FYS Courses Spring

First-Year Program, St. Lawrence University
FYS Course Descriptions Spring 2014


First-Year Seminars (FYS) strive to continue the communication skills, critical thinking, ethical reflection, and liberal learning goals of the FYP courses but with a specific focus on critical inquiry and research. Each of you will engage in a research project of significant depth over the course of the semester. Our learning goals for that research project include that you:

·    Be introduced to ways of conducting productive and imaginative inquiry and research in order to become a part of the various conversations surrounding issues.
·    Learn to differentiate among the various ways that information is produced and presented, between popular and scholarly journals and books, between mainstream and alternative publications, between primary and secondary sources.
·    Learn how to evaluate and synthesize information, whether gathered from traditional sources, such as books and journals, or from websites or electronic media.
·    Begin to develop the skills of critical analysis in the interpretation and use of information gathered from any source.
·    Be introduced to the ethical obligations that scholars have to both responsibly represent their sources and inform their readers of the sources of their information, as well as learning, and being held responsible for the proper use of, the conventions of scholarly citation and attribution.
·    Present the results of your research through writing, speaking, visual elements, or other multimedia forms in such a way that you demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively using the rhetorical conventions of the chosen form.

For copies of FYS 2014 syllabi, please contact the First-Year Program office after classes begin Monday, January 20, 2014, e-mail fyp@stlawu.edu or call 315-229-5909.

The descriptions are categorized to facilitate the process of selection.  Here are the description categories in order:

  •    Current Social Issues
  •    Global Issues
  •    Popular Culture
  •    Culture and Cultural Practices
  •    Science and Science-Related Issues

(CBL: Community Service Required)

Link to New Student Guide and Forms FYS instructions.

Know Your Rights: Constitutional Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
in Current Social Issues    
Instructor: Diane J. Exoo
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10-11:40 a.m. and Wednesday 7:00-8:30 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.
        
This course examines the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and its role as the interpreter of our fundamental rights.  What provisions of the U.S. Constitution allow us to live as we please, to worship flying spaghetti monsters if we wish, to hold and publicly express political and social opinions, to read and print whatever material we want, to be free from discrimination, to expect equal protection under the law, to have our vote count, and to keep government out of our personal and private lives?  Are these freedoms absolute or can the government regulate in ways that restrict our constitutional freedoms?  How have changing justices and changing times affected our civil liberties and civil rights?

This course is designed to develop critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills through legal analysis of U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Students will be required to apply their research and writing skills by doing a written historical, political, social and legal analysis of a landmark Supreme Court case involving civil liberties/rights.  Critical speaking skills will be honed by a mock appellate oral argument based on a hypothetical designed to explore the tension between civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the need for government to regulate and maintain order.

Performing Diversity
in Current Social Issues
Instructor: Rebecca Daniels
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also counts as PCA 106 and fulfills the DIV13 and ARTS requirements.

Using research, creative writing, and personal experiences, this seminar will explore various issues of multiculturalism and diversity on the St. Lawrence campus and in America today. We will engage a variety of texts to investigate the links between identity and oppression by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, differing abilities, and religion. As part of a significant research project, members of the class will create performance texts (combining video presentations and live performance work) about specific research topic areas. To be a part of this seminar, you do not need prior experience in video production or acting/performance, but you must have a willingness to get involved with exploring both as part of the work of this class.

America’s Suburban Landscape  
in Current Social Issues        
Instructor: Matt McCluskey
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday 10:10 a.m.-1:10 p.m.* and Thursday 10:10-11:40 a.m.
* using extended Tuesday session for GIS labs and other hands-on activities
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

Why has America consistently pursued a pro-suburban development policy and what are the consequences of this societal preference?   Scholars from such diverse fields as economics, environmental studies, demography, sociology, engineering, government, and ethnography regularly wrestle with these critical questions, and they will drive our work throughout the semester. Of particular interest to our class is the impact that suburban bias has had on America’s transportation systems, popular culture, housing supply, economic balance, and environmental health. We will examine its effects upon families and children, aesthetics, local economies and communities, nearby core cities, and issues of race, class, and gender.  The course will trace the history of American suburbs, with a particular focus on the development of laws and policies dedicated to outward growth. Students will observe land-use policies in Canton, present a problem-based group memo on a metropolitan development issue, use GIS to calculate the individual costs and benefits associated with different land-use decisions, and conduct a semester-length, process-based research project on a pressing suburban question.  


Doc Dynasty: Great Documentaries Past and Present
in Current Social Issues
Instructor: Kara McLuckie
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

What film won the first Oscar for Best Documentary? Which documentary author also pioneered film criticism? Do color photographs of the Great Depression exist? Where is the largest collection of American documentary photos and films housed?

The 1930s kicked off a foundational period in American documentary media. Artists from various backgrounds employed their technical skills and creativity to represent the social conditions they witnessed in communities around them. Since that time, presenting documentary work has expanded from books, magazines, dance, drama, radio and films to reality television and YouTube videos. Although documentary work varies in its mode of presentation, its content consistently tells the story of socially or individually contentious issues. Beginning with the Depression era and moving to new media examples, this course will analyze the social, generic and aesthetic facets of specific works as well as debate the relationship between documentary and the ideas of truth and reality. Doc Dynasty will also help deepen your library-based research skills through an investigation of a social or individual conflict raised by the assigned documentaries, and over the duration of the semester you will collaborate in small groups and develop basic productions skills in order to create a short documentary.

Sex, School, and Gender Roles
in Current Social Issues
Instructor: Heidi Pitzer
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as EDUC 203 and fulfills the SS general education requirement.

Do school dress codes condone “slut-shaming”? How do school events like the prom maintain heteronormativity? What role does the “hidden curriculum” play in molding us into “good” (or “bad”) girls and boys? This course considers a range of contemporary issues in American education, investigated through the lenses of gender and sexuality. Using primarily sociological, feminist and critical theories, we will examine school as an institution that both reflects the gender/sex norms of broader society and reproduces these norms. We will pay particular attention to the ways structures of gender and sex intersect with other structures of inequality like race and class. Students will hone critical thinking, writing and communication skills and become familiar with qualitative research methodology. This course also entails a 15-hour field placement in a school setting, which meets the New York State field experience requirement in the Education Department.  


Speaking Like a Citizen
in Current Social Issues
Instructor:  Jessica Prody
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as PCA 111 and fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

U.S. history has been shaped by those brave enough to use rhetoric in speech, writing, and protest to fight against social injustice.  Through the semester students will explore the relationship between rhetoric and citizenship and learn to speak as citizens themselves.  The course is, in part, historical, as we examine how rhetoric has shaped U.S. history and explore how differences in race, class, gender, and sexuality influence(d) how different movements use(d) rhetoric.  Why, for example, did women seeking the vote utilize a particular “feminine style?”  Or how does the mere presence of gay men at Red Cross blood drives challenge modern stereotypes of homosexuality?  This course is also practical, as students will learn and practice the skills of rhetoric and public speaking, including organization, evidence usage, argumentation, audience adaptation, and delivery.  Finally, this course is critical.  Student will learn how to critique the language used by others, looking at effectiveness, social construction, adaptation to situation, and argument logic to determine the strength of particular pieces of rhetoric.  


Framing U.S. History
in Current Social Issues    
Instructor: Mary Jane Smith
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

From Birth of a Nation (1915) to They Died With Their Boots On (1941) to Born on the Fourth of July (1989) to Argo (2012) and beyond, film has helped to shape how Americans think about major events in our past.  This FYS will focus on how film has represented and/or misrepresented pivotal moments and issues in American history.  The course will be organized on a loose chronological basis, beginning with silent film and moving through more contemporary films.  However, the course will not be a history of U.S. film or film criticism but rather a snapshot of important historical moments in U.S. history as represented in U.S. films.  The course will consider various historical moments as represented in film from the Civil War to the near present.  Students’ research projects will consider a film(s) but focus on the historical event represented in the film(s).
 
Canadian Environmentalism
in Global Issues    
Instructor: Neil Forkey
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

Wealth vs. resource exploitation, development vs. sustainability, wilderness and Aboriginal land claims vs. dams and species depletion. Using films, podcasts, and texts, we will explore these issues and many more as we probe the past 75 years of Canadian environmental history. Natural resources were keys to the nation’s wealth; the long-held belief was that their exploitation was necessary to achieve economic success. However, with the 1930s conservation message of Grey Owl (in reality, an Englishman posing as a Métis), protection of the natural world began. Following the Second World War, the baby-boom generation (and subsequently their own children) took bolder steps to defend the environment. They lived in an age of ecology and many wished to balance growth with environmental protection and sustainability. Canadians have sought to live affluently, yet define limits to growth so as to accord the environment more respect. They have dealt with wildlife depletion and overfishing, diminished water and air quality, the opening of new resource frontiers in the North, megaprojects that dammed or diverted rivers, and engaged in a debate over the Alberta oil sands project. In this seminar, we will take up the multifaceted period of Canadian environmentalism. As with other First Year Seminars, we will work at developing your research skills while continuing to develop written and oral communication skills as well.


Issues in Immigration Policy
in Global Issues    
Instructor: Cynthia Bansak
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

This seminar helps students develop the economic tools needed to examine the impact of immigration and immigration policies over the past century. We will begin by surveying the history of immigration policy in the United States and then conduct in-depth analyses of the various economic issues that dominate the current debate over immigration policy.  

Throughout the semester we will focus on three aspects of immigration policy:  border enforcement, amnesty, and employer sanctions.  We will discuss the causes of immigration, the characteristics of the immigrants, the rate of economic assimilation, the extent of economic benefits generated by immigrants, and the impact on native US workers.  The course will include a comparative study of immigration policies in a number of immigrant-receiving countries and will consider the implications of these research findings for designing immigration reform in the US.


Global Perspectives on Contemporary Moral Problems (CBL)
in Global Issues    
Instructor: Jennifer Hansen
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m. (CBL: Community Service Required)
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

This course is intended to introduce you to the study of philosophy by learning how to critically reflect and evaluate global moral problems, such as: human rights, cloning, abortion, environmental sustainability, racism and ethnic discrimination, biotechnologies, hunger, and war. Each of these issues will be examined from a variety of global perspectives and moral theories.  Among the many questions we will examine this semester are: How do we resolve ethical dilemmas in a global context? What are the most important values for leading an ethical life, and what is the role and responsibility of communities in ethical life? How should policy makers and law makers accommodate a variety of cultural ethical values?  The goal of this course is to help you develop your critical thinking, deepen your moral reflection, introduce you to global perspectives on moral positions, and help you defend a position on a global moral problem. To deepen our understanding of the material, each of you will have a CBL placement in the surrounding community.


Confronting Islamist Terror
in Global Issues
Instructor: J.J. Jockel
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10-11:40 a.m. and Wednesday 7:30-8:30 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

This seminar will examine how the United States, its allies, and its friends are confronting Islamist terror. The instructor will himself pick the first two books to be read and then will select a number of other books and readings in consultation with the students.


Hispanic Cultural Studies
in Global Issues    
Instructor: Marina Llorente
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course counts as SPAN 202, fulfills the LANG general education requirement, and qualifies a student to become a candidate for the fall program in Spain.

¡Bienvenidos! Si quieres aprender sobre cine, música, literatura y cultura popular en los países hispanos éste es tu seminario! This is a course taught in Spanish with the aim of acquainting students with contemporary Hispanic cultures through the analysis of literary texts, films, advertisements and other materials drawn from Spain, Hispanic America and the Latino community in the United States. This course includes oral presentations and a research project on a cultural topic. If you’ve taken Spanish 201, or have a strong background in Spanish from high school or a year abroad, and have a comfortable fluency in Spanish, this class is for you.


La France contemporaine
in Global Issues    
Instructor:  Roy Caldwell
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course counts as FR 202, fulfills the LANG general education requirement, and also qualifies a student to become a candidate for the fall program in France.

Mes chers amis, faisons ensemble un FYS en français! This FYS, conducted entirely in French, studies the institutions of contemporary France, and the values upon which these institutions are based.  Units covered in the course include: Paris and urban life; regions and provinces; languages; the European Union; the organization of the French state; political parties and elections; family and sexuality; work and free time; public assistance; religions; immigration; the system of education; and media.  We will read newspapers throughout the course, as well as a short novel, and the textbook; we will listen to the radio and study song texts; we will watch several films and examine the aspects of contemporary France that we find in them.  There will be several oral presentations, and several short research projects.  If you’ve taken French 201, or have a strong background in French from high school or a year abroad, and have a comfortable fluency in French, this class is for you. 


Globalize Your Mind!
in Global Issues
Instructor:  John Collins
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as GS 101 and fulfills the SS general education requirement.

This seminar offers a crash course in understanding globalization: what it is, where it comes from, and how it is driving many of the social changes, political conflicts, and activist movements we see around us today. The course’s basic goal is to help students globalize their perspective and learn to ask critical questions about processes that connect the local and the global.  In addition to studying the historical reasons for the emergence of a global political economy, students will use case studies to examine basic concepts and vocabulary [such as free trade, capital accumulation, international division of labor, neo-liberalism, privatization, structural adjustment and sustainable development] in the political-economic analysis of globalization. The course explores the consequences of changing patterns of transnational economic and governance structures for nation-states, ecosystems and people’s lives, and examines the many repercussions of economic globalization. Students will also research opposition movements that have formed to contest some of these repercussions, such as movements connected with economic justice, human rights, feminism, and environmentalism.  


The Global Pacific: Power and Politics in Oceanic Worlds
in Global Issues
Instructor: Adam Harr
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as ANTH 148 and fulfills the SS general education requirement.

From the islands of Hawai’i to the highlands of New Guinea, this course will survey the diverse ways in which people in Pacific societies have interpreted and responded to forces of modernization and globalization. Students will learn about the ancient migrations that peopled the Pacific; the variety of traditional political and economic systems that emerged across the Pacific; the range of power relations that arose during the colonial era; the varied processes of decolonization and nation building; and the extraordinary challenges climate change and rising sea levels pose for contemporary Pacific island nations. By viewing the Pacific islands as a vast and varied laboratory of modernization and globalization, we will make clear three key points: first, that the Pacific is a region of astounding diversity; second, that parts of the Pacific have been “global” for centuries; and third, that modernization and globalization are always and everywhere subject to local interpretations.  


Buddhism and Taoism through Literature and Film
in Global Issues
Instructor: Zhenjun Zhang
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also counts as Asia/Ltrn/Film 248 and fulfills the HU general education requirement.

This course examines the essence of Buddhism and Taoism through exploring the rich, colorful, and fascinating religious world in Asian literature and film. Topics include Taoist fairytales, dream adventure, traveling in the netherworld, longevity practice, salvation, retribution, chan/zen, magical arts, as well as religious ideas in film and their relationship with modern society.

By taking this course, students will acquire a fundamental knowledge about Buddhism, one of the three major religions in the world, and Taoism, a wide-spread Chinese philosophy and religion; savor wisdom and mysticism in the east, which are included mainly in the Taoist classics, Chan/Zen Buddhism, and literary works; enjoy the best literary works and films in Asia; acquire useful knowledge about scholarly works; and develop skills of critical thinking and scholarly research.


Reporter as Revolutionary: Narratives of Graphic Journalism
in Popular Culture    
Instructor: Sid Sondergard
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

The classic conflict of objectivity versus subjectivity, of simply reporting facts versus shaping them rhetorically, has been the subject of a wide range of recent graphic novels that employ either the perspectives of contemporary investigative journalism applied to real events or the figure of the investigative journalist as the protagonist in fictional narratives.  We’ll examine the aesthetic of the graphic novel as a tool of journalistic writing, consider what elements of graphic storytelling particularly complement the aims of non-fiction subgenres like the biography and the travelogue, research the history and implications of the journalist as agent of change, and discuss the techniques that make this particular kind of visual narration most effective.


Rebels and Outcasts: American Individualism in Film  
in Popular Culture    
Instructor: Kathleen Stein
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday 10:10-11:40 a.m. and Thursday 10:10 a.m.-1:10 p.m.
This course also counts as AAH/FILM 248 and fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

The United States was formed around Enlightenment ideas of freedom and the rights of the individual.  However, from the beginning, “freedom” has had many definitions and has been put to many uses in American political and social discourse; tension between the individual and the community has been central to Americans’ self-image in a way that has not been true of other nations.  From its inception, American film has been fascinated with rebellious loners and social outcasts: characters whose individualism is not only “front-and-center” but often “in your face.”  In this course, we will explore what these figures can tell us about certain aspects of the American self-image, in particular how this self-image relates to our evolving definitions of freedom, and also what these rebels and outcasts can tell us about the state of American society at the specific times when they have appeared.  We will, in short, consider American film as an artistic, emotional medium created in a particular national culture, and also as a barometer of reactions to economic upheaval, social change, gender and racial tensions, and wars (hot and cold). 


This is Your Brain on Facebook: Knowing in the Digital Age
in Popular Culture
Instructor:  Matthew Lavin
Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

Is the Internet making us stupid?  In this course, we will join some of the greatest minds of our time in considering this question. We will look closely at the impact of digital communication and consumption on our thoughts, our worldviews, and the ways we read and interpret texts. Examining a range of topics from the unique qualities of media that originate in a digital form, to what it means to be a digital native, to the ubiquity of mobile devices, we will think critically about how digital technology is affecting how we relate to the world and to what we think we know. Using familiar examples like Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube, we will discuss concepts that have been dominating the headlines, such as big data and data mining. Approximately halfway through the semester, students will begin to develop individual digital research projects. As a group, we will build digital literacy skills aimed at making us better students, scholars, and citizens. Only a general familiarity with computers is necessary to take this course, but students will have the opportunity to learn how more advanced information concepts relate to enduring humanities questions and perspectives.


Exploring the Beat Generation and Beyond: A Study of Counterculture
in Popular Culture
Instructor: Kate Spencer
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

In the 1950s, a counterculture emerged that defied the norms of a conventional and consumerist society.  A precursor to the Hippie movement of the 1960s, the Beats brought attention to issues of sexuality, class, race, and gender in ways considered provocative and unorthodox.  The result was a cultural movement that left a lasting impact on the modern Western world.   We will examine a variety of works including texts, film, and music that exemplify the historical, political and social implications of the time.

You will explore questions and share discoveries in the form of oral communication and the written word.  What was the historical context that helped to propel the progressive views of the subculture? What kinds of political and social changes were initiated due to the mindset of the group?  What impact has this had on us today?   In a final multi-media research project, students will document and display ways that the movement has influenced our modern day society.  


The Roots and the Real: Authenticity and American Popular Music
in Popular Culture    
Instructor:  Larry Boyette
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

Is it street?  Is it roots?  Is it real?  This seminar will combine reading, listening, research and performance to explore the way our culture understands and evaluates its popular music. We will explore the defining standards of the many branches of American popular music: blues, jazz, country, gospel, bluegrass, rock and roll, soul, hip hop and beyond.   Our particular focus will be on understanding the role of the concept of “authenticity” in our culture’s evaluation of the merit of popular music and the tensions between the mandates of authenticity and of commercial success.  We will learn research methods and apply those skills to research and writing projects about the music, its makers, its roots, and what is real.  All seminar members will contribute to performances that allow us to gain a sense of participation in the music that we study.   We will define “performance” very broadly as “some form of creative expression:” no prior artistic training or musical expertise is required or expected. The only prerequisite is a willingness to participate in some thoughtful and involved way in performances that deepen the critical understanding of American music produced by our more formal methods of investigation.


Identity in the Internet Age
in Popular Culture
Instructor: Jennifer MacGregor
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

The old adage commands: To thine own self be true. Do we have a Self to be true to?  In this course we will explore historical and cultural conceptions of identity and identity development. Using sociological, philosophical, psychological and feminist ideas and methodologies, we’ll explore how technological advances and shifts in intellectual thought in the past century have caused a major re-evaluation of what it means to address the question, “Who am I? What comprises my Self?” Topics include the following: how and when does one’s identity develop, and how does attachment to digital machines influence the growing minds of children? Is our Self an unchanging, unitary entity located in the brain, as believed by early psychologists, or are we a loose and changing assortment of the various texts, images, people and situations we encounter, as some philosophers argue today? We will explore a variety of social network sites, from twitter to Second Life, as we confront sociologist Sherry Turkle’s belief that our computer-mediated lives leave us feeling “alone together.”


The Healing Power of Poetry
in Culture and Cultural Practices    
Instructor:  Karyn Crispo
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

In the days following 9/11, the only section of Barnes and Noble that had any traffic was the poetry section.  In times of personal and communal tragedy, people turn to poetry, tapping into its healing power.  This seminar will explore how a poem that begins as an individual experience morphs into an exercise in language that, at its best, expresses a collective grief altogether separate from the personal anguish with which the poet may have begun.  Much of the course will be the study of poems, but our content will necessarily lead us to explore some of the darkest periods in human history.  Because this is a research seminar, you will be researching these periods in human history and discussing them in relation to the poetry that was created during and around them.  This seminar, designed to unearth poetry and show its relevance to human experience, will also give us the opportunity to craft a poem of our own.  No prior knowledge of poetry or experience writing poetry is necessary; all prior knowledge and experience is welcome.


Religion and Ecology
in Culture and Cultural Practices    
Instructor:  Laura Desmond
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as ENVS 103, ASIA 105, REL 103 and fulfills the HU requirement.

How does religion shape human understanding of, and participation in, ecological systems?  This course examines some of the diverse ways that people have developed for interacting with animals, plants, weather, water, air, and land, and how those behaviors work in tandem with religious ways of knowing.  Recognizing that current human interactions with the global ecosystem, and of the numerous ecosystems within it, are unsustainable, the class will have a substantial focus on environmental ethics. We will think hard about how different religious systems might contribute to either or both environmental degradation and solutions to environmental problems.  Traditions sampled will include Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Daoism, Buddhism, Jainism, and a number of indigenous lifeways.


Music, Image, Place
in Culture and Cultural Practices    
Instructor: Michael Farley
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

Artistic expression is always influenced by the place in which it is situated, and it shapes the place in return.  Illustration: Grunge was an outgrowth of a number of conditions that existed in Seattle in the late 1980s.  As a result of a depressed local economy a large number of abandoned warehouses were available as performance venues.  Seattle looked like it sounded.  Even the climate contributed to the development of a focused style of music-making.  In the words of a local producer, “When the weather's crappy you don't feel like going outside; you go into a basement and make a lot of noise to take out your frustration." We explore the relationship between music and place through traditional research and through creative work in the Newell Center for Arts Technology.


American Prose, American Places
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor: Camilla Ammirati
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

From Walden to The Wire, literature and pop culture texts draw heavily on their settings and strongly influence audiences’ perceptions about those places in turn. Paying particular attention to American fiction, this seminar will explore the relationship between distinctive places and the writing done in and/or about them. Combining close reading of creative texts and careful research into their cultural, historical, and spatial contexts, we will go from our own North Country to the South and the West. We will make our way from frontier to city, from seascape to desert, from the plains to the parlor, considering how such spaces inform our reading. Through individual reflections and observational outings, we’ll also examine our own experiences of place, asking how we are shaped by the places we’ve known, how we make sense of them, and how these inquiries can make us more grounded—but also help us take flight—in our own work as thinkers, readers, and writers.


The Meaning of Life and Intellectualism
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Kyle Benton
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday, 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

What do you like to think about? What questions are recurrent in your mind? Finding meaning in life starts with finding meaning in thinking – concerning both what we know and how we come to know it. In considering both the lens we inherit (Facticité) and those we acquire from our world (milieu) we will first begin to contemplate the relationships between the socialized individual and culture. Then, by synthesizing historical texts that analyze existence, consciousness, faith, doubt and other theo-philosophical concerns, we will uncover the classic value systems of Western Civilization. Finally, we will “re-read” aspects of contemporary society and our current values of economic, political and ecological systems. We will use these readings, our class conversations, and other assorted texts to segue to interdisciplinary points of departure striving towards pragmatic solutions. Within the context of a budding century, research should reveal how our societies are yielding new standards morally, aesthetically and culturally.


Fairy Tales
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Caroline Breashears
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday, 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also counts as ENG 190 and fulfills the HU general education requirement.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, / Who’s the fairest one of all?”  As anyone who has read the Brothers Grimm knows, the answer is “Snow White.”  With skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony, she surpasses her wicked stepmother in beauty and therefore seals her death warrant.  But why does the stepmother sit around talking to a mirror?  Why does Snow White have to escape from her stepmother by moving in with seven dwarfs?  And why must she die before she can meet her prince?  What’s really going on in fairy tales?  
    
We will answer such questions by analyzing a range of fairy tales, from classics (such as the Grimms’ “Snow White”) to new hybrids (such as the graphic novel series Fables) to film adaptations (such as Tangled).  In doing so, we will explore what a fairy tale is, how fairy tales change to meet the needs of different cultures, and why fairy tales continue to appeal to us.  Assignments will include a short paper, a team-led discussion, a research project, an individual presentation, and the creation of our own book of fairy tales.  


How to Like It: Depictions of Happiness in the Modern World
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Josh Exoo
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

“The purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear,” so says the Dalai Lama. But what makes him so sure? And what is happiness? Like pornography, do we just know it when we see it? What are the myriad definitions of happiness that flood a modern consumer, and how can we separate truths from fictions? How can a force so universally desired still be so elusive in the modern world? This course will investigate all these questions via various depictions of happiness in philosophy, literature and film. How do competing definitions of happiness compliment or contradict one another? Most importantly, which definition is right for you? Students will examine the role of happiness in their own lives as well, and hopefully come away from the course with a better understanding of themselves.  Media depicting happiness will include Buddhist philosophy, fractured modern novels, news media, commercial advertising, and sexually provocative cinema.


Birth, Life and Death: The Philosophy of Your Life
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Jeffrey Maynes
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

What can philosophy teach us about our experiences, decisions and trials as we live our lives and ultimately face our deaths?  In this course, we will follow the course of a life, from birth, through childhood and education, to one's career and ultimately to death.  Along the way, we'll examine the difficult and pressing choices we have to make.  How do we find meaning in our life?  What is the relationship between a good life and a good paycheck?  Can one ever make a rational decision about having children?  How does our identity develop as children?  How should we face our inevitable demise?  Careful consideration of philosophical arguments will help us answer these questions, and students will develop their abilities to think clearly and carefully about these crucial moments we all face.  By the end of the semester, students will improve their abilities to understand and work through the philosophical underpinnings of everyday decisions and apply those skills to the decisions they actually face.  


Feast or Famine: Exploring the Culture, Politics, and Sustainability of Food (CBL)
in Culture and Cultural Practices    
Instructor:  Sandhya Ganapathy
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. (CBL: Community Service Required)
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

Food is such an integral part of our lives that many of us take it for granted. We don’t really have to think about what we eat or where our food comes from. However, many factors go into determining what we eat or whether we eat at all including: geography, cultural ideals about taste and nutrition, economic systems, the media, multinational corporations, agricultural subsidies and international trade policies. In this class, we will examine how each of the factors works together to create both situations of overabundance (feasts) and relative food deserts (famine). We will consider the ways that hunger is not simply a natural phenomenon caused by natural disasters or a basic lack of food but rather the product of structural inequalities and lack of access. To do this, we will utilize a range of sources including documentary and popular films, scholarly tracts and memoirs. In addition, CBL placements with local food-related agencies will serve as an additional experiential research text. Drawing upon these insights, students will conduct independent research projects exploring local food systems in Northern NY. Students will present their finding through written, oral and poster presentations.  


Truth & Fiction
in Culture and Cultural Practices    
Instructor: Karen Gibson
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

Have you ever found yourself wondering if a story is “true” or not?  Do you prefer “fiction” or “non-fiction”?  What do these terms even mean, and why are they so important to us?  How does an author’s own presence within a piece of writing determine our reading of the piece, and why?  In this course we will read, write, discuss, and write about works that explore the boundaries between “fact” and “fiction,” such as “creative non-fiction,” “literary journalism,” “documentary,” and “mocumentary.”   In addition to learning what these terms mean, a bit about their historical context and what they imply for readers, you will also have a chance to practice your own truth-telling and story-telling skills throughout the semester.  The primary focus in this class will be on close readings of texts, creating our own texts, and discussing both in an open and encouraging forum.


Knowing and Narrative: Storytelling Across the Disciplines
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Pedro Ponce
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

This seminar will explore the role that storytelling has throughout contemporary culture--not just as literature but as the fundamental unit of creating and preserving knowledge. We'll look at the different ways that stories function across a variety of disciplines--and how digital technology is changing the way we think about storytelling. Your final project will ask you to explore and interrogate the nature of narrative in a discipline that interests you, whether a narrative of its history, or a form used in the discipline (i.e., a court decision or lab report), considering how knowledge in this discipline is shaped through narrative.  


This American Life: A Cultural Perspective
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor: Robin Rhodes-Crowell
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

Ready to make some sense of American culture? Why do Americans do what they do? During this course, we will explore American culture through popular and scholarly readings, movies, radio and television programs, and extensive discussion. We will critically examine, reflect on, and evaluate important components of American culture, including interpersonal relationships and social structure, food and food ways, and technology. Through engaging texts written by citizens and non-citizens, we will deepen our understanding of what it means to live in America. Students will also actively listen to songs written about America and reflect on song lyrics to discover perceptions and misperceptions of American life. This course is intended to develop awareness, critical thinking, the ability to draw compelling conclusions, and strategies to investigate and discover links between fundamental cultural aspects. Students will also increase their understanding of their own culture as they reflect and share throughout the course. Students will gain experience in the practical application of informal and formal spoken English and study the role language plays in culture. Course assignments and goals include utilizing tools and methods such as the library, citation strategies, argument defense, research writing conventions, and individual and group presentation skills. Students will also learn discussion strategies as they work through course readings and facilitate discussion groups. This course is intended for non-native English speakers only.


The Craft of Acting, or Speaking for a Soul
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor:  Matt Saltzberg
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also counts as PCA 107 and fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

Grounded in the Stanislavski Method of Physical Action, this course is designed to introduce you to the craft of acting and the role of the artist in society. You will learn basic techniques that actors use in order to create characters for performance in front of a live audience. The exercises we engage in are designed to focus on and develop the most fundamental tools at an actor’s disposal: voice, body, concentration, listening skills, and imagination. We will spend the majority of our time together learning acting as a creative and collaborative process: how to use your body and voice expressively, how to analyze a script, how to create a character, how to think critically and creatively, how to make bold acting choices, how to give and receive constructive criticism, and how to build an ensemble. Students will learn the importance of craft – of technique – and will explore and appreciate the intellectual and embodied labor of the actor, and be able to demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical and historical foundation of the trainings explored in the course.  


The Secrets of Good Writing
in Culture and Cultural Practices
Instructor: Eudora Watson
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

When it comes to writing, do Virginia Woolf and Stephen King agree on anything? In this seminar we will consider the insights novelists, poets, and short story writers have shared with us about the whys and hows of writing. With an eye to investigating the relationship between stated practice and product, we will examine the historical context in which advice on how to write well has been offered and read from each writer’s body of work. As part of our inquiry we will take advantage of the SLU Writers Series to hear from writers first-hand.

As a member of the class you will select a writer, conduct research, document the experience of trying out that author's recommended writing practices, and contribute to a class anthology of writer profiles. You will delve into a writer’s work and interviews, select passages of the work to perform, and take part in a rehearsed, videotaped panel discussion in which you speak for the writer. Prior experience in, or talent for, creative writing is not required. Curiosity and a sense of humor are – as in any endeavor – desirable.


History Rebooted: Alan Turing and Understanding Artificial Intelligence
in Science and Science-Related Issues    
Instructor: Paul Doty
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.
This course also fulfills the HU general education requirement.

Given that Alan Turing’s work breaking the German code was significant in defeating Nazi Germany in the Second World War, and given that you are likely reading this on a computer, Alan Turing is a part of your world.  The course is an exploration of the life and work of Alan Turing and a course that will ask you to consider Turing’s best known legacy: the concept of artificial intelligence. We will consider who Turing was through biographical, fictional, and film versions of his life.  Students will also create a significant research project on the implications artificial intelligence has for envisioning the future and understanding our relationship with technology.  This is a reading and writing intensive course that will introduce you to Alan Turing—someone you really ought to know.  


Energy and the Environment
in Science and Science-Related Issues    
Instructor: George Repicky
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course also fulfills the SS general education requirement.

Is $4 gas here to stay? Should we still drill in the Alaskan wilderness after what we just saw happened in the Gulf of Mexico? What are the consequences of buying oil from OPEC? Why are there so many new wind farms in the North Country? Should we fund more nuclear plants or rely instead upon hydro-electric dams? Is there such a thing as “clean coal”? What about new technologies? Questions like these, and dozens of other energy-related issues, have figured prominently in American politics during the past few years. Decisions being made today about energy production and consumption will lead to economic, political, social, and environmental consequences that will remain with us for decades, maybe even centuries. As a result, thoughtful citizens across the country are demanding to be a part of the decision-making process. In this course, students will delve into aspects of the energy debate through their own research projects.


Scientific Reasoning and Communication
in Science and Science-Related Issues        
Instructor:  Alexander Stewart        
Meetings:  Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.    

For the first time in the human history, we are living in a world immersed in scientific communication. More and more information (in all media) is based on science—from natural and human disasters and climate to deciding on your first home and a bottled water of choice. In order to be a well-informed citizen, you should be competent in critically and scientifically examining information (and disinformation) that is pouring through these media (e.g., radio, TV, internet). In this seminar, we will develop your science reasoning and communications skills, which will make you a critical, quantitative thinker. The best way to turn your qualitative, interpretative and subjective mind into a science mind is to practice thinking, speaking and writing like a scientist—quantitatively (with numbers), descriptively (the what, not how) and objectively (without bias). For example, you will stop seeing a cue ball; instead, you will see a white (#FFFFFF) sphere of phenol formaldehyde resin, 57.15 (±0.127) millimeters in diameter, weighing 158 (±2) grams! With this foundation, you will hold the key to unlocking scientific rhetoric. In this FYS, we will use physical science examples (i.e., geology, biology, chemistry and physics) during lectures, which are supported by practical exercises, on-campus field excursions and reading/writing/research exercises to begin developing a science-adept brain.


The Nature and Nurture of Health and Disease
in Science and Science-Related Issues
Instructor: Jane Kring
Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 p.m. – 2:10 p.m.

How do our genetic makeup (nature) and social influences (nurture) contribute to our happiness and health?  What are the multiple causes of illnesses like diabetes and depression?  How are they treated and why?  This course will develop your understanding of illness and its biological and environmental contributing factors. Critical analysis and research skills will be practiced through readings and discussions on disease and well-being from a variety of sources and perspectives. We will also explore how to measure and enhance the happiness and health of others.


Faster, Stronger, Smarter: The Alchemy of Exceptional Human Performance
in Science and Science-Related Issues
Instructor:  Serge Onyper
Meeting Days/Times:  Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special. What would it take to transform an ordinary person into a human being capable of exceptional performance? How does genius come about? Since the times of Ancient Greeks and Romans, humans have tried to comprehend superior performance and capture genius – in art, literature, mathematics, philosophy, athletics, even war – and these attempts continue to be refined and redefined today by the modern advances in cognitive psychology, educational theory, pharmacology, and the study of artificial intelligence. However, the basic questions still remain: What does it mean to excel in a particular field – and how do expertise and skill develop? What is intelligence? Genius? What does it take to have superior memory or unmatched artistic skills? Is talent something you are born with, or is it acquired out of countless hours of deliberate practice? Most importantly, what chances do any of us have to excel, to reach our full potential? Taught by a cognitive psychologist, this course will try to answer these and related questions by exploring the principles of skill acquisition and expertise development across a variety of domains, as well as by critically reviewing approaches to the study of intelligence and human genius, and by applying the knowledge gained to understand our own potential and limits.



History of Ecology and Environmentalism
in Science and Science-Related Issues    
Instructor:  Jessica Rogers
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

In the life sciences there is always someone who was the first to describe the world we see around us.  In a world of increasing environmentalism, everyone experiences ecology, but most people know very little about how or why we know the things we do about the world we live in.  In a globally connected world, understanding how these discoveries influenced our modern environmentalism is crucial to becoming an ecologist. The goal of this class is to learn about the founders of ecology and modern environmentalism—John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, among others—and to understand what they discovered and how it influenced the sciences of ecology, evolution, and conservation. Students will spend time reading primary literature as well as historical texts regarding the environmental movement.   Discussions will focus on how those works might have influenced our modern environmentalism and the changes in society as a result of the environmental movement.  The analysis of primary literature as well as reviewing the broader impacts of those works on the wider scientific field will be presented as short writing assignments and short individual and group oral presentations.  The semester’s work will culminate in a longer 10 page research paper on an individual scientist and his or her original contributions to the fields of ecology, evolution or environmental sciences.


Spice, Sex, and Science: History through the Eyes of a Chemist
in Science and Science-Related Issues    
Instructor:  Khanh Lam (Tina) Tao
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

Why are peppers spicy?  Did you know that the male and female sex hormones are almost identical in their chemical structures?  What do TNT and sunscreen have in common?   To answer these questions, we will take a look at the molecules that make up the everyday world.   These molecules have shaped history, started wars, and made some great meals.  In this seminar, we will also come to a better understanding of how much chemistry influences us and how to think scientifically about these interesting questions.  In an age where chemicals are often misunderstood (products labeled “chemical-free!”), we will learn what roles they play in our everyday lives.  Students will learn the research skills necessary to tell the story of a molecule, tracing out its chemical nature and its impact on history, as well as general and basic organic chemistry concepts.  No prior knowledge of chemistry is required.


spring 2014/Course Descriptions/FINAL-FYS course descriptions-spring 2014.docx, 9/27/13; updated 9/30/13; 10/10/13