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
Fall | 9 units
BXA Seminar I introduces first-year and rising sophomore internal transfer students to the field of interdisciplinary work through the concept of the Wunderkammer, the cabinet of wonders. How do we identify and categorize objects? How do we define their position in the world and in a collection? What kind of knowledge is conveyed through context, representation and juxtaposition? This class considers how interdisciplinary work can be produced, analyzed, justified and—most importantly—contextualized. 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 semester. 

52-291 BXA Seminar II: Transferring Knowledge
Spring | 9 units
BXA Seminar II is intended for students transferring into a BXA program during their sophomore year or beyond. We'll consider 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 discussions and written responses. Students will produce written assignments as well as creative responses to the course material. 

52-391 BXA Junior Portfolio
Spring | 0 units | Pass/No Pass
To better assess the goals and needs of BXA students as they enter their final year and prepare for senior-level projects (e.g. BXA Capstone Project), all students will review their own work and assemble a portfolio during the spring semester of their junior year. Students should work with their BXA advisors and their concentration faculty advisors to assemble a portfolio that represents their academic and creative milestones over the course of their college career. This portfolio also includes reflective written components to allow students to present a narrative of their history with BXA, and identify their goals, visions, ideas and concerns for their future work—both for senior year and beyond. Students should provide an assessment of the areas of intersection between their academic and artistic interests, offer their own specific goals for their academic career, and give a self-evaluation of their performance and opportunities to-date, in light of the programs' broader pedagogical goals.

52-392 BXA Seminar III: Deconstructing Disciplines
Spring | 9 units
The BXA Seminar III will engage BXA juniors in examination of critical theory, the structure of disciplines, interdisciplinary approaches and methods, and the components of research. The course will meet weekly, and requirements will include readings, participation in online and seminar discussions, the production of creative works and research training in preparation for the BXA Capstone Project.

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 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.