An academic concentration is the focal point of your undergraduate experience. It is an in-depth study centering on one or more disciplines, a problem or theme, or a broad question.
Use this site to explore the many intellectual paths you can take at Brown. Roll over the tiles to view short descriptions or click below to narrow the field based on academic division, your personal interests and career opportunities. Clicking on any of the tiles will bring you to an information page for that concentration.
Use this site to explore the many intellectual paths you can take at Brown. Click on a tile at left to view detailed information about a particular concentration.
- Life Sciences
- Physical Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Learning languages
- International perspectives
- Community engagement
- Entrepreneurship and leadership
- Art, media, and performance
- Evaluating human behavior
- Studying the past
- Problem solving
- Literature and interpretation
- Elementary/Secondary Education
- Higher Education
- Information Technology
- Non-profit or NGO
- Scientific Research
The concentration in Africana Studies critically examines the artistic, historical, literary, and theoretical expressions of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Central to the work of students and faculty in the concentration is the close collaboration of artists, scholars, and writers in examining relationships between academic and artistic knowledge about the world and human experience. Concentrators work closely with faculty members in developing new knowledge about the world and human existence through the critical and comprehensive study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Concentrators are encouraged to study abroad in Africa, the Caribbean, and/or Latin America and to acquire language competency in a language other than English spoken in Africa and the diaspora.
The concentration in American Studies seeks to understand American society and cultures as emerging from historical and contemporary processes at work in local, national, and global contexts. Concentrators study four broad themes: social structure and the practices of identity, space and place, production and consumption of culture, and science, technology, and everyday life. The concentration is predicated on the ideal of scholarly engagement with the public, so students take junior seminars that engage some aspect of the public humanities such as public policy, memorialization, community studies or civic engagement. Study abroad is supported and encouraged.
Anthropology is the study of human beings from all times and all places, offering holistic, comparative, international, and humanistic perspective. In studying and interpreting the vast range of similarities and differences in human societies and cultures, anthropologists also seek to understand how people themselves make sense of the world in which they live. The Department of Anthropology at Brown is a vibrant, award-winning group of scholars working primarily in the subfields of cultural anthropology, archaeology, and anthropological linguistics. The concentration provides students with a broad introduction to the discipline and includes the major subdisciplines of the field: sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, anthropological linguistics, and biological anthropology.
The concentration in Applied Mathematics allows students to investigate the mathematics of problems arising in the physical, life and social sciences as well as in engineering. The basic mathematical skills of Applied Mathematics come from a variety of sources, which depend on the problems of interest: the theory of ordinary and partial differential equations, matrix theory, statistical sciences, probability and decision theory, risk and insurance analysis, among others. Applied Mathematics appeals to people with a variety of different interests, ranging from those with a desire to obtain a good quantitative background for use in some future career, to those who are interested in the basic techniques and approaches in themselves. The standard Applied Mathematics concentration leads to either the A.B. or Sc.B. degree. Students may also choose to pursue a joint program with biology, computer science or economics. The undergraduate concentration guide is available here.
The Applied Math - Biology concentration recognizes that mathematics is essential to address many modern biological problems in the post genomic era. Specifically, high throughput technologies have rendered vast new biological data sets that require novel analytical skills for the most basic analyses. These technologies are spawning a new "data-driven" paradigm in the biological sciences and the fields of bioinformatics and systems biology. The foundations of these new fields are inherently mathematical, with a focus on probability, statistical inference, and systems dynamics. These mathematical methods apply very broadly in many biological fields including some like population growth, spread of disease, that predate the genomics revolution. Nevertheless, the application of these methods in areas of biology from molecular genetics to evolutionary biology has grown very rapidly in with the availability of vast amounts of genomic sequence data. Required coursework in this program aims at ensuring expertise in mathematical and statistical sciences, and their application in biology. The students will focus in particular areas of biology. The program culminates in a senior capstone experience that pairs student and faculty in creative research collaborations.
The Sc.B. concentration in Applied Math-Computer Science provides a foundation of basic concepts and methodology of mathematical analysis and computation and prepares students for advanced work in computer science, applied mathematics, and scientific computation. Concentrators must complete courses in mathematics, applied math, computer science, and an approved English writing course. While the concentration in Applied Math-Computer Science allows students to develop the use of quantitative methods in thinking about and solving problems, knowledge that is valuable in all walks of life, students who have completed the concentration have pursued graduate study, computer consulting and information industries, and scientific and statistical analysis careers in industry or government. This degree offers a standard track and a professional track.
The Applied Mathematics-Economics concentration is designed to reflect the mathematical and statistical nature of modern economic theory and empirical research. This concentration has two tracks. The first is the advanced economics track, which is intended to prepare students for graduate study in economics. The second is the mathematical finance track, which is intended to prepare students for graduate study in finance, or for careers in finance or financial engineering. Both tracks have A.B. degree versions and Sc.B. degree versions, as well as a Professional track option.
The concentration in Archaeology and the Ancient World provides an opportunity to explore the multi-faceted discipline of archaeology while examining the critical early civilizations of the so-called ‘Old World’– that is, the complex societies of the Mediterranean, Egypt, and Ancient Western Asia. Students will learn about the art, architecture, and material culture of the ancient world, exploring things of beauty and power, as well as the world of the everyday. Concentrators will also learn "how to do" archaeology - the techniques of locating, retrieving and analyzing ancient remains - and consider how material culture shapes our understanding of the past. Concentrators are encouraged to pursue research opportunities through summer fieldwork, museum experience, or independent study projects.
Along with Greek, Latin, and Mathematics, Astronomy counts as one of the oldest continuously taught subjects in the Brown curriculum. It is the study of the properties of stars, galaxies, and the Universe, and as such combines elements from the disciplines of both Physics and Planetary Geology. Students pursuing this concentration complete introductory coursework in classical mechanics, relativity, and astrophysics, along with mathematics and elecromagnetism. They go on to complete courses in stellar and extragalactic astrophysics as well as cosmology. Facilities available to concentrators include the historic Ladd Observatory.
How does life work at the molecular level? This question is at the core of the concentration program Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In earlier years of this discipline, the focus was on structure and function of proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates and small molecules such as vitamins. Today the logical approach and tools of biochemical science are being expanded to new areas in neuroscience, developmental biology, immunology, pharmacology and synthetic biology (the design of analogs of biological systems). Training in biochemistry begins with a foundation in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Some courses offered in other departments, including engineering, geology and computer science, are also useful. A key component of this program is the year of hands-on research carried out in collaboration with a faculty member here at Brown. Faculty sponsors are drawn from both the Chemistry Department and the Division of Biology and Medicine, and include basic science and clinical faculty.
The Biology concentration invites students to study, in depth and in breadth, the science of life and living matter. Whether pursuing the A.B. or Sc.B. in biology, students can expect to learn broadly in the discipline through a selection of courses in three areas: cell and molecular biology, structure and function, and organismal biology. In addition, students pursuing the ScB complete a thematic track through which they gain an in-depth understanding of a particular subfield (such as, Immunopathology; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Physiology/Biotechnology; Cell and Molecular Biology; Physical Sciences; Marine Biology). The concentration also emphasizes practical skills and experimental design. Concentrators are required to take at least 3 courses with a laboratory or fieldwork component. Within all of these requirements, students have a high degree of flexibility and choice. Broad research opportunities are also available across several departments within the basic sciences as well.
Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary concentration designed for students interested in applying the methods and tools of engineering to the subject matter of biology and the life sciences. It is administered jointly by the School of Engineering and the Division of Biology and Medicine. The educational objectives of the biomedical engineering program are to graduate students who will: 1) Be employed in careers of useful service to society, including scientific and technical areas within medicine, industry, and health care delivery; 2) Demonstrate the ability to apply the basic principles of engineering and science, as well as problem solving skills and critical thinking, to a broad spectrum of biomedical engineering problems; 3) Demonstrate their ability to work in teams, and to effectively communicate and understand the broad social, ethical, economic and environmental consequences of their lifelong education.
Biophysics is that it is a quantitative science that requires a significant level of competence in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. These areas therefore form the required background coursework for this program, and serve as a springboard to an advanced focus, developed in consultation with a concentration advisor. Advanced foci may include structure-function relations of macromolecules, biomechanics of cell cytoskeleton, biotechnology for drug and gene delivery, molecular mechanisms of membrane transport, sensory signal transduction, for examples. The program also requires a capstone research project that reflects this focus and may be drawn from collaborative research opportunities offered by faculty in biology, chemistry, or physics departments.
Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations (BEO), formerly Commerce, Organizations and Entrepreneurship (COE) is a multidisciplinary concentration that provides a rigorous and synergistic program in the study of commercial activity grounded in economics, sociology and engineering. BEO focuses on the formation, growth, and organization of new ventures, innovation in commercial applications, financial markets and the marketplace, and management and organizational theory. Concentrators seek to understand the basic principles, approaches and vocabulary relevant to the study of entrepreneurship from the disciplines of economics, organizational sociology and engineering. Building on this multidisciplinary base, students develop specialized expertise in one of the three disciplinary approaches, with special emphasis on critical reasoning and quantitative research methods. In senior year capstone projects, students apply and integrate multi-disciplinary learning by working in groups on real world projects, including the creation of new ventures.
Chemical Physics is an interdisciplinary field at the crossroads of chemistry and physics and is administered jointly by the two departments. The concentration provides students with a broad-based understanding in fundamental molecular sciences, as well as a background for graduate studies in physical chemistry, chemical physics, or molecular engineering. Concentrators are required to take twenty courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, although approved courses in applied mathematics, biology, computer science, geological sciences, or engineering may be substitutes. Chemical Physics concentrators are also advised to take at least six courses in the humanities and social sciences. Chemical Physics concentrators at all levels (first-year through seniors) are actively involved in research with faculty members in both departments.
The Chemistry concentration offers courses and research opportunities that range from fundamental studies involving the characterization and preparation of synthetic and naturally occurring molecules, to interdisciplinary studies at the interfaces of chemistry with biology, medicine, physics, engineering, and nanoscience. As early as their first year, undergraduates are able to work one-on-one or in small groups with faculty members on cutting edge research projects. The Sc.B. degree provides a thorough foundation for further graduate study or for entry-level technical positions in each area. Students seeking the Sc.B. may either pursue the standard Chemistry concentration or one of the two optional tracks: Chemical Biology or Materials Chemistry. Students may also pursue the A.B. degree in Chemistry, which provides a core education in the discipline.
Classics focuses on the languages, literature, history, and culture of Greco-Roman antiquity. It provides specialized training for students intending to enter graduate school, and a broad liberal education for those with more general interests. Students may choose to study Ancient Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, or Modern Greek and gain knowledge in literature, mythology, ancient history, philosophy, and religion. Students may either pursue the standard Classics concentration - the most popular choice - or they may pursue one of the four optional tracks: Greek, Latin, Greek and Latin, or Sanskrit. Concentrators are strongly encouraged to integrate their studies in various fields of Classics by writing a senior thesis, by participating in an undergraduate seminar, or by undertaking a senior capstone project.
Cognitive neuroscience is the study of higher cognitive functions in humans and their underlying neural bases. It is an integrative area of study drawing primarily from cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics. There are two broad directions that can be taken in this concentration - one is behavioral/experimental and the other is computational/modeling. In both, the goal is to understand the nature of cognition from a neural perspective. The standard concentration for the Sc.B. degree requires courses on the foundations, systems level, and integrative aspects of cognitive neuroscience as well as laboratory and elective courses that fit within a particular theme or category such as general cognition, perception, language development or computational/modeling. Concentrators must also complete a senior seminar course or an independent research course. Students may also participate in the work of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, an interdisciplinary program that unites ninety faculty from eleven departments.
The field of Cognitive Science uses scientific methods of experimentation, computational modeling, and brain imaging to study mental abilities such as perception, action, memory, cognition, speech, and language, as well as the development and evolution of those processes. Students must become knowledgeable in four areas of emphasis: perception, cognition, language, and cognitive neuroscience, as well as a set of methods relevant to Cognitive Science research. Students then create their own focus area of study, potentially integrating coursework from the Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences department with a diverse subset of fields including Anthropology, Applied Math, Education, Neuroscience, and Philosophy. The A.B. program is primarily for students interested in studying human mental processes and acquiring a research orientation to the study of the mind. The Sc.B. program is designed for students who wish to develop a stronger background in Cognitive Science and requires students to engage in a specific research project in the focus area of their choosing. We recommend that prospective concentrators register for one of the gateway courses and at least one other core course in their first or second year.
The concentration in Comparative Literature enables students to study literature in cross-cultural perspectives. The aim of the program is to encourage students to study a varied and illustrative range of literary topics rather than the total development of a single literary tradition. True to the spirit of Brown’s New Curriculum, a concentration in Comparative Literature affords great academic freedom. For example: advanced courses in any literature department at Brown count for concentration credit; although English is commonly one of the languages that students apply to their Comparative Literature studies, basically any language--ancient or modern--supported at Brown may form part of a Comparative Literature concentration program. In essence, concentrators study a generous range of literary works--from Western cultures, both ancient and modern, to Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic--and develop a focused critical understanding of how cultures differ from one another. Comparative Literature differs from other literature concentrations largely through its international focus and its broad-gauged view of art and culture in which the study of languages is combined with the analysis of literature and literary theory. All students take a course in literary theory and have the opportunity to complete a senior essay.
Computational biology involves the analysis and discovery of biological phenomena using computational tools, and the algorithmic design and analysis of such tools. The field is widely defined and includes foundations in computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, ecology, evolution, anatomy, neuroscience and visualization. The program educates the student liberally in these fields, building on a foundation of coursework that may then focus via several possible tracks. The program offers four tracks: computational genomics, biological sciences, molecular modeling and applied mathematics and statistical genomics. The program requires a senior capstone experience that pairs students and faculty in creative research collaborations.
Computer science is now a critical tool for pursuing an ever-broadening range of topics, from outer space to the workings of the human mind. In most areas of science and in many liberal arts fields, cutting-edge work depends increasingly on computational approaches. The undergraduate program at Brown is designed to combine breadth in practical and theoretical computer science with depth in specialized areas. These areas range from traditional topics, such as analysis of algorithms, artificial intelligence, databases, distributed systems, graphics, mobile computing, networks, operating systems, programming languages, robotics and security, to novel areas including games and scientific visualization.
The joint Computer Science-Economics concentration exposes students to the theoretical and practical connections between computer science and economics. It prepares students for professional careers that incorporate aspects of economics and computer technology and for academic careers conducting research in areas that emphasize the overlap between the two fields. Concentrators may choose to pursue either the A.B. or the Sc.B. degree. While the A.B. degree allows students to explore the two disciplines by taking advanced courses in both departments, its smaller number of required courses is compatible with a liberal education. The Sc.B. degree achieves greater depth in both computer science and economics by requiring more courses, and it offers students the opportunity to creatively integrate both disciplines through a design requirement. In addition to courses in economics, computer science, and applied mathematics, all concentrators must fulfill the Computer Science department's writing requirement by passing a course that involves significant expository writing.
Development Studies examines the interaction of social, economic and political development in contemporary societies and is therefore, necessarily an interdisciplinary enterprise. Development Studies concentrators develop the skills and knowledge best suited to their chosen geographical area of interest, emphasizing what is historically and culturally distinctive about the region and how its development reflects general processes of socio-economic change. While the concentration produces graduates with expertise in the study of development, most concentrators combine their course work with first-hand experience in the developing world. Course selection should balance analytic training with local and historical knowledge. Therefore, courses must be taken in at least three social science disciplines to achieve an interdisciplinary approach to these processes of change.
The Program in Early Cultures is an interdisciplinary concentration that integrates the cultures, religions, and histories of ancient civilizations. Geographically, the “ancient world” includes early China and India, West Asia (Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, and Israel), Egypt, the Mediterranean (especially Greece and Italy), the early Islamic and Byzantine worlds, and the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations. Students in Early Cultures gain in-depth knowledge of the history, religions, languages, and literatures of two or more ancient civilizations. In consultation with a concentration advisor, students design their own areas of study. Examples of possible topics include: cultural contacts between Greece and Egypt/West Asia; animal sacrifice in Greece and Israel; comparative legal studies: Israel, Hatti, and Mesopotamia; gender roles in Rome and Egypt; Wisdom literature in Egypt, Israel, and Mesopotamia; and the historiography of the exact sciences in India and Greece.
East Asian Studies is a multidisciplinary concentration designed for students wishing to attain reasonable fluency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean with specialized exposure to selected East Asian subjects. It serves students with two types of interests: those who aim to pursue active professional careers related to the East Asian region; and those who want to pursue graduate study in the humanities or social sciences with particular emphasis on China, Japan or Korea. Students in East Asian Studies will gain language proficiency and familiarity with East Asia through advanced courses in a variety of disciplines. Concentrators are strongly encouraged, but not required, to study in East Asia for one or two semesters. The concentration requires students to demonstrate a basic proficiency in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
Economics is the study of how individuals, businesses, and governments allocate resources to satisfy their objectives. The study of economics helps students understand markets, firms, financial organizations, and public debate about economic policy, including taxation, government expenditure, trade, globalization, health, and welfare. The concentration in Economics prepares students for graduate study in fields such as business and law, for graduate study leading to teaching and research in economics, and can be a steppingstone to employment in business, finance, non-profit, and government organizations. Students may choose either the standard or the professional track.
Education Studies takes a multidisciplinary, liberal arts approach to the field of education while focusing on the study of human learning and development, the history of education, teaching, school reform, and education policy. Concentrators choose an area of emphasis, either History/Policy (advised by Luther Spoehr) or Human Development (advised by Jin Li). History/Policy provides the historical underpinnings and intellectual skills for students to think critically about education issues in a number of settings. In the Human Development area, students learn about psychological, social, and cultural processes in a variety of contexts, including schools, families, peer groups, and neighborhoods, particularly in urban settings. Additionally, the Department offers teacher certification programs in elementary and secondary education.
The concentration in Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies offers students a choice of two tracks: Ancient Western Asian Studies or Egyptology. The department promotes collaborations with other academic units at Brown devoted to the study of antiquity including Archaeology, Classics, Judaic Studies, and Religious Studies. Egyptology and Ancient Western Ancient Studies also collaborates with Brown's Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.
The concentration in Engineering equips students with a solid foundation for productive careers in engineering, to advance the knowledge base for future technologies, and to merge teaching, scholarship, and practice in the pursuit of solutions to human needs. The concentration offers one standard A.B. program, and seven ABET-accredited Sc.B. degree programs: biomedical, chemical and biochemical, civil through May 2016, computer, electrical, materials, and mechanical engineering. (Note: Students interested in structural engineering entering in the class of 2017 and beyond may pursue a Structures track within the ABET-accredited Mechanical Engineering program. The Civil track has been discontinued for all new students entering after Fall 2012.) Unaccredited ScB degree programs in Environmental engineering and Engineering Physics are also offered.
The Sc.B. degree program in Engineering-Physics, sponsored jointly by the Division of Engineering and the Department of Physics, provides students with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles underlying modern technology. Specifically, it gives those who are interested in applied technical problems a strong background in physics and mathematics beyond that given in the standard engineering program. Students take a significant part of the usual engineering and physics programs, obtain substantial laboratory experience, and take several upper-level courses focusing on applied physics. The program allows students to take either the standard physics or engineering programs during their first two years and then switch to this combined program.
English concentrators analyze language and form in the ongoing history of literatures in English, learning how literature shapes and is shaped by the world. We promote original work on new questions of history, criticism, and theory. And we invite practices of reading and writing that challenge the creation of knowledge in our fields. The curriculum includes courses from the range of literatures in English and in addition to the regular concentration offers a "track" in Nonfiction Writing, which attends to critical writing, the research paper, journalism, creative writing, and nonfiction writing. One of the largest humanities concentrations at Brown, English provides a strong foundation for a liberal education and for careers in many sectors of the changing spectrum of employment: the media, teaching, finance, government, corporate research and administration. English concentrators routinely go on to law, medical, and professional schools as well as to graduate education in literature and the arts.
The Center for Environmental Studies offers an A.B. and an Sc.B. in Environmental Studies. Both degrees are directed toward students who intend to work toward improving the quality of the environment. The A.B. degree is appropriate for students interested in social science or policy approaches to environmental problem-solving and who want to pursue post-graduate or professional experience in various fields of environmental management or education. Fluency in some basic sciences is essential to this degree. The ScB degree is appropriate for students who are interested in post-graduate or professional experience in the natural sciences as a way of understanding environmental processes. All concentrators are strongly encouraged to perform some environmentally-related public service during their time at Brown. Service may include work as a teaching assistant in a relevant course, volunteer work with an environmental non-profit group or an environmental agency, or significant work with a student environmental group. Students interested in the AB should consult with the primary concentration advisor, Prof. Kurt Teichert, while students with an interest in the ScB should consult with Prof. Dov Sax.
Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary, comparative concentration that examines the construction of race and ethnicity in social, cultural, historical, political, and economic contexts. Concentrators develop individual programs based on areas of focus in consultation with faculty advisors, drawing from courses in the humanities and social sciences. Typical areas of focus are social issues (such as inequality, education, or health), cultural production and the representation of racial groups, processes of racialization, the historical formation of transnational communities and of diaspora, and the history of particular ethnic or racial groups. The concentration is supported by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, a research center that facilitates teaching, research, and programming on issues relevant to biracial and multiracial peoples, and emphasizes the interdisciplinary and comparative study of race, ethnicity, gender, and class.
The concentration in French and Francophone Studies is committed to
the pursuit of an interdisciplinary, linguistically rigorous, and
textually informed understanding of French and Francophone literatures
and cultures. Concentrators engage actively through their coursework
with a wide range of texts and critical perspectives, pertaining to
multiple literary genres, media, and contexts. They have opportunities
to study different periods of French history as well as Francophone
cultures beyond France.
By the time they graduate, concentrators will have learned to read with
knowledge and nuance and produced a varied body of critical work in
Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration that examines the construction of gender and sexuality in social, cultural, political, economic, or scientific contexts. Each concentrator focuses on a well-defined topic or question and works closely with a concentration advisor to develop a program that investigates this focus area rigorously and supplements it with foundational courses in the relevant disciplines. Typical areas of focus include the acculturation of gender, sexuality and race in American politics or activism, the construction of sexual and gendered identities in educational institutions or in various forms of visual media, a contrast between different cultural understandings of sexual identity, a particular national literature and history. Such topics will frequently bring questions of gender and sexuality together; however students may also organize their concentrations to emphasize questions specifically related to gender or to sexuality. Introductory and methodology courses in the disciplines appropriate to students' focus will help them understand the principles grounding such practices as historical research, literary interpretation, and sociological analysis.
Geological science involves the study of the Earth (and other planetary bodies), including their compositions and histories and the physical chemical and biological processes that shape them. The geosciences are highly interdisciplinary, thus students must take some supporting math and science courses. Geoscience courses emphasize a process-oriented approach, with hands-on experiences in labs and on field trips. There is a strong emphasis on active and collaborative learning, and on practice in communication. Students may choose an AB (total of 13 courses) or an ScB (19 total courses, including one semester of research). There are many opportunities for students to do research work (typically in paid positions) during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as deformation and properties of geological materials, deciphering the geologic history of some local rocks, or analysis of planetary images.
Geology-Biology involves study of the interactions of the Earth and its hydrosphere and atmosphere with the great diversity of life forms, and how they have evolved and influenced one another over the entire history of the Earth. Many courses emphasize climate and biogeochemistry; this concentration is a good one for students interested in quantitative approaches to environmental science. Students take a basic suite of geoscience courses and at least 4 bio courses of their choosing, plus some supporting math and science courses; the AB degree requires a total of 14 courses and the ScB degree requires a total of 19, including one semester of research. There is a strong emphasis on active and collaborative learning, and on practice in communication. There are many opportunities for students to do research work (typically in paid positions) during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as determining the history of climate change during the recent ice age, investigating the causes of major extinctions, and using paleoenvironmental records to determine the vulnerability of different regions of the globe to droughts and other processes that strongly affect society.
Geochemistry involves two different emphases. Low-temperature geochemistry involves study of chemical and biochemical processes on and near Earth’s surface, including land, oceans and freshwater bodies, and how the geochemical record reflects climate conditions. High-temperature geochemistry includes study of formation and evolution of the Earth and other planets, magma formation and properties, volcanic activity, and metamorphism. The AB degree requires a total of 14 courses, including 5 geoscience courses and 4 chemistry courses, and a few supporting math and physics courses. The ScB degree requires a total of 20 courses, including 7 geoscience courses and 4 chemistry courses, either with an organic or an inorganic focus, plus some supporting math and physics courses and one research course. Geoscience courses emphasize a process-oriented approach, with hands-on experiences in labs and on field trips. There is a strong emphasis on active and collaborative learning, and on practice in communication. There are many opportunities for students to do research work for pay during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as experimental studies of magma formation, and analyzing lunar rock samples for water content.
Geophysics involves the application of physics and mathematics to the study of processes that operate on and within the Earth and other planets, over short and long timescales. The AB degree requires a total of 14 courses, including 6 geoscience courses, 3 physics or engineering courses, and 3 math and applied math courses. The ScB degree requires a total of 20 courses, including 8 geoscience courses, 4 physics or engineering courses, and 4 math and applied courses; students can choose courses from both solid Earth geophysics and environmental geophysics. Geoscience courses emphasize an analytical and process-oriented approach, with hands-on experiences in labs and on field trips. Active and collaborative learning is encouraged, as is practice in written and oral communication. There are many opportunities for students to engage in research (typically in paid positions) during the academic year or in the summer, in areas such as analysis of seismic waves in subduction zones, theoretical modeling of convection in the Earth’s mantle, interpreting the cause of gravity anomalies in southern California, and remote sensing of warming in Narragansett Bay.
German Studies exposes students to the language, literature, and culture of the German speaking areas of Central Europe. Concentrators combine intensive study of the German language with interdisciplinary studies by complementing courses from the German Studies core program with courses from other departments that deal with topics from the German cultural tradition. The quest for national identity that dominated German history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been augmented by contemporary Germany's efforts to come to terms with its past and create new ways of dealing with diversity. Our curriculum therefore looks back at the German literary, cultural, and historical tradition, examining figures from Goethe or Christa Wolf to Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, alongside the “texts” of contemporary German media, including television, film, and music. Most concentrators study abroad for one or two semesters.
Health and Human Biology is an interdisciplinary concentration whose goals are to provide a rigorous foundation in the biological sciences with substantive course work in humanities and social sciences within a subfield of Human Health and Disease. The program includes: background courses, a biology core courses, a set of theme courses, and a Senior Capstone activity. Background courses provide the essential foundations in chemistry, mathematics, methods, and basic biology. These support the Biology core comprised of a flexible menu of intermediate and advanced courses. A required portion of the Biology core is Genetics, which is considered a cornerstone of human biology and its interface with other fields. The Biology core underscores the related coursework within the Health and Disease Theme. The Theme courses are social science and humanities courses that form a cohesive, thoughtful grouping. Theme groupings must be approved by the advisor. A required senior capstone course or activity builds on the program's focus.
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world and the second language of the United States. In our society, knowing Spanish is not just an asset; it is increasingly a necessity. The Hispanic Literatures and Culture concentration enables students to develop advanced Spanish skills while acquiring a solid background in the complex history, literature, cultures, and intellectual traditions of Spain, Latin America, and the Latino-U.S. The department offers a variety of courses on topics related to literary history and theory; multicultural contact; linguistics and the history of the language; visual culture, film, and performance studies. Interdisciplinarity is a hallmark of the department, and students in this concentration are encouraged to broaden their perspectives by taking relevant courses in other departments. Most choose to strengthen their academic preparation by participating in a study abroad program in Spain or Latin America and by engaging with Hispanic communities in the United States.
History is the study of how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives. The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Europe, the Americas, and Asia. While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. Russia or France) or period of time (e.g. the Middle Ages or the Renaissance). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present.
The concentration in History of Art and Architecture introduces students to the history of art, architecture, and visual culture. Students in HIAA explore Western and non-Western areas ranging over a wide period of time (Ancient, Medieval, Islamic, East Asian, Latin American, Early Modern, Modern/ Contemporary). Concentrators often focus on a particular period (e.g. ancient, modern architecture), a particular branch of the field (e.g. urbanism), or a methodology (e.g. semiotics, critical interpretation, archaeology), but students may choose to create their own program of study. Concentrators will receive essential training in perceptual, historical, and critical analysis. Concentrators often study abroad for first-hand knowledge of works of art and monuments as well as for exposure to foreign languages and cultures. Because foreign language skills are essential for pursuing art historical studies in a professional environment or in graduate school, HIAA requires two years of foreign language study.
Although Brown offers nearly 80 concentrations, a small number of students have academic interests that fall beyond the scope of these offerings. Brown allows these students to design their own concentrations through the Independent Concentration (IC) program. The IC program is for exceptionally dedicated students who are willing to spend extra time and effort creating a “new” concentration, representing a coherent field of study that Brown does not offer. Such fields may include emerging topics, such as "sustainable technology," or broader interdisciplinary areas, such as "Southern Studies." As of 2010, the Independent Concentration also includes some already approved (though rarely selected) concentration offerings. Students wishing to declare one of these established "tracks" need to work with the relevant concentration advisors. Students interested in pursuing an Independent Concentration are strongly encouraged to review the IC website, speak with the Curricular Resource Center's IC Coordinator and with the IC Dean (Dean Rodriguez) and to review previous proposals in the CRC's library.
The IR concentration is one of the largest concentrations at Brown. The objective of the International Relations concentration is to foster creative thinking about pressing global problems and to equip students with the analytic tools, language expertise, and cross-cultural understanding to guide them in that process. To this end, the concentration draws on numerous departments including political science, history, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, religious studies, and area studies. The IR concentration is organized around a multidisciplinary core and two sub-themes: security and society, and political economy and society. It has a three-year language requirement that must be linked to the student’s selected region of the world. All concentrators are required to undertake a capstone project using research in a second language.
Inherently interdisciplinary, the Italian Studies concentration allows students to strengthen their language skills in Italian and deepen their knowledge of Italian literature, history, art, and culture. Most concentrators have some background in Italian language. However, it is possible to concentrate in Italian studies without having studied the language before coming to Brown, although doing so requires an early start. After fulfilling the language requirement by completing up to Italian 0600 (or the equivalent), students enroll in a variety of advanced courses, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the concentration. Junior concentrators often study abroad in the Brown Program in Bologna. All senior concentrators participate in the “senior conference” by delivering brief presentations on academic topics of their choice in Italian Studies. Concentrators might also pursue capstone research, writing, or multimedia projects.
Jews have lived and flourished over thousands of years in a variety of social contexts, stretching from the Land of Israel and the eastern Mediterranean to Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Concentrators will have the opportunity to study Jews in these contexts, getting to know their social structures, and what they have created. The subjects of study cover an astonishing range, including history and society, Jewish law and philosophy, and Jewish literature and ritual. Students will learn to unlock this wealth in both the ancient and the modern worlds through a number of academic disciplines - History, Religious Studies, and Literature. These also provide tools for studying and analyzing human societies and cultures in general, for which Jewish experiences provide an important perspective.
Latin American and Caribbean Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration designed to help students develop an understanding of culture, history, and contemporary issues in the region. Concentrators study the social, political, economic, literary, and cultural features that comprise contemporary Latin American and Caribbean societies. Concentration requirements cover four general areas: language, area studies, research, and professional experience. Concentrators develop competency in Spanish or Portuguese and many concentrators also study in Latin America for one or both semesters during the junior year. An internship or volunteer work (required of all students) in Latin America or with a local organization that primarily serves Spanish or Portuguese speakers, puts students in direct contact with Latin Americans, and builds professional skills and experience.
The concentration in linguistics is designed both for students interested in the discipline itself and for those wishing to use their understanding of linguistic structure to pursue other disciplines. Linguists are concerned with such issues as the commonalities of human languages, why languages change, how our linguistic abilities interact with our cognitive abilities, how language is learnable, and developing formal models of linguistic structure. Fields as diverse as anthropology, legal reasoning, language pathology, technical writing and editing, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all rely heavily upon methods and models developed in linguistics. Required courses examine linguistic theory, phonology, syntax, and semantics, while electives may focus on computational, mathematical, or socio-linguistics, the philosophy of language, and biology and the evolution of language.
Brown’s Program in Literary Arts provides a home for innovative writers of fiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, literary translation, electronic writing and mixed media. The concentration allows student writers to develop their skills in one or more genres while deepening their understanding of the craft of writing. Many courses in this concentration require a writing sample; students should consult a concentration advisor or the concentration website for strategies on getting into the appropriate course(s).
Marine biology encompasses the study of living organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Because marine organisms play an important role in sustaining life on earth, and because of the diverse habitats studied by marine biologists, concentrators must study broadly in the basic sciences and become familiar with the varied research techniques in the field. Consequently, students begin their learning with foundational courses in biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Subsequent coursework in the concentration exposes students to a range of topics in biology (e.g., Invertebrate Zoology, Ecology, Physiology, Conservation) and courses in other sciences, including geological sciences, computer science, and engineering. Students are encouraged to spend a summer or semester conducting research at a field station. The field experience is a key feature of this program and provides scholarly interaction with leaders in the field so that students are mentored at the cutting edge.
Mathematics is a grouping of sciences, including geometry, algebra, and calculus, that study quantity, structure, space, and change. Mathematics concentrators at Brown can explore these concepts through the department’s broad course offerings and flexible concentration requirements. The concentration leads to either the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree (the latter is strongly recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate study in mathematics or related fields). Concentrators begin their learning with multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and abstract algebra. Beyond these prerequisites, students take a variety of advanced topics on the 1000 and 2000 level based on their interests. Students also have the option of completing a thesis project.
Students may opt to pursue an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree in Math-Computer Science, a concentration administered cooperatively between the mathematics and computer science departments. Course requirements include math- and systems-oriented computer science courses, as well as computational courses in applied math. Students must identify a series of electives that cohere around a common theme. As with other concentrations offered by the Computer Science department, students have the option to pursue the professional track of the ScB program in Mathematics-Computer Science.
The Mathematics Economics concentration is designed to give a background in economic theory plus the mathematical tools needed to analyze and develop additional theoretical constructions. The emphasis is on the abstract theory itself. Students may choose either the standard or the professional track.
Medieval Cultures offers two distinct areas of historical focus: the Medieval and the Late Antique. The former focuses on the sixth through the fifteenth centuries, combining interdisciplinary perspectives with in-depth study of one or two related disciplines. Late Antique Cultures deals with the third through the ninth centuries, when ancient cultural forms were still in place but medieval cultures were beginning to take shape simultaneously. The first undergraduate degree of its kind in this country, Late Antique Cultures facilitates the study of human activity in all of its variety. A traditional area of study in Medieval Cultures is Western Europe, but students are encouraged to work in other cultural areas such as Byzantine, Islamic, Judaic and Slavic. The concentration serves students interested in the changing relation of cultural practices, social patterns, political and economic forms, and artistic and literary traditions in this important transitional period.
Middle East Studies (MES) is an interdisciplinary concentration that draws upon courses offered in the departments of Anthropology, Classics, Comparative Literature, Egyptology, History, History of Art and Architecture, Judaic Studies, Old World Archaeology, Religious Studies and Political Science. The Middle East is cradle of the three major monotheistic religions of the world and, for centuries it has been one of the most ethnically and religiously mixed regions of the world. The Middle East is an ideal site for considering the diversity and complexity of human interactions, along with the continuities and disruptions that such interactions involve in the long course of history. MES concentrators are thus uniquely poised to make significant contributions to an understanding of a broad range of contemporary problems that affect our world.
Modern Culture and Media (MCM) is an interdisciplinary concentration that explores the ties between media and broader cultural and social formations. We stress creative thinking and critical production: comparative analysis and theoretical reflection, as well as work that integrates practice and theory. We thus bring together aspects of modern culture that are normally separated by departmental structures such as film and media studies, fine art, literature, literary arts and philosophy. This concentration offers the student a range of possible specializations. A student might decide to focus the critical study and production of a certain type or combination of media (print, photography, sound recording, cinema, video, television, and digital media); or they might focus on certain cultural, theoretical and/or social formations (for example, gender / sexuality in post-Cold war television, postcolonial theory and film, the changing form of the novel, theories of subjectivity and ideology, video games and theories of representation). These paths are united by a commitment to critical thinking/practice: rather than reproducing conventions, MCM concentrators learn how conventions emerge, what work they do, and explore ways to change them.
The concentration in Music integrates theory, history, ethnomusicology, technology, composition, and performance. Students may select from among three tracks within the concentration: the first track emphasizes theory, history, and composition; a second track emphasizes ethnomusicology; and a third track focuses on computer music and multimedia. The Music curriculum is supported by the Orwig Music Library, a state-of-the-art facility with holdings of over 40,000 books and scores and an equal number of sound and video recordings. Concentrators are encouraged to participate in one or more of the departmentally sponsored performing organizations: Chorus, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Wind Symphony, Chamber Music Performance, Electroacoustic Ensemble, Sacred Harp/Shape-Note Singing, Old-time String Band, Javanese Gamelan, or Ghanaian Drumming.
Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand the functions and diseases of the nervous system. It draws on knowledge from neurobiology as well as elements of psychology and cognitive science, and mathematical and physical principles involved in modeling neural systems. Through the Neuroscience concentration, students develop foundational knowledge through courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics as well as three core courses in neuroscience. They are also required to develop facility with research methodologies (through courses in statistics and laboratory methods) before moving into specific topics in the field (e.g., visual physiology, neurochemistry and behavior, and synaptic transmission and plasticity). Members of the Neuroscience faculty are affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science, a multidisciplinary program that promotes collaborative research about the brain. Prospective concentrators should contact Heather_Shalvey@brown.edu in order to have a faculty advisor assigned to them.
The Philosophy concentration offers courses covering subjects from the philosophy of religion to the philosophies of science and literature. It also provides survey courses on various periods in the history of philosophy. Concentrators can expect to strengthen their knowledge of and skills in ancient philosophy, early modern philosophy, logic, epistemology and metaphysics. Students are asked to identify an area of specialization. There is also a related, but separate concentration in physics and philosophy.
Physics is the scientific study of the fundamental principles governing the behavior of matter and the interaction of matter and energy. Mathematics is used to describe fundamental physical principles, the behavior of matter, and the interactions of matter and energy. As the most fundamental of sciences, physics provides a foundation for other scientific fields as well as the underpinnings of modern technology. The Physics department is unique because of the breadth of its faculty expertise and research, and the relatively intimate size of its classes above the introductory level. Physics concentrators may choose to pursue either the A.B. or the more intensive Sc.B. degree. Course work on either path covers a broad base of topics (for example, electricity and magnetism, classical and quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics). The Sc.B. degree requires additional advanced topics as well as a senior thesis project.
The Physics and Philosophy concentration is for students with a deep interest in physics who do not need to acquire the laboratory and computational skills of a professional physicist. The concentration allows students to grapple with computational problems and deepen their investigation of conceptual and epistemological issues. By the end of the program, concentrators possess an excellent conceptual understanding of the most philosophically interesting physics, relativity and quantum mechanics.
science applies theories, concepts, and methods to the study of
political phenomena. It uses historical, philosophical, and empirical perspectives
to understand political problems and policy issues. Traditionally,
political science splits into four sub-fields: (1) the study of politics
in the United States; (2) the comparative study of
political systems and individual nations around the globe; (3) the study of relations among states and peoples; and (4) the philosophical study of political
ideas. What distinguishes Political Science at Brown
is our exploration of the broad questions about political life in ways that cross
traditional sub-fields. The concentration in Political Science exposes
students to approaches to the study of politics ranging from ancient
Greek philosophy to modern quantitative techniques of policy evaluation, in both domestic and international contexts.
Portuguese and Brazilian Studies examines the Portuguese-speaking world, a large and diverse geographical and cultural area spread over five continents. Inhabited by two hundred fifty million people, this area includes Brazil, Continental and Insular Portugal, Lusophone Africa and Luso-America. Although concentrators are encouraged to examine the global nature of the Portuguese-speaking world, typically they focus on one of the specific geographical entities mentioned above. Concentrators will strengthen their Portuguese language skills (Portuguese 400 or the equivalent is a pre-requisite) and explore relevant Lusophone literature, education, history and social science. The concentration offers one program in language and literature and another that is interdisciplinary. Most concentrators study abroad in either Brazil or Portugal.
Psychology encompasses a range of phenomena and levels of analysis in pursuit of three goals: to deepen understanding of cognitive and neural mechanisms of sensation, perception, learning, and emotion; to probe the biological and evolutionary foundations of animal behavior; and to clarify the social perception and assessment of individuals and groups. The concentration offers an array of course options, including study in quantitative methods, laboratory techniques, and senior seminars on specialized topics. Students take upper-level courses in the field’s major sub-disciplines, including perception and cognition, behavioral neuroscience, and social psychology. The concentration in Psychology prepares students for careers in clinical psychology, business, policy-related research positions, law, and education.
Public Health (formerly Community Health) is an interdisciplinary concentration through which students examine a variety of issues, including population health and disease, health policy, cross-cultural and international aspects of health, the organizational and social structures through which health services are delivered and received, and the public health system. Courses in the concentration allow students to explore the ways in which the social, political, behavioral and biological sciences contribute to the understanding of patterns of population distributions of health and disease. The concentration also provides students with courses in basic research methods and statistics necessary for problem solving and critical thinking in the emerging emphasis on evidence-based health care and public health.
Public Policy and American Institutions is housed in the A. Alfred Taubman Center, which is dedicated to teaching, research, and service in the areas of health care and social welfare policy, education policy, urban policy, law and criminal justice, and media and technology. Public policy refers to societal initiatives to remedy social problems. Because social problems typically emerge from complex, multi-faceted social conditions, the study of public policy requires students to become familiar with the insights of diverse academic disciplines into how institutions facilitate or inhibit societal problem-solving. The study of public policy is an excellent framework for integrating ideas drawn from several disciplines around issues of real world significance. Concentrators emerge with a sound understanding of institutional change and are well-equipped to contribute to processes of social change.
Religious Studies seeks to understand and interpret religions in various historical, cultural, and social contexts. It fosters scholarly skills such as close reading (of texts and other social and material data), excellence in writing and verbal expression, interpretation of the past from written and physical evidence, and interpretation of contemporary society. By exploring the public and private concerns that religions engage—for example, the nature of community and solitude, suffering and death, good and evil—students discover new ways of interpreting the complex world in which they live. As students venture into the religions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and Europe, they learn about the formation and transmission of beliefs, behaviors, values, rituals, texts, institutions, and forms of community. Students also learn about conflict and accord within and between religions, as well as between religious and non-religious perspectives.
The Program in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (REMS) encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to the study of Europe and its relation with the Americas and Asia in the early modern period. Students focus on the late fourteenth through the late eighteenth centuries—a time marked by scientific and agricultural revolutions, the Reformation, the development of capitalism, and the rise of cultural forms such as the novel, opera, Grub Street journalism and the art market. Concentrators examine the development of new cultural and political forms through the imitation and reworking of those of classical antiquity, the restructuring of patriarchal society, and the emergence of the sovereign nation state. Students take courses in more than a dozen departments affiliated with REMS.
Science and Society is an interdisciplinary concentration that examines the processes of scientific discovery and the establishment of scientific policies and systems of belief from historical, philosophical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. Concentrators analyze the practices, norms, and values that reflect and shape our deepest convictions about what is considered "science." Students select courses in the physical sciences, life sciences, or mathematics and choose a thematic track that may include the history and philosophy of science, gender and science, race, science and ethnicity, health and medicine, environment and society, or they may create their own independent focus. Science and Society prepares students to follow, guide, and shape scientific knowledge as it travels from the laboratory into the public arena.
Slavic Studies is concerned with the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the Slavic world. Built on sound knowledge of one or two Slavic languages (normally Russian or Czech) the program allows students to develop an in-depth appreciation and understanding of East European cultures and civilizations through a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary fields. Students take courses in literature, history, culture, theater, political science, economics, and international relations. Concentrators focusing on Russia learn one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages and study some of the world’s best-regarded authors and composers: Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Gogol and Bulgakov, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky. Focusing on Czech allows students to explore, for example, how Czechs distinguished themselves by peacefully transitioning from communism to capitalism (the “Velvet Revolution”) and separating peacefully with the Slovak Republic (the “Velvet Divorce”). Most concentrators study abroad in a Slavic country, either during the academic year or the summer.
The Sc.B. concentration in Social Analysis and Research provides both a conceptual and a working knowledge of the techniques for data collection and analysis used for social research in academic and non-academic environments. The centerpiece of the concentration is a rigorous and comprehensive collection of courses: (1) that develop an understanding of the principles underlying the processes of data collection and analysis; and (2) that train students in the application of advanced statistical techniques for data description and analysis. The concepts and skills learned in these courses are reinforced through engagement in applied research with Sociology faculty and/or internships with local organizations in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors.
Concentrators also take courses that provide grounding in the theoretical approaches to social phenomena that are foundational to social research. Graduates develop an understanding of the concepts and processes that underlie the issues studied by sociologists and the analytic techniques that allow sociologists to understand social relations and individual behavior.
Sociology seeks to understand human behavior by studying how individuals connect to the groups and institutions in which they live. Sociologists analyze the interrelationship of social structures with political, economic, and cultural forces, from the micro to the macro level. As a discipline, sociology provides students with the conceptual and analytic tools to make sense of complex social structures in a rapidly changing global environment. Brown’s Sociology department brings together a dynamic group of scholars with international reputations for outstanding achievement in a range of important research areas -- social demography, health and medicine, environmental justice and environmental change, development, politics and democracy, urban and spatial analysis, and organizations and occupations.
The diversity and shared histories of South Asia's cultures, religions, languages, and nations are an important area of engagement in the world today. While India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and neighboring nation-states constitute a recognizable geographic region, the equally vital diasporic communities from South Asia and their globally dispersed networks extend our understanding of an old and yet changing South Asia. South Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration in which students work in a specified chronological period (e.g. ancient, medieval, early modern, or contemporary), in a geographical area (e.g. Bangladesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, North India, Pakistan, South India), or in a particular discipline (e.g. anthropology, Hindi/Urdu, history, religion, or Sanskrit) but also take courses outside of their chosen area of emphasis in disciplines such as economics, literature, philosophy, political science, or theatre arts.
The Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies (TAPS) is the intellectual and artistic center for the aesthetic, historical, literary, practical, and theoretical explorations of performance in global perspective – theatre, dance, speech, time-based art, and even performative “roles” in everyday life. The TAPS concentration offers three tracks with many points of overlap among them: Performance Studies, Theatre Arts, and Writing for Performance. Concentrators gain exposure to a broad spectrum of performance modes and methods -- acting, directing, dance, and writing, and chose an avenue of focus among them. Everyone graduates having studied craft, gained familiarity with history, and investigated the role of performance arts in culture.
The Urban Studies program teaches students to analyze the city, urban life, and urbanization through a variety of disciplinary lenses. Students learn where cities come from, how they grow, thrive, and decline, how they are organized, and how to construct meaningful, inclusive, secure, and sustainable places. The curriculum examines how urban problems arise, how they have been previously addressed, and how to plan cities of the future. Concentrators enjoy the breadth of courses in American Studies, economics, history, literature, history of art and architecture, political science, sociology, and planning as well as provide in-depth courses integrating those perspectives. We introduce the fundamentals of Urban Studies scholarship as well as intense examination of an urban problem in focused seminars. These advanced seminars offer opportunities to write extensive and synthetic interdisciplinary analyses that serve as capstones to the concentration. The program’s 10-course curriculum provides sufficient flexibility to allow students to pursue specific urban interests or to take courses in urban focus areas of Built Environment; Humanities; Social Sciences; and Sustainable Urbanism. The Program insures that students master at least one basic research methodology and perform research or fieldwork projects, which may result in an honors thesis. Fieldwork training includes working with local agencies and nonprofit organizations on practical urban problems. Capstone projects entail original research papers in Urban Studies seminars; academically supervised video, artistic, or community service projects; and Honors Theses for eligible concentrators.
The Visual Arts concentration engages in artistic practice across a wide range of media: painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, and digital imaging. Courses in art history combine with these to frame the direction of the concentrator's work and to develop his or her critical thinking skills. Students are encouraged to cultivate an informed and thoughtful individual perspective. Students in the Visual Arts department enjoy cutting-edge facilities and a knowledgeable faculty. These two resources inspire creativity and pleasure in our concentrators while they explore the discipline. Students acquire the intellectual and practical tools to make art as well as to interpret and critique the world of images. Students also have the opportunity to take courses at the neighboring Rhode Island School of Design.