First Year Seminar Course Descriptions Fall 2021

LAS 101-01: China's Three Teachings

MWF 9:00-9:50      Dr. Dan Getz

How am I supposed to relate to others? What makes for a good society? How is my own well-being tied to society? Is there a fundamental human problem? Does the world around me reveal how I am supposed to live? How can I know the truth? Is truth already present within me? Profound questions such as these show up as pressing concerns over two thousand years ago in civilizations across the Eurasian landmass. On the far eastern reach of that landmass Chinese civilization pondered such questions through three different lenses that came to shape the spiritual and intellectual heritage of China. Known to the Chinese as “The Three Teachings,” Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism (which was introduced to China from India) created bodies of texts that laid philosophical and religious foundations for Chinese society. We as a community of learners, through a select few classical texts drawn from these traditions, will explore how their reflections about human beings, society, and the larger reality of the universe were intimately bound to methods of ethical and spiritual cultivation.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-02: Islamic Civilization

MWF 11:00-11:50      Dr. Jason Zaborowski

Introduction to the full scope of Islamic history with an emphasis on interpreting religion and morality cross-culturally. Through reading primary sources students will be challenged to deliberate, explain, and interpret the meanings and morality that Muslims have found in the Islamic faith throughout history. Students will gain familiarity with the Qur’an and Arabic language concepts.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-04: The Hunger Games of Latin America

MWF 2:00-2:50      Dr. Aurea Toxqui-Garay

The Hunger Games are among the favorite movies of generation Z and millennials. Why is that? Is it because of the kind of topics addressed in the trilogy? Strong female characters? The underdog defeating the powerful and rich? Justice and revolution? Unity and community? Have you thought about what happened after the revolution succeeded? Was everything “happily ever after”? We will discuss such questions in class. We will analyze the trilogy of the Hunger Games and watch some classic films and documentaries produced in Latin America that deal with similar topics. We will draw comparisons to social movements, gender and ethnic issues, as well as problems with social and justice inequality in the Americas. Be ready to bring popcorn.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-05: Japanese Pop Culture

TTH 12:00-1:15      Dr. Rustin Gates

This seminar examines Japanese popular culture in an effort to understand contemporary Japanese society, economy, and culture. Topics include manga (comic books), J-pop (music), anime (Japanese animated films) and feature films, and the impact of the globalization of Japanese culture at home in Japan and abroad. Comparisons with Japan’s cultural rival Korea (e.g. K-pop, the film Parasite, etc.) will be made. Extensive consumption of various media will occur both inside and outside of the class meetings. Students will write short response papers and produce a final presentation.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-06: East Asia through Film

T/TH 3:00-4:15      Dr. Jihyun Kim

What is East Asia? Do you think “East is East and West is West”? Or are there any similar values and shared interests between the two? How accurate are our stereotypes about East Asia and why should we care about the region? Through films and documentaries, this seminar examines why East Asia matters and how contemporary East Asian Affairs are linked to the past, present, and future of the Western world. Topics covered include East Asia’s economic miracle and its consequences, the Korean Wave (Hallyu and K-pop), nuclear security, the rise of nationalism, Asian values and democracy, ethnic conflicts and human rights violations, and the “Asian century” debate. Upon completion of this course, successful participants will be able to understand the complexities of the rise of Asia and to develop cultural awareness and empathy in an increasingly diverse and globalized society.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-07: Pilgrimage and Journeys: Oh the Places You’ll Go!

TTH 1:30-2:45      Dr. James Courtad

Part of the attraction for any journey is discovering new people, places and things. A necessary consequence of the journey is that we learn things not only about the places we visit, but also about ourselves. How do we adapt when faced with new circumstances, new people, new languages and culture? Spain has had an everlasting impact on the western hemisphere and it faces many of the same issues that the United States does today: immigration difficulties, questions about democracy, linguistic conflicts, which direction to proceed as a country in the future. In this course, we will examine the journey Spain has taken and how it has affected the journeys of those who have traveled through the nation. We will approach these discoveries via varying depictions of Spain from American, British and Spanish writers. With the development of critical thinking, research and writing skills, along with class discussion, at the end of the course, students will have the tools necessary to begin their new educational, as well as imaginative, journeys.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-08: Memories in the Making: How Memory Shapes Us and Our Relationship to the World

TTH 10:30-11:45      Dr. Priscilla Charrat

What do Sigmund Freud, Sherlock Holmes, Alfred Hitchcock, and social media have in common? They all investigate our sense of self, and the relationships we form with those with whom we share memories. Our past shapes who we are, and yet our memory sometimes betrays us. In this course, we will examine our own experiences, short readings, and a selection of films to answer some of the following questions: Am I the sum of my memories? Can I choose what I remember and what I forget? What triggers memory? Why is Hollywood obsessed with memory? How do societies remember? Does technology atrophy our capacity to remember? Does social media distort our own memories? In this course, students will be introduced to models of memory that will allow them to reflect on identity, community, and history, and give them tools to engage their own memory in their learning and in their daily life as they embark in some of their most memorable formative years.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-09: The Power of Song

MWF 10:00-10:50      Dr. Robert Prescott

All of us have our own music—not simply the songs on our playlists, but those songs that mean so much to us that they express at some level who we are. This seminar will examine a wide array of songs through the lenses of many disciplines: literature, music history and performance, history, cultural anthropology, world languages, and religious studies. We will analyze lyrics together, consider how songs have change through the ages, and share with one another those songs that are most important to us personally. We will also study what goes into writing an original song.

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.

LAS 101-12: Social Justice Advocacy

TTH 3:00-3:50      Julie Schifeling

How can I make a difference as a college student? Will others listen to me and take me seriously? What opportunities are available to college students who are interested in having an impact on their campus, community, country, or world? This course will not only answer these questions but it will also provide you with the tools you need to find your voice as an advocate. Students will hear from experts in the field. Together, students will learn the “why” of advocacy, strategies that address the “how” of advocacy, the importance of civility and compromise, and what role protests play in social change. We will analyze movies and explore current movements such as March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter for examples of advocacy strategies. These examples will stimulate discussion about why particular strategies were (or were not) successful. Lastly, students will have the opportunity to practice their new skills in a real world setting. Join me in learning the art of advocacy!

This course will satisfy the college out-of-cluster requirement.