My Simmons

Integrative Learning Courses

The Integrative Learning (IL) course challenges students to study a topic or question through the lenses of multiple disciplines. Taken during a student’s second year, this approach to integrative learning allows students to grasp the habits of mind and the importance of being able to explore topics and issues from different approaches and perspectives.

IL courses (4 credits) are offered during the fall and spring semesters, and satisfy the IL requirement for graduation.

Fall 2023 Integrative Learning Courses

IL-201-01 Discrete Structures (QL)

Instructor: Margaret Menzin
MWF 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

This course focuses on discrete structures, which are foundational to Mathematics and Computer Science, and how the two disciplines differ and also support each other. Topics include propositional and quantified logic, relations and equivalence relations, cardinality and complexity, mathematical induction and recurrence relations, and graph theory.

IL-201-02 Food Policy

Instructor: Kristina Pechulis
T/TH 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.

Food: Policy, Community Food Systems, and what we eat addresses the central question of what policies and practices are needed to develop sustainable and just community food systems. We examine the many ways food shapes the environment, public health, and the individual, and community life, and look at how the government and the food industry influences what and how much we eat. We will concentrate on how local, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food is produced, distributed, regulated and wasted in the community around Simmons and Boston.

IL-201-03 Language, Politics, and Domination (SH)

Instructor: Abel Djassi Amado
T/TH 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.

Though power can be exercised through non-linguistic means, language is the starting point of asymmetrical social relations, leading to socio-political domination. Through different mechanisms and tools, social actors instrumentalize language in their quest for domination, control, and maintenance of hierarchies. This class focuses on how individuals and groups use language to construct, reinforce, strengthen, or maintain political domination. By employing comparative political and historical approaches and interdisciplinary theoretical insights, this class addresses the following questions: what is the role of language in creating gender, racial, and ethnic hierarchies? Who speaks the “right” language? Is there such thing as linguistic imperialism? Topics covered in this class include the role of colonial linguistics in creating the colonial order; the production of gender/ethnic identities; pidgin and creole; languages of oppression vs. languages of resistance; the role of global languages in the contemporary world.

IL-201-04 The History, Society, and Literature of Medieval China (ALA)

Instructor: Alister Inglis
MW 6:30 – 7:50 p.m.

This course examines the political and social history of the Tang and Song dynasties, a transformative period of China’s imperial past. History and religion are illustrated with poetry and short stories, while the study of poetry and short stories are informed by historical writing (in-translation). In this way, students gain in-depth insights not possible through any one discipline.

IL-201-05 Environmentalist Writing (ALA)

Instructor: Renee Bergland
MW 6:30 – 7:50 p.m.

How can we rethink the relationship between humans and the natural world? Faced with planetary extinction, we must reimagine many aspects of humanity including gender, race, class, and national identity. Let’s explore the perspectives of poets, scientists, and philosophers and build on them to express our own environmentalist visions.

IL-201-06 Shop Til We Drop? Consumption, Identity, and Survival

Instructor: Shelley White
T/TH 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.

This course is all about consumption – that is, the ways in which we use up stuff and exist in our “materials economy,” and the impacts of these cycles on people and the planet. We will consider how we make meaning in relation to stuff, how these relationships impact our happiness and wellbeing, and how they overlay with systems of inequality. We will also consider how our consumer society has changed over time, and how it is pushing planetary boundaries beyond their breaking points.

IL-201-07 And the Pursuit of Happiness

Instructor: Geoff Turner
MW 9:00 – 10:20 a.m.

Are you happy? Rates of anxiety and depression are at all-time highs. We don’t even seem to know where to look for happiness. Is happiness even achievable? This course explores how several different disciplinary perspectives, including Psychology, Biology, Economics, History, and Anthropology can inform how we might achieve fulfillment.

IL-201-08 Newton’s Insights

Instructor: P. Jason White
M/F 3:30 – 4:50 p.m.

This course asks the student to consider the backdrop of Isaac Newton’s environment (place and time), and the events leading up to his formulation of a new mathematical tool, the calculus. The student will discover the process of invention that scientists still use to model observations of mechanical phenomena with mathematics. The use of calculus to make sense of scientific phenomena will be revealed through a series of examples drawn from the work of Isaac Newton.