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BDP Courses

BDP 101 Forum Seminars are foundation courses for each of the Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs), and they introduce students to the key concepts, methodologies, and questions related to the topic. Forum Seminars allow students to sample a range of approaches to contemporary social and intellectual issues. They generally feature weekly discussions with faculty from a variety of departments across UT, so Forum Seminars are a perfect way to explore potential majors and learn about interesting classes.

  • BDP 101 courses are one-credit courses, and most BDP 101s meet for two hours a week during the first eight weeks of the semester.
  • BDP 101 courses are restricted to freshmen or sophomores at UT, or to students participating in the Bridging Disciplines Programs.
  • BDP 101 courses must be taken on a letter-grade basis.
  • BDP 101 courses do not satisfy a substantial writing component requirement.
  • To enroll in a BDP 101 course, freshmen or sophomores may register during their regular registration period. If you are an upperclassman and you plan to apply to a BDP, please email bdp@austin.utexas.edu to request assistance enrolling.

For information on when BDP courses are generally offered, see our Coursework Planning Guide.

BDP 101: Children & Society
Applies to Children & Society BDP certificate
Children & Society focuses on children and their development within social systems such as families, schools and communities, as well as the individual characteristics and broader cultural values that influence development.

BDP 101: Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality
Will apply to the new Criminal Law, Justice & Inequality BDP certificate (this new BDP will accept applications for the first time in Spring 2024
This course introduces students to different theoretical and empirical perspectives on research, policy, and practice issues related to criminal law, justice, and inequality. The course begins with a historical overview of American jurisprudence with specific attention to law, policies, and practices in Texas. Students will be invited to interrogate different theoretical perspectives about crime, surveillance, prosecution, and punishment and consider their contemporary relevance. The course will encourage interactive discussion and attention to policy and practice applications. The course will also encourage students to exercise their critical thinking while developing research skills and capacities. Students will participate in guided learning activities and directed research activities, meeting weekly to define goals, articulate individual and collective objectives, share their learnings, and celebrate progress.

BDP 101: Exploring Digital Arts & Media
Applies to Digital Arts & Media BDP certificate
Exploring Digital Arts & Media is a Bridging Disciplines Forum Seminar and one-credit course that aims to present a broad survey of digital art and media. For most of the seminars, there will be a guest speaker and a lecture/discussion period based on the presenter’s work and on the general topic. Students in this course will learn about the many areas of specialization that the phrase “digital art and media” covers ranging from the Internet to game design. This course will meet for one hour per week for the full semester, and not for two hours a week during the first eight weeks of the semester.

BDP 101: Health Inequality in Childhood and Adolescence
Applies to Children & Society and Social Inequality, Health & Policy BDP certificates
Health inequality in childhood and adolescence appears in all stages of the human life course as a function of the stratification of American society by race, social class, gender, and other factors. In childhood and adolescence, inequalities emerge in mental health, obesity, health behavior, and other aspects of health that lay a foundation for the even greater inequalities in health, including life expectancy, that characterize adult populations. Thus, combating early health inequalities can have long-term, lasting effects on the general well-being of American society as a whole. Because the first step in combating such early health inequalities is to understand them, this seminar will investigate in detail the various inequalities in health that arise and persist during the early life course by listening to experts from the health field, reading research articles on health, and discussing both the causes of health problems and possible methods of preventing such problems.

BDP 101: Intro to Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies
Applies to Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies and all Ethics & Leadership BDP certificates
This course will survey the nature and role of conflict and its resolution at various levels, from the global to the interpersonal, focusing on certain key challenges, such as great power conflicts, civil wars, ethnic conflicts, and urban struggles. We will study the use of conflict as a tool by change agents as well as efforts to resolve conflicts in the interests of peace, justice, and welfare. Special attention will be given to nonviolent campaigns for social change. We will read interesting accounts of various conflicts and efforts to deal with them, along with writings by change agents employing conflict. Class sessions will include presentations by experts from various fields in the university community and beyond.

BDP 101: Intro to the Entrepreneurial Mindset
Applies to Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship BDP certificate
This seminar course is taught in conjunction with The LaunchPad at UT Austin (“The LaunchPad”) – an entrepreneurship hub that helps undergraduate and graduate students of all majors navigate and explore entrepreneurship at UT. This course will introduce you to a framework of what it means to be entrepreneurial – taking initiative, getting comfortable with risk, and practicing resilience. Regardless of whether you go on to become a small business owner, startup founder, freelancer, social entrepreneur, or even an intrapreneur in a company, you will leave the course with the perspective and skills needed to navigate our modern workforce. This course will meet for two hours a week during the first eight weeks of the semester.

BDP 101: Introduction to Museum Studies
Applies to Museum Studies BDP certificate
This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of museums, archives, libraries, galleries, and other institutional sites of collection, preservation, research, and education. Students will learn how museum professionals select and curate objects, define and serve the public, and preserve and shape the histories, heritage, and identity of cultures and societies. They will also learn how scholars analyze museum practices of collection and representation, and how practices of curation have spread beyond museum walls.

BDP 101: Introduction to Public Policy
Applies to Public Policy and Social Inequality, Health & Policy BDP certificates
The Bridging Disciplines Program in Public Policy has two goals: to introduce you to a substantive arena of policy and to familiarize you with the policy-making process. Underlying these goals is an attitude toward the sources of change in a society, which is this: major transformations do not always begin with powerful leaders or large institutions; often, they begin with a scientific discovery or an act of protest. A journalist’s inquiry into the effects of agricultural chemicals, for example, gave rise to the environmental movement; and a black woman’s refusal to yield her bus seat to a white man galvanized the civil rights movement. In other words, this BDP provides insights into how change happens.

BDP 101: Intro to the Non-Profit World
Applies to Non-profits & Social Entrepreneurship BDP certificate
The non-profit sector is the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy. This phenomenon presents enormous opportunities for communities, non-profit managers, boards of directors, and those who fund non-profit organizations. This course introduces students to the non-profit sector and provides the foundation knowledge they need to understand the role of non-profit organizations in contemporary American society. Students will learn what distinguishes the non-profit sector from business and government, with particular attention to mission, organizational structure, funding, and culture. It will examine the statutory and regulatory requirements of non-profit organizations and explore the ways in which philanthropic giving and volunteers shape the work of the non-profit sector. Readings and class activities provide students with a broad understanding of the non-profit sector and help them weigh the pros and cons of a career in the non-profit world.

BDP 101: Narrative Leadership
Applies to all Ethics & Leadership BDP certificates
Public narrative is a discursive practice that helps us construct identity and respond to social challenges. Leaders use it to link their own stories to the stories of their community and to create hope as a catalyst for action. As an introductory course for the Ethics & Leadership Bridging Disciplines Programs certificates, this course will teach you to use interdisciplinary approaches to explore how public narrative can make you a more effective and ethical leader. Students will use behavioral ethics to examine public narratives that have brought profound social change to our country and work with the instructor to develop a public narrative that draws on their own lived experiences to address an issue important to them.

BDP 101: Patients, Practitioners, and Cultures of Care
Applies to Ethics & Leadership in Health Care and Patients, Practitioners & Cultures of Care BDP certificates
Introduces the interdisciplinary study of healthcare and the many potential roles of the healthcare provider. Explores an overview of foundational concepts for understanding healthcare and providers in an interdisciplinary way, including culture and health, the built environment and health, narrative medicine, and healer resilience in relation to serious illness and end-of-life care. Guest lecturers represent the disciplines of anthropology, architecture and planning, social work, and health communications.

BDP 101: Social Inequality, Health & Policy
Applies to Social Inequality, Health & Policy BDP certificate
The Social Inequality, Health & Policy Seminar explores the causes, consequences, and importance of health disparities. The course will cover international approaches to dealing with healthcare and discuss what national and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, can do to effectively reduce the most glaring health vulnerabilities. We will discuss a sample of health issues affected by disparities and the factors driving those discrepancies.

Other Courses Offered Through the Bridging Disciplines Programs

In addition to the BDP 101 Forum Seminars, we offer various other courses where lectures focus on contemporary issues with an emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives and critical discourse. These courses may satisfy requirements for one or more of the BDPs, and they also may be used as electives for many degree plans.

BDP 119: Creative Project Planning
This course is restricted to students who are currently in the Digital Arts & Media BDP
Creativity is not only a natural talent, it is an ongoing practice that one can hone and improve. In this class, we will learn techniques for developing your creative practice and use that practice to plan and progress your Digital Arts and Media BDP project. Class will meet weekly for roughly half the semester and will entail readings, discussions, exercises, and short, scaffolded assignments designed to help students harness their creative practices.

BDP 201: Environmental Change & Sustainability
Applies to Environment & Sustainability BDP certificate
In this forum seminar, students will explore the range of environmental challenges that our society faces, including those involving water resources, global change issues, and global and local prospects in energy technologies and solid waste management. The roles of science, policy-making, economic interests, and sustainability will be examined in the context of these issues. This BDP 201 course meets for two hours per week for the full semester.

BDP 319: Human Rights: Theories & Practice
Applies to Human Rights & Social Justice BDP certificate and to the Community Welfare and Social Justice strand of the Non-profits & Social Entrepreneurship BDP certificate
This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study and practices of human rights at home and around the world. Drawing on materials from the humanities, social sciences, law, fine arts, and public policy, the course will engage both historical precedents and contemporary debates over the relevance of a human rights discourse to academic inquiry and extracurricular advocacy. Divided into five sections, the syllabus is designed not only to encourage a broad understanding of human rights’ emergence into current public policy and persistent humanitarian narratives but to facilitate as well the opportunity to research these concerns through specific topical examples, both issue-oriented and regionally-grounded. This course is restricted to current BDP students and to students who have applied to a BDP.

BDP 319: Museum Studies
Applies to Museum Studies BDP certificate
This class, one of the foundation courses in the Museum Studies portfolio, is designed to introduce students to some of the main issues in museum studies and practices. The course will explore these issues through a focus on both art and natural history museums and their collecting and displaying practices. Topics to be considered include issues of cultural heritage, the legalities of collecting, who “owns” specimens and works of art, the legacies of colonialism, issues of classification, and the relationship between collecting and global conflict. 

BDP 319: Smart Cities
Applies to Smart Cities BDP certificate
What is a smart city or a smart community? Being smart is not just about technology; a smart city or smart community enables better service delivery and quality of life for all of its residents. This class will introduce various smart city and community concepts and case studies, and provide hands-on experience for interested students.

BDP 329: Race and Medicine in American Life
Applies to Ethics & Leadership in Health Care and Patients, Practitioners & Cultures of Care BDP certificates
This course examines the relationship between African Americans and the American medical profession from the era of plantation slavery to the present day. The course divides the history of this relationship into several periods: the era of plantation medicine during the antebellum period; the formation and propagation of ideas about African American health following Emancipation; the practice of segregated medicine up until the 1960s; interactions between black and white physicians and the American Medical Association prior to and during the Civil Rights era; and the period from the 1960s to the present. The course examines the persistence of medical racism in American medicine up to the present day.