First-Year Program Fall Course Descriptions | St. Lawrence University First-Year Program

First-Year Program Fall Course Descriptions

Fall 2020

Please complete the FYP College Preference Form and Housing Form, which will appear on your Application Status Page in early March.
Login to your status page to complete this and all of your other required and optional forms before the May 30th deadline.

FYP Courses with
Community Based Learning (CBL)

Community Based Learning (CBL) expands the walls of the classroom to include the community beyond SLU. Students who engage in CBL courses have the unique opportunity to actively engage in their learning by spending two hours a week outside of class time in a placement with one of our community partners. CBL also allows students to bring the world outside back into the classroom learning experience.

Children's Literature and Its Life-Long Lessons: From Wonderland to Diagon Alley (CBL)
Instructor: Karen Gibson
Bacheller College
Strong claims have been made regarding the power and influence of children’s books.  Alison Lurie, for example, suggests that they provide “…other views of human life besides those of the shopping mall and the corporation.”  Sherman Alexie believes “…the age at which you find the book with which you truly identify determines the rest of your reading life.” Are stories for children a delightful distraction—or powerful forces that shape the adults we become?  Much like the lemonade stand at the end of the driveway that first taught us how to turn a profit, stories teach us life lessons while engaging our imaginations.  In this class, we will examine how literature for children can both reflect and shape culture through its depiction of families, animals, and even historical events.  We will also explore the ways these depictions have been expressed, from allegory to fantasy to realist fiction.  Eventually, you will create your own piece of children’s literature, using what you have learned in the class to make purposeful decisions about its shape and its content. A Community Based Learning component will give you an opportunity to share literacy activities with children throughout the semester, while also becoming acquainted with the local community. This course includes an experiential learning component known as Community Based Learning (CBL). The CBL component will require students to participate in a community placement, outside of class time, on a weekly basis throughout the semester. On average students can expect to spend at least two hours per week at their assigned placement site (travel time to and from the site is not included and is moderate for placements beyond the Canton community). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Health Activism: Fighting for a Healthier Future (CBL)
Instructor: Rosa Williams
Eaton College
Infectious disease, gun violence, lead poisoning, addiction, inequality – what threatens our health? Whose responsibility is it to keep us healthy? What changes will lead to a healthier world? Questions about health have drawn people into grass-roots movements driven by diverse and sometimes deeply controversial ideas: that everyone should have access to life-saving medications, clean tap water, or sanitary products; that people should have the freedom to choose how they give birth or whether to vaccinate their children; that patients’ perspectives need to be heard; that effective, affordable healthcare is a human right. In this FYP, we will spend time uncovering examples of health activism locally, here in the North Country, and globally, across the world. Together we will focus on the stories and texts produced by activists in the past and in the present so we can learn about their arguments and strategies, their successes and failures. We will consider how questions of race, gender, sexuality and disability have shaped people’s health and impacted their activism. And you will have the opportunity to examine your own ideas about health, citizenship and community: to consider which issues could drive you to advocate for a healthier future. This course includes an experiential learning component known as Community Based Learning (CBL). The CBL component will require students to participate in a community placement, outside of class time, on a weekly basis throughout the semester. On average students can expect to spend at least two hours per week at their assigned placement site (travel time to and from the site is not included and is moderate for placements beyond the Canton community). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.


FYP Courses with Travel

As of July 2, 2020, travel plans for FYP courses have changed to ensure student safety; please review the revised course descriptions below.

Courses with travel: This course either meets off-site or features required field trips. For courses that meet off site, such as at SLU’s Sustainability Farm, Living Lab, or Wachtmeister Field Station, transportation will be provided, but you will want to be mindful of allowing time for travel between the off-site location and other classes on campus when you register for your other three courses in August. Most courses with required field trips arrange for trips during class time, but student athletes should be aware that weekend field trips which may cause conflicts with varsity athletics competitions in the fall. If you have concerns about potential conflicts, please contact the FYP office.

Silent Seasons: Human Impacts on Our Natural World 
Instructors: Aswini Pai and Paul Siskind
Buys College
This course explores the themes of environmental sustainability and responsible living. We will examine the impacts that human activities have on the environment, and consider them from a variety of perspectives, including scientific, economic, and cultural. Our principal text is Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, often credited for sparking environmental awareness. We will discuss this book within its historical context, and also consider its relationship to other environmental issues.  The course will incorporate outdoor activities, exploring natural environments on and around the SLU campus.  This course also provides a foundation of important college-level skills, including study strategies, oral and written communication skills, and critical thinking. Students will also make connections to a cohort of peers who share similar interests in the natural world. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Seeding Hope: Environmentalism, Sustainability, and the Reclamation of the Sacred
Instructor: Rebecca Rivers
Green College
Several recent polls have indicated that most young people today are concerned about the environment they will inherit. Sometimes this can lead to what psychologists are now calling “ecological grief”. In this class, we will shine a spotlight on existing projects that successfully unite diverse groups of people in grassroots efforts to protect and restore natural resources. We will focus on what we can learn from them about protecting the environment, sustaining human communities and increasing social justice. We’ll look at seeds, literally, as part of in-person and remote activities based on campus and at the SLU Sustainability Farm, and then metaphorically, as we examine how regenerative agriculture can serve as an organizing principle for environmental and community activism. From there, we’ll explore how other communities across the U.S. have organized to protect biodiversity, soil, water, forests, grasslands, and fisheries. This includes examples from Indigenous communities and others that bear disproportionate environmental burdens as a function of race or socio-economic class. Along the way, we will contemplate what we consider sacred, and examine ways we can sustain ourselves as activists with food, music, movement, contemplative practice and art.  This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

An Outdoor State of Mind
Instructor: Devin Farkas
Sawyer College
Instruction for this course is 100% remote, though it will include outdoor and hands-on experiences throughout the semester. There is potential for day trips off-campus, though due to Covid19 we are currently limited in our ability to ensure this component. No outdoor experience is necessary
Why do many of us seek out the natural world as a place to play, experience adventure, relieve stress, and rest our minds? What barriers exist for many to access the benefits of spending time and engaging in physical activity in the outdoors? In this course, we will explore different ways to experience the outdoors, through hands-on experience, reading, and reflection. As part of our inquiry, we will critically examine our own experiences in nature, the narratives that underpin outdoor adventure in our society and the basic skills needed for safe and responsible recreation in nature. Prior experience with outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and paddling are not required; anyone with an interest in the outdoors, and a willingness to safely step outside their comfort zone, will do well in this college. Students will spend time in outdoor activities on a regular basis while the weather permits. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement. Note that practices and games for fall sports will conflict with any weekend trips that are able to take place for this course. Any incoming student, of any skill level, is eligible to participate.


Other FYP Courses

African Myth and Reality
Instructor: Matthew Carotenuto
Benedict College
Popular portrayals of Africa and the people who live there are often clouded by myths and stereotypes. Images of untouched landscapes filled with wild animals, "tribal violence" and endemic disease dominate many everyday conversations about the world’s second largest continent. But how have these contemporary descriptions been historically produced? And who is responsible for their production? This course will require students to consider the representation of Africa and Africans in a range of cultural texts from feature films, television documentaries and artworks to novels, travel writing and newspapers. Students will gain not only an understanding of the changing historical image of Africa from beyond the continent's borders, but also pay particular attention to the important role Africans themselves have played in shaping and combating these notions. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Visions of Hell
Instructor: Kathleen Self
Brown College
The pit, flames, demons, hungry ghosts.  Different religions imagine different sorts of hells: Greek mythology has its underworld, Buddhism has hell realms and hungry ghost realms, Christianity has its hell, and Old Norse mythology its own Hel. We will consider the differences and similarities in these visions of hell and what cultural purposes they serve because, although hell and its heavenly counterparts are places of the afterlife, they tell us as much about humans in the here and now as they do the world to come.  Questions of morality and the preservation of the self beyond death are just two topics we will consider. In doing so, we’ll read about many versions of hell, and a heaven or two also.  Readings will include selections from such works as Dante’s Inferno, the Buddhist Tipitika, and selected Greek and Old Norse myths.  We will explore works of art that depict hell, popular culture depictions, and around Halloween we will learn about the Day of the Dead.  No particular religious or spiritual background or knowledge of religion is expected for the course. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Peace, Conflict, and Community
Instructor: Donna Alvah
Campbell College
We will study a variety of texts and engage in discussion and other activities to seek answers to the following questions: What does "peace" mean?  How might we, even in our everyday lives, help to create peaceful communities? What is our responsibility as individuals for striving toward this goal? What are our responsibilities to others? Is conflict necessarily bad? How do we constructively address conflicts within communities, and within ourselves?  We will read and write about peace, non-violence, compassion, community-building, and conflict transformation. Experiential components of our course will have us practicing mindfulness and engaging in other contemplative exercises as means for achieving focus, self-awareness, and connection with others. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

The Pen & The Knife: Poetry and Printmaking
Instructors: Sarah Barber and Melissa Schulenberg
Clark College
If you want to make original art, this course is for you. You’ll be learning how to make linocut prints—which you’ll carve and critique—and about poetry—which you’ll draft and workshop. You’ll keep a sketchbook for daily practice at the serious play that goes into making art. You’ll spend time at the Brush Gallery and the library’s Special Collections. Finally, you'll learn to analyze and to write about images and poems. At the end of the semester, you’ll formally present your own work. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Coldest Cold War Flicks
Instructors: JJ Jockel and James Sieja
Corey College
This course will examine the earliest and coldest days of the Cold War, a period extending from the end of World War II in 1945 to the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, through a sampling of historical texts and American movies made during that time. Movies are often more than just mindless escapism: the stories and texts continually recast by our culture not only entertain but also can provide a window into who we are, and were. We will look at how the motion pictures of the day reflected the major preoccupations of the early Cold War era, chief among them dealing with nuclear weapons, responding to the Soviet communist threat and undertaking America’s new responsibilities abroad, as well as enjoying prosperity and mobility at home in the new suburbs while spawning a generation that eventually would be called the “boomers.” Special attention will be paid to the noir films of the 1940s and 1950s, family melodramas such as Mildred Pierce and Rebel Without a Cause, horror films of the 1950s such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and nuclear war films such as On the Beach and Dr. Strangelove. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Science and Speculation
Instructors: Adam Hill and Samuel Tartakoff
Crary College
Science fiction has always fascinated us, opening worlds in which impossible technology has altered reality. However, science is also a tool that shapes our real world, allowing us to push the boundaries of what is possible. Whether in the reaches of space or the depths of the ocean, in genetic engineering or nanotechnology, there are incredible stories with real-life lessons to be learned. Using readings and film, we will look at the scientific principles behind some of our favorite technology, real and imaginary, then examine what these discoveries could mean for society. Writing assignments and oral presentations will teach you to be a better storyteller and communicator and, thus, a better scientist. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Lord of Fantasy: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creation of Middle-earth
Instructors: Sarah Gates and Elun Gabriel
Curtin College
This course will explore J. R. R. Tolkien’s imagined world of Middle-earth through The Lord of the Rings and other writings, while also placing his creative work within the context of the real world in which he lived. Through historical investigation of twentieth-century Britain and Europe, literary analysis of his novels, and exploration of his personal life, religious beliefs, and scholarship in Medieval cultures, we will gain a rich understanding of Tolkien and his work.  Please note that this course is focused on Tolkien’s novels, not Peter Jackson’s movies (although we might spend a little time on the movies toward the end of the semester). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Rituals: Transformation through Life and Death
Instructors: Gabrielle Clover and Pamela Thacher
Ford College
Do you ever wonder why we have created customs to honor life and death? In this course, we’ll be discovering rituals and exploring their deeper meanings, particularly the ways in which they are cultivated and expressed in different societies. You'll also be asked to reflect and identify the rituals that have been important to your own development and to how you relate within your family. Looking at life, and even death, with a fine lens we can see its transformation over time. We will study rituals by considering personal experience, family-based traditions, religious foundations, societal expectations, and overarching belief systems. We’ll discover rituals that have transformed over time, some that we didn’t know existed, and we’ll follow current events that show the modern development of rituals.  Along the way, you’ll develop a stronger sense of how rituals serve as gateways of understanding and celebrations of how we capture the important moments that are memorable in this lifetime. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

"What's That Sound?"
Instructor: Larry Boyette
Gaines College
When Buffalo Springfield sang “stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down” in 1966, the song “For What It’s Worth” became an anthem of the tumultuous political and social change of the sixties. This class is centered on the question that Stephen Stills posed: what is “that sound,” and what role does sound have in people’s lives? We’ll explore sound from the perspective of physics, biology, medicine, folklore, history, politics, craftsmanship, technology, and music. Sound is not just the topic of this course, but also a primary method we will use to learn. We will engage sound by meeting and speaking with men and women whose lives and careers are centered on sound. In a typical semester we've workshopped with world-class musicians in residence on campus, taken off-campus field trips to meet folklorists and guitar builders, climbed the bell tower to see our campus bellringers at work, and toured the facilities of our local public radio station during broadcast. We will also make our own sounds, write and perform raps about our lives, and learn to use music recording and sampling technology to create our own compositions. We will, in short, shape sound, and explore how sound shapes us. So, as musicians say, "get your ears out," and let’s explore sound. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Walking Across Cultures
Instructor: Wendi Haugh
Herrick College
Our distant ancestors started walking over five million years ago, and we have spent most of our history as a species getting around on foot.  Today we have many other transportation options, but walking still plays an important role in the lives of most people.  In this course, we will examine how and why people walk in many different contemporary cultures.  Through readings, films, and experiential learning, you will encounter many different kinds of walking, from Australian Aboriginal walkabouts to pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago, from solo walking meditation to guided bird walks, from walking to learn to walking for a cause.  We will consider different forms of walking in their cultural and social contexts, and we will consider the effects of walking on physical and psychological well-being. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Sherlock Holmes and the Art and Science of Reasoning
Instructors: Jeff Maynes and Tina Tao
Holmes College
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth!" This is a famous maxim of Sherlock Holmes, a rule used to reason through crimes and solve mysteries. In this course, we will examine the Holmes stories through a philosophical and scientific lens in order to understand how to reason critically and responsibly. Students will learn techniques for identifying, evaluating, and creating arguments. We will explore many of the most interesting Holmes stories, both in Doyle's original novels and short stories and in television and film adaptions, to figure out exactly how he reasoned and to evaluate it ourselves—was Holmes that good, or just that lucky? Over the course of the semester, we will practice these skills by pulling arguments from these texts, developing original arguments, and even writing some Holmes stories of our very own (with well-crafted arguments at the heart of them!). By the end of the course, students will be better prepared to reason through complex issues, both in and out of the classroom (but no promises about one's ability to solve crimes). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

How Did I Get Here?: Local, Public, and Digital History
Instructor: Judith DeGroat
Langlois College
Between 1845 and 2019, the Canton community saw the opening of St. Lawrence University, the boat-building and canoe design renovations of Henry Rushton, the development of the intentional agricultural community Birdsfoot Farm, and the founding of the Women Together feminist collective. In this course, we will explore stories like these and the sources used to tell them. We will visit sites of local scholarship such as the St. Lawrence Country Historical Society, the Canton Village Archives, and Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY), and SLU’s Special Collections. We will also talk with people who continue the practices of this area including luthier musicians, fiber artists, and farmers. While we will employ traditional methods of reading paper archives and conducting oral history interviews, we will also learn about digital methods to collect and share local histories such as the use of data visualization, scanning documents and photographs, and the creation of digital timelines and story maps. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Markets and Morality: The Ethical and Philosophical Dimensions of Business and Economics
Instructor: Richard Lauer
Longley College
It’s common to hear people argue for the value and efficiency of the free market—but what is a market and why should we want free markets? Moreover, can we sell anything in a market or are some things too sacred to sell? Should we be allowed to sell our organs or endangered animals? Should children be allowed to sell their labor? This course introduces students to disputes and controversies about the relationship between free markets and our moral values. We will begin with a basic introduction to some important ethical and economic concepts and then move on to explore questions about the moral limits of markets, closely examining arguments on different sides of the issues. Through in-class presentations, papers, and activities, we will explore whether we are morally allowed to sell our votes, our bodies, or our reproductive abilities, among other things. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Your Place in the World: What It Means to be Local
Instructors: Rebecca Jewell and Josh Exoo
MacAllaster College
This course asks how we develop our understanding of culture, our sense of place, and what it means to be "local.” By examining a broad range of topics, from local issues in St. Lawrence County to food systems and factory farming in America, we will consider how we contribute to and draw from our local environment. We will explore this theme through various texts, including memoirs, fiction, poetry, and documentaries; these works help us question how we interact with and fit into our sometimes strange world. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Guns, Health, and Climate: Cutting Through the Noise to Find the Facts
Instructors: David Murphy and Kathleen Murphy
MacKay College
In the age of the constant dissemination of “alternative facts” and application of the label “fake news,” it can be difficult to distinguish objective reality from agenda-driven misinformation. A simple Google search about any current issue can result in seemingly official studies and reports that insist on opposite conclusions. Caught in the whorl of information overload, how do we navigate towards informed opinions--backed with evidence--about the issues that matter to us? And how do we communicate that information and create forums for inclusive discussion in which we can simultaneously respect others while disagreeing with them? In this class we will explore three of today’s most controversial issues using widely-respected journalism and scholarly papers. We will communicate our research in oral and written formats, focusing on the research topics of second amendment rights, healthcare, and climate change. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Identity and Belonging in the St. Lawrence Valley
Instructor: Neil Forkey
Manley College
Your university sits in the St. Lawrence River Valley, which has occupied an important place in the history of North America since the pre-contact period between First Peoples and Europeans. It has served simultaneously as a place of residence, transportation route, conduit of commerce, and sometimes national symbol. French explorer Jacques Cartier christened it the “River of Canada.” Indeed, the capital and technological flows between Europe, Montreal, and the Great Lakes region spurred new opportunities and migrations that owe so much to the force of this majestic river. In this course, we will focus on the differing local and national cultures of the United States and Canada as seen in the St. Lawrence Valley. Using a roughly historical approach, we will trace early contact between First Peoples and European settlers, the portrayal of cultures and identities, colonization and expansion, and the development of each nation to the contemporary period. Our prime concern will be the definition of this borderland region as part of the two nation-states and the continuing role its First Peoples play in it. Case studies include differing approaches to Western expansion, models of settlement, trade (the fur trade to free trade), environmental issues, and approaches to social policy. We will expand our exploration of the cultural experiences of Canada and the United States, both mythic and real, outside the classroom through at least one field trip. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

We Are Our Stories: Family History, Storytelling, and Identity
Instructor: Nicole Roché
Marden College
Joan Didion says, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” But how do we decide what stories we tell and why? This course will explore the role of storytelling in the creation of family history and personal identity. How do the stories we tell construct our reality or particular versions of reality? How can stories shape how we view ourselves and how we are viewed by others? What stories do we not tell and why? To answer these questions, we will consider our own histories and family stories. We will practice telling and listening to stories and discuss how rhetorical decisions affect their impact. We will examine works by writers that explore issues of identity in the face of complicated personal and family histories. Together we will explore how we can create a unified sense of self on and off the page, at home, and in our communities at large. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Thoroughly Modern Muslims: Contemporary Culture in the Modern Middle East
Instructor: Howard Eissenstat
O’Connor College
Interest in the Muslim Middle East is booming in the West.  It is in the news.  It is a focus of foreign and military policy.  Its classical religious texts are quoted and misquoted.  Yet much of this interest – perhaps most of it – assumes the basic foreignness of the Middle East and Islam.  This course attempts to turn that assumption on its head by looking at how people in the Middle East experience everyday life.  How do people date, fall in love, and get married?  How do people engage with politics and, in contexts of political violence or repression, survive or seek hope?  How have people adopted and adapted to new technologies and the challenges of globalization? In exploring these questions, students will have the opportunity to hone their own academic skills as they explore varied sources, including fiction, film, music, and scholarly literature in multiple disciplines. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

The Science of the Self
Instructors: Mark Oakes and Serge Onyper
Pomponio College
How do scientists define and study a concept as abstract and philosophical as the self? We will begin by grounding our understanding of the self through a classic work by William James called The Principles of Psychology. From there we will start to unpack the self by exploring the evidence for and variations between theories of personality, identity (e.g., gender), autobiographical memory and intelligence, self-complexity, and self-esteem. Our unpacking of the self will not only come from these different theories but by systematically and rigorously examining different empirical perspectives from social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral genetics. Our source materials will consist of journal articles (research reports and reviews published by experts in their field) and chapters from several books written by scientists for general audiences, as well as the occasional literary work and film. This course is designed for students interested in the sciences and will emphasize the development and refinement of writing skills. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Your Inner Fish: Evolution of the Human Body
Instructor: Alexander Schreiber
Priest College
This class explores how the genetic and anatomical legacy of fish and other ancestral organisms can be seen today in the human body. The evolution of human arms, legs, necks, and lungs can be traced back to fish that started living on land some 375 million years ago. The genetic legacy of this evolutionary history can be seen in human DNA, including in the genes involved in the development of our hands and limbs. This course introduces students to fundamental aspects of modern genetics and evolutionary theory. The class is designed for prospective biology majors who are interested in learning about one of the most exciting fields of study today known as “Evo-Devo”, or evolutionary developmental biology. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Impactful Leadership: Theory and Practice
Instructors: Elisa VanKirk and Marianna Locke
Reiff College
What makes a good leader? Are the traits of leaders inborn or learnable? Throughout the course, we will explore leadership theory and discuss how it applies to real life situations in our ever-changing world. Students will be introduced to various leadership philosophies, practices, and perspectives. Relevant leadership topics include: Mindfulness, privilege, diversity, motivation, vision, energy, inclusivity, and overcoming adversity. Communication will also be a central course theme. Clear communication is essential in academia and leadership. Students will develop their oral, written, and multimodal communication abilities through various course assignments. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

This Book Will Change Your Life
Instructors: Liz Regosin and Jeffery Frank
Romer College
Can reading make you a better person? Can it help you explore big questions related to the meaning of life? Can reading help you resist injustice and forces that would shrink your humanity and value? In this FYP we will live these questions by engaging with works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that help us to explore the purposes of creative writing in our time. Though we can immediately choose between—and stream—countless movies and shows, why is it that book groups continue to meet and discuss books? Maybe it is because writing still has the ability to change our lives. Together, in this FYP, we will form a community dedicated to testing the transformative power of literature. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Alan Turing at Work: Code Puzzling and Machine Thinking
Instructors: Paul Doty and Corey McGrath
Romoda College
The online world around us is an infrastructure of code. Although you may not know his name, Alan Turing, a mathematical logician who foresaw the relationship of hardware to software in 1936 and outlined machine thinking in 1950, helped define that world. Within the context of Turing’s foundational accomplishments, we are going to look at the logic in computing, considering computer code since how we understand concepts like machine thinking greatly benefits from understanding how code works.  Thus, with Alan Turing as our guide, we’ll seek the beautiful in code. This course DOES NOT assume students have written code; it does assume students have a lively curiosity for understanding the implications of computing in our lives and a willingness to gain experience with coding fundamentals.  This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

How To Tell a True War Story: The American War Movie Since Vietnam
Instructor: Bob Cowser
Sprague College
We will interrogate Hollywood's "war movie" genre, focusing on those produced since roughly 1980, screening films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin, Red Line, and American Sniper.  Though these films are considered “popular,” each engages with historiography (the composing of history and histories) by presenting the viewer with a narrative vision of the past, one which deserves close critical scrutiny since these films may be the only “texts” younger generations will encounter which deal with these conflicts.  We will ask whether it's in fact possible to tell a true war story or whether combat is in fact an incommunicable experience; whether it is good to tell a true war story (or make a good war film) or if to represent war is to perpetuate what Tim O'Brien calls "a terrible, old lie;" and whether many of the best war movies are actually ANTI-war movies.  We'll look at representations of race and gender in these films, and consider the ways we respond to movies, trying our hands at movie reviewing and more formal film criticism. *Popcorn not included.  This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Rural Dreams: Surveying the Plight and Promise of America's Small Towns
Instructors: George Repicky and Laura Lavoie
Van de Water College
While rural areas currently account for less than a fifth of America’s population, small towns have played an outsized role in the nation’s history, political economy, and understanding of itself, even as they have faced existential challenges for much of the past century.  In this course, we will closely examine the histories, present circumstances, and potential futures of rural America; debate whether small towns and their way of life need or deserve special protections; and consider what we can do about rural poverty, environmental problems, and the urban migration of talented young people.  The class will put special emphasis upon learning about Canton and its surrounding communities. To fulfill this goal, students will be asked to engage with texts from local authors and listen to the stories from our neighbors in New York’s North Country. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Myths and Monsters
Instructor: Tom Fraatz
Ward College
Myths are powerful tales of the human condition, of gods and monsters, of supernatural beings and human heroes. They are “fictions” that reveal fundamental “truths.” In this class we will consider myths in their ancient contexts in the Mediterranean and modern contexts (e.g. Star Wars, the Terminator). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

Theatre for Social Change
Instructor: Teresa Veramendi
Young College
Artists! Performers! Future educators, social workers, and leaders! Challenge the division between play and social change by using live theatre techniques to create and evolve cultural structures of power. Throughout this class, you will grow your ability to apply interactive theatre as a collaborative tool for understanding, communicating, and transforming issues of social justice. You will develop and write scenes based on contemporary memoirs from diverse perspectives, or from your own life. Together, we will study issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, nationality, age, and ability. These live theatre techniques are used internationally by educators and leaders for community building and problem-solving in groups of all sizes. By developing skill in this area, you will enhance your abilities as artists, educators, and catalysts for positive social transformation. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

New Laurentian Guide

First-Year Program

London: from Imperial Hub to Postcolonial Metropolis

Our apologies, but the London FYP is cancelled for Fall 2020. If you have previously selected this FYP and wish to change your selections, please write to

Please complete the FYP College Preference Form, Housing Assignment Profile Form, and Interests Form which will appear on your Application Status Page in early March. Also, please complete all of the other required forms.