Course Catalog

The Course Catalog includes course descriptions of all courses offered by the Undergraduate School at Babson College. For descriptions of the courses offered in the current or upcoming semesters, please see the Course Listing.

 Undergraduate Course Catalog

  1 2 3 4   

History & Society


AMS 4672 Working in America: Labor in the US since 1892 (Advanced Lib Arts) How has blue, white, and pink collar work changed in the U.S. across the past century? This course focuses on the historical experiences of American workers, beginning with the Massachusetts mills of early industrialization and ending with the global corporations and big box chain stores of the contemporary U.S. We will study workers' unions, and also look at how workplaces have changed with the liberation movements of women, people of color, and gay and lesbian workers. We will use histories, autobiographies, films and paintings to look at the impact of industrialization and globalization, and we will conclude the semester with a unit on college students and their role in shaping the new economies of labor. Prerequisites: 3 Intermediate Liberal Arts Courses (CVA, LVA, HSS) This course is periodically offered in the Spring or Fall semesters.


AMS4676-01 American Urban Studies 4 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits This course examines how cities emerge, function, and change in the North American context. Utilizing an interdisciplinary framework, this course explores concepts from history, sociology, geography, and urban planning. Substantive topics include urbanization, suburbanization and sprawl, housing and segregation, crime and policing, the production of urban space, urban politics and political economy, gentrification and restructuring, and urban social movements. Throughout the course we will use Boston as an “urban laboratory” to explore particular urban issues and think through ways to effectively solve urban problems. Prerequisite: Any combination of 3 intermediate liberal arts (HSS, CVA, LVA)


ANT4602 ~ Hinduism and Buddhism 2 credit advanced liberal arts Hinduism and Buddhism as living religious world views and ways of life are the focus of this 2 credit advanced liberal arts elective. Hinduism and Buddhism respectively are the world’s third and fourth largest religious traditions. Both of South Asian origin and sharing many historical roots, they grew in dramatically different directions. The course will introduce the origins and trajectories of these religious movements in historical context. We will also pursue an empathetic understanding of the key beliefs and practices of both traditions in their own terms, while understanding that each tradition has within it a multitude of variations. An important component of this course will be fieldtrips to local Hindu and Buddhist temples. Among the other resources we will use to explore religious expression within these traditions are sacred texts, artifacts, music, visual arts and architecture. Prerequisites: Any combination of 3 Intermediate Liberal Arts (LVA, CVA, HSS)


ANT4603: Religion Through the Lens of Food 2 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits All major world religions have some defining food related beliefs, practices, rituals, symbols, laws, specialists and/or identity markers. In this 2 credit advanced liberal arts elective, we will become literate in the key conceptual frameworks that scholars use to explore and understand culturally constructed foodways in different types of social groups. We will use these critical tools to explore the parts that specific foodways play in a range of world religions, with a particular focus on Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Prerequisite: Any combination of 3 intermediate liberal arts (LVA, CVA, HSS)


ANT4604: Culture and Mental Illness 4 Advance Liberal Arts Credit This course explores both anthropological and psychiatric perspectives on mental health and mental illness, with careful attention to varied constructions of pathology and therapy across human cultures. We begin with comparative questions: are there universal standards of positive mental and emotional functioning? Are there overall commonalities in approaches to psychic and emotional disturbances? After considering the history of ‘madness’ in the West, we consider early anthropological models of culture and mental illness. We next turn to ritualized therapeutic interventions in small scale indigenous societies and consider a range of case studies from around the world. We conclude with a unit on culture and mental health in the United States and the ‘globalization” of American models of the psyche. Prerequisites: 3 intermediate liberal arts (any combination of HSS, LVA, CVA)


CVA2002 African American History and Foodways (HIS) 4 credit intermediate liberal arts The course covers the major periods, movements, and events that have shaped African American history and foodways. These include: the African slave trade; antebellum period; the civil war and reconstruction; World War I and the great migration; Harlem Renaissance and Garveyism; Great Depression; Spanish Civil War and World War II; Civil Rights and Black Power movements; industrialization, the growth of the prison industrial complex, and the "war on drugs." The course will also include content on African American foodways from the African slave trade to the Black Power movement. Classes discuss the assigned reading with lively student participation. Out-of-class work includes readings, online exams, attending lectures, artistic presentations, and films, as well as independent research. Prerequisites, RHT & AHS


CVA2008 Cultural Anthropology (Intermediate Liberal Arts) Introduction to Cultural Anthropology is a four credit intermediate History and Society course. The central focus of this course is the phenomenon of culture, that remarkable accomplishment that makes humans unique among all other species. We will use the concept of culture to investigate the question of what it means to be human. A major area of focus will be upon the ways cultural meanings are generated, shared, symbolized, ritualized, contested and altered in the face of different types of challenges. We will also study the relationship of cultural meaning to different economic, kinship and political systems. Throughout the course, as we study a variety of unfamiliar societies, we will continually refer back to our own societies with the goal of looking at our own ways of doing things with a new frame of mind. This frame of mind, or anthropological perspective, searches for the internal logics and constellations of values and beliefs that underpin all societies and subcultures. Central to this course is a succession of small fieldwork projects. This course will particularly strengthen your multicultural and rhetorical competencies Prerequisites: RHT I and RHT II and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Fall


CVA2009 East Asian Cultures (Intermediate Liberal Arts) Welcome to Cultures and Values 2009, an intermediate level Liberal Arts course which will introduce you to the cultures of East Asia. This course builds on the themes and techniques in the H&S and A&H Foundation courses to analyze our subject using the materials and methodology of history pursued in an interdisciplinary manner. We will focus on the cultures of East Asia, China, Japan, and Korea; with thematic examples from ancient, medieval and modern periods. East Asia is integrated due to location and the influence that China had on the cultures of Japan and Korea. We will begin our study with the major ways of thinking in ancient China-Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, with some consideration of Legalism, and Militarism. The ethical structures, ideas, concepts and vocabulary in part one will inform and be assumed in our study of Japan and Korea. We will next study the uses of Chinese Ethics in Japan and Korea, Shinto in Japan, and Shamanism in Korea. Although these three cultures have elements in common, Japan and Korea developed in unique ways and in no way should be seen as pale imitations of Chinese culture. We begin our study analyzing written (Chinese) classical texts, which became classics throughout East Asia. These are elite cultural documents, but we will also consider their impact on popular culture. The fourth section of the course will consider East Asia as a cultural unit. We will interrogate the cultural constructions of identity and meaning in these cultures and the political and social contexts in which these were found. We will consider the impact of modernization and globalization, and the change and continuity within East Asian cultures. Some attention will be given to the cultural impact from and on the West. We approach this course through readings in philosophy, religion, anthropology, art, literature, film, and music. Prerequisites: RHT and Foundation H&S and A&H This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring or Summer


CVA2010 Gender Studies (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to gender studies. Designed as an intermediate course, Introduction to Gender Studies aims to identify and critically examine the interactive relationships among gender, cultural/social institutions, and individuals in contemporary American society. This implies two foci of attention. First, through readings and discussion, we will explore gender roles and resulting power inequities in contexts such as families, the music industry, conceptions of both race and sexuality, and novels. Equally important, we will analyze how the behaviors of individuals reflect, sustain and sometimes alter social conceptions of gender. In concert, these two emphases serve to underline the relationships among gender, culture, and individuals. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring, Summer or Fall


CVA2011 Introduction to Western Culture (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course uses the concept of the “real” to explore the cultural history of Europe and the United States. We will look at how different intellectual and artistic traditions have understood or related to "reality”, as well as how these ideas shaped their social and political contexts: from ancient Greece to Napoleonic France, the Industrial Revolution and World Wars to the Civil Rights era. We will read selections from Homer, Joyce, Kafka, Le Guin, and Baldwin, while short essays from philosophers and critics like Plato and Lacan will help to frame our discussions. Prerequisites: RHT1000 and RHT1001 and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring or Fall


CVA2013: Introduction to Sustainability 4 credits This is the first course in a three college (Babson/Olin/Wellesley) Sustainability Certificate. This case-based course introduces students to the basic concepts and tools that business, engineering, and the liberal arts (science, social science, and the humanities) bring to a consideration of sustainability. It is team taught by three faculty members, one from each institution, with coursework fully integrated across the three approaches. The course will draw empirical material from, and apply concepts and tools to, a semester long case (such as the sustainability of a city block, the transition to clean energy worldwide, or the life cycle of a common consumer product). Prerequisite:RHT and AHS


CVA2015 Political Thought (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course addresses the meaning and practice of politics through close readings of a range of political theory approaches, such as anarchist political theory, classic liberalism, civic republicanism, Black Nationalism, queer theory, settler colonial/Indigenous studies, conservatism, and feminist theory. The course will pursue such topics as the politics of confrontation, transformation and change, the role and meaning of citizenship, political community, government, inequality, political resistance, violence, and any other pertinent issues we discern from the work assigned. This is a reading intensive course, and it will also explore political themes that can be drawn out of popular culture, such as films and television shows. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS This course is typically offered in the following semesters: Spring


CVA2426 Immigrants, Race and the American Promise (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This intermediate course will consider the nature of American culture and identity through the experiences of the nation's immigrants and its ethnic citizens. What sacrifices have immigrants and ethnic Americans made in order to become members of the national community? How have they contributed to the development of modern America? How have they re-shaped the culture, politics, and economy of the U.S.? How have immigrants and citizens of color adapted the mythology of the American Dream to achieve success? What does the larger narrative of immigration, race, and ethnicity tell us about our nation's values and our own identity as citizens? Throughout the semester, students will use historical texts, novels, and selected works of film and music to consider these questions. Selected themes for the course include the "Melting Pot" and multiculturalism, race and ethnicity, anti-immigrant agitation and legislation, the nature of the American Dream, and the development of ethnic communities and businesses. The class will cover the time period from the late nineteenth century to the present. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS


CVA2033 Radical Politics Today: Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Activism, and Anarchism in Thought, Action, and Culture This Intermediate Liberal Arts course examines the theory, actions, claims, and artistic and cultural representations of radical political movements in our time. Radical political movements seek major transformations in the way we live together. Radical movements tend to work outside and even at odds with the mainstream political process that involves political parties and elections. Radical politics pushes from below by taking to the streets to blockade and confront those it opposes and to compel the public to pay attention. This form of politics also sets out radical critiques and solutions, such as abolishing policing and incarceration, decolonizing and returning territory to Indigenous peoples, dismantling capitalism in favor of more equitable form of economic relations that will also help us deal with climate change. These movements inspire artists to represent and speak to these causes, such as with the music of Rage Against the Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé and a Tribe Called Red, the poetry of Leanne Simpson, and films such as Rhymes for Young Ghouls and Fruitvale Station. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this course will look at the modern history and contemporary forms of radical politics, in theory, in action, and in culture. For the Spring 2017, the three major radical political movements we will examine will be, i) Black Lives Matter, ii) Indigenous people’s decolonizing activism, such as the Standing Rock Sioux’s effort to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, and iii) contemporary anarchist politics. We will examine these movements on their own and with regard to how their concerns, critiques and efforts intersect, possibly conflict, and generally raise questions and possibilities about how to radically critique and act against white supremacy, settler colonialism, capitalism, and climate change. The class will read and listen to the voices of theorists and commentators analyzing and critiquing these movements, the people directly involved in the movements, and the work of artists inspired by or engaging with these movements. As we do so we will ask such questions as: What makes radical politics radical and what sort of actions does that require of those who are involved? Does radical politics ever succeed, or does it always either fail, get coopted, or lead to comprise and small steps? To what degree does art and culture contribute to, capitalize upon or get inspired by and represent the aims of these radical movements? While these three movements will be the focus of this course, students will be encouraged to work on projects that examine other radical movements in our time. The course will focus on the North American context, but student projects and our discussions do not need to be limited to that context. The materials for this class will include historical and political scholarly analyses, journalism, documentaries, film, literature, music, public commentary, and the narratives of activists themselves. Prerequsites: AH Foundation and RHT I & II


CVA2034 Nature and U.S. Cultural Values 4 credit (intermediate liberal arts) In this course students will explore human concepts of nature pertaining to culture and values from the latter third of the nineteenth century to the present. We will approach this subject matter through discussion, lecture, writing, and reading. As students studying concepts of nature, we will investigate the economic, social, intellectual, and cultural aspects within the evolving relationship between human beings and nature. The objective is to introduce students to the key themes, events, and personalities of this relatively new discipline. Prerequisites: AH Foundation and RHT I & II


CVA2035: Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East 4 intermediate liberal arts credit While the Middle East continues to dominate Western foreign policy concerns and is a focus of Western media, understanding of this region is often based on stereotypes that do not consider the everyday lives of Middle Eastern people, and that do not attempt to differentiate between peoples of this region. This course will introduce several groups and cultures of the Middle East in detail, while focusing on thematic topics that are of particular interest to current world events. A brief survey of the history and geography of the region will be followed by more in-depth study of topics such as political Islam, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the war in Afghanistan, gender and sexuality, and human rights issues. The course will be highly interactive, and will make frequent use of documentaries, movies, literature, and current news events as well as anthropological and ethnographic material. Prerequisites: RHT1000 and RHT1001 and AHS1000


CVA2036: Easy Being Green? Waste, Consumption and Environmental Justice 4 Intermediate Liberal Arts Got trash? The objective of this course is to understand, explore, and analyze the inequities and power dynamics associated with many types of waste. Using multiple case studies, (smartphones, fashion, food, digital waste, climate change, etc.), we will study three core questions: Who is causing, experiencing and responding to problems associated with waste? How do waste issues relate to broader structural injustices? How can we reimagine solutions for environmental justice? By thinking critically about these questions, we will challenge our thinking about consumption, justice and the meaning of waste, and why it matters today and in the future. Prerequisites: RHT1000 and RHT1001 and AHS1000



CVA2055 Peoples and Cultures of the Americas (Intermediate Liberal Arts) This course examines U.S. relations with Latin America since U.S. Independence. We will investigate this broad issue from the parameters of diplomatic, political, and economic history, and we especially will focus on an array of accompanying cultural questions. Diplomatically, United States policy toward Latin America has gone through distinct phases, from neglect in some periods, to alliance and cooperation in others, to military conflict and intervention in still other eras. The Latin American response to the numerous U.S. activities in the region also has varied. Overt and covert political goals (often based on domestic developments), powerful economic agendas, and deeply rooted cultural perceptions and stereotypes, all have contributed significantly to intra-hemispheric policies and conduct. Scholars have posited various interpretations over the years, each emphasizing one set of motivations as being paramount. The role of the United States in Latin America has not always been clear nor is there unanimous agreement on its impact. Yet, there are a number of common themes that characterize the relationship between the "colossus to the north" and its neighbors to the south. This course seeks to identify these common themes and to provide a basis for understanding contemporary and future cultural, political, and economic relations in the Americas. Prerequisites: RHT and AHS


CVA2090 Food and the African American Canon 4 credit intermediate liberal arts This 4 credit history and foodways course discusses food and space in restaurants, dining cars, street venders and wherever food is made and sold (by whom), and eaten (by whom) at the center. The course will include readings in James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of a Colored Man, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Where Watching God, John Washington's The Chaneysville Incident, Paule Marshall's classic essay From The Poets in the Kitchen, and Richard Wright's Man of All Work. Readings on segregated restaurants come from James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, and in No Name in the Street. A chapter on Ntzoake Shange's novel, Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo and her novel Liliane. Prerequisites: RHT and AHF or AHS Foundation
  1 2 3 4