Liberal Arts Courses
Throughout the history of world civilizations many societies developed mystical and contemplative traditions that radically questioned the authority, hierarchy, and dogma of religious and political establishments. The mystics sought wisdom and compassionate action through cultivation of concentration, mindfulness, broader and deeper conscious awareness, and awakening the heart. In this course we explore their teachings in three ways: through reading ancient texts, practicing meditation, and community learning, which includes visiting communities that practice these teachings. The texts include ancient creation stories such as those in the Hindu Rig Veda (India), Hebrew Genesis (Israel), Socrates, Marcus Aurelius (classical Greece and Rome), Lao Tzu's Taoism (China), Buddha (India), Buddhism (China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Tibet), Islamic Sufism of Rumi and Hafiz (Middle East), Christian mysticism of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart (Europe), and Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah (Spain).
This course examines the development of human rights theories and practices, early efforts at an international response and the creation of a modern human rights agenda after 1945. Students explore race, ethnicity, and gender as human rights issues and examine the issue of humanitarian intervention in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. In addition, students examine globalization, terrorism, and the role of the United States in the current human rights debate.
The 20th century, often referred to as The American Century, was a time of turbulent transformation in which Americans were forced to rethink their political ideals, their commitment to social justice, and their definitions of art and culture. In this course, students focus on the big ideas in American culture that shaped the nation's history from the roaring '20s to the radical '60s. Students examine American music within the context of US history, studying folk music and the labor movement, modernism and jazz, and student activism and rock.
Students will read and discuss articles by respected scholars and commentators on critical issues facing the world today. Discussions will focus on topics of historic significance in the last quarter of the 20th century. Note: This course may be used to fulfill the social science requirement.
The meaning of one's sexual identity has changed dramatically from one period of history to another, and from one culture to another. This course examines the changing roles of men and women and their power relationships throughout history. By studying gender in religion, politics, family, and the arts, students gain perspectives on their own roles and relations. Note: This course may be used to fulfill the social science requirement.
This course focuses on defining different types of cultural or mythical models for society and individuals; how they are formed; how they help shape beliefs, worldviews, and historical events; and how they still inform our lives today. The thematic approach of mythology and folklore will draw on documents from the fields of history (especially the timeframe from Ancient Greece to the late Middle Ages), linguistics, law, music, theatre, literature, art, and film.
What is meditation? What are the connections between personal transformation and the challenges that face the human race in the 21st century? What can we learn through meditation that has bearing on music, the arts, creativity, relationships, social justice, war, racism, poverty, and sustainable living on this planet? In this course, students explore cutting edge teachings of contemplative practices from different parts of the world. We examine new 20th- and 21st-century teachings based on eclectic interpretations of ancient wisdom systems that make multicultural contemplative practices accessible today in unprecedented ways. This course contains academic, experiential, and community learning components; assignments include texts, meditation practice, and visits to contemplative communities throughout Greater Boston.
In this course, students examine Palestinian and Israeli histories, cultures, and relationships and delve into the origins of coexistence and conflict. Students explore opposing narratives that reflect and perpetuate conflict, deepen their ability to detect bias, understand the consequences of seeing truth from different perspectives, and cultivate respect for both peoples. Students explore religious, geopolitical, social, economic, ethnic, nationalist, racial and cultural elements of Palestinian, Arab, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian identities. What role does religion play in a conflict between two predominantly secular peoples? What are the possibilities for and obstacles to peace? What are the power imbalances and inequalities not only between these peoples but within each one? The course employs text, film, music, food, research, and writing to understand both the challenges faced by these multilingual, multiethnic, multreligious, multiracial peoples and to experience their rich cultures.
This course encompasses the study of musicians who lived in Laurel Canyon, in Los Angeles, California, between the years 1964—1970, including Joni Mitchell; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Mama Cass; Frank Zappa; Jim Morrison, and many others. Students explore the evolution of popular music in this particular place and time. Students also examine the ways that the events and culture of the time contributed to this musical evolution, and the ways that the musical response affected culture. By exploring these connections, students come to see how songwriters engage with their environment as they attempt to write music that reaches and influences a large audience. The class emphasizes the importance of artists considering the world around them, and their place in it, as they create work that feels fulfilling to them, and also inspirational to others.
The Artistry, Creativity, and Inquiry Seminar provides an introduction to the life of the creative and curious mind. In this course, students explore their own creative process, reflect on their life choice as a musician, and examine the role of the artist in society. Students learn how to ask questions and find answers about topics and issues that affect the choices they make personally, professionally, and creatively at Berklee and beyond college. Students also evaluate their abilities and interests in order to develop college and career goals, and to begin the process of selecting a major. In addition, students begin maintaining their Berklee College of Music electronic portfolio. Taught by faculty who also serve as students' first semester advisors, this course provides a creative and reflective atmosphere that encourages students to participate actively in their own learning. Students engage in discussion, getting to know the faculty member and each other.
This course provides film scoring majors with an introduction to how film makes visual and narrative meaning through the language of film, which includes camera, frame composition, lighting, production design, acting styles, editing, dialogue, plot, genre, themes, sound, and point of view. Students will learn to read and analyze film from a film studies perspective. Written assignments and in-class activities will reinforce writing, reading, and oral communication skills, with the goal of strengthening students' abilities to communicate with directors.
The Professional Development Seminar provides an opportunity for students in their sixth semester to reflect upon their academic and professional experience at Berklee, prepare to complete their Berklee programs, and transition from college into the professional world and/or graduate school. Students evaluate their knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests as they develop and/or refine college and career goals. Students also explore their own identities and their professional and personal relationships as they reflect on the role of the artist in society generally and their role as a musician in their community specifically. Students learn business, entrepreneurship, legal, and communication skills, and address issues of business ethics. Additionally, students refine and redirect their Berklee College of Music electronic portfolio towards a professional model and explore issues of presentation and critique. The Professional Development Seminar provides a creative and reflective atmosphere that encourages students to participate in their own learning while preparing for their future.