Int: Campus Map

Mar 15

Reading BU’s Built Environment

An Interdisciplinary Group Project

Due 6pm on Monday, Mar 15.

DESCRIPTION: What do you really know about the BU campus?  Are you aware of these buildings’ history, architectural style, purpose? Have you looked at them carefully? Have you read them as texts? Have you considered the narrative they create about the built environment and those who live and work in that environment?

Too often, we operate with only a surface understanding of the environment in which we exist.

If you’re in Boston this semester, you’ve undoubtedly used maps of the BU campus, two-dimensional objects with shaded shapes and tiny text, provided for the purpose of orienting oneself geographically. Students who are attending classes remotely likely have an even less concrete understanding of the BU campus. This interdisciplinary assignment (RH+HU+SS) is intended to enhance your individual and collective connection to Boston University by having you create an augmented reality map that tells a deeper, more nuanced story of your University than any folded map can. Working in a group of four students, choose three locations on campus to explore from different disciplinary perspectives. Using the online software StoryMap, employ the skills and insights from Humanities, Social Science, and Rhetoric to offer readings of the built environment at Boston University.


  1. Groups are being created in Rhetoric. You are collectively responsible for dividing the workload in an equitable manner. See below for advice on doing this.
  2. Your StoryMap should feature three BU campus buildings on, each constructed in a different decade, and each with a different architectural style.
  3. The first slide in your StoryMap serves as a “title page”, with a map that’s auto-generated from the locations you provide in each subsequent slide.
  4. On the StoryMap slide you add for each building, your text should organically address the following questions:
    1. Humanities: Describe the architectural style of the buildings you have selected to a person who has not seen the building.
    2. Social Sciences: Provide the historical context of the building and its surroundings: when it was built, why, what it replaced, and if it saw any historical events.
    3. Rhetoric:  What “argument” does the building make about itself?  About Boston University as an institution?  In answering this question, provide specific examples to explain the building’s “institutional statement.”
  5. For all your slides combined, your text should run to 1000-1250 words total. This count does not include citations.
  6. In addition to your written commentary, you must add pictures, videos, and hyperlinks (in varying proportion, as is logical) to the StoryMap slide for each building. We encourage you to use your ingenuity and creativity in constructing each slide.
  7. Citations: at the end of the text description, you must include a list of sources consulted. Any photo credits should be added to the end of the caption accompanying the picture. Your citations will use Chicago Manual of Style format, as in your Rhetoric course.
  8. Your StoryMap must have a principle of organization: chronological, geographical, or thematic or other. Signal this idea in the title you give to your StoryMap as well as in the text you include on the title slide.
  9. These projects will be evaluated by the faculty in consideration of: Organization; Research; Content/Argument; and Quality of Presentation.

NOTE: You might feel intimidated by the variety and volume of questions here and might wonder how to answer them all in roughly 300 words per slide. The key lies in the fact that each aspect of a building (its history, aesthetics, and rhetorical message) informs the others, and one cannot be talked about without the other. I cannot talk about the Eiffel Tower’s imposing yet graceful form without also mentioning the influence of French nationalism. Aim to combine the answers to the above questions into an organic whole and avoid at all cost creating a list of disconnected answers.  

Teamwork is a vital skill in today’s world. Just a year from now, the CGS Capstone project will challenge you with a monthslong group effort. So this assignment is an opportunity to hone those skills on a medium-stakes project. The keys to successful group work are:

  • Communication
  • Dividing the project into parallel parts and stages: parts that be done separately, in parallel, versus those which must be done one after the other, in stages
  • Equitable workload assignments, drawing on the different skills of group members
  • Realistic deadlines

Get together with your group as soon as you can after the walking tour on 2/20/2020, to:

  1. decide on which buildings to cover
  2. brainstorm a theme or themes to focus on
  3. divvy up the workload and hammer out a timeline.

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