Each fall, Hobart and William Smith offer an extensive array of first-year seminar (FSEM) course options to the incoming classes of new students. From “Education, Justice, and Happiness: Plato’s Republic,” to “Parched: The Past, Present, and Future of Water,” this year, the Colleges’ are offering one of the most diverse range of options yet.
“Our First-Year Seminar Program is a unique opportunity for students and faculty instructors to explore topics that cross the fields of academia, popular culture and reflective inquiries,” says DeWayne Lucas, associate dean of faculty and associate professor of political science. “FSEMs are taught with the interdisciplinary priorities of the faculty to engage students in meaningful and exciting material and to do so from the perspective of multiple disciplines as students find their place on campus.”
This fall, the Colleges will offer more than 30 FSEM course options to the incoming Classes of 2021 and new transfer students. Each seminar is structured around a different topic – from the cultures of Paris, Britain and Eastern Europe, to the Ancient World, the intersection of country music and the American working class, and the politics connected with climate change, each one giving students the opportunity to garner expertise in their area of study while building a foundation of interdisciplinary reading comprehension, writing and presentation skills.
FSEMs not only help orient new students to the expectation of academic rigor at HWS, but they also help students get their social bearings as they establish a strong network of relationships with peers, professors and mentors on campus.
“The opportunities are boundless within our First-Year Seminar Program,” Lucas notes. “Students can engage in a critical reflection of the roles justice, difference, disability and music play on creating environments of humor, music, comedy and the wilderness.”
The full list of the 2017 FSEM course offerings is as follows:
FSEM 003 – First Person Singular (Professor Forbes)
What’s up? What’s happening? What’s new? How you been? How you doing? We say these things every time we meet a friend—and we really want to know. Readers of memoirs ask these or similar questions, and memoirists give us the answers—beautifully. We’re lucky that curious people have so many memoirs to choose from. And for the last several years we’ve had memoirs from all over the world, not just the United States. This First Year Seminar studies the contemporary memoir in a multicultural setting. Through the books we read, we travel to such places as Somalia, the Sudan, Egypt, and Cuba. Students write critical essays about the memoir in general and the books we read in particular. They also write their own short memoirs—vignettes from their life. And students do research on the day they were born and complete an oral presentation on the findings. The course ends with students writing a final essay on what they think constitutes a good memoir.
FSEM 004 – Pin-Ups, Princesses, and Femme-Fatales: Women in American Popular Culture (Professor Belanger)
This writing instructive class examines the relationship between women and popular culture in 20th century history. Looking analytically at popular texts from a variety of media, including film, comics, and television we’ll ask: How is gender being represented and performed in pop culture? What forms of pop culture have been specifically targeted at women? How have women resisted or co-opted the messages they have received? What kinds of fears or anxieties about women did pop culture elicit and how did Americans negotiate those anxieties? The course takes an interdisciplinary perspective on the questions above using students own expertise as consumers of popular culture as an entryway for exploring the diverse roles mass-mediated popular culture has played in 20th century history. In doing so, this class will be a space for critical engagement and dialogue regarding how forms of popular culture work and how we can become critical consumers of culture
FSEM 011 – Britpop: from Beatles to Brexit (Professor Carson)
Pop music, almost by definition, is music of the moment: it crystallizes a specific point in space and time and preserves it in the form of a song. In this class, we’ll immerse ourselves deeply in the history of British pop music from World War II up to the present day, from Vera Lynn to Adele, from the Kinks to the Clash, from David Bowie to Benjamin Clementine. We’ll dig deep into the playlist of Britpop and use it as s a lens for examining the cultural history of the UK over the past seventy-five years, paying particular attention to questions of social class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. This FSEM is linked to HIST 101, Foundations of European Society, and HIST 103, Early Modern Europe.
FSEM 013 – Violence in the Sea of Faith (Professor Whitten)
During the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean Sea was home to people of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These communities often fought violently for territory, converts, and wealth. This class explores the nature of religious violence in the pre-modern Mediterranean by examining the topics of Islamic expansion, the Crusades, and persecution. In the course, we will also challenge the assumption that all interactions were violent by investigating convivencia in Spain Egypt, and Sicily. We will read, many different types of medieval texts including crusade narratives, travel writings, biography, and chronicles. Lastly, we will explore how science, art history, philosophy, and archaeology help us understand the complexity of the medieval world.
FSEM 018 – Genocide and the Modern Age (Professor Salter)
We live in an age of genocide. Genocide is a crime against humanity because it negates human value itself. The 20th century began with the destruction of the Herrero people in what is now Namibia in Africa; there followed the genocide of the Armenians by the Turks, the mass murder of the Roma (Gypsies) and the Jews (Holocaust) by the Nazis, the cruelties of the Stalinist Gulag, the ravages of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, and the mutual genocidal massacres of Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi. Recent genocidal events in the Balkans and in the Darfur region of the Sudan underscore the persistence of the problem. These human tragedies have the potential to undermine the value of human life, the meaning of history and modernity, the relevance and truth of religion and culture, and the significance of social organization. Students in this course will examine the history of genocide and its impact on culture, politics and religion. Together we will confront the dilemma of how to orient life, thought and action around the memory of mass death and broken cultural traditions.
FSEM 023 – Monkeys, Morality, and the Mind (Professor Frost-Arnold)
What am I? What can I know? Are my choices free? Is there any reason to be an ethical person? These are traditionally considered questions for philosophy, yet many recent scientific findings may influence how we answer them. In this seminar, we will consider the impact of contemporary science on philosophy and ask: What, if anything, does evolution have to do with morality? What do psychological findings about humans’ biases show about what (and how) we can know? Is the notion that humans have free will consistent with our current neuroscientific accounts of the brain? If human actions are highly dependent on situational/ contextual factors, as several recent psychological findings have shown, what does this reveal about my identity or personality? Typical Readings: Sommers, A Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the Curtain; Appiah, Experiments in Ethics; de Waal, Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved; and selections from Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Consciousness Studies.
FSEM 027 – The Art of the Hoax (Professor Chin)
A well-crafted lie is a beautiful thing. In this course, we will look at famous scientific hoaxes and art that tells deliberate and systematic lies. Students will analyze these instances of misunderstood truths to attempt to understand how fictions can be confused as facts and the nature of evidence itself is constantly in question. What does the lie tell us about your own willingness to believe, and can there be valuable messages in well-intentioned hoaxes? In the course of our investigations, we will engage in thoughtful and analytic discussion and writing and make our own well-crafted lies using photography and other artistic media.
FSEM 030 – The Origins of Music: Ideas, Movements, and Sounds (Professor Lofthouse)
How did music start? Where did hip-hop, protest songs, the saxophone, and musical parody come from? Why does music notation look the way it does? This course investigates these questions by tracing the beginnings and progression of musical ideas, trends, genres, and sounds. Starting from basic physical experience and conceptual metaphor, we will explore how our ideas about music connect to personal and cultural associations, and then trace the various ways people create new kinds of music in response to events in the world. By studying musical origins, we will examine how body, mind, time, and culture work together in shaping how we understand and make meaning of musical experience.
FSEM 042 – Interrogating Race in the United States and South Africa (Professor McCorkle)
Do we live in a post-racial world or a new Jim Crow society? What are the legacies of slavery, segregation, and apartheid? What is meant by white privilege? How do we value human life and what are the ways of developing emancipatory movements? This course examines the parallel structures of segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. The basic premise is that through the lens of another culture we can come to examine our own. The causes and effects of segregation and apartheid on contemporary race relations are the central focus. How race affects gender, class, and social spaces is explored throughout the readings. Section 1 of this FSEM is linked to POL 110, Introduction to American Politics.
FSEM 048 – Performing America (Professor Black)
The title of this course can be read two ways: First, it proposes that America is a nation of performers. The course, then, is an introduction to the long history of performance in the United States. What counts as performance? It’s a harder question to answer than you might think—and it’s one that we’ll engage for the next four months—but a tentative response could be: all of literature and culture. That’s what actors, dancers, and musicians do, but there’s also the work of writers and other artists. Second, the course title argues that America—what it means to be American and what American means—is enacted through creative and critical acts of performance. In order to study these performances, we will use methods from the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. In the process, we will research, write, and talk about plays, poems, and novels, movies and music, as well as events happening on campus and around town.
FSEM 054 – Cultures Conflict: Russia and the West (Professor Lemelin)
It’s been said that Russia has an enigmatic soul. Why is it that this country seems like a riddle to us? What is it that makes Russia so mysterious? What makes Russian culture distinct from that of the West? How are Russians different from us and where do these differences come from? This course explores the relationship between Russia and Western civilization from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students will become familiar with various aspects of Russia’s literature, arts, music, popular culture, history, politics, economics, philosophy, and religion. The course features guest lectures given by specialists in many of these areas from HWS and other institutions.
FSEM 060 – Alcohol in College: Myth and Reality (Professor Craig)
Alcohol abuse continues to be a serious problem on college and university campuses across the nation. Participants in this seminar will examine this problem from both natural scientific and social scientific perspectives. Readings will include public health and social science research literature on the scope of alcohol use in college and the theories proposed to explain that use. The natural science literature will be used to explore the pharmacological effects of alcohol on the brain, related health risks, and the relationship of blood alcohol concentration to risk and harm. Seminar participants will participate in ongoing research on the scope and consequences of alcohol use on this campus. Finally, educational models for abuse prevention and harm reduction will be explored and evaluated for effectiveness. (David Craig) Typical readings: Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, Stephen Braun; Drug Use in America: Social, Cultural, and Political Perspectives, Peter Venturelli; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alcohol and Health Special Report to Congress; and selected articles on research conducted on the HWS campus.
FSEM 078 – Sustainable Living and Learning (Professors Brubaker and Kinne)
We are all consumers. We buy things. We use things up. We throw things away. Often we do all of this without considering the life cycle of these “things.” Think about all the t-shirts you own. Do you know what materials make up your t-shirts? Moreover, do you know what was required to get these t-shirts to you in the first place? While these questions may seem to have simple answers, the reality is that each of the “things’ we consume has a complex secret life of its own, one worthy of further consideration. This course will explore the complex relationship between sustainability and consumption, paying specific attention to the myriad ways in which individual consumption practices shape global outcomes. This is a linked FSEM pod.
FSEM 094 – The History of Everything (Professor Holly)
Did you know that it was not until 300,000 years after the “big bang” that light occurred, or that in the year 2000, the tenth largest economic entity in the world was Microsoft (Australia was thirteenth, to put things in prospective)? David Christian’s Maps of Time is an example of a recent form of historiography called “big history,” because it attempts to locate human beings from the perspective of much larger contexts than the traditional historical periods. Christian’s book begins nanoseconds after the “big bang,” describes the development of the universe, the formation of our planet, the origins and evolution of life, including human life, and continues to trace human history through the origins of agriculture, the development of cities, states, and civilizations, the development of world religions, etc., up to globalization and the modern world, and then it peeks into the future. What this course will do is to give us the opportunity to orient and seek to understand ourselves in relation to a variety of contexts from the cosmic to the global to the national and the local, contexts which, as Christian’s book shows us, no matter how vast, or distant, or alien they may seem, create the patterns that play an intimate role in shaping our lives.
FSEM 095 – Drawn to Nature (Professor Ryan)
The natural world is filled with incredible beauty and amazing stories of adaptation and survival. Many of these stories remain untold despite centuries of exploration, natural history, and scientific discovery. Since Aristotle, naturalists have observed nature in an attempt to describe its beauty and complexity. Among them were scientists like Charles Darwin, artists like John James Audubon and writers like Henry David Thoreau. It is often said that curiosity about the world around us is the basis for all human learning. In this course, we’ll use your natural curiosity to explore the natural history of the Finger Lakes region using both scientific and artistic expression. We’ll examine award-winning natural history writing, chronicle the contributions great naturalists have made to our understanding of the natural world, and we’ll create our own illustrated natural history journals. Along the way, you’ll develop the observational skills that will allow you to better describe the natural world in prose and art. Typical readings: Naturalist’s Guide to Observing Nature by Kurt Rinehart; The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016 edited by Richard Preston; Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. This FSEM is linked with BIOL 167, Topics in Introductory Biology.
FSEM 102 – Thinking and Creating (Professor Davenport)
This is a seminar about intelligence, creativity, and all the students in the class – how you think and create. While we study the theory of multiple intelligences, intelligence testing, theories of creativity, and learning in the arts, the course will explore each student’s thinking patterns, problem-solving styles, and innate capacity for creativity. This seminar was first taught in 1993 and has evolved over time, influenced by each class of first-year students. This year the seminar is designed to focus on thinking and creating in relation to American education, both higher education and K-12. Classroom experiences will be directed toward the development of non-conformist thinking and acceptance of self and others. Selected readings include Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, Gardner’s Intelligence Reframed, Kohl’s I Won’t Learn From You: And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment, and Stephen King’s On Writing.
FSEM 105 – Golf Course Architecture: Literature, History, and Theory (Professor Capraro)
What is actually at play when someone plays golf? Game design theory suggests that golf is the occasion for a certain experience shaped by rules, actions, and skills of the golfer, and the golf course itself. Unlike a basketball court, each golf course is unique, due to a deeply intentional design by a golf course architect. As Alister Mackenzie insists “The essence of golf is variety.” We approach multiple questions: What are the basic elements of golf course architecture? How do golf course architects imagine the game of golf when they design and build a golf course? What kind of experience do they intend for the golfer? What impact have diverse people, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, who have played golf had on the history of golf course design? What are the actual lived experiences of golfers, and how have they changed over time? We will pay special attention to the work of important architects who were active locally, and we will visit some of their amazing creations. (Note: Playing golf is not a requirement, and learning how to golf and learning how to design a golf course are not included in the syllabus.)
FSEM 108 – From Comix to Graphix: The Art of Story (Professors Blanchard and Creadick)
Are comics and graphic novels literature, art, both, or neither? What does Wonder Woman have to do with political history? Why render the Holocaust in a comic format? This course surveys the history and development of comics and graphic novels, a thriving hybrid form. Collaboratively taught by a literature professor and an art historian, the course will use methods of literary and visual analysis to gain a deeper understanding of graphic storytellings. Students will read a range of works in these media, as well as theory, method, and criticism in the field. Students will produce critical analyses as well as creative projects, both individually and in collaboration. This course helps students develop multiple skills of interpretation of narratives in a range of contexts. Readings may include Persepolis, Maus, Fun Home, and Scott Pilgrim, among others. This is a linked FSEM pod.
FSEM 110 – Education, Justice, and Happiness: Plato’s Republic (Professor Lee)
Worried about injustice and misery in a society that had executed his great teacher, Socrates, for “corrupting the youth,” Plato devoted one of the greatest books ever written to the question of how people can live in a way that leads to social justice and personal happiness. His concerns inspired him to investigate many topics that remain important today: education, the equality of the sexes, democracy and tyranny, psychological health, class divisions, censorship and the nature of art, and the nature of knowledge and reality. Plato’s Republic remains one of the most interesting works about education, justice, and happiness. In this seminar, we read the Republic, cover to cover, along with modern works, and discuss the parallels between these important topics as they arose in ancient Athens and as they arise in the 21st century and in our own experience.
FSEM 111 – Paris, Je T’Aime (Professor Gallouet)
This course will examine contemporary French life in the light of American points of view about France today. We will study Paris as the perceived historical and cultural “center” of the French world. French life will be studied through its multiple productions, (the life of the city, cinema, literature and cuisine). We will pay particular attention on how Americans have related to the city and its culture, and by extension to French culture, by examining the experience of American expatriated in France, and how their representations may construct stereotypes of the “city of lights” and of France. This FSEM is linked to a French language acquisition course, according to students’ French placement scores.
FSEM 128 – Country Music and the American Working Class (Professor Gerrard)
Surveys suggest that country music is both loved and hated by more Americans than any other music genre. These different attitudes are not simply a matter of individual taste. They are tied to deep divisions in US society. Traditionally, country music has been linked to the American working class, particularly to the parts of the working class seen as most traditional: poor rural whites from the South and Midwest. It includes romanticized images of small town life and traditional values, but also stereotypical images of ‘rednecks’ and ‘white trash’. This class uses country music as a starting point for exploring such issues. In what ways does country music reflect the realities of working class life? In what ways does it distort or parody it? And what cultural and political issues are at stake in how we imagine country music and working class people?
FSEM 134 – Wilderness and the Wild (Professor MacPhail)
There are more than 677 federally designated wilderness areas in the United States. A continuing fascination with wild places is evident in the popularity and critical success of such films as 127 Hours, Into the Wild, and Grizzly Man. Do you enjoy getting away from it all, or wonder at those who do? This seminar will explore peoples’ fascination with wild places. We will attempt to answer such questions as what makes a place a wilderness, how the concept of wilderness has changed over time, and how the value and meaning of wilderness differs across cultures. Our approach to what one historian calls “the problem of wilderness” will be multifaceted. We will explore the history, ethics, philosophy, politics, aesthetics, and economics of wilderness. Ultimately, our attempt to understand wilderness will be a means to critically examine our own places in the natural world.
FSEM 141 – The Lens of Stand-Up Comedy (Professor MaKinster)
It is one person in front of an audience with the goal of making others laugh. Yet stand-up comedy is so much more. Comedians force and challenge us to look at our lives, our communities, and society in ways that we may not yet have considered. Issues that relate to the dimensions of social class, racism, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural reproduction, and the very nature of human existence are explored both implicitly and explicitly. This course will examine the role of stand-up comedy in the human experience, the ways in which different comedians present and leverage their own lives, and what we might learn through the attempts of others to make people laugh. Text and videos will serve as context for active exploration of a wide variety of issues and topics.
FSEM 144 – Parched: The Past, Present, and Future of Water (Professor Curtin)
Water is a necessity of life. It is nature’s ultimate paradox: the softest natural ‘element’ in both classical and eastern thought and yet one capable of overcoming all the others. Water is an agent of purification, healing, nourishment, and mechanical power. It is also an agent of destruction and devastation. Water is the most plentiful natural resource on Earth and yet a resource that increasingly proves unobtainable when humans seek and need it most. In the midst of global climate change, environmental crises for water resources, and the political debates over water, we have come to the realization of our complete dependence on water. Students will examine and draw conclusions about the nature of humankind’s encounter with water using maps, biographies, autobiographies, poems, movies, novels, and scholarly articles. Through lectures, class discussion, debates, short essays, blogging, and research papers, this course will provide students with the tools to explore how the environment naturally produces safe, clean drinking water; how humans obtain and use these water resources; water quality and water pollution; water treatment processes; energy generation; and how we can sustain our water resources in perpetuity. This FSEM is linked to GEO 186, Introduction to Hydrogeology.
FSEM 145 – Einstein, Relativity, and Time (Professor Spector)
Einstein’s theory of relativity is one of the triumphs of human thought, changing our understanding of our universe. The implications of relativity, which arose from a simple consideration of light, reached far and wide, from understanding the origins of the universe, to re-thinking philosophical issues, to influences across the arts. In this course, we will explore relativity, its concepts, and its mathematics. This will lead us into related areas from exotica like black holes and time travel, to a better understanding of light in science and the arts, and to the social and historical context from which relativity emerged. This FSEM is linked to MATH 130, Calculus I, or a higher-level mathematics course, according to students’ math placement scores.
FSEM 148 – Critiquing the Classroom (Professor Hayes-Conroy)
What does it mean to be college educated? What is a college education for? Who belongs in our system of higher education? From skyrocketing tuition fees to campus open carry laws to debates about what topics even belong in the classroom, there is much that threatens to destabilize the American college experience, as we know it. This course is designed to explore and challenge fundamental preconceptions of what it means to teach and learn in the context of higher education. This seminar is about understanding your relationship to the complex political world of higher education, and about starting to explore what you might accomplish here. Topics will include: the politics of ‘knowledge production,” sexism and racism on college campuses, the benefits and challenges of place-based learning, the influence of consumer culture on higher education, lessons from critical and feminist education, and the social geographies of campuses and classrooms.
FSEM 155 – Out of Character (Professor Farnsworth)
We often identify emotionally the heroines/heroes of the novels we read and the plays we watch. But what happens when the protagonist breaks “out of character” and begins to question her own behavior? How can we identify with a character if she has doubts about her own identity (or about the identity of the reader, spectator, and/or author)? How can characters in fiction challenge us to re-examine socially and historically constructed “truths,” including identity categories such as race, gender, sexuality, and nationality? This First Year Seminar explores how self-conscious fiction might lead readers to consider possible alternatives to the status quo in life and in literature. The protagonists in the main texts for this course engage in role-play, subtly slip in and out of character, and/or otherwise break the illusion of reality in fiction. Readings for this course include MIST (Spain, 1907) by Miguel de Unamuno, Sic Characters in search of an Author (Italy, 1921)by Luigi Pirandello, Pyrotechnic Farces (Argentina, 1932) by Alfonsina Storni, The Impostor by Rodolfo Usigli(Mexico 1938), along with other self-conscious plays and novels from Europe, the United States, and Latin America. We will closely examine how metafiction reflects and challenges cultural attitudes and political ideologies in diverse geographical and historical contexts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
FSEM 162 – Demystifying Disability: From Geneva (NY!) to Japan (Professor Baker)
This course uses personal accounts and other narratives to introduce students to the lives of individuals with disabilities. The course has a geographic orientation beginning with narratives grounded in our local HWS and Finger Lakes communities before moving to other parts of the United States and abroad. Issues to be examined include educational opportunity and inclusion, social participation and challenges, and family perspectives and issues. This FSEM is linked to ENG 114, Sickness, Health, and Disability.
FSEM 164 – Encountering Difference (Professor Kafrawi)
Encounters happen every day. We encounter people of different civilizations, nations, race, religious, class, sex, and gender at schools, workspace, supermarkets, public square, and other venues. What do we expect when we meet other people? How do we respond when we encounter difference? What constitutes difference? Why do we fear difference? Why do people stereotype? Could the fear of the other necessitate one to control the narrative, the people, or their resources? Or, could encounter with the other become a life-changing experience? What needs to be done for us to have a meaningful encounter with the other? After discussing the philosophical foundation for encountering different realms of reality through reading a passage on the allegory of the cave in Plato’s republic, this course will explore on three fields in which we encounter difference. The three cases encountering difference will include Christian Spaniards’ encounters with Native Americans, racial-ethnic encounters among Americans, and interfaith encounters in the post-911 world.
FSEM 166 – Miracle Drugs (Professor Slade)
In today’s society, chemistry is often seen as a negative- “evil chemicals” and “toxic waste” are phrases that come to mind. In fact, chemistry has contributed many good things to society including drugs that alleviate pain, treat diseases, and save lives. Throughout history, drugs have shaped society and have had a profound impact on our daily lives. From the invention of aspirin-treatment for headaches and heart attacks, to penicillin -conqueror of bacterial infections, to AZT -treatment of HIV giving a fighting chance to those afflicted with AIDS. Drugs have been there and have greatly impacted the world. This course aims to teach students with an interest in science and/or medicine about the structure of drugs, the history of their discovery, and their impact on society. The course will include a short chemistry primer so students can understand the basics behind the structure of drugs and how they work. Discussions topics will include the pros and cons of the pharmaceutical industry, the ethics of drug development, the impact drugs have had on the economy and media, and their effect on the human population. I hope to instill a greater appreciation for science and how it benefits the world.
FSEM 175 – Climate Change: Science and Politics (Professor Metz)
Recent scientific research shows clear evidence that the Earth is warming faster than at any point on record. Most scientists agree that much of the recent warming of the Earth is due, at least in part, to human-related activities. However, this near consensus disappears within the political world, as the topic of climate change has become one of the most divisive in recent memory. This seminar will explore the ways in which climate change translates into the political realm, first by discussing the fundamental science. Armed with this knowledge, students will explore the policy implications of climate change and dissect a variety of political opinions on the subject in an attempt to separate political fact from fiction. Additionally, students will probe the underlying reasons behind the various political opinions on climate change, ranging from campaign contribution records to political district economics. An underlying goal of the seminar will be to identify a pathway for realistic political consensus on climate change that might approach the scientific consensus and allow for future policy progress on the climate change issue. This FSEM is linked to GEO 182, Introduction to Meteorology.
FSEM 184 – Gentlemen Prefer Bombs and Drone On and On: Media Representation of Air Wars and America’s Use of Drones in the War Against Terrorism (Professor Robertson)
This is the era of “fake news.” It is the “post-truth era.” The inevitable question raised by the current state of news, information, and political messages is, “How do we know what we know?” This question is central to the study of how the media (in all its forms) influences how we make sense of ourselves, our society, and our public policies. The focus for the course will be America’s use of drones in the war against terrorism. You don’t know much about it? Welcome to the club. Although the use of drones to wage war from the air has been extensive, the coverage of it has been muted. Yet the use has long-term consequences for the United States, not only because we are engaged with Russia in an air war in Syria, but because the destruction and carnage caused by our use of drones turns civilians against us in those populations whose hearts we would most like to win. The use of drones is justified as part of the “war of terrorism,” a vague mission which dehumanizes those on the received end of a war with no specific goal. Obviously, a healthy democracy cannot be built on “fake news”; nor can it be built on ignorance. This course, through the study of how the drone war is represented, will teach you to analyze how images and language—in entertainment, the news, and political speech—can induce ignorance rather than knowledge, fear rather than understanding, and disinterest rather than engagement.
FSEM 186 – Eat Like a Slav: Russian Food and Culture (Professor Galloway)
Food: if we are lucky, we consume it three times a day. But is it just something that keeps us going—or is there more to it? In this course, we will investigate the role that food plays in Russian culture from its earliest documented forms to the present day. We will consider a variety of interdisciplinary contexts in which food takes a central role, including literature, economics, history, nutrition, and folklore, as well as the ways Russian food has been presented to the world at large. We will examine the peasant diet, which for hundreds of years supported a massive political empire, as well as the luxurious habits of the upper classes, where Western European influences first took hold. Our work will find its practical application in a weekly kitchen laboratory session where we will construct these dishes as we discuss the nature of food in Russian culture of the last several hundred.
FSEM 198 – Leadership in the Ancient World (Professor Capreedy)
Is leadership something innate? Can it be learned? How do we measure leadership and how do we learn to become good leaders? Leadership theory can be found in many forms from online management services to university leadership centers, bookstands to military journals and yes, even ancient texts. But what can the ancient texts reveal about the nature of leadership, and can they offer us long lost exempla to challenge prevalent theories? Can we learn about leadership and leadership training through an investigation of the past? In this course we will examine, among other writings, the political debates found in the ancient epics and histories as well as the moralizing wisdom from speeches and biographies, and discern for ourselves how the ancient world measured leadership. By interrogating the examples of the past, we can discuss their ideologies and consider the ways in which these ancient texts communicated and presented leadership. Finally, this course will ask that students study various modern leadership theories and examples and compare the world of antiquity to the present.
FSEM 199 – Build your own Westeros: Experiments in Culture (Professor Klaus)
What if you could create your own Westeros, Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Narnia?—these realms inspire and captivate. However, these worlds are more than adventure, intrigue, and chainmail; they have histories, mythologies, social norms and rituals, in short, they are cultures. Fictional cultures, but cultures nonetheless. So what is culture? Is it what people wear? Or how they worship, celebrate, and mourn? Or how they govern themselves or what they eat? Or even how they create and understand art? All of these? We will take on these questions by building fictional cultures of our own. To prepare us for this, we will learn to think of culture as more than objects. It is a system, a network of filters through which we make sense of the world and create our place in it. After building a theoretical basis and analyzing one of the most famous and important fictional worlds in the Western tradition, Dante’s “Inferno,” you will build your own fictional world and visit the fictional worlds of your classmates to explore cultural differences and how those differences are overcome.