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Cross-College Challenge accepting proposals for interdisciplinary community projects

BU HUB’s Cross-College Challenge announced that submissions of client projects for this fall are open. PHOTO BY VIVIAN MYRON/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Following the launch of its website on April 1, the Boston University Hub’s Cross-College Challenge (XCC) is now accepting project proposals from members of the BU community and the Greater Boston area for the upcoming fall semester.

The idea behind the XCC is to give BU undergraduates a chance to work in an interdisciplinary team on real projects in order to solve problems posed by the community, said Bruce Schulman, a history professor and the co-chair of the Task Force on General Education at BU.

In order to do this, Schulman said, there needs to be a pipeline of projects from a number of different partners.

“The things we’re really looking for is to have a wide cross-section of projects and projects that I think require a wide range of skills, interests, backgrounds and training,” Schulman said. “We wouldn’t really want a project that just would require five students who really specialized in writing or five students who specialize in mechanical engineering.”

While the XCC course is not itself required, it will allow participating students to receive four of the 26 Hub units required to graduate, streamlining their process of completing them, said Phillip Jacob, the XCC manager. Current students, who do not need to fulfill Hub requirements, can also take the course as an elective.

“We’re starting to ramp it up, so this is why we’re putting out this open call for project proposals from entrepreneurs, researchers, faculty members, it could even be staff,” Jacob said. “The number will continue to scale up over time, so whatever we don’t work on in the fall we will work on in the spring.”

The key to starting a good proposal, Jacob said, would be to first identify a problem that needs solving and to then try to connect the dots with what the expectations are for what students will deliver.

He added that Boston offers unique opportunities for students who choose to participate in the program.

“Boston itself really is kind of like a laboratory — a very unique environment,” Jacob said. “It can really help students to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world that’s right outside their window.”

Several BU students said they think the XCC course could enrich the college experiences of incoming freshmen.

Leonardo Francfort, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, said he thinks that while the XCC seems like it might be a tough class for some students to take, it offers many social advantages.

“[It] lets them come out of their major bubble,” Francfort said. “They could work with areas they would never experience if they were just doing their regular course.”

The class could also allow students to make friends with students from other BU colleges, Francfort said.

Emma Campbell, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she has noticed that divisional studies make it difficult to take classes in other colleges. She added that she could see herself taking the course as an elective if she had room for it in her schedule.

“I think it could definitely open [students’] eyes a lot more to different ways in which they could use their major,” Campbell said, “or if they’re not declared yet, stuff that they might be interested in.”

Jacob said that anyone interested in submitting a proposal should visit the XCC website, and that they can contact him directly for further brainstorming with project ideas.

“I feel like I’m looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future is bright for students who go through the cross-college challenge,” Jacob said.

The deadline for proposals for the upcoming fall semester is July 1.

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