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One of the signature elements of the McDaniel Plan, your First Year Seminar will challenge and excite you. First Year Seminars are innovative topical and thematic courses that provide an introduction to the liberal arts and an academic transition to college. Although you won’t pick exactly which seminar you are enrolled in, you do get to list your preferences.

Listed below is a description of each Seminar course available. Once you’re done reviewing the descriptions, you’ll complete the First Year Seminar Rating Form (link to the form found at the bottom of the page). Advisors will then match each student with a seminar of interest. While we’ll do our best to place you in your 1st choice First Year Seminar, you can be placed in any one of the courses you select.

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FYS 1108: From Chaos to Compromise McDaniel Plan: FYS, Textual Analysis, Experential

In this course we will examine three periods of history when important decisions had to be made. You will take on a role from those time periods and deal with the very same issues that affected those who lived at that time. Our course is based on a pedagogy called “Reacting to the Past,” which asks students to argue specific points based on the beliefs of the characters that they play. In order to make these games effective (and to win!), you must base your arguments on ideas, thoughts, and beliefs from the period. To do that effectively, you must do research and read the texts from the period.
This seminar is taught by Professor Gretchen McKay.

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FYS 1113: Acting: On Stage and Off FYS, Creative Expression OR Textual Analysis

We all act all the time, in real life as well as on stage. This course is an introduction to acting combining practical exercises with study of contemporary texts on acting. Emphasis is placed on scene analysis and scene work, as well as written exercises in performance analysis and acting theory.

This course is taught by Professor Gené Fouché.

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FYS 1149: Gender, Literature, Culture McDaniel Plan: FYS, Textual Analysis, Social Cultural Historical Understanding

Be a man! That’s not very ladylike! We’ve all heard statements like these, but what do they really mean? What is “masculinity,” what is “femininity,” and how have these concepts changed over time? This course will examine the social construction of masculinity and femininity over the last century or so. We will read literature and examine cultural artifacts from early twentieth century Boy Scout manuals to contemporary magazine advertisements, and from a sex manual to popular movies and books in an attempt to chart some of the changes in the social construction of gender over the course of the twentieth century. How much have things changed? Have books, movies, television, advertisements helped advance new gender roles, or have they reinforced traditional ones?
This course is taught by Rebecca Carpenter.

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FYS 1222: Heroic Leaders and Evil Tyrants McDaniel Plan: FYS

George Washington, Winston Churchill, Queen Boudica, and Genghis Khan. The annals of human history are filled with examples of these and other valiant leaders and vile dictators. But how can we assess the positive and negative qualities of leadership that make leaders great, terrible, or merely mediocre? This course will examine theories of leadership that stem from multiple disciplines, including political science, communication, business administration, and military science, while also examining a rich diversity of political and senior wartime leaders, both past and present.
This course is taught by Professor Francis Grice.

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FYS 1136: Putin's Russia: Past & Present McDaniel Plan: FYS

Russian president Vladimir Putin is often in the news as he asserts his country’s power. This course will address Putin's foreign policy in historical perspective as he has intervened in Ukraine and Syria, railed against NATO expansion, and moved to create a Eurasian Economic Union. The course will also examine Russia's political system, economy, society and culture as they have been shaped by Putin over the past two decades. Overall, Russia's place in the world will be considered in light of the centuries-old debate over Russia’s cultural identity as a country situated on the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Last but not least, students will consider the twists and turns of Russia's relationship with the United States.
This course is taught by Professor Jakub Zejmis.

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FYS 1206: Rebels in Early America McDaniel Plan: FYS, Social Cultural Historical Understanding

Become a villain or hero in history! This course examines rebellion and dissent in early America, with particular attention to two important episodes: 1) the trial of Anne Hutchinson by New England Puritans for her radical views on women and salvation; 2) the coming of the American Revolution to the streets of New York City. Rather than merely investigating events, students will have the opportunity to assume the roles of actual historical figures, mastering the issues of the day, debating from their point of view, and ultimately swaying the course of history. In addition to learning about early America, students will gain writing, research, and rhetorical skills necessary to prosper in college in beyond.

This course is taught by Professor Stephen Feeley.

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FYS 1135: Theatre Appreciation McDaniel Plan: FYS

An introduction to the analysis and appreciation of theatre. The student receives an overview of dramatic theory and practice by reading and attending plays, studying critical evaluations of professionals, and participating in classroom discussions.
This course is taught by Professor Shana Joslyn.

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FYS 1245: Unseen Math in Puzzles and Games McDaniel Plan: FYS, Quantitative Reasoning

Do you like to solve puzzles and play games? This is a hands-on, active-learning style course where we will play games and solve puzzles and along the way discover interesting ideas in mathematics. Students will be introduced to elementary ideas in college mathematics by looking for patterns. The mathematics in this course is designed to be accessible to all incoming students. Topics we explore will include introductions to graph theory, topology, probability, and cryptography.
This course is taught by Professor Michele Gribben.

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FYS 1166: Yo/Latinx: Telling Stories of Being and Becoming American McDaniel Plan: FYS, Multicultural

Students will learn from a diverse range of Latinx voices who reflect on their identities and experiences as Americans, a term which includes their origins throughout the hemisphere as well as in United States. We will learn by hearing directly from Latinx people through digital and social media, memoire, essay, poetry, art, film, music, news, guest speakers, and more. We will all engage in creating and reflecting on our own first-person narratives through a variety of digital media to appreciate the power of framing one’s own experience and claiming the agency to effect greater personal and social change.
This course is taught by Professor Amy McNichols.

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FYS 1196 Mark to Message: Drawing Now McDaniel Plan: FYS, Creative Expression

A Studio course in drawing combining practices that will develop an understanding of perceptual drawing techniques with a working knowledge of traditional, modern, and contemporary art theory. Different media will be explored, and student’s definition of drawing will be expanded.
This course is taught by Professor Steven Pearson

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FYS 1256: Music in Multicultural America McDaniel Plan: FYS, Creative Expression, Multicultural

Does music play an important role in your life? When in a stressful situation, is music a calming factor for you? Do you use it to help prepare for an athletic event? In this class, we will explore music through its many elements and how several marginalized groups, including African Americans, Native Americans and Latin Americans use it in their cultural heritage. Increased listening perception, the ability to describe the music and its function in each culture is the course goal.
This course is taught by Professor Linda Kirkpatrick.

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FYS 1257: Take It to the Streets! (and beyond) McDaniel Plan: FYS

Finding your voice, making change, and building a movement are increasingly important as we look toward the future. But how do we do it? And more importantly, how do we do it effectively? What works and what doesn’t? Research shows that nonviolence is the most successful strategy. Does that surprise you? Let’s talk about what nonviolence really means, why it is so successful, and how you can use it to amplify your voice, work for social change and bring others to your cause. We’ll have a good time unearthing some real creativity along the way as we figure out how to make change happen.
This course is taught by Professor Pam Zappardino.

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FYS 1208: Leadership and Personal Growth FYS

The focus of this course is to foster an understanding of the practical application of leadership. Working from the premise that the greatest leadership comes from “knowing thyself,” a strong emphasis will be placed on personal growth as it relates to core concepts of leadership. This will be accomplished through a variety of in and out of classroom activities, selected readings, group work, and reflections. In short, the purpose of this class is to nudge you toward becoming the best version of yourself while jumpstarting your higher education journey.

This course is taught by Professor Al Moyer.

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FYS 1225: Scientific Thinking Strategies FYS

A course designed for college majors in the natural sciences (such as biology, physics and chemistry), Scientific Thinking Strategies focus not on biological, physical or chemical facts, but on two major skills that are not only applicable to, but also required by a successful career in all natural sciences. First, the course teaches you how to approach any problem, even problems you have never seen before, using a highly structured thinking strategy. Second, the course trains you to articulate the process of problem-solving such that one successful strategy becomes a sustained successful strategy, in your future science courses, your science career, and your life in general.

This course is taught by Professor Cheng Huang.

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FYS 1253: The Women of Harry Potter FYS

Those of us that are Potter fans love Harry, however, Harry’s success in defeating Voldemort is scaffolded by a supporting cast of characters. The female characters in the Harry Potter books and movies provide the foundation, motivation and in some cases, the sense of family, all of which are essential for Harry to persevere. The course will also explore the background of the female author, JK Rowling and how her perspective influenced the development of the female characters. Discussion will focus on questions such as: What role does each character play in molding Harry’s core values? How do the female characters who are nemeses to Harry actually make him stronger and more effective as a hero? We will unpack the influence of major characters such as Hermione, Ginny, and Mrs. Weasley as well as a few of the minor characters like Mrs. Figg and Professor Trelawney. We will use a variety of media to explore characters and will work in small groups for our discussion.

This course is taught by Professor Tracey Lucas.

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FYS 1259: From the colonies to the banlieues: the odyssey of Africans to France FYS, International Non-Western

This course is an overview of the African presence in the French imaginary and society. Considering that the colonies were once part of the French colonial empire and that the indigenous were French citizens, this course will analyze the successive statuses and the trajectories of the African subject in contact with France from the colonization to the contemporary period. By analyzing the period of colonization, the successive waves of migrations and finally the difficulties faced by French citizens of African descent, students will learn about the complexity of the relationship between France and Africa. Ultimately, students will learn through a variety of materials that the African subject who was first a native, then an immigrant and finally a “banlieusard” seems to remain a second-class citizen in the French imaginary.

This course is taught by Professor Gerard Keubeung.

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FYS 1260: Food Trucks on Every Corner FYS, SocialCulturalHistorical Understanding

From tacos to BBQ to donuts, food trucks have rapidly become a regular sight – and welcome smell and taste – in many cities, towns, and college campuses across the United States and Canada. Built upon the long history of street food vending common in the Global South, these businesses on wheels are more than tasty and (often) inexpensive food – they are also the products and drivers of cultural identity formation, placemaking, community economic development, and sustainable and creative entrepreneurship. This course examines the food truck phenomenon in North America, using these vehicles of deliciousness to explore historical trends and contemporary issues related to immigration, nationality, governance, localization of food systems, eco-gentrification, and racial and social justice. We will use urban case studies, engagement with local business owners, and the design of our very own food trucks to practice our skills of critical analysis, communication, empathy, and self-reflection.

This course is taught by Professor Elly Engle.

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FYS 1262: I am Groot FYS

I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. If you didn’t catch that, let me translate. Students Assemble! In this class, we are Groot, critically analyzing the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We’ll learn a little bit about the history of this type of transmedia storytelling; we’ll examine the MCU’s representation practices, including the ways heroes are depicted and what counts as strength and weakness; we’ll even examine the ways value systems are expressed and complicated in the stories being told and how they hold up across the different movies and shows. “I could do this all day” (S. Rogers), and I hope you can too—for a semester. I am Groot.

This course is taught by Professor Paul Muhlhauser.

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FYS 1261: When the World is a Stage: The Psychology of Performance FYS

There are many activities in life that take us out of our comfort zones (e.g., giving a speech in class, interviewing for a job, studying for an exam, singing on stage). Most of these activities have one thing in common: a performance. This course will examine the psychology of performance – or the ways in which we can systematically apply mental skills in a variety of domains (school, music, sports, business) to enhance our performance and embrace feeling “comfortable in the uncomfortable.” Throughout the course students will pick a performance activity of their choice and apply the appropriate mental skills and strategies learned in class (and informed by relevant theory) to improve their performance in the chosen activity. Sample performance activities include but are certainly not limited to: an upcoming music performance, a public speaking endeavor, an aspect of sport performance, mock interviewing for a job or internship, general assertiveness training, test taking strategies, etc.

This course is taught by Professor Jessica Ford.

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FYS 1263: Philosophy and Pop Culture FYS

Socrates is well known for the assertion that an "unexamined life is not worth living for a human being." Keeping this in mind, we will critically examine the ways in which philosophical ideas have been taken up and explored in popular (or mass) culture. We will give particular attention to the ways that philosophical topics like the good life, justice, punishment, morality, truth, and knowledge are considered in music, television, novels, movies, and social media. Additionally, we will explore questions such as “what is pop culture?”; “what purpose does pop culture serve?”; and “what impact does pop culture have on our contemporary society?”

This course is taught by Professor Shaeeda Mensah.

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FYS 1258: Are You Ready for Some Football? FYS

Football is America’s most popular sport. It’s a cultural phenomenon that brings together family, friends, and communities, while providing a source of “friendly” competition between towns, cities and states. At the professional level, the NFL is a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s essential to national media, local journalism, and many other areas of the economy. But for all its popularity, football remains a source of persistent social and political controversy. In this course, students explore the virtues and vices of America’s game, including a central focus on the problem of player safety and head trauma. Students will also explore issues surrounding youth football safety, player activism, racial justice, gender equity, LGBTQ rights, domestic violence, public funding of stadiums, players unions, ownership power, sports betting, pay for college athletes, sports journalism, the role of analytics, and more. This course focuses primarily on the NFL; students will be asked to stay up to date on the current football season and to participate in a class fantasy football league. Students will not be asked to play football or attend games in person.

This course is taught by Professor Matthew Mongiello.

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FYS 1265: Soccer, Fandom, and Global Contexts FYS

Soccer is, without doubt, the single most popular sport in the world. In fact, in many countries it has become the national pastime. This seminar will offer students the opportunity to explore this sport as a window that allows them to think critically about the social, cultural, political, and economic issues in contemporary societies. We will discuss the reasons why soccer captured the imagination of millions of people around the world; the relationship between the dissemination of soccer and patterns of cultural, political, and economic change; the connections between soccer and the shaping of national identities in a global context; the racial, class, and gender dynamics behind soccer as a practice and a spectacle; the appearance of violent soccer fans and their connections with contemporary economic and social trends such as the spread of neo-liberalism and the forces of globalization; and the use of soccer as a marker of identity among young people.

This course is taught by Professor Magdalena Olivares.

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FYS 1266: Thinking Straight in a Distorted World: Lessons from Psychology FYS

This course will focus on helping students become more thoughtful consumers of information. Topics will include how to avoid bias, critically evaluate evidence, and distinguish between good scientific practices and pseudoscience. Special emphasis will be placed on how findings from experimental psychology can be applied to help us better understand ourselves and the world around us.

This course is taught by Professor Maggie McDevitt.

FYS 1269: Finding your Strong: Running for Your Life FYS

Did you know that regular running strengthens your immune system, improves your mood, and boosts your confidence? It’s true! Running is a sport that doesn’t require fancy equipment or a gym membership; the only things you need are a good pair of running shoes and the open road. Join our class to learn about the physical and mental benefits of this powerful cardio exercise. Through a variety of books, articles, essays, scientific studies, movies, and guest speakers, students will be inspired to run for their lives. (The average runner lives three years longer than the non-runner!). This is an active class where students will be running, jogging, and walking—all in preparation for a local 5K.

This course is taught by Professor Lisa Lebo.

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FYS 1268: Collaging History: Subverting Narratives FYS, Creative Expression

Like to experiment with different artistic media? Look no further! This is a hands-on course that looks at how history is often conveyed in text and image, and how various methods of collage can be used to create a layered narrative. From creating your own digital images using cellphone photography and found material collage, students will utilize historical and cultural images to understand the importance of subversive narratives in collage.

This course is taught by Professor Aimi Chinen.

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FYS 1267: Psychology of Violence and Non-Violence FYS

This seminar will address questions about violence and nonviolence that are “close to the heart” but that often remain without satisfactory answers because our thinking about these topics is laden with fear and misconceptions. Sound knowledge about how violence works is hard to come by; good research has been done, but has not been clearly communicated. Likewise, awareness of how nonviolence works is scarce, although there is a good correspondence between the successes of nonviolence and what is known from research on violence reduction. This course will put good information about violence and nonviolence in front of students, with the aim of fixing some of these gaps and misunderstandings.

This course is taught by Professor Charles Collyer.

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FYS 1270: Beyond Social Media: Discovering Your Pathway and Success FYS

It's all too common for everyone to compare themselves to the "highlight reel" on TikTok or Instagram when it's all around us, but what isn't visible are the forks in the road, failures on the side, and the bad/ugly. Success cannot be achieved without failure, and we've always been told/believed that failure is bad. This seminar will introduce learners to identifying and defining their success through skills and outcomes, and strengthening their focus on the learning journey instead of the results. Learners will participate in class discussions around foundational topics on how we learn, motivation, selfawareness, and applying these concepts to their own specific needs and goals in developing important soft-skills for college and beyond. Learners will explore strategies for personal growth through reflection and examine the importance of measuring success through failure. Learners will develop a growth mindset by celebrating acquired skills beyond measurements such as scores, letter grades, and social media comparisons.

This course is taught by Professor Laura Wyatt.

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FYS: 1264: Sex, Drugs, and U.S. Religion FYS, Multicultural, SocialCulturalHistorical Understanding

Religious leaders expect nothing but sober living and chaste sexuality, right? The history of American religion suggests otherwise. Focusing largely on marginalized religious groups whose "alternative" views on sexuality and drug use push them outside mainstream society, this class explores the complex history of drug use, sexuality, and religion throughout American history. In the process, we also explore the evolving legal and cultural climates that either condemn or support religious drug use and religious views on sexuality. As a result of this analysis, we learn that religious Americans cannot agree on the topics of sex and drugs but that debates about sex and drugs are perennial aspects of American religious history. This class begins in colonial America and ends in contemporary America, where national and local politics are forcing dominant religious groups to reconsider their positions on sexuality and drug use.

This course is taught by Professor Brad Stoddard.

Finished reviewing them all?

Good job! Now it’s time to pick your favorites.

  • Grab some paper and a pen.
  • Write down your top First Year Seminar of Interest.
  • Make a list of your five First Year Seminar alternatives. (These are five additional seminars that sparked your interest and you’d love to take.)
  • Now you’re ready to complete your First Year Seminar Rating Form at: mcdaniel.edu/newstudent/FYSrating