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First-Year Seminar Program

The ability to communicate well on a college level is crucial to success at Hood. With that in mind, the First-Year Seminar program offers students an opportunity to sharpen academic reading and writing skills in small classroom settings. All first-year seminars are intensive and will help students refine their abilities in this area these areas as well as in critical thinking, information literacy and class discussion.

Each seminar is limited to 15 students, which will allow class members to work closely with their professor and peers. The seminar topics have broad appeal while reflecting the varied interests and expertise of the faculty who teach them.

All incoming first-year students are required to take a first-year seminar course during their first fall semester at Hood as a Core requirement.​

The following are our First-Year Seminar course listings for the fall 2015 semester.

FYS 101-01: Bong Hits 4 Jesus: Doing Battle with the First Amendment

Janis Judson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and director of Law and Criminal Justice Program

What does the phrase “Bong Hits for Jesus” (taken from a real U.S. Supreme Court case) have to do with the First Amendment and the United States Constitution? This seminar will try to answer that very question. We will address three free speech issues of particular interest to college undergraduates—freedom to articulate opinions and beliefs in the public forum, liberty of expression for social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and finally, freedom from book censorship by restrictive curricular standards. Since freedom of speech is not an absolute guarantee, we examine some of the more logical ensuing questions: What are the boundaries of free speech? How does the state determine what restrictions on speech serve a ‘compelling government interest’? How does the law achieve a balance between safety and order in schools on one hand and tolerance and liberty on the other? Through literature, nonfiction and case law analysis, students will explore the tensions and paradoxes of this most sacred of political and legal rights.

FYS 101-02: Developing Your Leadership Potential (All students in this FYS also must take the LLC 101F: BOLD @ Hood (Building Opportunities for Leadership Development)

Kathleen C. Bands, Ph.D., professor of education

Have you often found that you have a passion for change and action? Would you like to explore what it means to be a successful leader? Leadership exists in many forms and whether you consider yourself a leader already or want to develop your potential as a leader, this course will help teach you to work well with others and will enhance your leadership abilities. In this course, you will recognize your unique leadership potential and develop successful habits. Enjoy learning from interactive class activities, projects, discussions and opportunities to meet leaders from all walks of life! You will learn skills to help you succeed in college and as a leader. Explore different types of leadership by finding out what type of leader you are through Myers Briggs and True Colors, and share your leadership style with the world by developing your own leadership philosophy!

This unique class is offered in conjunction with the Living Learning Community LLC 101F: BOLD @ Hood (Building Opportunities for Leadership Development), co-directed by Professor David Gurzick (Department of Economics and Business Administration) and Professor Bands. BOLD @ Hood provides a one-of-a-kind experience to build your leadership skills in and out of the classroom.

FYS 101-03: The Joy of Computing

Elizabeth Chang, Ph.D., professor of computer science

Computing has changed our world in profound ways. This course will examine some of the history, big ideas and fundamental concepts of computing. The overarching theme is to expose students to the beauty and joy of computing. Topics include key figures in computing, fun programing using a friendly graphical language, big ideas in computing, applications that have changed our world, social implications of the digital revolution, risks and errors of computing systems and the limits and the future of computing.

FYS 101-04: The Dead Speak: Tut’s Tomb to the Donner Pass (All students in this FYS also must take the LLC 101A: Dwelling in the Past)

Emilie Amt, Ph.D., professor of history, and Jenifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of art and archaeology

From the tombs of ancient pharaohs to American pioneers who turned to cannibalism, history and archaeology allow the people of the past to speak to us in many ways. In this course, students will use case studies to learn about a variety of past time periods and places, including ancient Egypt, medieval England and the American West. Historical and archaeological approaches will include qualitative and quantitative analysis of historical sources (including medieval coroners’ reports, wills, photographs and eyewitness narratives), stylistic analysis of art, archaeological excavation and interpretation, and forensic science.

This course must be taken in conjunction with the Living Learning Community LLC 101A: Dwelling in the Past, co-directed by Professors Amt and Ross. Dwelling in the Past focuses on community-building and on learning about the different ways in which professionals in the local region explore the past and interpret their findings for each other and the public.

FYS 101-05: Satan in Salem: The Witchcraft Episode of 1692

Barbara Powell, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of history

“The Devil hath been raised amongst us," wrote Rev. Samuel Parris, offering a diabolical explanation for the "odd postures" and "distempers" that seized some girls in the small Massachusetts town of Salem Village in the winter of 1692. This seminar will give students an in-depth and hands-on view of the most dramatic and deadly witchcraft episode in American history, using the latest scholarship, the surviving records of the witchcraft trials and two literary treatments of Salem witchcraft. Students will analyze case studies of accused witches and their accusers to consider what gave the Salem episode its momentum and what finally brought it to a close.

FYS 101-06: Thinking Through Photography

Fred Bohrer, Ph.D., professor of art history

This course will be organized around a series of lecture/discussions and hands-on projects, each directed around a moment in photographic history, from early photography through the rise of the subjects of portrait and landscape (including travel) photography to 20th century art photography and digital image-making. Reading and discussions will highlight the thoughts of significant critics and viewers, as well as the words of photographers themselves. Student projects will include making pinhole photographs, producing a photographic collage or “tableau,” considering photographic color in connection with painted or viewed color, researching individual photographers and images and making digital photos, including “selfies,” with available equipment.

FYS 101-07: McHistory: McDonalds and the Past, Present and Future of Globalization

Corey Campion, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of history

We are experiencing and shaping a unique moment in the human story. Products such as McDonalds, Starbucks and iPads have gone global. Global challenges, such as climate change, Ebola and the Great Recession continue to unite the world’s communities in unprecedented ways. This seminar asks: What exactly are the consequences of this expanding globalization of contemporary society? To discover the answer, students first will scrutinize the past in order to find out when and how globalization began. Then they will turn their attention to the present and future in order to realize how globalization impacts the world.

FYS 101-08: The Irish Experience

Maryanne Farrell, Ph.D., instructor of history

Shamrocks, leprechauns, St. Patrick, corned beef and cabbage, bagpipes, lilting songs, wearing green. These are some of the many symbols of the Irish culture recognized and celebrated by millions of people all over the world—whether or not they are Irish. In addition, each year large numbers of people travel to Ireland to experience for themselves the beauty of the land, the friendliness of the people and the conviviality of the pubs, and sometimes to search for their roots. What makes this island and its people so special? This course grapples with the fundamental question of what it means to be Irish. It focuses on the development of the Irish nation and selfhood, and the efforts of the Irish to shape a unique cultural identity through forms such as music, dance and literature while struggling to achieve independence from British rule. It then tracks how Irish cultural identity has been exported to the United States and other parts of the world through emigration, complicating the idea of 'Irishness' in many interesting ways.

FYS 101-09: All Animals Go to Heaven: Personhood and the Animal Rights Debate

Katy Fulfer, Ph.D., Libman Professor of the Humanities

Pope Francis was recently misquoted as saying that we humans would see our pets in heaven. Even though this claim resulted from a misinterpretation of the Pope’s remarks, it resonated with many people and the way that companion animals often become integral parts of our families—perhaps they even become family members. This course addresses the question: “Are nonhuman animals persons?” We will look at attempts to extend legal, moral and political personhood to nonhuman animals, as well as what moral, political and legal implications arise for the treatment of animals if they are persons.

FYS 101-10: Who’s on First? Sports in American Life

Donna Bertazzoni, professor of journalism

From novels to newspapers and from vaudeville to video games, sports pervade American life and culture. They are part of our collective history; they offer both glory and shame. However, there's more to following sports than simply rooting for a favorite team. Today's knowledgeable sports fan needs to understand economics, government relations, labor relations, gender issues and (unfortunately) the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and the workings of the court system. This course will engage students in looking at sports through a variety of media. Students will be introduced to sports literature, biography, history and film. Among other topics, we will examine the integration of baseball; how Title IX changed women's sports forever; how the steroid era has tainted professional sports; and how new research into concussions is affecting athletics at all levels, from middle school to the pros.

FYS 101-11: Success in College: The Virtues of Excellence

David Hein, Ph.D., professor of Religion and Philosophy

With a strong emphasis on writing, speaking and critical thinking, this course is aimed at helping students transition from high school to college. Students will learn the "virtues of excellence" that foster high achievement not only in college but also when the real exams begin: after graduation. They will examine habits of success and consider key virtues, such as patience, courage and perseverance, in order to position themselves to pursue and achieve excellence in their lives.

FYS 101-12: The Pyramids to Ancient Shipwrecks! Amazing Archaeological Discoveries

Tammy Krygier, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of archaeology

Two million-year-old skeletons uncovered in a gorge on the Serengeti Plains; fossilized loaves of bread unearthed in Pompeii; the mysterious stone giants of Easter Island; a vast underground terra cotta army protecting a mighty emperor’s tomb—these are just some of a host of archaeological discoveries that this seminar examines. The course begins with a general introduction to archaeology before we turn our attention to a rich and varied selection of ancient archaeological sites. We will then consider how archaeology has captured the popular imagination as depicted in the media (Indiana Jones, best-selling fiction and pseudo-documentaries) and measured by the effects of archaeological tourism. In the end you will easily be able to critique and distinguish these popular versions of archaeology and archaeologists from the actual scientific discipline that enables us to understand the incredible and diverse cultural heritage of humankind.

FYS 101-13: Surveillance and Democracy

Len Latkovski, Ph.D., professor of history

This course takes an in-depth look at the hotly debated topic of clandestine surveillance in a democratic society. Questions important to this debate are: What is the nature of democracy and the civil rights guaranteed by the American Constitution and U.S. legal system? What are the surveillance needs of national, state and commercial security, and at what point do these start to interfere with a functioning democracy? Through readings, class discussions, research and writing projects, and by engaging with guest speakers who are experts in the field, students will grapple with problems in preserving the fundamental rights of American citizens at a time when stealth collection of “metadata” and other forms of surveillance are fundamentally changing the relationship between individuals and their government.

FYS 101-14: Exploring Gender (All students in this FYS also must take the LLC 101X: Sex, Gender and Social Justice)

Lisa Algazi Marcus, Ph.D., professor of French

What is gender? When and how is gender assigned to each of us? Are there only two options? In this course, students will examine gender as a social construct through a study of gender identity, including transgender and gender-fluid identities. After first gaining a basic understanding of the relationship between sex and gender, we will look at cultural norms of masculinity and femininity and contrast them with alternative models from our own culture and others. Our exploration of gender will be based on popular culture, media, recent scientific research, autobiographies and fiction, as well as conversations with gender-fluid and transgender individuals from the local community. In their writing, students will examine gender identity, its definitions and its boundaries, to arrive at a critical analysis of the social construction of the masculine, the feminine, and everything in between.

This course must be taken in conjunction with the Living Learning Community LLC 101H: Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice, co-directed by Professor Algazi Marcus and Professor Laura Moore, associate professor of sociology. Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice focuses on promoting equal rights for women, men and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

FYS 101-15: Fairy Tales: Transformations and Transgressions

Heather Mitchell-Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of English

Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Hood College, there was a course that explored the past, present and future of fairy tales. The students embarking on this journey learned how these deceptively simple stories teach us who we are and how we fit into the world around us. They considered a wide variety of texts, including those of the European tradition (the Brothers Grimm, Disney blockbusters and feminist and postmodern interpretations) as well as other cultures (from the medieval One Thousand and One Nights to the modern film My Neighbor Totoro). Such stories, the students discovered, do more than simply entertain; they also establish social hierarchies and define gender roles in ways that both reinforce and critique the status quo. Because the students were familiar with most of these stories, they were able to think deeply about how and why they have been told and re-told throughout the centuries. Along the way, the students were also introduced to methods of interpretation and analysis in the humanities to see how different theoretical approaches could help them read and think about their primary texts. Although this course cannot promise to end with a “happily ever after,” students with a sense of curiosity and a commitment to discovery are assured an exciting and unexpected journey!

FYS 101-16: Dealing with Anger: A Philosophical and Ethical Investigation

Caroline Reichard, Ph.D., senior lecturer, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Classical ethics has a rich vocabulary for describing our emotional lives, with the Stoics in particular developing a sophisticated account for how the emotions affect our spirits and how they can be deliberately directed, developed or controlled. Among other philosophical and religious traditions, only Buddhism offers a model of comparable complexity and scope. And while Buddhists and classical philosophers have important differences in their aspirations and methodologies, their accounts of the emotions generally and anger specifically have surprising resonance. This seminar would help students develop academic skills in thinking, reading, writing and discussion by comparing Buddhist ethics with a particular thread within the ethics of the classical and Hellenistic worlds. And it may also help them learn how to understand and manage anger, if they choose, by implementing those practices.

FYS 101-17: Music and the Movies: You Mean the Music Matters?

Lynn Staininger, Ph.D., instructor of music and director of choral activities and choral conducting

Did you ever wonder why some moments at the movies completely melted your heart or made you pull up your feet and grab your nearest neighbor in terror? It is not just the action on the screen that amplifies our responses; it is also that often-unidentified element, the music. Since the invention of films, music has shaped our responses to the stories told on the big and little screen. Love it or hate it, the music is just as important as the plot itself, and it often outlives the images on the screen. This seminar is designed around the activity of analyzing film music, with an emphasis on guided discussion, writing assignments and public presentations. The seminar centers on understanding the elements that comprise a film score, how this music relates to the story line and how each person interprets the various themes within.

FYS 101-18: From Aunt Jemima to Beyoncé: Representations of African Americans in Pop Culture

Tamelyn Tucker-Worgs, associate professor of political science and African American Studies

What larger political truths can we discover by looking at how African Americans are portrayed in the media today? This seminar will utilize critical studies in popular culture in order to seek answers to this question. We will examine how black people are commonly depicted in movies, literature, on television and in music. We’ll discover how notions of race, gender and class are constructed and shared in these categories. We’ll analyze how these representations reinforce or counter social stereotypes and question whether they are beneficial or detrimental to black political empowerment. Finally, we’ll consider how popular images of black people have contributed to the events and the resulting social unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo.

FYS 101-19: The Ethics of Food

Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., associate professor of religion and philosophy

We all need food; and some of us love food. But is this area of our lives one of unlimited indulgence? Or are there facets about what we eat that should be subject to restraint? This class will examine some ethical hotspots in food such as animal rights, sustainable agriculture, government obligation to protect citizen health and the impact of affluent food habits on global poverty. No answers are assumed or forced, and everything is up for debate. You’ll get to know your colleagues and yourself better by chewing over these food matters. At the same time, this seminar aims to help you develop a taste for the writing process, which will enhance your college career and beyond!

FYS 101-20: The Thrills and Chills of Writing Into Transgression

Ellie Williams, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of English

What happens when you write against “the rules?” This course will explore the intersections of several modes of writing—creative and critical, narrative and expository, appropriated and plagiarized. Students will discover how the scholarly perception of documented fact and the experimental nature of memoir relate—or not. Through the study of diverse and self-referential media—literature, Facebook, film, newspapers and podcasts—we will transgress societally imposed boundaries in writing. During class we will violate traditional academic composition by writing into the nebulous notion of creative nonfiction—a meshing of the factual with the emotional and the real with the imagined. Students will examine this juncture of memory and imagination and how it lends itself to both writing and how we think about gender, family, religion and race. In fusing the conventions of reportage with the aesthetics of literature and passion for self-expression, students will write into their own truths ... or lies.

FYS 101H-01, FYS 101H-02 and FYS 101H-03: Exploring Evil: Realities/Representations

Honors students only

Hoda Zaki, Ph.D., Virginia E. Lewis Professor of Political Science and director of African American studies program; Karen Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and co-director of the Honors Program

This team-taught course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding various political, philosophical and literar perspectives on the nature of evil as well as human responsibilities for and responses to evil in the modern world. The course raises questions about genocide and violations of human rights across the globe. It also explores some of the ways we bear witness to and memorialize evil events in our recent past, particularly through memoirs, museums and monuments. In addition to large group sessions and days spent on field trips, students will move through three rotations, spending several weeks in small groups with each of the three instructors.