Spring FYS Offerings
For current students, registration on APR2 opens Monday, November 8 at 7:00 am and closes at 11:59 pm. First years should register for their FYS course in this window. The second registration window opens on Tuesday, November 9 at 7:00 am and closes at 11:59 pm; students should register for their second choice course at this time. The third and final course window opens on Thursday, November 11 at 7:00 am and closes on Friday, December 17 at 11:59 pm; students should register for their last two courses (up to 5.00 units for FY students and up to 4.75 units for other class years) in this final window. Check APR for class times.
Changes to your FYS: You can make changes to your courses on APR 2.0 until Friday, December 17 at 11:59 pm. After that date, all changes to FYS registrations and other courses must be completed using the add/drop form, which you will find on the Registrar's website. No changes to FYS courses will be accepted after Thursday, January 27, 2022 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). The CBL component will require students to participate in a community placement, outside of class time, on a weekly basis throughout the semester. However, due to the ongoing and unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, students should plan for the possibility of virtual engagement. Virtual engagement will vary in form and duration depending on the community partner site. In some cases, students might be able to connect with people, and in other cases, students are tasked with creating content and other behind-the-scenes-projects. While virtual engagement goes against the grain of an in-person, hands-on experience, 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. 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 2198CBL with Camilla Ammirati.
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.
Select another FYS course if you have already taken one of these departmental courses:
FRPG 2068, counts as PCA 111;
FRPG 2156, counts as PHIL 100;
FRPG 2168, counts as CLAS 105;
FRPG 2181, counts as PHIL 100;
FRPG 2187, counts as EDUC 203;
FRPG 2188, counts as ENG 243;
FRPG 2189, counts as ENG 245DIV;
FRPG 2193, counts as ENG 245; and
FRPG 2194, counts as GS 101 and toward the Public Health minor.
Students may take one of these FYS courses, even if they have taken another 100 or 200 level course in that department:
FRPG 2012 and 2179 is cross-listed with EDUC and can count for one course in the EDUC Studies minor;
FRPG 2079, 2164, and 2182, count as a 100-level HIST course;
FRPG 2149, counts as a 100-level HIST and counts towards the AFS minor;
FRPG 2172, counts as an elective in ANTH;
FRPG 2174, counts as a 200-level elective in GOVT;
FRPG 2183, counts as a 100-level Canadian Studies and 100-level HIST;
FRPG 2184, counts as ENVS (N/S) elective;
FRPG 2192 is cross-listed with Outdoor Studies; and
FRPG 2195, counts as a 100-level dual-listed elective in English and in Environmental Studies.
FYS Courses Spring 2022
Radical Thought: A Brief History
Is modern society fundamentally sick? In need of radical transformation rather than just reform? Is our world of democratic governance, a capitalist economy, and slowly evolving gender norms the best that we can hope for? In this course, we will sample four influential and provocative veins of radical thinkers—thinkers, that is, who sought to transform the world. We will look at: 1) the Marxist tradition that condemns capitalism for turning humans—all humans—into its cogs; 2) the environmentalist thinkers of the late 1900s who sought to prioritize the health of the natural environment over human desires and needs; 3) the feminist and queer radicals of the 1970s, who sought to remake family and sexual relationships; and, 4) the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche, who condemned democracy and morality for forging a society of mediocre people. We will ask, what, if anything, we can learn from these bracing traditions. Do we live in a sick society? And if so, can we do anything about it? What can we learn from the successes and failures of the radicals of the past? Come prepared to grapple with big ideas and sometimes hard readings and to engage your peers in discussion. This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
Food Roots and Futures
Food traditions and food sovereignty. Chomping cheese curds at the county fair and smuggling turmeric across the world in a lipstick tube. What do these things mean and what do they have in common? How do they come about, and where do they take us? In this course, we’ll examine food traditions and cultures, including your own and those of others around the North Country and beyond, in order to consider how people connect to their past, negotiate their present, and secure or imagine their future through food. Through reflection on your own experience and research into varied food cultures and practices--and the workings and sustainability of the underlying food systems they depend on--we’ll consider the roots and roles of these meaningful foods as well as the ways that continuing, losing, or transforming treasured food traditions can take us forward in different ways as individuals and larger communities. 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. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Body and Soul: Matter and Forces in the Universe
What is the universe made of? How did it begin? How did it evolve? In this course we shall explore rational attempts to answer these questions, ranging from those of the first Greek philosophers to those in modern cosmology. Our journey will take us to the standard model of particle physics and Einstein's theory of general relativity. The standard model describes three of the four fundamental interactions between the known elementary particles, and general relativity accounts for the fourth, gravitation. The combination of both theories, along with recent astronomical observations, allows us to predict how the universe must have evolved, and also reveals that about ninety five percent of its content is made of unknown substances. We shall also discuss how modern physical theories are grounded in symmetry principles, and how the concept of "symmetry" that often underlies our notion of beauty can be formulated mathematically. As we research these topics, we will also work on how to find appropriate information sources, how to write up the results of our research, and how to present it to the desired target audience. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Chocolate and our Environment
Cocoa has been cultivated for centuries and today it’s a much loved indulgent confectionery. In this course, students explore the interdisciplinary nature of chocolate and sustainability. Chocolate is art, music, film, literature, spiritual, medicinal, culinary, commodity, injustice, environment and science. Historians shed light on how chocolate changed the world. Economists show a greedy consumer-driven global chocolate market estimated at 139 billion USD, which might just vanish as scientists estimate there are less than 25 years before the plant faces extinction from climate change. This course aims to foster creativity by allowing students to share their own ideas and interests around chocolate. A multimedia research project will have independent and collaborative elements to engage the SLU community in fun and exciting ways. Students will also enhance their professional development skills through participation in both Sustainability Day and the Chocolate Passport Festival celebration. This course counts as a Nature/Society (N/S) elective in Environmental Studies and fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Is evil a thing in the world, or is evil constructed in how human beings describe the world? The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “There is no such thing as moral phenomena, but only a moral interpretation of phenomena.” Is he right? What would that mean for us? For our conceptions of justice and ethics? We can also observe the frequency with which political institutions deploy the term “evil” to demonize a population, which leads to violations of civil rights and, often, to atrocities committed against them in the name of eradicating that evil. In this FYS we will explore these issues using a variety of texts, including academic writing, primary resources, news reports, films, music, and comics. Some case studies include early Christian conceptions of the Devil, Nazi and American WWII war propaganda, and the “Satanic Panic” in the 1980 & 90s, especially how that focused on the game Dungeons & Dragons and Heavy Metal music; we’ll use these to talk about how people have spoken of evil and understand the effects of that discourse. This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
"We hold these truths…"?: The American Struggle to Define and Achieve Economic Justice
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 FYS and HU general education requirements.
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 and development, nature knows what works, what is appropriate, and what lasts. The course culminates in a semester-long design project and presentation/ This course fulfills the FYS and ARTS general education requirements.
Sport in Africa: The Culture and Politics of Play
In 2002, the West African nation of Senegal scored a shocking upset victory during the World Cup. Defeating their former colonial ruler France in soccer, sparked a declaration of a national holiday in Senegal and celebrations throughout 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. Thus what does the study of sport in Africa tell us more broadly about Africa’s place in world history? And how can sport be an important lens for studying social and cultural issues more broadly? This First Year Seminar uses the lens of global sport to examine the social and political world of Africa and the wider African diaspora. From the racial and gendered hierarchies of colonialism to the contemporary world of global sport migration and international relations, students will be challenged to analyze the interdisciplinary significance of sport far beyond the playing field. The course will introduce students to the ways the humanities and social sciences approach the study of sport in an intercultural context. By engaging critically with diverse perspectives, students will also be challenged to reflect on their own backgrounds. This course counts as a 100-level HIST course, towards the AFS minor and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
Raise Your Voice: Non-Dominant Narratives of Wild Spaces
Author, feminist, and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams, argues that environmental issues are social justice issues. She explores what it means to be connected to the land, our communities, and our identities through language, story, and social activism. She writes that “bearing witness to both the beauty and pain in our world is a task that I want to be part of…if we choose to turn our backs, we’ve walked away from what it means to be human.” In this class, we will read literature from Terry Tempest Williams and other female authors to explore the often-untold histories and stories of non-dominant voices in outdoor recreation and the environmental movement. We will explore what it is about the wilderness that makes many of us feel more in touch with ourselves and our world. We will also explore what barriers exist in accessing the outdoors and what voices are often left out of conversations about outdoor recreation and land management. Throughout the semester, students will research and present on the intersection of identity and nature. As much as possible, we will be spending time outside and exploring the natural world. This course is cross-listed with Outdoor Studies and fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Introduction to Latino Cultural Expressions
Martha Chew Sanchez
This introductory course on Latino Cultural expressions will help students understand the complexities involved in the dynamics of Latinos in the US history, economy, politics and cultural expression. Some questions that we will ask in this course are: While Latinas/os have been integral to U.S. history and culture, why have they frequently and consistently been depicted as either outsiders or foreign and how is Latina/o identity negotiated? How do we explain the presence of different Latino groups in the US and what are the cultural expressions that are taking place in the US due to these migration waves? What are some of the dynamics that are taking place between Latino/a cultural production in relationship both to larger U.S. culture and to other U.S. racial and ethnic groups? We will also question the development and /or existence of Latinidad - the relationship between and common culture among Latino/as in U.S. culture and how it manifests itself through cultural expressions such as literature, music, films and social media. Our readings focus on musical genres, writers and popular culture from various Latino/a groups. Our topics will include: migration, language, the body, gender roles, sexual orientation and identity politics in the works of authors and artists. This course counts as CLAS 105 and fulfills the FYS, HU, and DIV13 general education requirements.
The Death of Mourning: Cultural Attitudes Toward Loss
Do you know what death culture is? Countries around the world have different traditions around death, including how people are mourned or celebrated and how the deceased body is handled. In this course, we will be researching traditions of death and exploring their deeper meanings. We will first learn how death is approached in the United States, considering what the majority American culture traditionally shies away from or fears to explore and feel with regard to death. Is death accepted? How do we celebrate life, and how do we mourn the loss? Along the way we will also learn about various other cultures' approaches to death. You will complete a research project that explores one element of death in the United States. This course fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
What is History?
The question is a large one: it asks not only what and who are included in the study of the past but also who gets to tell these stories. Many people debate this question including historians, politicians, and, perhaps most importantly, ordinary citizens. This course will examine examples such as the debates about the origins and meanings of Confederate memorial statues and the role of racial injustice in national origins revealed by the New York Times “1619 project” and the law (since repealed) that required French students to learn about the positive impacts of imperialism. For their projects, students will choose a topic of current debate and research the historical origins of the controversy. You will use written text but also images such as photographs, cartoons, and video to explore your topic. This course counts as a 100-level History course and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
The Culture of Surveillance
The word “surveillance” often conjures up George Orwell’s dystopian world in 1984, where a totalitarian government had obliterated intellectual and political freedoms and kept an ever-watchful eye on its citizens. Today, mass surveillance certainly exists in the United States, everything from local traffic cameras to federal agencies monitoring our electronic communications. Edward Snowden revealed just how much the U.S. government knows about us. Yet, there are other kinds of surveillance that we often fail to recognize. These include corporate surveillance and the surveillance we do to ourselves. We use social media to keep track of our friends and family, let Alexa do our shopping, and rely on smart devices to monitor nearly every aspect of our daily lives. In turn, we readily hand over valuable information to Big Tech and advertisers every time we go online. Orwell could never have conceived of such a future. Students in this course will learn about the Culture of Surveillance through readings, videos, and discussions, and they will be invited to question why they should care about surveillance themselves. Students will develop a research project that explores the wide-ranging effects of surveillance on people’s daily lives, come to recognize the impact of various surveillance practices on our society, and become familiar with tools that can help them better secure their personal data and protect their individual privacy. This course fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
After the Twin Towers: Twenty Years of “the War on Terror”
Twenty-years ago a band of nineteen militants associated with the al Qaeda, armed only with box cutters, staged an attack on the United States that has fundamentally reshaped the world ever since. It sparked two US wars and countless additional military operations. It created vast new bureaucracies aimed at providing security against unseen and unpredictable new threats. And it opened up a new securitization in the name of “fighting terror,” not only in the West, but around the World. How do we assess these transformations? Have they made us safer? Have they protected our freedoms? And indeed, who is the “us” that we are referring to when we make these assessments? In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it was often said that “the world will never be the same.” That could well be true. But making sense of those changes is the key challenge of this course. This course is aimed at allowing students to explore the diverse and complex ways that this history unfolded through original research projects that address their own personal and intellectual interests. This course counts as a 100-level History course and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
How to Like It: Depictions of Happiness in the Modern World
"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.
Defending the North American Environment: A History of Community Action in Canada and the United States
The dire warnings of climate change can leave a person feeling helpless and with little hope of affecting positive change for our own times and the future. What difference can a single individual make to assure the long-term stability of our natural environment? Although singular actions are important, history provides examples of successful collective action; of communities recognizing an environmental problem and taking action to address it. Canada and the United States share a terrestrial border that is more than 5,500 miles long. In between, lay common water bodies, rivers, mountains, forest, biota, and over 20,000 years of human habitation. That long history contains examples of Canadians and Americans working for a better local and global environment. In this seminar, we will explore such topics as: First Peoples’ protection of forests; the clean-up of Great Lakes communities; African-Americans’ struggle for better living conditions and healthier urban settings; activists’ use of the science of ecology to advocate against chemical dumping and nuclear power; and, contemporary examples of communal efforts to lessen our carbon footprint. Along with brief scholarly articles, students will access primary documents, art, films, and other media. This course counts as a 100-level Canadian Studies course, as a 100-level History course, and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
What Does It Mean to Be Educated?
In this course we will take part in the interesting-and often very contentious-conversation provoked by a seemingly simple question: What does it mean to be educated? Across cultures and time thinkers and writers have responded to this question in very different ways, and a major goal of this course is to assess the quality of these responses while also developing our own way of addressing the question. The course will help us develop a deeper appreciation for the study of education, and it will empower us to find our own voice in this tremendously important conversation. To this end, each student will pursue a research project of their own choosing related to key themes from the course. This course is cross-listed with Education, can count for one course in the Education Studies minor and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
From Pets to Factory Farms: Our Evolving Relationship with Animals (CBL)
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 life styles 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. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Writing Your Life—And Then Some
This course focuses on writing about your own lived experience, whether recent or distant—without blinders. How can researching historical context, reading current scholarship and journalistic reporting, and exploring other perspectives expand and clarify your understanding about your own life? How can a broader perspective as author help readers respond to your insights about your experience? Welcome to the “hybrid memoir”—part personal narrative, part research. Memoirists and essayists have a long tradition of working diverse perspectives and knowledge into their essays, and that is what we will do here. In this FYS, we will explore the genre of creative nonfiction. This will lead us to examine subgenres, story structure, characterization, integrating research, and the moves that lead readers to not only understand, but empathize with our own journeys and experiences. In addition to crafting a deeply-researched essay, we will also create a digital narrative, workshop our pages with the class, and learn what it really means to be a writer. Readings in this course will model personal responses to climate change and environmental crisis from many perspectives. This course counts as ENG 243, Techniques of Creative Nonfiction and fulfills the FYS and ARTS general education requirements.
Humans and Other Animals
We humans often set ourselves apart from or above all other animal species, yet we share more than we might realize with other animals and our lives are deeply intertwined with theirs. In this research-focused seminar, we will address the following questions, and many more: How similar to and different from our closest living relatives are we? What kinds of relationships do hunters and herders from different cultures have with the animals they hunt and herd? What do we think about the wild animals we love to observe and about the pets we welcome into our homes as family, and how are their lives affected by our interest in them? What is happening to animals as we intensify our agricultural systems and increase our impact on ecosystems, and what are we doing about it? We will explore these questions through reflective writing, academic readings, documentary films, class discussion, and your own research projects. We will spend significant time working on research and writing skills that will serve you well during your time here at college and long beyond. This course counts as an ANTH elective and fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Black Life in Fiction and Film
This course explores contemporary Black life through recent works of fiction and film. We will focus on works about the experiences of Black youth, Black women, and Black queer people. We will analyze how socioeconomic class, gender, and sexuality shape the lives of the people in these works. We will watch, for instance, Moonlight, a 2017 film about a young, queer Black man’s struggle for acceptance. We will also read Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, a novel (from 2011) about a young mother’s efforts to save her family from the approaching Hurricane Katrina. Other works may include Jennie Livingston’s documentary Paris is Burning, Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, and Octavia Butler’s science fiction story “Bloodchild.” This FYS also will focus on developing the skills necessary to conduct academic research, to communicate effectively in speech and in writing, and to navigate college. This course counts as ENG 245DIV and fulfills the FYS, HU, and DIV13 general education requirements.
This course is permission only and enrollment is restricted to LAS Scholars. The processes of discovery and creation in the natural and formal sciences—the production of new knowledge, techniques, and products—requires action on the part of researchers. In STEM, researchers gain the ability to do this in part through hands-on, apprenticeship-style research projects where they gain discipline-specific skills. In this FYS, you will be paired with a faculty mentor to take on such a project in a field of your choosing. During class, you will learn the skills to explore the scientific literature and learn the background knowledge to support your hands-on research. You will also learn general STEM principles and techniques in technical writing and graphic design to support the clear transmission of those ideas. The course will culminate with oral and poster presentations and a research paper that convey the background and results of your semester research project to your peers. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement. This course is permission only. To enroll, please contact the instructor.
Wild Animals I Have Known
While most people are aware of the need to conserve rare plants and animals, in our age of screens we are more isolated than ever from the wildlife in our own back yards. This course aims to introduce students to the wildlife of eastern North America, how researchers measure wildlife populations and their needs, and the barriers that have historically kept minorities from careers in nature. Among other hands-on activities, we may use taxidermy and skulls to learn to identify our species, track foxes to their dens, snowshoe through the forest, estimate the chickadee population on campus, visit a zoo or nature center, talk with state biologists, and create an event with Nature Up North to educate the public. We will explore essays and stories that influenced the history of wildlife management, and the science that now informs policy makers and land owners. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
An introduction to the reasons for the emergence of a global political economy. Using case studies, students examine the basic concepts and vocabulary in the political-economic analysis of globalization, such as free trade, capital accumulation, international division of labor, neo-liberalism, privatization, structural adjustment and sustainable development. The course explores the consequences of changing patterns of transnational economic and governance structures for nation-states, ecosystems and people's lives, and examines the repercussions of economic globalization. Discussion of the opposition movements that have formed to contest globalization, such as those emerging from labor movements, environmentalism and feminism. Also offered through Peace Studies. This course counts as GS 101, counts toward the Public Health minor, and fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Moth to the Flame: Modern Satire and Dystopia
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 read a variety of works, including Herland, Fight Club, and This Perfect Day, and watch films such as Idiocracy, The Meaning of Life, and V for Vendetta to examine the function of satire in modern times. We will explore themes of identity, gender, and power. Through our exploration of the topic, students will develop their research skills and refine their oral communication skills. This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
The Perfect Spy: The Cold War and John Le Carré
This FYS will sample the Cold War work of the great British spy novelist, John Le Carré. The class first will read Le Carré’s short, early novel and murder mystery, “Call for the Dead” in which he introduces the unassuming spy and spy hunter, George Smiley. This will be followed by “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” which ends in a clandestine, dangerous crossing of the Berlin Wall, and still can shock because of its suggestion that Western and Communist intelligence services used the same tactics and thus might even have been morally equivalent. The class then will turn to the “Karla” trilogy in which Smiley contends with the Soviet spy master, codenamed “Karla,” including trying to uncover a “mole” that “Karla” has managed to place somewhere at the very top of the British Intelligence Service. The final reading is “A Perfect Spy,” about a British intelligence officer and double agent. The class will also view and discuss the feature film versions of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,” with Richard Burton in the leading role and “Tinker, Sailor, Soldier Spy,” based on the first novel of the “Karla” trilogy, in which Gary Oldman plays Smiley. Students will write a research paper on an aspect of Cold War espionage, literary or historic, of their choosing. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
International Relations in Action: Simulating Conflict and Cooperation in World Politics
Decision-making, negotiation, public speaking, research, and teamwork are key skills that will be of benefit to you not only during your university career but also throughout your professional (and personal) life. These skills will often prove to be lifesavers in any type of 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 a variety of 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 key global issues we face today (e.g., wars, economic crises, refugee flows, climate change, pandemics, etc.). To this end, 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 deeper knowledge of international politics and improve your skills in decision-making, negotiation, public speaking, research, and teamwork. This course counts as a 200-level GOVT elective and fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Speak Up: Rhetoric and Public Speaking
What makes someone a good speaker? Why do Americans report fearing public speaking more than they fear death? How did Barack Obama's skilled oratory influence his presidential campaign? 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.
Health, Disease, and Death: Medicine and Epidemiology in Philosophical Context
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 counts as PHIL 100 and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
Sport and Society: Exclusive and Empowering Games
Sports embody a complicated dualism. Sports can be very exclusive and perpetuate social inequalities, but sports can also serve as a powerful agent for change. This course will examine sport as an evolving social institution. We will study the relationship between self and society by exploring how social identities influence sporting experiences. Students will be asked to think critically about sports, the organization of sports, and how sports relate to their social lives. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their own experiences as participants and spectators, and to connect these with larger social issues involving sports. Ultimately, we will seek to create more inclusive and equitable sporting environments through our collective research and actions. This course fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
The Good Place and Good Life
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. This course counts as PHIL 100 and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
Neuroscience of Stress
When you get up to give a talk in front of your peers, your body responds just like an antelope being chased by a lion. Stress is an adaptive physiological response to stimuli that present an immediate threat to an organism present in all vertebrates. In humans this survival mechanism can be hijacked, wreaking havoc on the body and mind. This course will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to explore the science behind the relationship between stress, brain, body, and behavior. We will cover the biological mechanisms of stress and the neural pathways that coordinate the stress response. We will examine the effects of stress on health and well-being and study the physiological, neurochemical, and psychological techniques for assessing stress levels. We will try to understand the origins of resilience to adversity and explore interventions to reduce and manage stress. You will gain skills to read, understand, and analyze scientific literature and learn how to effectively communicate scientific findings in various modalities and to different audiences. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Magic in Medieval Thought
This course explores the role of magic in medieval thought, society, history, and literature. We will examine the relationship of magical beliefs to philosophy, religion, science, medicine, and politics in medieval Europe. The course includes extensive primary source readings from medieval authors and research assignments on related topics. This course fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
Energy and the Environment
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 blogs, WeVideo, and audio recordings in both the research process and for the production of the final projects. This course fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Extreme Physiology and Medicine
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. This course is designed for students interested in the health sciences. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Contemporary Issues in Education
This course introduces students to the range of current and critical issues in American education. In this course, we will consider how political, ideological, social and cultural forces shape schooling. Through class discussions, assignments, and other class activities, students will explore current, overarching questions in education including: What is the purpose of schooling? Who benefits/suffers from these purported ideals and goals? Are schools designed to equalize society? Or do schools further reproduce societal norms and social class? Should schools play a role in challenging the status quo? How are social constructs such as race, class, and gender reproduced in the classroom? How do capitalism, globalization, and democracy play out in education? Further, what is the teacher’s role and responsibility for educating students within the political and historical context of schooling in America? This course counts as EDUC 203 and fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Where Are You From?
In this environmental writing and research seminar we’ll answer this question from multiple perspectives. We’ll learn the demography of our hometowns, explore their ecological history, and walk in the footsteps of former citizens who fascinate us, including outlaws, artists, business leaders, and reformers. While remaining mindful of how the U.S. as a settler colony violently displaced the continent’s original inhabits and relied on the free labor of enslaved people, we’ll explore how abolitionists, conservationists, suffragettes, and today’s activists in intersectional social movements are working to protect vulnerable people and species. Although our texts are about the United States, international students are also encouraged to take this class to ensure that our explorations of our roots take us around the globe. After examining our places of origin with curiosity, sharpening our research skills, and honing our craft as creative writers, we’ll end by debating how we could make our hometowns, and indeed, our planet a place where all citizens, human and non, can flourish. This course counts as a 100-level dual-listed elective in English and in Environmental Studies and fulfills the FYS and ARTS general education requirements.
Understanding Music from the Inside Out
Despite the cliché, music is not a "universal language!" Throughout history, music has played different roles in different cultures and meant different things to different people. This makes music a surprisingly challenging topic to understand, to describe in mere words, and to research and write about. This course will explore various facets of what music "means" and how music "works," including: Why did music evolve in human cultures? How does music stimulate our emotions? Are folk music, popular music, and "classical" music actually different from each other? We will explore these questions through learning about the various elements within music; through listening to a wide variety of musical styles; and through researching musical topics of your own interest. Previous experience in performing music or reading music notations are not necessary for this course; the only prerequisites are open ears and an open mind. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Safety and the Brain: A Neuropsychological Perspective
This course will focus on understanding more about how a feeling of safety is generated and detected in the body, integrated with the physiology of the heart and the lungs, and how those processes are translated into behavior, emotion, and psychological health (or psychological problems). Recently, the process of understanding these elements have been the focus of the Polyvagal Theory, which will be the focus of this course. We will also examine how the theory works with our understanding how trauma and the search for safety are intimately intertwined in our day to day choices about how to move through our world. This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.
Sports, Gender, and Education
Do sports teach life lessons? What do we really learn from sports? Do sports influence one’s values? Are different genders taught to look at competition, performance, and achievements in different ways? Are men, women, boys, and girls trained differently in athletics? Do sports perpetuate notions of toxic masculinity? Why are many sports stars linked to violence? What is the role media play when it comes to sports, gender, winning, and losing? This class will explore and examine these questions while students assess their own educational experiences in sport. Additionally, throughout the semester, students will examine the Education Act of 1972 known as Title IX. Students will explore how an act that was not exclusive to athletics greatly changed the landscape of sports at schools, colleges, and universities across the country. We will explore these issues through readings, class discussions, oral presentations, research, current news, and films. There will also be an opportunity to research a gender issue in education and sport that interests you. Students will expand on their topics throughout the semester, culminating in a final paper. This course is cross-listed with Education, can count for one course in the Educational Studies minor, and fulfills the FYS and SS general education requirements.
Crossing Borders, Inhabiting Borderlands
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 and fulfills the FYS and HU general education requirements.
For new transfer students: contact your advisor Elun Gabriel, 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 Monday, December 20, 2021. 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 3, 2022.