First Year Program Spring Course Descriptions (FYS)

For current students, registration periods for Spring 2024 courses are:

  • Monday, November 6 (register for 1st course / up to 1.5 units total)
  • Tuesday, November 7 (register for 2nd course / up to 2.75 units total)
  • Thursday, November 9 (register for 3rd, 4th, and lab sections / up to 4.75 units total)

Students will be assigned a 2-hour registration period for each day of registration. Please check your email and APR for those registration windows.  

Changes to your FYS: You can make changes to your courses on APR 2.0 until Friday, December 15th at 4:30pm. APR will reopen on January 17, 2024 from 12 noon until 11:00 p.m. (EST) for all students to make schedule changes before classes start.  No changes to FYS courses will be accepted after Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 4:30 pm, which is also the last day for Add/Drop for all classes. You can find more details about the add/drop process on the Registrar's website.

Registering for courses with (CBL) designation: FYS courses with this designation include an experiential learning component known as Community-Based Learning (CBL).  Community-Based Learning (CBL) expands the walls of the classroom to include the community beyond SLU. Students in CBL courses actively engage in their learning by spending two hours a week outside of class time in a placement with one of our community partners. Students then connect their community placement experiences with course content.  Click on the link to learn more about Community-Based Learning. This year’s FYS courses w/CBL are: FRPG 2148CBL with Karen Gibson and FRPG 2144CBL with Adam Harr.

Registering for FYS Courses That Count as a Department Course: When reviewing the FYS course descriptions, please be aware of any courses that also count as departmental courses. If your FYS is equivalent to/counts as a SLU course, you cannot register for that FYS if you already have the equivalent course on your student record, either as residential or transfer credit. For example, students in FRPG 2068 will receive credit for PCA 111; if you have already taken PCA 111 you will not be allowed to register for this FYS, and the Register's office will remove you from this FYS on Wednesday during the break in Registration, so you will be required to register for another open FYS.  Other examples are listed below. Please review the descriptions for details


For new transfer students: contact your advisor Serge Onyper, who will assist you with registering for your spring classes, including your FYS course, if one is required. Complete all of the required forms on your application status page by no later than Tuesday, January 2, 2024. You will be notified of your housing by the Residence Life office before you arrive on campus. Keep watch of your SLU email for more information.

The First-Year Program office will reopen on January 2, 2024.


Spring 2024 Course Themes & FYS Descriptions

Courses offered in "Changing the World: Justice & Advocacy" consider ways that change, rebellion, dissent, leadership, and other movements can promote equity in our world.

International Relations in Action: Simulating Conflict and Cooperation in World Politics

Mert Kartal
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Decision-making, negotiation, public speaking, research, and teamwork are key skills that will benefit you during your university career and professional (and personal) life. These skills will often be lifesavers in any conflictual situation, whether you use them in business, in law, or to convince your significant other, family members, friends, colleagues, or employers to (not) act in a certain way. In this class, we will learn about these professional skills and practice them through various role-playing games and cases dealing specifically with international relations. More specifically, this course is designed as an experiential learning activity where you will study theories and evidence from political science and communication and apply them to some of the critical global issues we face today (e.g., wars, economic crises, refugee flows, climate change, pandemics, etc.) To this end, we will travel to Buffalo, NY, to participate in an intercollegiate IR simulation. We will leave on April 11 (in the morning) and come back on April 15 (around noon). In this simulation, which is a required component of the course, each of you will be assigned the role of a key player in world politics (e.g., a political leader) and will articulate your position in a manner representative of your real-world counterpart. Using oral presentations, written position papers, and open debate, you will seek to construct viable solutions agreeable to all parties involved. Ultimately, the course will help you develop a more profound knowledge of international politics and improve your skills in decision-making, negotiation, public speaking, research, and teamwork. This course also counts as a 200-level Government (GOVT) elective.

Consumer Culture and Everyday Life

Ashley Rife
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Our everyday lives are consumed by consumption. From the food we eat to the media we engage, consumerism is embedded into almost every facet of contemporary life. But, what does that really mean for us?  In this class, we will explore key issues of contemporary consumer society through theoretical perspectives to better understand our own relation to practices of consumption. We will dive into the role of consumerism in constructing our identities, politics, relationships with others and things, and more. Through critical engagement and reflection, you will examine your own consumptive practices, their entanglement with larger cultural systems, and, ultimately, how you can ethically apply your knowledge about consumerism to the issues that matter to you most.

Mindbugs and Blindspots

Mark Oakes
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

For as long as people have formed social groups, prejudice has existed. For nearly as long, scholars have thought and written about prejudice. The focus of this course will be on how psychologists understand this construct, exploring the ways that prejudice remains, for the most part, hidden despite its capacity to guide behavior. In addition to psychological research, we will look to artistic, cinematic, and literary depictions of inequality. The intersection of these disciplines will help illuminate topics such as the origins and persistence of prejudice, experiences of those targeted by prejudice, and techniques to reduce prejudice. Although scholars have focused on race and gender, we will also consider prejudice based on sexual orientation, age, ability, and appearance.

Crossing Borders, Inhabiting Borderlands

Penny Vlagopoulos
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Since Gloria Anzaldúa theorized the U.S.-Mexican border as “una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds,” borders have become simultaneously more porous and more impenetrable in increasingly complex ways. This course explores representations of border crossing and borderlands culture in contemporary literature and film, including Chicanx and indigenous stories that span both sides of the U.S.-border, Latinx migration narratives, and refugee stories from around the globe. Examining the ways in which the various settlers, crossers, immigrants, exiles, and refugees portrayed in these stories restructure notions of place and belonging, our goal is to gain a richer understanding of mobile lives and to consider how cultural texts do important work in contesting and revising popular (mis)understandings of migrants. Students will work in various stages toward a final research paper on a related topic of their choosing. This course counts as ENG 245 DIV and fulfills the DIV 13 and HU general education requirements.

Monsters and Myths

Kathleen Self
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Monsters are everywhere! In the sea, at the edges of the known world, under your bed! Myths are everywhere these days too, from Marvel's Thor to Rick Riordan's young adult novels. Myths and monsters often go together, often working together to describe the good, the bad, the evil, and the dead. What makes a monster, though? And what makes a story a myth? This class asks both those questions. Asking this helps us see how the claims to truth in a myth and the claims about monsters create and recreate culture and the boundaries of culture. We will look at Greek mythology, Old Norse mythology, medieval monsters (griffins! dragons!), and the modern cousins of all these. We'll use religious studies and monster theory (it's a real thing) to talk about and to write about these topics and to investigate the real-world consequences of using myths and of naming monsters. This course counts as a 100-level REL elective.

Algonquin-Adirondacks Connections:  Nature and People in a Transnational Region

Neil Forkey
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Imagine an international zone so fluid that natural species migrate more easily than humans.  It  exists and sits about 50 miles from our campus.  The Frontenac Arch-Thousand Islands terrestrial passage along the St. Lawrence River is where small and large animals, reptiles, and fish annually migrate. The Algonquin-to-Adirondacks (A2A) Collaborative is an undertaking by Canadian and American educators, scientists, and people to enhance biodiversity in this region.  They have plotted an ecological corridor stretching from Algonquin National Park in Ontario to New York’s Adirondack State Park. 

What are the deeper natural and human connections that foreground the A2A concept?  That will be a central question of this seminar.  A particular focus of the material will be the enduring indigenous (Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee) presence and interaction with these ecozones.  Using a chronological approach to the material, we will explore how the region changed as Canada and the United States emerged as individual nation-states between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries?  We will read short academic and news articles, access documentary films and podcasts, appreciate various forms of artistic expression, and likely hear from guest speakers. This course will count for Canadian Studies, and Native American Studies credit.

We Hold These Truths

Lawrence Boyette
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Equality.  Life.  Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.  Government by the consent of the governed.  What is the relationship between these fundamental American political values and beliefs, as embedded in the Declaration of Independence, and the values and beliefs that have shaped our economic structures and theory: property, self-interest, free markets, efficiency, entrepreneurship?  Exploring the tensions between these sets of values will be our project, a project we’ll conduct by engaging in analysis of present issues –reparations, disparities in schools; money’s influence in politics and the courts; inequalities of income and wealth; the winners and losers of globalization and financialization -- while also seeking to understand schools of economic thought that influence our analysis, or that have not directed our attention to the economics of these issues.  We’ll rediscover strands of once influential and particularly American economic thought, now largely “lost.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman placed women’s economic marginalization at the center of her social analysis; Henry George, the most widely read American economist of his time, challenged ways of thinking about property that yielded great productivity but also increased poverty.  We’ll meet Owen D. Young, SLU grad and celebrated business leader who wrote that he looked forward to the day when the workers hired the managers, and explore primary research by working in his papers deposited in our archives. Through this work we’ll develop the research skills, and context to facilitate your own research on issues, contemporary or historical, of interest to you that involve the ongoing struggle to reconcile our political and economic values. This course counts as a 100-level History course and fulfills the HU general education requirements.

Moth to the Flame: Modern Satire & Dystopia

Rebecca Jewell
T/Th 12-2:10pm

Satirical and dystopian works often illuminate pressing issues, present humorous scenarios, and/or portray fantastic visions of post-apocalyptic worlds.  While we are drawn to the fictional escape these works can provide, through them we are also encouraged to question our own realities and ponder both the best and worst humanity has to offer. In this course we will study a variety of works--including novels, short stories, and films--to examine the function of satire in modern times. We will explore themes of identity, gender, and power as well as satirical techniques and rhetorical strategies. Through our exploration of the topic, students will develop their research skills and refine their oral communication skills. This course fulfills the HU general education requirements.

Speak Up!

Erika Kissam
T/Th 12-2:10pm

What makes someone a good speaker and why are oral communication skills among the most desirable skills on the job market? This course introduces public speaking concepts and skills rooted in the rhetorical tradition and is designed to develop effective presentation skills, critical thinking, and astute listening. In addition to research, constructing, and delivering speeches, students will learn principles of rhetorical analysis and critique. This course counts as PCA 111 and fulfills the ARTS general education requirements.

Restorative Circles & K-12 Education

Esther Oey
T/Th 12-2:10pm

Why are K-12 schools moving to restorative practices rather than traditional forms of school discipline? What does it look? What do students, teachers and administrators think of it? What is needed to make it work? And finally, is it effective? Let's take a look at restorative circles and find out how several schools in the North Country are implementing them to address issues from belonging to acceptance to addressing the devastating harm of racial incidents.

Introduction to Journalism Studies

Juraj Kittler
T/Th 12-2:10pm

This class meets twice a week with the goal of producing an update for an existing news website of The Hill News. Our meetings during the semester will focus on two equally important issues: journalistic theory and practice. In the first half of the semester, we will learn how to write and analyze basic types of stories in a style particular to the news media, with an emphasis on accuracy, clarity, and efficiency. We will also discuss the mission of the journalist in a democratic society. In the second half of the semester, we will practice and refine these writing and reporting skills in an atmosphere closely resembling the conditions in a digital-era newsroom: covering actual events of local, state, national and international importance as they unfold in real time - all this under the pressure of real deadlines. Each week, different students will take responsibility for the production of our newscast while reporters assigned to cover particular stories will interview persons with expertise in relevant fields. We will take into consideration the positions of nationally recognized authorities, yet we will contrast them with the views of our own available sources here at St. Lawrence. The result will be a complex mosaic of socially-relevant events which will be properly localized in order to make them appealing to our own Laurentian community.

Energy and the Environment

George Repicky
T/Th 12-2:10pm

Why is every car manufacturer in the world aiming to convert to all electric by 2035? And what does it mean if a lot of that electricity continues to come from fossil fuels? Does the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement matter or is the agreement too weak to have any real impact? Why are rural areas around the North Country fighting solar and wind farm development? Why didn’t we see sustained growth in the American Coal industry despite the Trump administration’s promises and policies?  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 course readings and discussion, as well as their own research projects. Please note that this course will make extensive use of technology, such as WeVideo, and audio recordings in both the research process and for the production of the final projects. This course fulfills the SS general graduation requirements.

Gender, Visual Arts, & Film in South & West Asia

Chandreyi Basu
T/Th 12-2:10pm

This first-year seminar introduces the process of analyzing visual arts and film through the lens of gender. It focuses on recent examples of artworks and films created in, or related to, South and West Asia by artists and filmmakers of varied identities and explores the following broad themes: the representation of gender hierarchies and inequities; the influence of gender constructs on the making and viewing of art in diverse socio-economic and political contexts; the changing roles of men, women, and other marginalized groups in society; socially and culturally constructed body images; and the relationship of gender, art, and religious identities. To aid our analysis of primary materials (artworks and films), we'll read, view, and listen to sources produced by scholars, activists, artists and filmmakers, social workers, as well as journalists. Students will learn how to lead discussion on these sources, to apply them to real-life issues in their own communities, and to develop independent research on an artist, artwork, film, filmmaker, art or film genre, or any other topic of their choice as long as it is relevant to gender issues in South and West Asian art. This course counts as a 200-level Art History course, Asian Studies elective, and a Gender Studies elective. It also fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

Courses offered in "The Intentional Life: Interconnectedness & Wellness" seek out practices, discussions, and ways of being intentionally connected to one another in our daily lives through our work and our play.

How to Like It

Josh Exoo
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

"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 complement 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. This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.

The Science of Attraction and Relationships

Megs Carpenter
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

For many of us, our romantic and sexual relationships are among the most impactful in our lives. Being desired by and desiring others drives much of our behaviors, including how we dress, what we post online, and even how we spend our money. Throughout this course we will provide a broad overview of the research topics, methods, and findings related to the scientific study of intimate relationships. Content will include an investigation of how our early attachment to caregivers influences our relationships as adults, the factors (physical and otherwise) that influence our initial attraction to others, theories of relationship initiation, growth, and maintenance, as well as predictors of relationship dissolution. We will examine different relationship structures, including “friends-with-benefits” and consensual non-monogamy, as well as cross-cultural differences in attraction and relationship norms. This course is grounded in social psychology and personality psychology theory and is not intended as a self-help course or a proxy for relationship counseling. When you are finished with this course you will have a greater understanding of the factors that promote relationship satisfaction, and conversely, relationship dissolution. Through our exploration of this topic, students will develop their research and oral communication skills.

Modern China through Fiction and Film

Zhenjun Zheng
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

In this course, we will study selected masterpieces of modern Chinese fiction and internationally acclaimed Chinese films, including the representative works by well-known writers such as Lu Xun, Ba Jin, Yu Dafu, and famous film directors such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Wang Xiaoshuai, and others. All readings are in English. Through reading and examining these highly enjoyable literary works against historical context, this course seeks to improve students’ understanding of modern history and society of China since 1840. It also aims at enhancing students’ interests and skills in reading and analysis of Chinese fiction and film and developing skills of critical thinking and scholarly research. This course is an equivalent to Asia/Film/History 232 and fulfills the HU general education requirements.

The Plate and the Planet: Stories about Eating and the Environment

Paul Graham
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

The central argument of this course is that scientists, conservationists, and others seeking to communicate the problems between humans, food production, environmental crisis and public health need the help of storytellers, plain and simple. What can novels, stories, and memoirs add to the urgent conversation about the consequences of how people across diverse communities eat? How can stories uniquely explore individual dietary tastes and choices? This introduction to a very specific subgenre of food writing surveys stories published mostly in the last five years on farming, seeds, animals, workers, communities, tradition, and, of course, eating. The stories we will read illuminate an unavoidable but often-neglected truth: that while we’d like to think our decisions about how we eat are confined to the store, the kitchen, the dining hall, or the restaurant, uncountable other daily decisions, conscious and not, really guide us. For this reason, it is important to explore the role humans play in the food/climate crisis on a deeply personal level in addition to utilizing the more common quantitative and journalistic approaches.

Sensory Bubbles and Perceptual Biases

Elyssa Twedt
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Sensory Bubbles & Perceptual Biases - Consider the environment you are in at this moment. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? These experiences are filtered through your sensory and perceptual systems, shaped through your unique combination of biological, cognitive, and social factors. Thus, two people can be in the same environment, yet have different experiences. But humans are not alone in this world. From the spider on the window, to the bird in the tree, to the dog in the yard, each animal experiences their environment through their own sensory and perceptual lens. In this course, we will explore these differences using psychological, biological, social, and environmental perspectives. Ultimately, we will deepen our understanding and appreciation for the diversity of sensory and perceptual experiences, both within humans and between animals.

Childhood Across Cultures (w/CBL)

Adam Harr
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Do humans have an “instinct” to adore and care for children? Do children everywhere go through the same developmental stages? When does childhood begin and end? How should caregivers speak to a child? When and how is it appropriate for children to behave as sexual beings? Different cultures and historical periods exhibit a range of ways of imagining and enacting the early stages of human life. In this class, we will treat this diversity as a vast experimental laboratory for understanding the malleability of the human condition. By examining case studies of childhood across a variety of cultures and gaining first-hand experience with children living in the North Country, we will explore the question of what is natural and what is cultural about our ideas of childhood. This course counts as ANTH 244 and fulfills the SS and DIV13 general education requirements.

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 in the community.

Courses in "Figuring it Out: Purpose, Problems & Solutions" engage students in probing problems or purpose to understand solutions and why some are more readily solved than others.

Extreme Physiology and Medicine

Alex Schreiber
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

This reading-, writing-, and content-heavy course is designed for students interested in the health sciences. What happens to the body and mind at the limits of human endurance? How do humans acclimate physiologically to extreme environments, such as Mt. Everest, Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, the ocean depths, and space? This course investigates how geographic exploration has transformed modern medicine and our understanding of how the human body is capable of surviving extreme duress. You will learn core principles of cardiovascular, respiratory, water balance, and stress physiology by studying human performance under adverse conditions. You will learn the physiological basis of conditions like hypothermia, high altitude pulmonary edema, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and dehydration, as well as how to treat these.

From Farmyard to Pets:  Our Evolving Relationship with Animals (w/CBL)

Karen Gibson
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Do you own pets? Perhaps it feels more like they own you. What do our current relationships with animals look like and how do they affect us? As we begin to treat animals such as dogs and cats as family members, what issues will arise and how will we resolve them?  This class will focus on our interactions with other species, starting with domestication before moving on to the many ways our lifestyles have impacted wildlife. With more and more species affected by climate change and habitat loss, do we have a moral responsibility to address their suffering? What is anthropomorphism and how does it factor into our treatment of other species? In Western society, why do we let dogs into our houses, but eat pigs? What does a factory farm look like and what dangers do they present? Should we be moving toward more sustainable sources of meat? These and other questions will be addressed as we make our way through the course. In addition to several non-fiction readings that address the above issues, we will explore the ways various animals are portrayed in film and fiction. If possible, we will also visit a local farm and/or animal shelter. The Community-Based Learning component of this course will provide students with an opportunity for hands-on work with animals through placements at local animal shelters and farms.

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). Students are encouraged to think about the experiential aspect of the community placement, how that placement serves as part of the course materials, and how it will be incorporated into the class during the semester as the experience unfolds.

To Supplement or Not to Supplement, That is the Question

Jennifer Pfotenhauer
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

The global nutrition supplement market is a billion-dollar industry and growing every year. They can be vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, probiotics, protein powders and more. Why are supplements so popular? Are they healthy for us? Are they safe? Do they actually work? Should we be taking them, or should we focus on our diet as the source of these nutrients? Information and opinions about this topic come to us from many sources from Tik Tok to websites to podcasts to academic journals and clinical studies. In this course we will review and discuss a variety of these sources and learn how to find evidence-based information about nutrition supplements. Each student will choose a supplement to research and apply skills developed in class to write and present an argument to answer the question - to supplement or not to supplement.

The Good Place and the Good Life

Jeff Maynes
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

The central question of NBC's sitcom The Good Place is 'how can we be ethically good people?'  It is also one of the rare television shows with a main character who is a professional philosopher!  In this course, we will take up this question, and drawing on many of the same resources from moral philosophy as the characters in the show we will try to figure out what it means to be good, what makes ethical claims true or false, and how to live a good life in a complex world.  Students will read classic and contemporary works in ethics with a focus on developing research skills, including how to apply those research skills to questions of immediate relevance to students' own lives.

Health, Disease, and Death: Medicine and Epidemiology in Philosophical Context

Richard Lauer
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Research in medicine—whose focus is the treatment and prevention of disease—and epidemiology—whose focus is the cause of the spread of disease has long informed policy making that impacts our lives, but it also presents an array of interesting philosophical questions: What does it mean to be healthy? What is a disease? To what extent are health and disease socially constructed and to what extent are they biological? What is death and what are our obligations to the dying? When can we infer causation from correlation? In this course, we will study these questions, explore the ethical implications of different answers to them, and improve our understanding of the scientific methods used in medicine and epidemiology, particularly as they relate to philosophical understandings of science. This course fulfills the HU general education requirements. Counts as Phil-100 equivalent and as a public health elective (Critical Humanistic Perspective on Health).

Urgent Wisdom: Philosophy in the Age of Climate Change

Katharine Wolfe
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

In the face of climate change, how might we best live? How can we confront this and other catastrophes with responsibility, virtuosity, and grace? Might some pieces of the solution lie in ancient wisdom rather than the technological innovations of generations to come? Engaging with ancient works of philosophy such as Plato’s Socratic Dialogues as well as indigenous theories and knowledges shared by V.F. Cordova and others, this course asks students to consider the possibility that the insights and worldviews of past generations, preserved in ancient texts and carried forward in many communities today, might hold keys to living ethically and sustainably not just now but for generations to follow. Over the course of the semester, students undertake research projects exploring the larger context out of which an ancient or ancestral vein of wisdom and knowledge evolved and its philosophical import, then contemplate the power and promise of these forms of wisdom in addressing climate change (or an alternative issue of their choice) confronting communities today. This course counts as PHIL 100 and fulfills the HU general education requirements.

Courses in "Human Invention: Knowledge, Practice & Action" focus on understanding the how and the why, but ultimately end up practicing the “doing."

Beginning Acting: Text, Character, Action

Matthew Hultgren
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

How do actors bring life to dramatic writing and infuse the recreation of human stories with character? This class explores the process and techniques employed by actors in both live and recorded performance. Course work combines practical and experiential actor-training with traditional research methods and dramaturgical study. Regular writing exercises allow students to reflect on their acting experiences, research real-world inspirations for modern plays and characters, and draft scenic analyses, combining intellectual scrutiny with creative choice-making. Students will learn how to: use the voice, mind, and body to craft scripted and improvised performances; analyze monologues and scenes to enrich characterization and clarify storytelling; and apply transferable acting skills like sense-memory, behavioral observation, essential action, and responsive listening to develop greater personal empathy and human understanding. This course counts as PCA 107. This course fulfills the ARTS general education requirements.

Mokuhanga: many artists/many lives

Melissa Schulenberg
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

This combined studio art/research course will introduce students to mokuhanga, the Japanese style water-based woodcut process. Students will produce original woodblock prints in addition to research projects that utilize artwork from the University’s collections. We will study the history of Japanese printmaking, popular imagery and subjects, how to analyze visual material, and contemporary trends.

This is Your Brain on Music: The Psychology of Music

Michelle Martin-Atwood
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

Why do we like the music we like?  What makes a musician? According to Siu-Lan Tan, “the field of psychology of music is concerned with the processes by which people perceive, respond to, and create music, and how they integrate it into their lives.”  We will explore the physical properties of sound and the perception and cognition of melody, rhythm, and musical structure.  We will also consider the question of meaning in music, and the social, emotional, and universal significance of music. How musical are nonhuman animals? Do cultures perform music (and think about performance) differently?  Are there ‘musical universals’?  What really is music? This course fulfills the ARTS general education requirement.

Courses in "New Horizons: Global & Historical Conversations" invite students to investigate a culture, time, space, and/or place different than St. Lawrence University in the contemporary time.

Practical Elements of Local Time Travel: Jeffrey Campbell '33

Melissane Schrems|
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

“We study history so that we can know the past, engage the present, and impact the future.”

Fall semester 2023 opened with racist graffiti sprayed on the sidewalk outside of Whitman Hall. Rumor has it that White faculty still say the “n-word” in their classes. Being a person of color (POC) at a predominantly White institution (PWI) is challenging. It also represents a challenge for actively anti racist people, regardless of their ethnicity. Researching the first Black Laurentian Jeffery Campbell’s history will help to respond to similar present-day Laurentian experiences and impact our responses to future ones.

 We are traveling back to the early 20th century and investigate Jeffrey Campbell and his world.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” -- L.P. Hartley

We will visit and recreate the life of fellow Laurentian, Jeffrey Campbell: his home life, his campus life, his life after graduation. We will dive into local and national histories, material culture and interviews. We will create a digital exhibit of this famous Laurentian while considering the topics of race, religion, and gender and how they have changed over time.

This course counts as a history course.

The River of Time

Mark Holland
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

This course explores the concept of deep time in the context of the geology of Grand Canyon. The Colorado River has carved one of the most spectacular landscapes in North America and exposed rocks that record nearly two billion years of Earth's history. In this course, we will learn to interpret the history of Earth as it is encoded in the stratigraphic record, how geologists place absolute timing constraints on these events, and what North America's past can help us predict about its future.

Adirondack Arts & Archives

Mark Sturges
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

This first-year seminar explores the cultural geography of the Adirondacks of northern New York through the lens of literary, visual, musical, and material artifacts. For the past four hundred years and more, the North Country has inspired a flourishing culture of traditional arts and crafts, folk tales and music, landscape painting and photography, fiction and poetry. We’ll discuss a variety of such artistic responses, including Haudenosaunee artworks and cultural artifacts, the regional poetry of Jeanne Robert Foster and Maurice Kenny, paintings and prints by Rockwell Kent and Harold Weston, the cedar canoes built by Canton resident J. Henry Rushton, and the folk songs collected by Marjorie Lansing Porter. To experience these materials firsthand, we’ll view the visual collections in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and spend time examining archival materials in the Owen D. Young Library’s Special Collections. Students will eventually identify a topic that excites them, research its history and artistry, and present their findings to the class. Along the way, they will gain a richer understanding of the cultural geography of the North Country and deepen their sense of place as they continue their studies in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains.

Writing Home: A Historical, Ecological, Socioeconomic, and Literary Exploration of our Hometowns

Natalia Singer
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

In this course, which also fulfills the ARTS general education requirement and a 100-level English class, we’ll write research-rich creative nonfiction essays about where we grew up.  The research we conduct will include the demography of our hometowns, some natural history, and social history.  You will learn how to read census statistics and how to thread vivid personal narrative with socioeconomic data, ecology, and social history.  You will get an opportunity to interview someone from your hometown, either a relative or the historian or a family member, and perhaps this part of the research will allow you to walk in the footsteps of former citizens who fascinate you, including outlaws, artists, business leaders, and reformers.  For those with an interest in establishing a sense of place and exploring the environment, please note that we will also spend a couple classes walking outside and making this campus and the town of Canton our second hometown.

World of Plants

Aswini Pai
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm + Lab Th 1-4pm

American environmentalist Thoreau once said, “Show me a seed and I will show you hope”.  But plants signify so much more than mere hope.  Plants have catalyzed human civilizations through agriculture, induced the great opium wars, healed with their medicines, intoxicated with alcohols, given visions with hallucinogens, and even triggered colonization of the tropics by seducing Europe with spices.  Armadas in search of green gold sailed the oceans on ships made of trees. All of these examples illustrate how dependent humans are on plants, connected to them in myriad ways.  Plant species and communities also form the warp and weft of nature, weaving together various aspects of biodiversity in an ecosystem, connecting insects, birds, animals, and fungi by providing nectar, foliage, fruit, detritus, and habitat.  However, we rarely think about plants unless we dabble in gardening or grow crops. Through this course, we will examine the amazing diversity of plants and their cultural and economic importance as sources of foods, fibers, dyes, medicines, poisons and intoxicants.  We will look at the role of plants in nature and human society while examining how anthropological activity has impacted plants species.  We will read from books and literature about how plants have historically influenced human societies and how botanical explorers have sought out plants at grave risk to life and limb.  Students can choose to research an individual plant species or group of plants through biological, historical, socio-cultural, economic, and folklore literature. Lab will focus on exploring morphological and anatomical form and function.  This course fulfills the EL and NS-L general education requirements.


Molecules that Changed History

Stephanie Tartakoff
T/Th 10:10am-12:20pm

What makes a pepper spicy, a medication work in the body, or TNT explode?  It all boils down to something smaller than our eyes can see, MOLECULES! Modern science has made some pivotal discoveries on a molecular level that have altered the directions of historical timelines.  Spices and the subsequent spice trade and colonialism, antibiotics and the preservation of human life, and explosives and their applications to society are just a few molecules we will explore in this class and their impacts on humankind. While gaining some foundational organic chemistry knowledge along the way, we will discover the economic, physical, social, and political effects of 17 molecules. Writing  and effective communication will be an important part of your future career whether you plan to be a scientist, doctor, or storyteller.  The written assignments and oral presentations are tailored to improve your communication skills and will cover a variety of styles and formats culminating in a research project on an important historical molecule.

Courses in "Visionary Ventures: New Advances & Entrepreneurship" explore ways to reimagine the “old”, develop the “new”, and think about ways to move from “it’s always been done this way” to “how could this be different."

The Not So Mad Scientist in the Contemporary Imagination

Rachel Bara Sturges
T/Th 12-2:10pm

Marie Curie often slept with a small jar of radium near her pillow. The continuous, yet very toxic, glow soothed her. Before meteorologist James Glashier traveled to the stratosphere, he referred to the hot air balloon dispassionately as an “instrument of Vertical Exploration.” Mathematician Alan Turing began codebreaking as a teenager at boarding school. While many scientists claim that their work stands alone and bears no connection to their private lives, we cannot help but wonder about their personal journeys. What made them so great? What made their ideas so influential? In this seminar, we will read several recent graphic biographies of scientists and view films based on these books. We will examine the ways biographers, artists, and filmmakers work to craft stories about real people, and take a look at archival materials, historical footage, and the narratives that get told again and again about scientists. Students will write a research paper that explores and examines one of the biography and film pairings. The course fulfills the HU general education requirements.

Très Chic: French Cuisine, Trends, and Lifestyle Around The World

Alessandro Giardino
T/Th 12-2:10pm

In this FYS we will focus on French chefs, writers, artists and filmmakers who have spread French sophistication around the world, by also shaping the imagery of four countries: Morocco, Iran, Japan and Canada. Through short videos, novels, films, and artworks, we will examine the influence of French cuisine, fashion and lifestyle on the conflicted history of each one of these regions of the world, as well as on their unique cultural and artistic profile. This course is cross-listed with European Studies, counts as a 200-level French course (upon instructor's early approval), counts as French 3000 and fulfills the HU general education requirements.

History Rebooted: Alan Turing and Understanding Artificial Intelligence

Paul Doty
T/Th 12-2:10pm

The course will begin with a succinct exploration of the life and work of Alan Turing. Turing's 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" is the seminal essay for human interaction with intelligent machines.  With Turing as a context, the course will then turn its attention to recent developments in the field of artificial intelligence, and what these developments suggest about the emergence of thinking machines. Each student will create a significant research project on the implications artificial intelligence, implications that might include the future of work, education, and human self-reliance.  This is a reading and writing intensive course, and whatever happens you will get to know Alan Turing—someone you really ought to understand.