First-Year Program Fall Course Descriptions
Please complete the FYP College Preference Form, Housing Form, and Interests form, which will appear on your Application Status Page in early March.
Login to your status page to complete these 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
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. DISCLAIMER: Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic, students should note that there is still a possibility that a CBL experience may need to pivot from being an in-person experience to being completely virtual.
Rural Dreams: Surveying the Plight and Promise of America’s Small Towns (CBL)
Instructor: George Repicky
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. Whatever the size of your hometown, exploring small town America—of which Canton, NY (population 6,500) is just one example—is an opportunity to address economic, political, and social questions and explore entrepreneurial solutions to real-world problems. 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 growing urban/rural divide. The class will put special emphasis upon learning about our region and surrounding communities. To fulfill this goal, students will be asked to participate in the Community-Based Learning (CBL) program. 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. DISCLAIMER: Due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic, students should note that there is still a possibility that a CBL experience may need to pivot from being an in-person experience to being completely virtual.
FYP Courses with Travel
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.
London: Greene to Screen: Adapting the Novels of Graham Greene
Instructor: Bob Cowser
Because best-selling English novelist Graham Greene’s life (1904-1991) spanned not only the twentieth century but also the globe (he was an Oxford graduate, a fire warden during the London Blitz, and a foreign correspondent/British spy in first in Africa and Asia, and later Haiti and Latin America), he is an interesting locus for a consideration of the British Empire in its wane and English life in the last hundred years. Greene wrote 26 novels in all, but this class will focus on 3 of the better-known novels-- Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair, and The Quiet American—and on cinematic adaptions of them (each has been twice adapted for the silver screen). Students will consider and discuss formal elements of the novels but also differences between textual and cinematic manifestations, or between different cinematic interpretations, and also cultural dimensions (that is to say, the ways each text is a product of its age). We will take field trips to his birthplace at Berkhamsted, to Oxford to see where he studied, and to Brighton which figures in two of the novels. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement. Students admitted to St. Lawrence will be able to apply to the London FYP online. Applications are usually due by Friday, April 23, with notification following after Monday, April 26. These dates may change this year. Click here to apply to the program!
Silent Seasons: Human Impacts on Our Natural World
Instructors: Aswini Pai and Paul Siskind
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 includes fieldtrips to nearby wildlife centers, farms, and fish hatcheries. 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.
An Outdoor State of Mind
Instructor: Anna Carpenter and Taylor Huntley
Why do many of us seek out the natural world as a place to play, experience adventure, relieve stress, and rest our minds? What is it about spending time and engaging in physical activity in the outdoors that seems to attract and heal many of us? 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, and practice 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.
Seeding Hope: Environmentalism, Sustainability, and the Reclamation of the Sacred
Instructor: Matt Burnett
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 activities based at SLU’s Sustainability Farm and in the local community, 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 Native American 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.
Other FYP Courses
African Myth and Reality
Instructor: Matthew Carotenuto
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
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 and religious rituals associated with ghosts and the afterlife. No particular religious or spiritual background or knowledge of religion is expected for the course. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Trailblazers of Civil Rights: Audre Lorde and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Instructors: Ryan Acton and Alvin Henry
This course looks at the writing of two trailblazers of Civil Rights. In the first half of the course, we will look at Martin Luther King, Jr's vision of what a truly just nation would look like. We will discuss his writings from the 1960s on topics such as integration, poverty, and war. In the second half of the course, we will turn to Audre Lorde. A leading advocate of feminism and queer liberation, Lorde made the experiences of Black women central to Civil Rights in the 1970s. In addition to reading her essays and poetry, we will read her great novel, Zami, a powerful, fictionalized account of her experience growing up as a queer child of immigrants in New York City. A scholar of Black studies and literature and a historian of political thought and modern American life will jointly teach the course. We will focus on skills including how to read college-level material, write college papers, and speak in academic and professional settings. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Coldest Cold War Flicks
Instructor: JJ Jockel
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.
Rebels, Hipsters, and Visionaries: The Beat Generation and Beyond
Instructor: Penny Vlagopoulos
“I had found the teachers, the soundtrack and the proper motivation for my life,” actor Johnny Depp wrote of his introduction to the Beats when he was fifteen years old. The literary group known as the Beat Generation erupted in the late 1940s, influencing innumerable writers, artists, activists, and wanderers over the years and attracting loyal adherents in each new generation. Disrupting conventional notions of self and society and positioning themselves globally, the Beats resisted the stifling conformity of the Cold War era and restructured categories of race, gender, and sexuality. Their uniquely imaginative models for life and art flourished into new forms of social, cultural, and political radicalism in the decades to come, from the counterculture and Black and Brown power movements of the ’60 and ’70s to the punk and alternative cultures of the ’80s and ’90s up to the activist movements of the past few years. The course will focus on key figures and moments in this lineage of rebellion, leading up to a “kindred spirits” project that will give students the opportunity to repurpose the spirit of these visionaries through the particular lens of their own generation. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Loss, Grief, and Rituals
Instructors: Gabrielle Clover and Pamela Thacher
The pandemic has changed so much about our lives. Much of the thinking we’re doing right now, as we assess where we’re at, involves a weighing of the changes and the losses we’ve seen in our lives. In this course we’ll be focusing on the idea of loss – how do we understand and integrate loss in our lives? We’ll be discussing the emotional, material, and difficult elements of loss, including death. First, we’ll examine how we experience loss: our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Second, we’ll look at other types of loss and how they affect us. Many cultures use elaborate rites to mark the loss of someone who is loved in the community, but many cultures also have taboos regarding the acknowledgement of some categories of loss. Third, we will examine the actions we take to enable us to move on from loss, focusing on rituals. You'll reflect on personally meaningful rituals and family-based traditions, as well as those from broader spiritual or religious foundations, and how rituals help us heal. Along the way, you’ll develop a stronger sense of how rituals serve us all, despite loss, death, and grief, to stay connected to each other, our past, and our futures. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
"What's That Sound?"
Instructor: Larry Boyette
“Stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down” sang Buffalo Springfield in a song that became an anthem of the 60s. This class is centered on the question: what is sound, and what role does sound play in our lives? We’ll explore sound from the perspective of physics, biology, medicine, folklore, history, politics, craftsmanship, technology, and music. We will engage sound by meeting and speaking with people whose lives and careers are centered on sound, and we’ll explore the sounds of the SLU campus. We will also make our own sounds, from drumming the rhythms of different cultures to learning to use music-making technology to craft our own compositions. We will shape sound, and explore how sounds shape us. So, as musicians say, “get your ears out,” and let’s discover what’s going down with sound. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
The Devil’s Music
Instructor: Michelle Martin-Atwood
When rock-and-roll surged in popularity in the mid-1950’s, some groups were horrified by the “savage rhythms” and the sexual double entendre of the lyrics, calling it “the Devil’s music.” Beatles records were burned in 1966, and censorship has continued, including banning videos from MTV, preventing groups from performing on talk shows, and cutting songs from the radio. However, this is not only a recent phenomenon. From slave-owners banning drums to cut off communication to Indian Ragas which are only to be played at certain hours of the day or night, music has been banned outright, strictly limited, or at the very least, labeled as dangerous. We will explore several case studies throughout human history where music was considered to be the work of the devil and examine the impacts that this judgement had on the music. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Gendered Leadership: Understanding How Identity Influences Our Perspectives and Practices
Instructors: Marianna Locke
This course will examine challenges and opportunities related to gendered leadership. Specific attention will be given to women’s experiences. Course highlights include analyzing traditional and contemporary leadership models, exploring signature traits of inclusive leadership, cultivating deeper self-awareness, developing communication skills, and improving your ability to help others feel a sense of belonging. Although much of the course will be rooted in an analysis of gender, we will consider various social identities and the influence they have on our leadership perspectives and practices. By developing a more complex understanding of issues related to identity, this course will help prepare students to lead in diverse settings with greater compassion, confidence, and competence. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Walking Across Cultures
Instructor: Wendi Haugh
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 consider the effects of walking on physical and psychological well-being, and we will examine how and why people walk in many different cultural contexts. 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 solitary city strolls to guided bird walks, from long-distance hikes to social movement marches. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Sherlock Holmes and the Art and Science of Reasoning
Instructor: Jeff Maynes
Sherlock Holmes is perhaps fiction's greatest detective. 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, as well as how to use these skills to communicate clearly and be more successful in all of their courses. We will also focus on how to reduce the influence of cognitive bias, how misinformation spreads through social networks, and how to reason critically about science. 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 your ability to solve crimes). This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Markets and Morality: The Ethical and Philosophical Dimensions of Business and Economics
Instructor: Richard Lauer
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: Josh Exoo and Rebecca Jewell
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.
Am I Really Me? Understanding the Self in Virtual and Digital Worlds
Instructor: Ryan Deuel
We all live a large portion of our lives in some form of virtual reality. Our identities, our relationships, our communications, and our way of seeing and understanding the world are increasingly shaped by our virtual interactions: from streamers on YouTube to influencers on Instagram; from news in Snaps and Tweets to pop culture trends on TikTok. Social media and viral videos do more than entertain us; they mobilize social movements, social unrest, and social justice. So, how do we differentiate between what is virtual and what is real? Is a follower a friend? What’s real versus fake news? How do we tell the difference? What happens when (mis)information online collides with real health, political, social, and environmental challenges? How has mobile technology reshaped the way we communicate and the way we exercise or resist power? How does #FOMO keep us coming back to these virtual spaces? This course will explore the different ways we interface with technology. It will consider how our identities are shaped by what we see, hear, and do online. Students will learn how to become more aware of the ways in which our virtual selves inform and govern our real selves. It will also encourage students to consider how they might utilize their virtual selves to gain agency and ethically empower their real selves, real spaces, and real society. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Identity and Belonging in the St. Lawrence Valley
Instructor: Neil Forkey
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
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 practice telling and listening to our own stories. We will explore the many forms storytelling can take, including the rapidly evolving world of digital storytelling. 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 (and screen!), at home, and in our communities. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Tales of the Anthropocene: History, Politics, and Literature in an Age of Environmental Crisis
Instructor: Howard Eissenstat
The capacity of humans to adapt to new situations—and to make the world adapt to us—has made us one of the most successful species ever. It has also resulted in shocking, remarkable changes in the fabric of our planet, so much so that geologists have come to describe our epoch as the Anthropocene, an age where the chief influence on the earth has been human action. This is not new – witness humanity’s role in the extinction of the mastodon – but it is accelerating in ways that are only becoming evident in the past few generations. This course attempts to think broadly about this history, thinking back over millennia and centuries, rather than decades. It also focuses on our limited success in addressing a looming crisis. How did we come to this existential impasse and why has it proven so difficult to grapple with it? Are there ways that we can learn from this history going forward? This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Winning the Interregnum with Social Democracy: How to Stop Fascism Again
Instructor: Jayantha Jayman
How do we acknowledge and deal with fascism in a period of potential shift in world power and leadership, or the interregnum? An increase in inequity within and between societies along with a high degree of awareness of each other has meant that our sense of justice is being challenged and we are seeing decline into forms of proto-fascism again, except this time it is global, with ‘citizens’ feeling outrage by perceiving ‘others’ gaining advantages. Yet, there is also a sense of decency and empathy, particularly among the young, as social justice has been central to our sense of morality. This course intends to build on young minds tired of conflict, to rediscover solutions to social problems. Together we will explore the first half of the 20th century that faced two world wars, genocides, mass migration, and a depression, and how we came out of it to try to maintain our humanity. What can the first half of the 1900s teach us as we face ideological disarray, genocide and colonization, extreme social division, and the threat of major war, while also dealing with an ongoing pandemic? We will read, debate, and write about thinkers from the past, and those from today, to assess how nations are meeting these challenges, with a particular focus on the most powerful nation of the world, the United States. We will consider how at this time the United States again seeks to make a difference where the world goes via liberalism, and even hints of social democracy, while competing authoritarian regimes and ideologies offer political and economic alternatives with appeal to proto-fascism. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
The Science of the Self
Instructors: Mark Oakes and Serge Onyper
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, social media influence, self-esteem, and deindividuation. 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 behavioral sciences and will emphasize the development and refinement of communication skills. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Untangling Quantum Computing
Instructor: Munir Pirbhai
Come explore how humans are rethinking computers. Over the past decade, governments around the world have invested over $7 billion trying to build a new kind of computing machine: quantum computers. What are they? How are they different from your laptop, desktop, or smartphone? Why does everybody want one? How soon before you can walk out of Best Buy with such a machine? This course will delve into questions at the forefront of physics and will introduce you to the language of the atomic world: quantum mechanics. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Exploring Impactful and Inclusive Leadership
Instructors: Ashlee Downing-Duke, Laura Lavoie, and John Robert O’Connor
Leadership is complicated. How do you become a good leader? How do you determine what kind of leader you want to be? How do you lead individuals who are different from you? How do issues of diversity, equity and inclusion impact leadership and team dynamics? Throughout the course, we will explore leadership theory and discuss its immediate applications to the campus community and beyond. We will observe and reflect on leadership through scholarly readings, in literature, media, and through our experiences both on campus and in the local community. We will examine how elements of positionality and social identity impact leadership and development of leadership practices. We will craft, through synthesis, your own personal leadership philosophy. Communication and self-reflection will be core to the course. Students will be expected to find ways to apply their leadership philosophy and find ways to experiment with leadership to inform their roles as student leaders within the campus community and beyond. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
This Book Will Change Your Life
Instructors: Liz Regosin and Jeffery Frank
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.
Games Countries Play: Strategic Choice in International Relations
Instructor: Mert Kartal
Have you ever heard about the prisoner’s dilemma, chicken, stag hunt, and/or the battle of the sexes? In the language of game theory, these are examples of strategic interactions (“games”) between individual decision-makers (“players”). Broadly speaking, game theory uses mathematics to analyze conflict and cooperation among actors in several fields of study such as economics and political science. In this course, we will learn about the applications of game theory in international politics; our focus will be on issues such as terrorism, nuclear weapons, human rights, refugees, climate change, pandemics, and we will employ quantitative reasoning to explore these issues in detail. Doing so, we will often refer to actual games (such as rock-paper-scissors and tic-tac-toe), movies (such as A Beautiful Mind, Back to the Future, and The Dark Knight Rises), and sports (such as penalty kicks in soccer). Importantly, the course will assume no quantitative skills beyond high school mathematics, but a strong willingness to learn and apply quantitative reasoning to model interactions among actors in international relations will be key to success in the course. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
Say What? Let's Talk: Learning to Listen and Speak across Difference
Instructors: Esther Oey and Brenda Papineau
Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Did that person just say that?”? Have you ever felt like someone just didn’t understand where you were coming from? Have you ever found yourself caught off-guard by a comment and weren't sure how to respond? In this course, students will take stock of the aspects of their personal and social identities and how those identities shape their perspectives and life experiences. Topics will include emotional intelligence, active listening, empathy, civility, and other topics as they relate to diversity and inclusion. Students will engage in class exercises and deliberative dialogue that will increase their abilities to manage difficult conversations. This formal process--called InterGroup Dialogue (IGD)--explores how to talk across difference. IGD allows for critical self-reflection and offers the opportunity to challenge biases while building skills of listening, multiple perspective taking, and holding judgement “softly”. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
How To Tell a True War Story: The American War Movie Since Vietnam
Instructor Paul Doty
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.
Ancient Myths, Modern Narratives, and the Power to Shape Society
Instructor: Tom Fraatz
Myths are a funny thing. We know that myths are “false” – yet we also put great emphasis on the “truths” they reveal. Myths shape, and are shaped by, the cultures that tell and retell them. In this class, we’ll consider the myths of our time, dystopian literature and comic book films. After examining how myths function in our modern context, we’ll explore myths in the ancient world, like Theseus and the Minotaur or the Amazons. We’ll conclude by pitching a retelling of ancient myth as a Netflix miniseries. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.
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 forms listed on your status page.