First Year Seminar (FYS) Courses

Here is a sample of FYS courses that have been taught in the past.  New courses are created every year, so be sure to complete your FYS Selection Form to see this year's offerings.

A HandBasics of a Visual Language

Course Code: FYS-1142-01
Faculty: Cecily Whitworth
Description: This course is an introduction into the grammar and structure of American Sign Language (ASL) and the premise that sign came before speech in the development of language. Historical and cultural significance of a signed language to the Deaf community around the world, will be emphasized along with a student's ability to communicate using signs, pictures, or icons instead of the spoken word. Material covered will be a resource for those interested in ASL/Deaf Studies, linguistics, semiotics, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and/or sociology. The course includes a language laboratory, which is an integral component of the course; and, a cultural experience involving the Deaf community. This course is taught in ASL except for the Flex Days when presentations are made in spoken English.

Montage of artMusic and Words As a Quest

Course Code: FYS-1148-01
Faculty: Margaret Boudreaux
Description: This course explores the meaning of a variety of works chosen from drama, literature, poetry, and music. This course emphasizes skills of analysis and appreciation to allow students to understand each of these works as reflecting the world view of its time and also to appreciate it as a universal expression of humanitys search for meaning.

Ancient BuildingFrom Chaos to Compromise

Course Code: FYS-1108-01
Faculty: Gretchen McKay
Description: Are you prepared to take on a role from history? Have you ever wanted to go back in time and influence the past? In this course, students will determine the outcomes of decisive moments in history by taking on a historical role during a specific era. Students run the class in the form of debates, based on their reading of important primary texts. Students will offer arguments in order to persuade their classmates on such topics as: Should Socrates die? Should Athenian citizens restore their democracy or be ruled by tyranny? Are the Crusades just and necessary? Should India rule itself independently? If you are persuasive in your arguments, you will meet your objectives and be victorious!

Series of drawingsMark to Message: Drawing Now

Course Code: FYS-1196-01
Faculty: Steven Pearson
Description: 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. Note: This course can be used instead of ART 1101 Perceptual Drawing for the Art major or minor.

Movie posterCollege Life in Cinema

Course Code: FYS-1193-01
Faculty: Jonathan Slade
Description: This FYS course will introduce students to life in a liberal arts setting through a rigorous study of films dealing with college life, and the cinematic tools and assumptions these films utilize in order to tell their stories.

MosquitoMalaria: Human Scourge

Course Code: FYS-1173-01
Faculty: Ralene Mitschler
Description: What is malaria and what causes it? How serious a disease is it? How much impact has the parasitic disease had on the human species? These questions and others will be tackled by first year students within the first year seminar course format of critical thinking and reading, writing and oral presentation. Students will learn to discuss serious human disease from multiple perspectives while adapting to their first college seminar course.

reptile in a treeBiodiversity

Course Code: FYS-1165-01
Faculty: Randy Morrison
Description: A study of global biodiversity losses caused by human activity. We will study biodiversity "hot spots" where biodiversity levels and biodiversity losses are also high and the root social causes that are involved in these losses. There will be an emphasis on solutions such as sustainable development that have been proposed for conserving the Earth's remaining biodiversity.

Medical staffMedical Careers 101

Course Code: FYS-1191-01
Faculty: Melanie Nilsson
Description: This course is designed for students who enjoy science and are interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of medical careers through homework assignments, class presentations, guest speakers, and volunteer work. The careers explored will span Diagnosing and Treating Professions (e.g. Physician, Optometrist, etc), Medical Research, Technicians, Rehabilitation Specialists, Geriatric Care, and more. Furthermore, through the analysis of medically-related case studies, students will gain scientific knowledge and skills that are necessary to be successful in medical careers.

Laser LightTechnology in Education

Course Code: FYS-1114-01
Faculty: Margaret Trader
Description: From computers to iPods, technology has changed the face of education. This course explores the role of technology in elementary, secondary, and higher education classrooms. Students will share personal observations, review data on technology use, availability, and impact in schools, and will demonstrate various technological applications in the learning environment. This course allows students to explore a career in education.

Human SkullHorror in Fiction and Film

Course Code: FYS-1159-01
Faculty: Robert Kachur
Description: In this course students will examine horror in fiction and film, investigating together why it fascinates so many of us, and analyzing what kind of messages it conveys about the world we live in. In addition to reading and viewing these works for enjoyment, we will analyze them, attempting to understand how they reflect the authors' anxieties about a whole range of concerns: sexuality, the unconscious mind, scientific discoveries, unjust laws, and others.

Ancient BuildingFrom Chaos to Compromise

Course Code: FYS-1108-02
Faculty: William Spence
Description: Are you prepared to take on a role from history? Have you ever wanted to go back in time and influence the past? In this course, students will determine the outcomes of decisive moments in history by taking on a historical role during a specific era. Students run the class in the form of debates, based on their reading of important primary texts. Students will offer arguments in order to persuade their classmates on such topics as: Should Socrates die? Should Athenian citizens restore their democracy or be ruled by tyranny? Are the Crusades just and necessary? Should India rule itself independently? If you are persuasive in your arguments, you will meet your objectives and be victorious!

NewsroomJournalism in the 21st Century

Course Code: FYS-1160-01
Faculty: Lisa Breslin
Description: Interested in what makes the news media tick? In this class you'll get an up front and personal look at more than a dozen journalists who visit the classroom and field your questions and comments. Last year's lineup included news reporters, editors, sports columnists, bureau chiefs, and photographers from the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post & Carroll County Times, among others. Plus, from TV news, the news director for a Baltimore station, a prize-winning investigative reporter, and an anchor for a Fox News station. And that's not all. You'll also read a collection of unforgettable newspaper articles by a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times. By the end of the semester, you'll know why this course is called the "real" story of journalism.

Lego MiniFigsGender, Literature, Culture

Course Code: FYS-1149-01
Faculty: Rebecca Carpenter
Description: 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?

BaseballsAmerica's Game Baseball

Course Code: FYS-1150-01
Faculty: David Seibert
Description: This course will investigate the colorful history of baseball: the origins and evolution of the game, the professionalism that grew out of it, and the big business that was built upon it.

Earth, seen from spaceSustainable Living

Course Code: FYS-1184-01
Faculty: Scott Hardy
Description: This course will introduce students to the implications of and approaches to sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Through discussion, lecture, readings, and field trips, students will address the questions of what resources need to be shared, ethics and methods of equitable distribution, and the scientific and social accounting of those resources. Students will also explore emerging fields of endeavor that tend toward sustainability, including smart growth, environmental and natural building, green business, ecotourism, wildlife conservation, and international agreements.

Bridge in ChinaContemporary China

Course Code: FYS-1179-01
Faculty: Qin Fang
Description: This course will investigate the rapid changes of modern China through the city of Wuhu (a three-hour drive from Shanghai) in China from the seventeenth century to the present. We will examine the stories and myths of three local products, Tiehua (iron pictures, a folk art form hammered out of wrought iron resembling Chinese brush painting), fried melon seeds (a local product for the national market), and Chery cars (the least expensive car in China), to understand rapid changes of China as well as its society and culture. We will locate primary sources, analyze materials, and formulate historical questions through the use of the library, essay, in-class discussion, video making, and field trips. After thousands of years of unhurried evolution, China has undergone huge transformation, creating opportunity for millions within mere decades. Yet being one of the fastest-growing economies, will China become a threat to the rest of the world? Students will gain a deep understanding of modern China in the world and prospects for the future as well as the ways in which a historian explores the world in which we live.

buildings in russiaRussia Yesterday and Today

Course Code: FYS-1136-01
Faculty: Jakub Zejmis
Description: This course will investigate the dramatic and controversial history of Russia from earliest times to the present. Students will consider basic questions about Russian history, society, culture, and politics. Aside from reading historical documents, students will read novels, listen to music, and watch films. They will gain a deeper understanding of Russia146s place in the world and prospects for the future.

drawingScientific Revolutions

Course Code: FYS-1147-01
Faculty: Spencer Hamblen
Description: Until the eighteenth century, most Western scientists believed that any item that could be burned must contain phlogiston, a colorless, odorless, and massless substance that was consumed by fire. Today, this theory is nearly forgotten. How was this theory disproved? Who decided to challenge the existence of phlogiston, and how did they do so? How was the rejection of this popular idea received? This course will explore how new scientific ideas are introduced, and how they come to be accepted (the Germ Theory of Disease, the Theory of Relativity, Calculus, and Plate Tectonics) or rejected (Spontaneous Generation, Alchemy, and Cold Fusion).

GraphicClose Encounters - Merging Worlds

Course Code: FYS-1129-01
Faculty: Vera Jakoby
Description: How do we encounter humans, animals and nature in this world? How are these encounters influenced by our concepts of god/gods, ultimate truth, evil, last judgment, etc? These are some of the questions that will set the parameters for an examination of philosophical ideas from a wide variety of cultures and traditions including Native American, Greek, Roman, Christian, Islam, etc. Philosophers throughout the ages analyzed the interconnections between the way we view the world and concepts of a world beyond. Their analysis can help us understand how our belief systems shape our perception of ourselves, others and the world.

A World of Light and Color

Course Code: FYS-1115-01
Faculty: Vasilis Pagonis
Description: Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue or the sunset red? Or why water is clear but snow is white? Or how we know so much about distant stars without actually visiting them? If so, this is the perfect course for you! This course embraces a hands-on guided discovery method of instruction and not traditional lectures. This means you will be performing many simple experiments that involve lenses, mirrors, light boxes, filters, and lasers in class as you explore a world of light and color. Instead of learning about science, you will have the opportunity to be a scientist!

courtroomPsychology and the Law

Course Code: FYS-1157-01
Faculty: Wendy Morris
Description: Why do people confess to crimes they did not commit? Why is eye witness testimony sometimes inaccurate? Are there valid techniques for detecting lies? What factors influence jury decisions beyond the mere evidence of a case? This course will use psychological theories and experiments to answer these and other questions relevant to human behavior and erroneous decision making within the legal context.

PosterDrugs and the Mind

Course Code: FYS-1151-01
Faculty: Paul Mazeroff
Description: The earliest historical and literary evidence reveals that drug use has been an integral part of human experience for thousands of years. This course will explore a wide array of dimensions associated with psychotropic drugs. It will draw on a variety of disciplines, such as history, the law, biochemistry, art and music, sociology and, of course, psychology. Students will learn how drugs work, and examine a variety of psychotropics to include legal and illegal drugs, as well as medications used to treat psychiatric disorders. Guest speakers in areas such as law enforcement, victim impact and treatment provide a broader perspective to the class. Student projects focus on topical issues in substance abuse policy and treatment, and well as cultural aspects of drugs to include their role in music, film, and literature.

LeavesReligion and the Earth

Course Code: FYS-1186-01
Faculty: Jill Krebs
Description: In what ways might contemporary understandings of "nature" be informed by world religious traditions? How do religious groups understand the environment and their relation to it, and how do these ideas translate into action or inaction? What resources might world religions, indigenous traditions, and ecospirituality movements offer for environmental ethics? This course investigates some intersections of religion and ecology, taking a global and historical approach to examining religious and cultural impacts on environmental attitudes. Using a comparative perspective and pulling from theological, philosophical, and sociological writings, it also considers the contributions of eco-justice, ecofeminist, deep ecology, and environmental anti-racism movements.

The Greatest Novel Ever Written

Course Code: FYS-1198-01
Faculty: Thomas Deveny
Come ride with a knight and his squire (or perhaps with a madman and his farmer friend) through the fields of seventeenth-century Spain, tilting at windmills and saving damsels in distress. Reading Cervantes's novel, Don Quixote—the most influential literary work ever written—may change your life.

posters of reality showsReality TV: What's Behind It

Course Code: FYS-1162-01
Faculty: Michelle Young
Description: This course will examine the growing phenomena of the last decade that is known as "Reality TV." Students will explore the underlying themes present in these kinds of programs that are rooted in group dynamics, organizational behavior and sociocultural norms. Students will examine these themes through various theoretical frameworks including Cultivation Theory, Gender Theory and Social Learning Theory. The impact of this genre on psychological and social development of individuals and families will also be explored. As this is a First-year seminar course, students will be challenged in the areas of critical thinking, effective writing, analytic reading, and oral communication. In addition, this course will serve as an introduction to various literacy and learning skills on campus including accessing and retrieving information from the library and utilizing on-campus activities to increase one's understanding of areas taught during lecture.

Stage masksActing on Stage and Off

Course Code: FYS-1113-01
Faculty: Elizabeth van den Berg
Description: 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.

Actors on stageGroup Process in Interactive Theater

Course Code: FYS-1119-01
Faculty: Gene' Fouche
Description: This course is an investigation into group dynamics within the theatrical process. We will learn and use techniques drawn from dramatic play, sociodrama, transformations play and mythodrama. Students will have the opportunity to work independently, in small groups and in the large group to create and present original work. The first-year edition of the course emphasizes issues concerned with cultural change and personal identity. The transition from high school to college often presents the opportunity and sometimes the necessity to create new roles more appropriate to an adult identity. We will use dramatic processes to explore this dynamic, working playfully, sensitively and thoughtfully.

Bust of SocratesWhy Was Socrates Tried

Course Code: FYS-1197-01
Faculty: Thomas Falkner.

This course will try to solve one of the great riddles of ancient history. Socrates was the first great philosopher, a wise man who engaged his fellow citizens in conversations about truth, justice and politics. Athens was the epitome of all that we admire about classical Greece—an open society that valued democracy, individual freedom, and reason. Yet in 399 BCE Socrates was tried, convicted and put to death by a jury of his peers. Why? We will examine Socrates against the culture of classical Athens—its poetry, politics, and religion—in hope of an explanation. Our materials will include the dialogues of Plato; the rhetoric of the sophists and orators; historical and political texts; Athenian tragedy and comedy. We will try to understand what really happened and why the sources are so inconsistent. We will look at modern attempts to explain the trial of Socrates. The course will culminate in a ‘retrial’ of Socrates before a jury of students and faculty.

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