Carnegie Mellon University

BXA Intercollege Degree Programs

Interdisciplinary Academics + Arts

BXA Seminars

The BXA Seminars introduce students to critical and aesthetic theory in an interdisciplinary context, as well as giving them experience in using methodologies from both their concentrations in their research and practice. These courses are part of the General Education requirement for all BXA degrees.

52-190 BXA Seminar I: Building the Wunderkammer
Spring Mini 4 | 4.5 units
BXA Seminar I considers how knowledge is represented across different modes of media—what language, what symbols, what logic guides knowledge acquisition and expression in your varied disciplines? Students engage with theoretical and practical readings from across disciplines, with particular emphasis on interpretive theory. Weekly readings in aesthetic and critical theory introduce students to a particular vocabulary of analysis, practiced in class discussion and written responses. Students will conceive, research, produce and present a creative final project at the end of the course.

52-291 BXA Seminar II: Transferring Knowledge
Spring Mini 3 | 4.5 units
BXA Seminar II considers how interdisciplinary work can be produced, analyzed, justified and—most importantly—contextualized. By taking a deep dive into a single object or text, we’ll explore how context situates the creator, the audience, and their relationship. At the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of how disciplinary methods establish context, and they’ll be able to use this understanding to help guide their academic choices.

52-392 BXA Seminar III: Deconstructing Disciplines
Spring | 9 units
BXA Seminar III is in preparation for the BXA Capstone Project and/or other senior research projects (Dietrich/MCS/SCS thesis, or CFA senior studio work). The seminar will engage BXA juniors in a brief examination of the structures of disciplinary knowledge, interdisciplinary approaches, and the components of research, with production of original work as the primary class requirement. Coursework includes short readings and self-assessment exercises, participation in seminar discussions, preparation of the Junior Portfolio and professional documents (CV), and the production of new research or creative works. These can take one of three forms: 1) a small proof of concept object 2) the initiation of one stage of larger research plans or 3) a complete Capstone proposal. Any of these may be the basis of the student’s eventual Capstone or other senior work. The requirements for this semester also include a short 5 page literature review about the student’s topic, inclusion of work during the BXA Kaleidoscope show, and a class research presentation showcase held during the final exam period.

52-401 BXA Seminar IV: Capstone Project Research
Fall | 9 units &
52-402 BXA Seminar V: Capstone Project Production
Spring | 9 units
The BXA Capstone gives BXA students the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their interdisciplinary work over the course of their academic career. The Capstone should include elements that span the student's CFA and SCS concentrations (for BCSA students), CFA and ENG concentrations (for BESA students), CFA and DC concentrations (for BHA students), CFA and MCS concentrations (for BSA students) or CFA concentration and Engineering major (for EA additional major students). The project can be either a scholarly or creative endeavor, and may take one of many possible forms (e.g., a written thesis, a compilation of creative work or works, an experiment and report, a computer program or animation, etc.).

The BXA Capstone sequence covers both semesters of a student's senior year. In the fall, students are enrolled in 52-401 BXA Seminar IV: Capstone Project Research (9 units), which meets weekly to discuss strategies for managing research, planning the project and larger theoretical issues related to interdisciplinary work. At the end of the fall course, students will have produced a Capstone Project proposal, an annotated bibliography and multiple versions of their project pitch. In the spring, students enroll in 52-402 BXA Seminar: Capstone Project Production (9 units), which has no required classroom time. Instead, students spend the semester doing the research and foundational work necessary for the project, as well as meeting with their faculty and BXA advisors as they create their Capstone Project and prepare to present it at the annual Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Research Symposium held each May.