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Carefully read through all 16 course titles and descriptions. At the bottom of the page, indicate your first, second, third and fourth topic choices, as well as ONE topic section in which you DO NOT wish to be placed. 

Expertise: Talent, Hard Work, or Luck?
Seminar led by Professor Mark Britner

Have you ever wondered if you could become the next Lebron James? Mark Zuckerberg? Jay-Z? How did these people reach the top of their field? Was it natural talent? Something they were born with? Working harder or practicing longer than anyone else? Or just plain luck – being in the right place at the right time? In this course, you will examine current research and best practices on achieving expertise. You will self-assess your own strengths, weaknesses and motivational style and connect how that impacts attaining expertise. By applying the concepts of deliberate practice and developing a growth mindset, the goal of the course is to help put you on the path to achieving expertise in whatever area of interest you may have. The First-Year Seminar is a reading-intensive course that invites students to explore provocative topics, ask meaningful questions, and engage in academic discourse. This course helps lay the foundation of the undergraduate research experience by asking students to evaluate and effectively use.

From Swift to South Park: Satire & Comedy as Cultural Commentary
Seminar led by Professor Katie Burpo

Comedy makes us laugh, but it also uses satire and parody to expose some of our most pressing social issues. We all know that a skit by Key & Peele or an episode of Parks & Rec is hilarious, but this class will require you to stop and ask yourself – why am I laughing? Through analysis of how comedy addresses complex issues like race, politics, and gender, we will discover the importance of cultural commentary while educating ourselves about social problems, both past and present. The work of the class will include watching and discussing stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, and TV episodes. Additionally, we will read satirical essays and articles by a variety of authors to further enrich our discussions. Members of this class should be prepared to think critically, discuss thoughtfully, and, of course, laugh hysterically.
Life Examined: In Pursuit of Your Best Self
Seminar led by Dr. Jason Jimerson

“The unexamined life is not worth living” said Socrates, which implies “an examined life is worth living.” But, how do people examine their life to create a life worth living? In this seminar, we will seek answers by reading a variety of texts that ask, “What constitutes a good life?” We will contemplate answers from philosophers, social scientists, motivational speakers, and others. We will also ask esteemed elders about their lives and ask them how they answered these questions. We will examine our own lives by keeping diaries and assessing key experiences. In the end, each student will present seven “life lessons” derived from his or her investigations. Students will post their answer the question – “How will he or she examine his or her life and, thereby, create a life worth living?”

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go”: The Art of Travel
Seminar led by Professor Sherri Hall

Augustine of Hippo once wrote: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” What’s your favorite vacation memory? Chances are it took place someplace other than home. Where do you want to go? What motivates someone to want to visit someplace else? Why do we connect “vacation” with going somewhere? How do we travel responsibly? Can we? Should we? In this course, we will explore the issues and complexities facing travelers, the travel industry and travel destinations. We will learn about the elements that have characterized travel in the past and that will impact the future.
Sitcoms: A Binge-Watcher’s Guide
Seminar led by Professor Robin Roberts

So, you’ve just watched that one episode of The Office (or Friends or Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Will & Grace or Frasier) for the fifth time. You know all the lines and all the jokes, yet you still enjoy it and laugh just as much as you did the first time you saw it. Ever wonder how it started? When were sitcoms created—and why—and how have they changed over the years? In this course we examine the history and evolution of one of TV’s most popular and enduring genres as well as the different types of sitcoms—family, workplace, and gang. We’ll read articles, essays, and reviews as well as biographical sketches of some of sitcoms great innovators. And we’ll also watch a few episodes. “Pivot!” “That’s what she said.”

An Introduction to Yoga: Principles, Perspective, and Practice
Seminar led by Dr. Meredith Clark-Wiltz

While we will endeavor to apply our learning through practice, we will explore yoga off the mat. In this class, we will examine the history and central principles of yogic traditions, as well as engaging with diverse perspectives and contemporary issues related to the practice. What are the central, historic texts, various interpretations of them, and how they have changed over time? What are some of the different lineages of the practice? What are the implications of mindfulness, breath work, and other yoga practices for its students? How might we consider themes of accessibility, inclusivity, and cultural appropriation with regard to contemporary approaches to this practice? Relying on a diverse, interdisciplinary slate of academic, popular, and historic texts, we will deepen our understanding of yoga beyond the poses. No prior knowledge, experience, or ability expected! 

Why College?
Seminar led by Dr. Richard Erable

"What are you doing in college?" can be understood (depending on how it is asked) as asking why you are in college, or as asking what you are literally doing in college. Understood either way, it is an essential question you, a new college student, need to ask yourself. This FYS topic section will be, therefore, a course in self-discovery. The differing points of view we will read and discuss should help you develop a confident answer to why you are here.
The Psychology of Harry Potter
Seminar led by Dr. Jamie Bromley

Welcome to the magical world of Harry Potter and psychology! We will explore psychological themes and concepts in this world, which will lead you to a more in-depth understanding of the world-wide and ongoing popularity of this book and film series. The story of Harry Potter is an epic tale of an orphan boy who discovers his powers within and sets off on a quest of defeating evil. We will explore psychological concepts within the fields of developmental psychology, social psychology, personality, diversity, and psychopathology and apply those to the characters and themes in Harry Potter. Here are some examples of questions we will consider: How is Harry able to develop such strong friendships with Ron and Hermione after the abuse he received from the Dursleys? Why is Voldermort’s narcissism so dangerous? Why is it so easy for some Pure-bloods to hate and vilify Muggles? Psychology can answer these questions and more! You will learn how to read critically and develop information literacy skills through a variety of sources, including some of the original books and movies as well as articles, essays, and blogs about Harry Potter to help you be successful throughout your college career. The most important question, of course, is in which house at Hogwarts will the Sorting Hat place you and why?

What’s for Dinner?: Farm to the Table and Everything in Between
Seminar led by Professor Dan Alsop

Let’s be honest, most of us have little idea about the process it entails for food to reach our table. Still, that hasn’t stopped us from blissfully gobbling down the Big Mac with a large Coke, right? It’s time that we investigate, examine, and, yes, digest all tenets of the U.S. culture of food to become more informed food consumers and critics. We will do this by looking at the system of agricultural production, food processing, governing politics and economics, environmental and animal ethics, and the safety and health of its consumers. Expect to engage with readings (both fiction and non-fiction) and view documentaries that bring the issues to light. Furthermore, we will participate in the following activities: local farm tours, visits to farmers' markets, as well as a healthy cooking workshop. In the end, we should have enough understanding of the food system to say “Bon Appetit” and mean it.

Wasted: A Trek through Trash and Treasure
Seminar led by Dr. Michelle Marasco

From Mount Trashmore to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is clear that we are a trashy bunch of people. The EPA estimates that each of us generates over 5 pounds of garbage a day that contributes to the pollution our land, air, and water. In this course, we will explore the meaning and causes of wastefulness. In addition, we will investigate the environmental and societal costs of poor stewardship of our resources.  Through our analysis of diverse types of media and field trips to waste processing facilities, we will unearth the complexities of waste in our society.  Our journey will culminate with proposed solutions to combat the culture of waste and solve the problems and inequities that it creates.
In Vogue: The World According to Fashion
Seminar led by Dr. Nicole Dular

Fashion is extremely powerful. According to Edith Head, “You can have anything you want, if you dress for it.” It can also feed you better than food, as Carrie Bradshaw famously testified when she said “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more.” And, according to Rihanna, it can even defeat your enemies: “She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit.” In this course, we will explore the various powers and constructs of fashion, from the personal to the political to the aesthetic, from the closets of mainstream America, to the streets of Japan, to the couture shows in Paris. In doing so, we will consider fashion’s role in historical social-political movements like the Civil Rights Movement, fashion’s role in self-expression and social communication, fashion’s role in contemporary ethical dilemmas like environmental issues and workers’ rights, and fashion as an aspect of race and gender. We will analyze some of the most abstract questions about fashion (Is it art? What makes something fashionable?), and some of the most concrete case studies of fashion movements and designers (punk, the rise of streetwear, drag, Alexander McQueen) along the way.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity
Seminar led by Dr. Kerry Smith

In this course, we will take a deep dive into how our personal data is retrieved, stored, and used by businesses both large and small. Through social media, smart phone apps, and online accounts, we are giving companies very sensitive personal data about ourselves, our family, and our friends. When a major company suffers a data breach, what happens to our personal data and how should we respond? What impacts do the data breaches have on the companies and on the customers who entrust these companies with their personal data? In this course, we will examine the most prevalent types of data breaches, the methods that are used, and the damage that they can do. Finally, we will discuss and explore several practical cybersecurity techniques that we can use in our daily lives to help protect our data from malicious attacks.

Fascinated by the French: Explore the Mystery
Seminar led by Dr. Kristin Wasielewski

Many Americans are fascinated by French culture: its fashion, cuisine, films, art, etc. This course will address the question, "what does it mean to be French?" We will read about many different aspects of French culture and explore a wide variety of topics ranging from French attitudes about history, politics, art, religion, and education to French perspectives on family, conversation, friendship, romance, and cuisine. (We will also take time to experience and enjoy French cinema and cuisine - two hallmarks of French culture). The course will compare and contract French and American culture, while keeping in mind the limits of stereotypes and the importance of breaking them down to get to any possible kernels of truth upon which they are based. In other words, exploring what it means to be French will encourage students to critically consider what it means to be American.
How Did We Get Here? The Surprising Science Behind The Formation of Our World and Society
Seminar led by Dr. Justin P’Pool

What is the real life story behind the development of forensic science? What tragedies necessitated the formation of the Food and Drug Administration? What unique social challenges did Marie Curie face while pioneering radioactivity? In this course we will consider questions such as these as we follow the footsteps of some the great scientists and engineers that were responsible for putting history on the course it followed. We will focus on several significant scientific and technological breakthroughs and the interesting stories behind them. By reading texts, watching documentaries (YouTube, Connections, etc.), and completing class activities, we will discover that scientists are motivated by the challenges faced by their generation, and make ground-breaking discoveries based on outcomes from the past generations.

Arts and Ideas of Nazi Germany
Seminar led by Dr. Casey Hayes

Proposed Course Description: Germany’s Weimar Republic, that fourteen years between the end of WWI and the ascent of the National Socialists, saw an unprecedented flourishing of the arts, affecting music, theater and visual art across the European continent. Subsequently, from 1933 to 1945, the Reich Chamber of Culture exercised a profound influence over hundreds of thousands of German artists and entertainers. This course focuses on the fields of music, theater, and the visual arts and their roles within the Nazi cultural administration, examining a complex pattern of interaction among leading Nazi figures, German cultural functionaries, ordinary artists, and consumers of culture as well as Nazi efforts to purge the arts of Jews and other so-called undesirables. Political policies put into place within the newly occupied lands will be examined as they affected the arts and ideas of the respective cultures.

Faith and Reason
Seminar led by Dr. Justin Gash

In the age of big data and the rapid development of the natural and social sciences, believers in God must synthesize messages from both scientific and faith-based perspectives.  Our culture analyzes the question of God’s existence using lab results and religious texts, but there are other ways to tackle the important question of God’s existence.  In this course you will learn what modern philosophy has to say about the existence of God: It is reasonable to believe in God.  We will begin the course by understanding what sound logical arguments look like.  You will explore the question of God through texts written by essayists and philosophers, and finally, you will listen to debates between theist and atheist scholars on the existence of God.  Whether you’re a believer in God or not, you will leave the course with a rationale for belief in God and an understanding of that rationale’s limits.