Participating First Year Research Exchanges | St. Lawrence University FYS Research Exchange

Participating First Year Research Exchanges


Dr. Sara Ashpole, Environmental Studies & Sustainability Program

Green Cities: Growing a Community: This course will meet off campus at the Environmental Studies Living Laboratory; transportation will be provided. Today, more than half of the world's population lives in cities. As the urban population grows, so does the demand on urban resources and the impact from energy, water, waste, air, and food. The ecology of urban systems considers the interactions of living and nonliving components and ecological planning seeks a restorative footprint. Often food resources are overlooked when designing cities and supporting healthy diverse communities. A broken food system endangers our environment and our health. Sustainable cities incorporate food-how it is grown, distributed, consumed, and disposed of-into the urban design. Eating locally and food-growing projects are rapidly evolving movements in urban settings. This course will explore sustainable communities and examine alternative food systems in cities from around the globe that are shortening their food chains, taking food security into their own hands, and bridging cultures.  

Mr. Matt Burnett, First Year Program

Biomimicry: Using Nature as a Model for Contemporary Design: This course will emphasize the research, analysis, and exploration of natural patterns and systems as a model for contemporary design. After researching recent biomimicry developments in industry, the sciences, and other fields, students will employ several design media (including but not limited to: drawing, photography, digital modeling, and 3-D printing) as an analytical method in their investigations of nature's "systemness." In the words of Dr. Janine Benyus, after 3.8 billion years of research & development, nature knows what works, what is appropriate, and what lasts. The course culminates in a semester-long design project and presentation.

Dr. Matthew Carotenuto, History

Sport in Africa: The Culture and Politics of Play. Even before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the political and social significance of sport for African societies had long been established. For instance in July of 2002 the West African nation of Senegal scored a shocking upset victory on the soccer field over France during the World Cup which sparked celebrations throughout the country and much of the African continent. While one could view this as a victory confined to the world of sport, many Africans perceived it as a conquest over the historic legacies of racism and colonial rule. Senegal had been a French colony, with soccer introduced in West Africa during this time. And since Senegalese independence in 1960, the nation has still been heavily dependent economically and politically on its continued ties to France. Thus many in West Africa felt that it was only through the world of sport that Senegal could ever have the upper hand on its former colonial master.

In this seminar, you will be challenged to look at the cultural and political meanings of diverse leisure activities in Africa. From organized sport, to the dance floor of an urban nightclub, this seminar will examine how leisure activities have been defined throughout the last one hundred years in Africa, and the ways Africans have expressed their cultural and political identities through these activities. Drawing from a wide number of areas in both Africa and the broader African diaspora, you will not only gain a broader understanding of African cultural history but also gain insight into the role leisure activities play in our own societies.

Students in this research seminar will begin with a broad introduction to African studies and history and then narrow their focus to examine critical issues related to sport and leisure in Africa and in some cases the African diaspora. As a First Year Seminar students will be challenged to engage in cutting edge scholarship and debate issues during class sessions while also developing the skills to undertake an independent research project. Throughout the semester, students will work in stages on producing a significant interdisciplinary research paper on a topic of their choosing related to the course theme. I expect students to come to the class prepared to be challenged with course materials and commit significant time outside of class on independent research.

Dr. Adam Hill, Chemistry

General Chemistry. From metabolism to renewable energy, the tools of thermodynamics and kinetics provide a powerful lens through which to both understand the universe and solve practical problems. The major goals of this course are to learn, understand, and use chemical principles while developing the ability to pursue scientific research projects. Topics will include types of chemical bonding and reactions, reaction equilibria, thermodynamics, and kinetics. Writing, speaking, and laboratory assignments will provide an opportunity to demonstrate conceptual understanding and an ability to apply this to chemical problem solving. The course will culminate with each student selecting a scientific topic to research in the context of the chemical principles learned over the course of the semester.

Ms. Erika Kissam, Performance Communication Arts

Speak Up! Rhetoric and Public Speaking. What makes someone a good speaker and why are oral communication skills among the most desirable skills on the job market? This course provides an introduction to public speaking rooted in the rhetorical tradition. In addition to researching, constructing, and delivering speeches, students will learn the principles of rhetorical analysis and critique. This course counts as PCA 111 and fulfills the FYS and ARTS general education requirements.

Mrs. Katie Murphy, First Year Program

The GOLDEN DOOR: Immigration & Asylum in Contemporary Literature. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," intones the Statue of Liberty in Emma Lazurus's poem "The Colossus." To these masses, she offers the beacon of her "lamp beside the golden door." As inhabitants of a settler colonial society, almost all US citizens can trace their history to some form of immigration; however, in recent years, immigration and asylum have taken their place amongst the most polarizing issues in the United States. In this seminar, students will examine these issues from various perspectives--from a US border patrol agent to a recently-resettled Syrian refugee--in contemporary fiction and nonfiction. By reading and analyzing these texts, students will gain insight into the individual realities of forced migration, which are often dislocated from the ubiquitous political talking points in the media. Students will lend their voices to the conversation through a culminating research project that develops their own critical perspecti on the subject.

Dr. David Murphy, Environmental Studies

Energy, Our Environment, and You. Most of the major changes in civilization since the last ice age are correlated with changes in how humans harness energy. Whether it is the development of sailing (wind power), domestication of horses (horse power), development of the steam engine (fossil fuel power), or the discovery of nuclear energy, society has advanced only so far as the energy that powers it. We enjoy many of the benefits of energy exploitation, whether it is flying around the world, better healthcare, or even just eating fresh fruit out-of-season. But these benefits have not been distributed evenly around the world, nor have they come without environmental cost. Billions of people around the world live in dire poverty and the Earth is showing numerous signs that it is seriously ailing, including coral bleaching, increasing rates of extinctions, deforestation, sea level rise, glacier and permafrost melt, and, quite literally, the demolition of entire mountains. This class will examine the intimate relationship of these three variables, energy, the environment, and you, the consumer. We will read about the impacts that energy extraction and consumption has on the environment and how we, as consumers, can make practical choices to better our lives and Earth’s environment. This is not a class about how to be “sustainable,” rather it is a class about how to be a better global environmental citizen. 

Dr. Rosa Williams, History & African Studies Program

Race, Power, Resistance: Freedom Struggles in Southern Africa. In the 1960s, people in Southern Africa who had lived for generations under colonial and white settler regimes took up more radical forms of resistance to these racist power structures. That resistance took many forms: from civil disobedience, to artistic expression, to the taking up of arms. It provoked intense debates among supporters of these movements, of all races and ethnicities, about how the struggle should be fought and about what a future society should look like. From the mid 1970s, white supremacist political systems across Southern Africa were gradually defeated, and, in 1994, the world celebrated when Nelson Mandela, a former political prisoner, become the first president of a democratic South Africa. But the debates which emerged during these years of struggle continue. Today, younger generations who were 'born free' in Southern Africa question why their societies remain so unequal; they ask what can be learned from the past and how they can transform their futures. This FYS will ask you to consider these questions yourself, through researching the perspectives of Southern Africans expressed in sources ranging from political speeches, underground newspapers, memoirs and fiction to posters, films and music.