First-year Seminar Descriptions

After reading the descriptions below, please return to the Advising Questionnaire to list which seminars interest you the most. Please note that the meeting time for all seminars is Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30-12:00.

ART 197F: Designing Women (4 credits)

The built environment—the human-made surroundings in which we live, work, and play—affects all of us every single day. Yet traditionally, the field of architecture and design has been controlled by men despite the fact that there have been many innovative female architects and designers who have created buildings as well as furniture that were innovative and beautiful. This course will study the work of female architects and designers and consider why architecture remains among the most male-dominated of all the professions. Along the way, we will consider topics such as women’s confinement to the domestic sphere and identification with the home, sexism in architectural education, and the evolution of women’s spaces for activism and creativity.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Hendricks  |  Student Success Leader: Autumn Baxter


ART 197F: Theories of Color: Beyond Red, Yellow, and Blue (4 credits)

Is the red you see the same color as the red I see? Why is red a primary color, and who decided, and when? In this class we’ll investigate the multiple conflicting theories of color and the material history of pigments, from precious Lapis Lazuli blue to “mummy brown” (made from real mummies!) We’ll make oil paint from raw pigments in the studio, we’ll encounter color as physical effect of light on the retina of our eyes, and we’ll discuss color theory as a philosophical mixture of our biases and ideals. $40 course fee includes book and materials.

Instructor: Professor Schweitzer  | Advisor: Professor Wahl-Fouts | Student Success Leader: Marie Gruver


COMM 197F: Is Anyone Listening? (4 credits)

In school, we’re taught to read, write, and speak, but rarely are we taught how to listen. In the workplace, we’re encouraged to speak up and are rewarded for voicing our opinion. In our personal lives, technology creates instant and constant opportunities to connect, but people report feeling more alone than ever. If we’re always thinking about what we’re going to say, are we listening to anyone? Is anyone listening to us? We’ll explore the complexities of message reception and perception through the lenses of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology. Together we’ll assess and modify our own listening practices, and work together to create a podcast sharing our findings.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Derrick  |   Student Success Leader: Naomi Gakusi


COMM 197F: New Communication Revolution: Mind-reading Robots are Coming! (4 credits)

About 30 years ago, starting with the invention of the Internet, we entered the digital era in human communication. Previous communication revolutions like the invention of spoken language, written word, or mass communication profoundly changed the way we lived our lives. In this class, we will study the consequences of previous communication revolutions and infer the possible outcomes of the new Digital Revolution. We will begin by analyzing the impact of new communication technologies (e.g. computers and cell phones) and new communication platforms (e.g. social networks) on human communication. We will then learn about the new digital inventions like computer algorithms, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Finally, we will hypothesize whether the new mode of communication such as mind reading can realistically be achieved in the near future.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Bratic  |  Student Success Leader: Lilibeth Arzate


ENG 197F: Fate and Free Will (4 credits)

In this course we will explore how externalities shape the course of our lives, asking important questions about identity, construction of the self, the individual versus society, conformity, community, solitude, with a sprinkling of transcendentalism through the lens of various literary works. This is primarily a literature course, in as far as we will be exploring how conflicts between fate and free will can generate compelling narratives and looking at how different authors have framed this struggle. We will be reading/viewing: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, excerpts from The Metamorphosis, Siddartha by Hesse, Aristotle’s dramatic elements of the tragedy, and many short stories and essays. We will be viewing one film: Run Lola Run, directed by Tom Tykwer.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Burnside  |  Student Success Leader: Matilda Sieger


ENG 197F: Imagined Cities (4 credits)

Fantastical cities, steeped in mysterious and often supernatural powers, have an important place in literary history. The persistence of this type of setting reflects the persistence of human questions about community life: What does it mean for a group of diverse people to say they are a single entity? What do we owe to people in our community and to people outside of it? What becomes of the individual when subsumed into a large group, and is there any part of an individual that isn’t subject to the material forces inherent in political thinking? In this course, we will look at these questions as they arise in a variety of texts both ancient and modern. Texts will include Plato and the Bible, medieval poetry, The Emerald City of Oz, and the comic Astro City. We will explore the ways in which imagined cities function as battlegrounds for the questions that “real-world” cities resist answering—questions about community, justice, and the soul.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor De Groot  |  Student Success Leader: Halo Montgomery


HIST 197F: What is a Nation? (4 credits)

In this course, we will explore the “nation” as a distinct type of community and “nationalism” as a powerful ideology that has shaped the modern world. When, where, and why did the concept of the nation first emerge? How do nations secure the loyalty of their citizens? Why are people willing to die for their nations? How do nations determine who gets to be a citizen and who doesn’t? What is the relationship of nationalism to revolution, war, and violence? We will use a case study approach and explore the emergence and development of nationalism in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Students will hone their ability to think historically and to draw on a variety of types of primary sources—from speeches, laws, novels, and memoirs to films, paintings, and propaganda posters—to make persuasive, evidence-based arguments.

Instructor and Advisor:  Professor Nuñez |  Student Success Leader: Hannah Slusser


HUM 197F: Unsettled Flesh: New Latin (x) American Horror (4 credits)

We will explore the different conditions in which the body is inscribed in issues of ambiguity, horror, and the search for identity in Contemporary Latin (x) American literature. We will focus on short stories, novels, and films where dead bodies, ghosts, monsters, and the unexplainable materialize as symbols of a wider Latin American imaginary/Latinx culture in the U.S. Students in the course will research how horror becomes a signifier and analogy for politics, culture, and the act of writing in Latin (x) American literature. Our aim will be to understand the coincidence of trauma, poetics, and violence, and historical context in the literature of the region and the extended metaphors that it produces.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Díaz Miranda  |  Student Success Leader: Lily Morningstar


INTL 197F: Cultural Raiders from Ark to Arts (4 credits)

Have you ever wondered how and why museums have certain artifacts and art in their collections? This course explores contested collections and the impact of colonialism; Indigenous rights movements; and how cultural institutions like museums approach repatriation requests of objects and human remains from their collections. We will look at the intersection of law, politics, history, and international studies to understand the arguments surrounding eight to 10 specific objects, human remains, and/or collections, including the Benin bronzes, Parthenon marbles, and the Gweagal shield throughout the course. Students will use academic sources, as well as podcasts and documentary series to research and understand how these cases are represented.

Instructor and Advisor:  Professor Breske | Student Success Leader:  Lee Merritt


PHYS 197F: Lasers, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Medicine (4 credits)

Have you ever wondered how MRIs and CT scans work? Would you like to learn about the emerging field of nanomedicine? Are you interested in the latest methods for detection and treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer? Would you like to investigate the emerging medical technologies that will transform the way medicine is practiced in the near future? Are you curious about new career options in fields related to biotechnology and medicine? In Lasers, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Medicine you will discover new medical technologies and treatment modalities that you find interesting and delve deeper into them. You will learn how to read medical research articles and understand the science behind them. You will also learn how to effectively communicate these findings to broad audiences.

Instructor and Advisor:  Professor Gentry | Student Success Leader:  Aqsa Fazal


POLS/GWS 197F: Supreme! America’s Highest Court (4 credits)

Notorious RBG, signature Scalia snark, and the new addition of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson: Supreme Court justices interrupted and disrupted, crafted and reflected the country, pushed one another to the brink and even lived together—just like college! This seminar explores the fundamental structure, judicial and political philosophies, intersectional identities, and bold personalities that make and continue to shape the top of the judicial branch. Students examine this government institution through founding documents, significant opinions, oral arguments, films, and people.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Chenette |  Student Success Leader: Adarra Blount


REL 197F: Disabling Ableism (4 credits)

“Ableism: Discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ableism. The dictionary definition of ableism tells us what it is, but it does not capture what it is like to be a person with a disability living in an ableist culture; nor does it proscribe solutions for confronting ableism in all of its manifestations. Using disability theory, memoir, and activism as a starting point, this class explores how ableism is reinforced and resisted, constructed and contested. We will pay particular attention to the potent intersections of disability, race, class, and gender as we investigate where and how ableist practices and systems prevent people with disabilities from flourishing. We will not be satisfied, however, to stop at the level of critique; we will also examine strategies for coalition building and creative imagining as we strive to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive community. The class will be of particular interest to students curious about the ambitious work of disabling ableism.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Schumm  |  Student Success Leader: Kayla Richardson


THEA 197F: Performing the Unknown: Improvisation for the Stage and Beyond (4 credits)

In this course, students will learn the tenants of improvisation including spontaneity, collaboration, active listening, and building and sharing a narrative. Through practice and performance of improvisation games and exercises, formal research, live improv show attendance, and self-reflection, students will learn to embrace chaos and become more comfortable with the unknown. Applied improvisation takes the concepts, skills and techniques of improvisation for the theatre and applies them to everyday life. Applied improvisation teaches us an approach to our academic, personal, and professional lives that not only entertains but inspires us. Applied improvisation is experiential, and effective, and it is currently used across the globe in a wide range of professions to improve communication skills, leadership, and innovation. The study of both improvisation and applied improvisation will prepare students for a more balanced and connected life both on and offstage.

Instructor: Professor Trowell |  Advisor: Professor Martin | Student Success Leader: Kori Silence


UNIV 197F: Ask Not What Your Community Can Do for You: Sustainability and Social Innovation (4 credits)

At the heart of the concepts of sustainability and social innovation is stewardship—the responsible use and protection of the environment around you through thoughtful and intentional practices that enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being. The concept of stewardship can be applied not only to the environment and nature, but also to economics, health, information, theology, cultural resources, and beyond. The United Nations has identified sustainable development goals addressing the world’s most pressing problems. This class embarks on exploring ways to address those problems as they present themselves in our local community. Students will be challenged to develop innovative solutions to complex problems by applying design thinking principles while working in multidisciplinary collaborative teams. FYS facilitators will challenge students to ask not what your community can do for you but what you can do for your community.

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Wagner  |  Student Success Leader: Abigail Phillips


UNIV 197F: Relationships: Chaos to Contentment (4 credits)

In this course, students will explore social relationships of all kinds (families, intimate, peers, etc.) researching the literature on stress, conflict, coping, and relational maintenance behaviors. What patterns and skills can we discover in order to rise from chaos and drama to at least a healthy understanding, and occasionally, real contentment? How can we do better for our own relationships now, or imagine how to become healthier and more resilient, so that future relationships will benefit from that work?

Instructor and Advisor: Professor Schnurman  |  Student Success Leader: Chanmolis Mout