First Year Seminar Course Descriptions Fall 2023

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.

LAS 101-02: Global Sustainability, Finding Solutions

MWF 12:00-12:50      Dr. Jeanie Bukowski

LAS 101-03: Global Sustainability, Finding Solutions

MWF 2:00-2:50      Dr. Jeanie Bukowski

Sustainability is a multidimensional concept, involving the health and well-being of human and natural systems, social justice, ecosystem protection, secure livelihoods, and economic development that safeguards the Earth and its resources for future generations. Sustainability must be considered at multiple, interconnected scales, from the global to the local. In this class, we will explore the major sustainability challenges—as well as opportunities and solutions—across issues and levels.

LAS 101-04: Envisioning Peace

MWF 1:00-1:50      Dr. Sarah Wilhoit

In our frequently chaotic and violent world, it can be difficult to imagine peace, despitehumankind’s nearly universal desire for a brighter future. What does peace look like and howmight it be achieved? In this course, we will consider broad iterations of peace on personal,interpersonal, and collective scales. Through analyses of religious, philosophical, literary,cinematic, and artistic artifacts, we will investigate questions such as: what brings us peace?What is inner peace and what sacrifices might be necessary to obtain it? How does the conceptof peace function within our cultural imaginary? What are the convergences between personalpeace and societal peace? And, perhaps most importantly, are there steps we can take to helpsecure a more peaceful future?

LAS 101-05: Finding Your Voice

M 4:30-7:00      Phil Luciano

All of us have a voice, as writers and students, as well as in every other facet and role of life. But what goes into our voice? How do we shape our voice to reflect what we really mean? This seminar will examine a wide array of voices -- those of poets, musicians, writers and others -- and how each uses particular tools to convey meaning. We also will study ethos, especially what shapes credibility. Further, we will investigate how to best use our voice to communicate with authority and spark change in the world.

LAS 101-06: East Asia Through Film

T/TH 1:30-2:45      Dr. Jihyun Kim

LAS 101-06: East Asia Through Film

T/TH 9:00-10:15      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.

LAS 101-07: Why Are We Here?

T/TH 3:00-4:15      Dr. Seth Katz

Through reading, writing, and conversation, we will approach different answers to thisquestion, and a number of others, including but not limited to “Why have you come to college?” “What should be the relationship of college to career?” “What does it mean to learn?”“What happens when we die?” “How do we know what’s true?” “What do non-scientists need to understand about science?” “Why do the arts matter?” “What is happiness?” Assigned readings will include classic and contemporary texts, all available online.

LAS 101-08: Social Advocacy

T/TH 3:00-4:15      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!

LAS 101-09: The Latin Hunger Games

MWF 10:00-10:50      Dr. Aurea Toxqui

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 everafter”? We will discuss such questions in class. We will analyze the trilogy of the Hunger Gamesand 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.

LAS 101-10: Memories in the Making

T/TH 9:00-10:15      Dr. Priscilla Charrat Nelson

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 selectionof 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.

LAS 101-11: Science of College Success

MWF 10:00-10:50      Prof. Slava Prokhorets

Starting college is often an exciting new adventure, but the uncertainty that comes with a large lifestyle change can also come with anxiety and unanswered questions. Will I still do well in my classes if I follow my high school habits of multi-tasking while studying and/or reading my notes the day before the exam? What determines whether I will do well in a course (e.g., my intelligence, mindset, motivation)? What can I do to increase my chances of success? Without my family and friends nearby, how will I deal with the stress that comes with college? Will I belong in my new college home? Will I make meaningful connections with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives? With the distraction and temptations of college life, how can I maintain (or start) a healthier lifestyle (e.g., diet, exercise, sleep)? Upon successful completion of this course, you will build skills and gain knowledge that will allow you to put yourself in a position of success as a college student and young adult.