Beyond Boundaries Courses

The one-semester Beyond Boundaries interdisciplinary courses cross not just departments in Arts & Sciences, but the entire university.

They break down barriers between disciplines for a more holistic experience, while still offering what all our First-Year Programs provide: exposure to new concepts and people; opportunities to learn from some of the world's leading scholars across a spectrum of disciplines; and, well, fun. Boundaries courses help talented, self-initiated, and self-motivated students become creative problem solvers and insightful scholars who are prepared to pursue their own broad interdisciplinary interests. These courses require collaboration across academic disciplines and perspectives, drawing on the strength and interconnectedness of the university’s seven schools.

Find details on the Beyond Boundaries courses below. 

Beyond Boundaries Courses

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 (Professors T.R. Kidder & Michael Wysession)

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 Art of Medicine (Professors Rebecca Messbarger & Patricia Olynyk)

This interdisciplinary, cross-school course at the intersection of history, visual culture and the visual arts includes a roster of notable speakers and 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. Learn more about this course on the podcast episode featuring Professor Messbarger.

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

This course will focus on understanding the primary and Presidential elections, particularly the 2024 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. Here more from Professor Malter with this podcast episode.

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.

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

This class examines the subject of sustainability from multiple perspectives to gain an appreciation for its interconnected environmental, social, and economic dimensions. We explore foundational concepts and principles through a variety of activities and assignments, including readings, discussions, group work, case studies, presentations, and projects. The goal is to integrate knowledge and methods from different disciplines to achieve a holistic understanding of sustainability problems and solutions.

When I’m 64: Preparing Ourselves and Society for a Good Long Life (Professors Nancy Morrow-HowellBrian Carpenter, & 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.