First Year Seminar Topics

Art for Everyone! Discovering the Artist Within (FA 101G)
Instructor: Jo Buffalo
Sometimes, all you need is a change of pace to get through a tough week. Why not use an art course to express yourself creatively? The perfect introductory course for students without prior artistic experience, Art for Everyone enables students to create self-designed works of individual expression. We will adventure with the great traditional media: drawing, painting, and sculpture. As we approach the end of the semester we will work with ceramic and glass, creating art that could double as wonderful gifts. This first year seminar encourages experimentation and self-discovery in a supportive and delightful environment. Discover the artist within!

Brain Games and Beyond (SB 101G)
Instructor: Michael Holdren
During this course we will delve into the biopsychology of topics depicted on popular programs such as Brain Games. Topics discussed will include neuroanatomy, sensation and perception, emotions, attention, memory, and social psychology. Prepare to be entertained, amazed, awed, and intrigued while learning neuroscience!

The Modern Olympics (SB 101K)
Instructor: Julia Sloan
In 2014 LGBT rights activists dumped vodka into the streets of NYC to protest discriminatory laws in Russia prior to the start of the Sochi Olympics.  In 2012 residents of London's East End protested the evictions and demolitions that took place in their neighborhoods to make way for Olympic construction.  Brazil, as it prepares to host in 2016, has experienced massive anti-government demonstrations; at issue the amount of money being spent on athletic facilities.  For all the good that can come from the Olympics, so too can come an equal amount of controversy.  Olympic Games have fostered international cooperation and strengthened bonds between peoples and nations.  They have also, however, been the sites of spectacle, protest, terrorism, state-sponsored violence, and institutionalized racism; not to mention cheating, doping, and scandal.  This course will examine the Olympics as snapshots of modern life taken every four years.  We will explore the social, cultural, political, and economic factors at work for the host cities/countries as well as the international circumstances that determine participation, perception, and the medal count. We will frame the Olympics as a world stage and we will watch the unfolding drama in Brazil as its 2016 deadline approaches.

Cover to Cover: Handcrafted Books (SA 101I)
Instructor: Anita Welych
Perhaps you have thought of writing or illustrating a book. But have you ever thought about making a book? In this hands-on course, we will explore the world of handcrafted books – a world that toes the line between art and craft. Together we’ll explore all facets of book-making, including: creating the very paper you’ll use; ways to create sequence and narrative; the use of traditional and novel materials; the integration of text and image; a variety of book-binding techniques; and an exploration of formats and subject matter. By the end of this course, you will be able to create books that can serve as journals, scrapbooks and gifts, as well as fine art and social expression.

Freedom for the Thought We Hate (HG 101C)
Instructor: John Robert Greene
This seminar will be reading and briefing Supreme Court opinions on the First Amendment, debating those decisions, and discussing both their historical development and present day relevance. We will discuss the limits and expectations of First Amendment rights in our political society. The history of the “Four Freedoms” will be discussed, as will 21st Century applications of these debates. Start working on your Pre-Law Minor!

Food For Thought (BU 101E)
Instructor: Leonilde Beals
This course explores the Farm to Table movement. Farm to Table and the Local Food Movement is interrelated socially, culturally and economically to create and sustain a productive and healthy food supply for communities and the environment. This grass-roots movement includes the study of current knowledge of organic and sustainable agriculture with a weekly experience preparing and eating food from local farms and green markets. A comparison of various environmental, economic and health perspectives, in support of this movement, will be researched through on-line data bases and interviews. Content topics will be directly related to weekly food preparation assignments. Weekly written visual and media assignments will support course topics and focus on the Farm to Table movement.

The Good Life (HU 101H)
Instructor: Michael Sanders
For many, college is a time of transformation and development, a transition from a life largely planned and decided for you to one that you shape and develop for yourself. But given the great variety of kinds of lives we can choose lead, how does one make such a choice? Is there any real difference between choosing one set of goals or ambitions and another, something that makes one kind of life particularly worth living and another not? Is there anything that can be singled out – love, friendship, money, fame, or power, for instance – that can be said to make a life "good," and – if so – in what does such a "good life" consist? Throughout history, whether philosophically, religiously, or artistically, individuals have offered a wide variety of responses to this question, and in this course we will survey some of the most famous and well-known among them. But we will also approach this topic critically, in terms of contemporary research, and ask whether now, in the age of globalization, selfies, and what some critics refer to as the "ME" generation, if it even makes sense to speak of the ‘good life’ anymore? Is today's society too fragmented or too individualistic to offer anything like a “common good” that we, diverse as we are, can point to as a vision that we share and that makes life worth living? And, if so, what might that mean for life here and now in the 21st century and the choices that each of you, beginning your college careers, will now make for yourselves? In attempting to answer these questions, students will be exposed to a range of interdisciplinary ideas and research in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts that will help to strengthen critical thinking, reading, and writing abilities and, in so doing, develop skills and insights, both academic and otherwise, necessary for success in college as well as our broader lives as a whole.

Horses, Humans, Politics and Pressure (EQ 101F)
Instructor: Karin Bump
Students examine the social and political forces that impact on our interactions with horses in American society. Escalating concerns surrounding unwanted horses and the varying views on why unwanted horses are unwanted, and what should, and could, be done about this epidemic are of particular focus.

How to Thrive: Positive Psychology at the Movies (SB 101H)
Instructor: Jesse Lott
Psychology is not only the study of human weakness and damage; it is also a study of strengths, optimism, happiness, hope, and resilience. This course aims to help students to understand concepts and skills in positive psychology, character strengths and virtues, emotional intelligence, flourishing, and happiness, and to increase the use of these skills in personal and professional life. The focus is on a science-based action for enhancing thriving. The numerous assignments from watching movies to daily writing are designed to improve students’ ability to apply the skills across life domains.

Kiln-Formed Glass (SA 101L)
Instructor: Kim Waale
One of the most popular subjects in the art glass field is kiln-formed glass. Kiln forming and casting glass involves heating cut and crushed glass in a kiln to turn it into beautiful functional and sculptural shapes (i.e. jewelry, vases, dishes, tiles and sculptures). Students in this course will learn glass cutting and fundamental kiln-forming techniques and explore the creative possibilities of fused and slumped glass. This course focuses on working with glass and translating it into 3-D forms that emphasize experimentation and personal expression. The primary goal is using glass for individual creative expression. As a result, students will become more conscious of their aesthetic decisions and become more effective at communicating visually.

Knitting: Functional Craft/Social Commentary (FA 101F)
Instructor: Karen Steen
This course is an exploration of the craft and social context of hand knitting, including, a study of current writings about this popular pastime and the creation of knitted projects. A variety of insights into the art form and expression of knitting will be explored through readings from the book Knit Lit: Sweaters and Their Stories….and Other Writing about Knitting. Knitting projects will be adapted for students from novices to experienced knitters. A substantial number of written assignments and other forms of class assignments will support the course content focusing on the craft and social context of knitting.

Life In and On the Lake (SM 101G)
Instructor: Thad Yorks
We investigate organisms that live in, on, or around local lakes in relationship to their environment and in the context of lake-watershed stewardship. These organisms include fish, invertebrates, amphibians, waterfowl, plants, and algae. Students also gain hands-on experience evaluating abiotic water quality (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, nutrient concentrations). This course is not recommended for students who are uncomfortable with outdoor exercise, fresh air, water, mud, and/or slimy things. Laboratory activities are all “hands-on” and will be outdoors in, on, or near some water body unless weather makes this impractical. You will frequently get your hands and clothes dirty and smelly, and you will at least occasionally be uncomfortably cold and perhaps even miserable. Your oldest pair of sneakers will be sacrificed. Fulfills the lab science requirement.

Mathematical Mysteries (SM 101M)
Instructor: John Livermore
Archimedes said that if we gave him a large enough lever and a place to stand he could move the world. In fact, he helped develop the real lever, mathematics. This course will be a fun look at the history and development of mathematics from Archimedes and his lever through Cantor and his infinities and beyond. Topics will include the development of counting with the Natural numbers. The addition of zero and other strange numbers, algebra, geometry, modern mathematics and also the men and women who helped us to know what we know!

Marketing You! Career Success through Learning Success (BU 101H)
Instructor: Francine Varisco
This is a highly interactive course that will explore the foundation for career success for any major through the use of proven academic strategies. Each student will develop a personalized brand strategy. An overview of successful learning skills as well as career based strategies will be covered through all forms of communication, critical and analytical thinking, introduction to professional etiquette and use of social media. The course will culminate with a personalized portfolio each student will create.

Sci Fi and the Social Sciences (SB 101J)
Instructor: Jesse Harasta
In this course, students will explore the social sciences through the lens of science fiction. Students will read two sci fi novels, and a number of short stories and few essays. All of these works revolve around how social sciences have been imagined by sci fi writers or how these disciplines have influenced their writings in other ways. We will discuss what the social sciences are, what they can do and can’t do, what they say about the future of humanity and what role they might have in stimulating real-world future research. Novels will include Foundation by Isaac Asimov and one other work. Other authors may include Ursula K. LeGuin, Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson and China Mieville. We will explore sci fi from different periods in its history from a diversity of authors.

"Science Is Fun!" (SM 101F)
Instructor: Venera Jouraeva
Science is a process for discovering how the world works, but one doesn’t need to be a scientist to contribute to a scientific debate or discussion. In this fun-filled course, students will learn about the origin and fate of our solar system, black holes, the formation of chemical elements, radioactivity, the difference between sound and light waves, the nutrients essential for human health, the benefits and dangers of genetically modified food, the frequencies and causes of ice ages, the unique properties of water, plate tectonics and the formation of continents, solutions for sustainable living, and more. Throughout the course students will be exposed to the richness and diversity of physics, astronomy, chemistry, and earth science and will get practical advice on using scientific knowledge in everyday life.

Stages (HU 101F)
Instructor: Roxy Spano
This theater-based course will follow the textbook The Theatre Experience by Edwin Wilson, but our class time will involve playing theater games, making masks, as well as writing and performing our own monologues and scenes. Field trips will include live performances at local venues, specifically a show at Syracuse Stage.

Waassup?: A History of TV Commercials (VC 101B)
Instructor: Laurie Selleck
This course focuses on the development of and the strategies used in TV commercials since 1940. Topics covered will include the use of popular music and jingles such as Coca Cola’s "I'd Like to Buy The World a Coke"; familiar slogans such as Where’s the Beef? and Got Milk?; famous characters such as the Energizer bunny, the AFLAC duck, and Spuds MacKenzie; and the effect the internet and social media has played on the business. Students will study single-sponsor as well as long run campaigns such as Super Bowl greats like the Budweiser’s Clydesdales and Coca Colas’ Polar Bears commercials.