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To PULSE or Not to PULSE?

Boston College takes great pride in being a Jesuit university. That title entails a heavy focus on shaping the whole person. Care for the whole being starts with the core curriculum—one of the fundamental building blocks of a Boston College liberal arts education. The purpose of the core is to expose students to a range of subjects that develop students into deeper thinkers.

There are two aspects of the core that are unique to a Catholic education: the philosophy and theology requirements. Though these classes can be taken separately, Boston College has created two interdisciplinary courses that most freshmen and sophomores opt to take: Perspectives and PULSE. But what should BC students, particularly rising sophomores, take?

Though Perspectives is geared toward freshmen, there is a section available for sophomores. The syllabus is packed with big names—Aristotle, Machiavelli, Nietzsche—and big ideas—justice, Christianity, existentialism. A unique factor in the Perspectives program, one that PULSE does not have, is a Living and Learning Program. This feature, which requires students to live and take classes on Newton campus, is what attracted current freshman Matt Aboukhater, MCAS ’20, to choose Perspectives. By living and taking a class with the same people, Aboukhater formed many of his friendships. Aboukhater, however, wishes that the content discussed in class would more frequently be tied to current events. Despite this, he describes perspectives as “an essential part of his freshman experience.” He plans to recommend the course to all of the incoming freshmen this summer as an Orientation Leader.

Although there is overlap in the syllabi between Perspectives and PULSE, the style of teaching in PULSE is very different. Designed mainly for sophomores, PULSE is focused around a required service component. Along with attending class, PULSE students are given a service placement around the greater Boston area, which they attend twice a week for four hours. Placement sites range from after-school tutoring programs to soup kitchens to helping Bostonians with their taxes; there are seemingly endless possibilities.

Sophomore PULSE student, Cece O’Reilly, LSOE ‘19, explains, “If you want a class that is more than lectures and exams, PULSE is the class to take.” The PULSE course is geared to give students a more applicable experience to the philosophy and theology topics taught in the classroom. The service placement, however, is truly what makes PULSE so unique. “Through my service,” O’Reilly explains, “I have experienced various social issues firsthand and have seen the effects of government policies, as well as realizing the importance of education.” O’Reilly’s only qualm about the course is that it is only one year long.

Though both perspectives and PULSE are two fantastic, fulfilling options, students can only choose one. PULSE is taking what is learned inside of the classroom and putting those values and lessons directly into serving the community. Perspectives, too, teaches those lessons, but without the immediate, tangible aspect.

By extending the classroom beyond the everyday, PULSE forms an incredibly authentic experience that is unmatched in the Perspectives programs. PULSE takes the learning to a new level, opening students’ eyes to the near-endless possibilities of applying philosophy and theology to real life. It is these hands-on experiences that give BC students an opportunity to begin their journey as men and women for others, both in and out of the classroom.

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