First-Year Seminars by Semester

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Seminars are open to first-year students only. All first year seminars can be scheduled through LionPATH.

 

Spring 2018

CAS 84 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Communication Arts and Sciences (GH)

Class #17820~ Tu Th 12:05 PM - 1:20 PM ~ Instructor: TBD

Popular music sends powerful messages about the lives and values of the people who produced, performed, and consumed it. A close examination of musical practices over time and space can illuminate fundamental issues in American culture and history including the influence of technology, ideology, class, gender, and race on various genres of music -- jazz, swing, gospel, country, rhythm and blues, and rock; the multiple forms and influence of African American music; and songs and social movements, including the union, suffrage movement, and Civil Rights movements to what we have today.

PLSC 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Political Science (GS)

Class #18089 ~ Tu Th 12:05 PM - 1:20 PM ~ Instructor: Robert Packer 

PLSC 83 is a course on current topics in international politics. Each week we review major issues raised in media (newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and television news programs) that deal with international politics and American foreign policy. Attention is given to applying political science arguments in analyzing major news events and trends. Topics include the resurrection of Russia, the rise of China, global economic problems, Middle East conflicts, and proliferation concerns.

SOC 83 (3 cr) Environmental Sociology (GS)

Class #17896 ~ M W F 11:15 AM - 12:05 PM ~ Instructor: Erik Nielsen

This course explores the complex interaction between society and the environment. Environmental factors can shape social phenomena and human societies can alter the natural environment. The field of environmental sociology attempts to integrate these connections systematically into social science research. In this course, we will examine several dimensions of the human-environment interface. 

WMNST 83 (3 cr) Theorizing Social Justice (GH)

Class #25082 ~ Tu Th 10:35 AM - 11:50 AM ~ Instructor: Hilary Malatino

How do our sexualities, gender identities, and racial/ethnic backgrounds influence the way we experience and interact with the world around us? How do these aspects of identity influence the social and political distribution of rights and privileges? Focusing on the intersections and interactions of forms of sexual, gender, and racialized discrimination in the contemporary United States, this class examines how injustice is produced in and through certain identity categories, as well as how such forms of injustice can be addressed. We’ll learn about hip hop feminism, sexual double standards, LGBTQIA rights movements, and the historical emergence and contemporary goals of trans activism, among other topics.

 

Fall 2017

AFAM 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in African American Studies (GH)

Class #18069 ~ M W F 11:15 AM - 12:05 PM ~ Instructor: Cynthia Young

AF AM 083 introduces the meaning and advantages of a Liberal Arts education through the discipline of African American Studies.  Though taught by different instructors, the course covers some of the cultural, philosophical, political and economic dynamics that have shaped the U.S. and the African diaspora.  Materials may include literature, music, dance, the visual arts, historical documents, and secondary sources related to the instructors’ research focus.  With an emphasis on discussion, critical analysis and argumentation, this course will help hone your research and writing skills, learn about the many resources available on campus and enhance your understanding of how race, gender and sexuality have impacted and continue to impact contemporary life.

ANTH 83 (3 cr) On Being Human (GS)

Class #17678 ~ M W F 11:15 AM - 12:05 PM ~ Instructor: Claire Milner

What does it mean to be human? In this course, we will consider how anthropologists explore (1) the origin of humans; (2) what makes humans different from or similar to other animals; and (3) how different definitions of humanness by diverse cultures have influenced intergroup interactions. Finally, we will consider how depictions of aliens in science fiction actually reflect how we perceive ourselves and our place in the universe.

APLNG 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Applied Linguistics (GS)

Class #17540 ~ M W F 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM ~ Instructor: Joan Kelly Hall

Introduction to the application of theories of language to cognition, culture, gender, society, and second language acquisition. Drawing on conversation analysis, a sociological approach to the study of language use, this course is an introduction to an understanding of language as a form of social action through which individual identities, social relations, cultural forms, and ideologies are created.

ASIA 83 (3 cr) Daoism and the Traditional Chinese Arts and Sciences (GH)

Class #17784 ~ Tu Th 1:35 PM - 2:50 PM ~ Instructor: Erica Brindley

This course provides students with a broad understanding of the aesthetic, spiritual, and naturalistic orientations that characterize Chinese and Asian culture. We do so through the lens of “Daoism,” an important philosophical and religious orientation that exerted a substantial influence on society, especially in the areas of art and scientific thinking. In this seminar, we will explore the many facets of Daoism in traditional Chinese history and learn how its various guises affected and encouraged developments in the arts and sciences. The course takes us from the religious underpinnings of Daoism as expressed through the classical writings of Laozi and Zhuangzi to the study of a variety of spiritual movements that culminated in the growth of the Daoist Church, and finally, to an examination of how Daoist perspectives shaped the lives and works of poets and novelists, painters, naturalists, alchemists, and medical practitioners (including those in the martial arts). We will even examine how the ideas and attitudes associated with Daoism have influenced or resonate with contemporary American culture, film, and spirituality/psychology by analyzing popular cultural relics such as “Star Wars” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” An important question we will ask concerns the nature of knowledge and the ways in which humans come to understand and know the world around them. In the case of Daoism, or traditions that take the “Dao” or “Way” to be their focus of worship, two main tracks of inquiry develop: the quest to know of and participate in the Dao, and the quest to know about and elaborate on the Dao. This basic distinction in the way Daoists try to understand the world around them manifests itself in aesthetic or artistic expressions of how individuals perceive of and experience the Dao on the one hand, and in scientific inquiry and experimentation with material substances on the other. In addition to instructing students in an important aspect of Asian thought and culture, this course aims to strengthen critical reading and writing skills.

CAMS 83 (3 cr) Love in Ancient Greece and Rome (GH)

Class #18353 ~ Tu Th 1:35 PM - 2:50 PM ~ Instructor: Stephen Wheeler

This first-year seminar in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) introduces students to the culturally and historically specific experiences of erotic love in ancient Greece and Rome. By reading and analyzing classical texts in translation, seminar participants will encounter what Greeks and Romans felt, thought, and did when they were in love with another person. Discussion in seminar and in writing assignments will address such questions as: What role did erotic love (eros or amor) play in the social and political lives of the Greeks and Romans? Was an extra-marital sex life socially acceptable? Were there significant differences between the sexual mores of Greece and Rome? What constituted sexual perversion and debauchery? To answer these and other questions, the course will provide a historical overview of Greek and Roman sexuality by visiting key passages in mythological epic, love poetry, drama, philosophy, novels, historical narrative, and Christian polemic against pagan immorality.

CAS 83 (3 cr) Women and Communication throughout History (GS)

Class #18047 ~ Tu Th 1:35 PM - 2:50 PM ~ Instructor: Lori Bedell

Throughout U.S. history women have played an active role in developing, implementing, and reforming social institutions. In this course, we will explore some of the key moments in U.S. women’s activism in the last 150 years by reading primary documents from prominent activists of the time. Students who complete this course successfully should expect to gain a complex and nuanced perspective on the rhetoric of U.S. women activists, and also improve their skills in critical reading and analysis. In addition, we will explore contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity that constrain both men and women. We will consider issues of the modern workplace, education, the media, family institutions, media influence, gendered language (both verbal and nonverbal) and the law.

CMLIT 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Comparative Literature (GH)

Class #28042 ~ Tu Th 12:05 PM - 1:20 PM ~ Instructor: Caroline Eckhardt

What makes a hero? How do hero-tales come into existence, change, and evolve, and where is the boundary between fact and fiction? How can you tell real hero-tales and real leaders from fake? This course offers an international, intercultural approach to hero-tales. We will read narratives of traditional culture-heroes, as shaped through myth, legend, history, and different cultural settings (using the legend of King Arthur and other examples). We’ll also read narratives of current heroic, or maybe anti-heroic, “ordinary” women and men today, including a graphic novel (comic book) that raises questions about the immigrant as hero. We’ll include visual material, such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a film that parodies the traditional Arthurian legend. Throughout, we’ll discuss values. Traditional hero-tales emphasize values such as courage, loyalty, faith, true love, and sometimes access to supernatural powers as heroes fulfill extraordinary challenges. These legends have inspired some of our greatest literature, films, and music, not to mention video games. But some of these traditional tales also show troubling concepts that have reappeared in our time: the violence of religious warfare, the clash or betrayal of loyalties, the exploitation (or worse) of women. We will consider both the ideals and the potentially disturbing impacts associated with traditional concepts such as chivalry, loyalty to one’s group or fellowship, and courtly love. The course will include on-campus field trips to the Rare Books and Manuscripts room in the Library and to the Palmer Art Museum, and we’ll attend events such as the Liberal Arts undergraduate festival and the 24-hour “marathon reading” project.

HIST 83 (3 cr) History of Islam in India (GH)

Class #24410 ~ Tu Th 1:35 PM - 2:50 PM ~ Instructor: TBD

India is home to the third largest population of Muslims in the world. To put this in perspective, there are many more Muslims in India than in Saudi Arabia or Iran. What is the history behind the significant presence of Islam in India? What were the political and social dimensions of Islam that shaped the history of pre-modern India? How did the Indian environment condition the identity of Muslims, their religious beliefs and practices?

This course introduces students to the rich, complex and multifaceted history of Islam in India in the pre-modern period (up to c. 1750 C.E.). Apart from scholarly works, students will engage closely with a range of historical materials including translations of Persian chronicles, memoirs, biographies, religious literature, and works of art. The course will further equip students to understand modern Hindu and Muslim identities in relation to Islam’s historical presence in India.

LER 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Labor Studies and Employment Relations (GS)

Class #17471 ~ M W F 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM ~ Instructor: Charles Lumpkins

Description forthcoming.

PHIL 83 (3 cr) Critical Introduction to Ethics and Bioethics (GH)

Class #17654 ~ Tu Th 3:05 PM - 4:20 PM ~ Instructor: David Agler

This first-year seminar introduces students to foundational moral theories before exploring two topics in bioethics: the use of drugs and abortion. We will discuss and evaluate arguments for the ethical permissibility of drug use in various contexts (medicinal, recreational, athletic) and consider various positions in the pro-life and pro-choice debate on abortion. As a first-year seminar, the course will explore learning tools and resources available at Penn State, introduce students to philosophy and fields of study relating to bioethics, and provide tools for students to develop relationships with other students, faculty, and groups at Penn State.

PLSC 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Political Science (GS)

Class #17682 ~ M W F 1:25 PM - 2:15 PM ~ Instructor: Gretchen Casper

Description forthcoming.

PSYCH 83 (3 cr) Tears, Blushing, and Butterflies in the Stomach: Emotion and the Body (GS)

Class #17476 ~ Tu Th 12:05 PM - 1:20 PM ~ Instructor: Stephanie Shields

Emotion is a powerful factor in everyone’s life, and the bodily signs and symptoms of emotion—from tears to trembling—make emotional experience even more compelling. Why do people cry when they are sad and when they are happy? Why do people blush when they do something stupid in front of their friends, but not when they do something stupid in front of their pets? Why can we make ourselves cry, but not make ourselves blush? Why do tears sometimes show up when we least expect them? Is it possible to control the “butterflies in the stomach” that can make it hard to speak in front of a group? What causes these “butterflies” anyway?

In this seminar we will examine what scientific psychology can tell us about a range of bodily signs and symptoms of emotion. We will consider what is known about the psychological and physiological bases for the symptoms and explore the practical, everyday-life consequences of those symptoms. We will also explore strategies for controlling or regulating emotional responses.

WMNST 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Women's Studies (GH)

Class #17791 ~ Tu Th 10:35 AM - 11:50 AM ~ Instructor: Lise Nelson

The long-distance movement of populations has played a fundamental role in human history. This first-year seminar will explore voluntary and involuntary migration in the context of globalization. The course focuses on the ways contemporary large-scale population movements, and societal responses to them, are shaped by race and gender. Drawing on literature, film, history, and social science, we will examine the day-to-day experiences of cross-border migrants and refugees, as well as the broader political, economic, and social forces that generate and shape these flows.

As a first-year seminar, the course will introduce students to how scholars approach gender and race in the study of social phenomena. Students will practice critical reading and writing skills, and be exposed to the learning tools and resources available at Penn State. A central goal of this seminar is to help students transition to college successfully and to become engaged learners.

Spring 2017

CAS 84 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Communication Arts and Sciences (GS)

Class #22151 ~ Tu Th 1:35 PM - 2:50 PM ~ Instructor: Mark Kohler

Popular music sends powerful messages about the lives and values of the people who produced, performed, and consumed it. A close examination of musical practices over time and space can illuminate fundamental issues in American culture and history including the influence of technology, ideology, class, gender, and race on various genres of music -- jazz, swing, gospel, country, rhythm and blues, and rock; the multiple forms and influence of African American music; and songs and social movements, including the union, suffrage movement, and Civil Rights movements to what we have today.

PLSC 83 (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Political Science (GS)

Class #24838 ~ Tu Th 12:05 PM - 1:20 PM ~ Instructor: Robert Packer 

PLSC 83 is a course on current topics in international politics. Each week we review major issues raised in media (newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, and television news programs) that deal with international politics and American foreign policy. Attention is given to applying political science arguments in analyzing major news events and trends. Topics include the resurrection of Russia, the rise of China, global economic problems, Middle East conflicts, and proliferation concerns.

SOC 83 (3 cr) Environmental Sociology (GS)

Class #22768 ~ M W F 11:15 AM - 12:05 PM ~ Instructor: Erik Nielsen

This course explores the complex interaction between society and the environment. Environmental factors can shape social phenomena and human societies can alter the natural environment. The field of environmental sociology attempts to integrate these connections systematically into social science research. In this course, we will examine several dimensions of the human-environment interface. 


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