forever and ever learning your own discipline,” he said. “You have to be able to work with other people, you have to be able to talk and collaborate.”

The Cross-College Challenge not only promotes university-wide engagement but gives students an opportunity to prepare for what it will be like post-graduation. The XCC is a great example of how cross-disciplinary engagement meets industry partnerships. Each team involved in the XCC is comprised of students from all different undergraduate schools and colleges and the chance to work on real-world problems.

Work-integrated learning opportunities such as the Cross-College Challenge demonstrate how experiential learning can be integrated into coursework that teaches students valuable skills in preparation for the workforce while benefiting community partners. For institutions looking to introduce experiential learning into their classrooms or companies looking to interact with upcoming talent, Riipen can help. With a marketplace that connects students and academic institutions with companies, students can gain hands-on experience right in the classroom while networking with industry professionals.

To learn more about Riipen and how you can get started with experiential learning, click HERE.