Course Offerings | Freshman Studies



All first-year students are required to enroll in a Freshman Studies course during CentreTerm. Freshman Studies courses have three goals: to provide a small-group learning situation that will engage students and faculty in an intensive intellectual experience; to introduce students in an innovative fashion to a discipline's basic concepts, modes of thought, or procedures; and to foster basic educational skills--how to read critically, think logically, and communicate effectively.




Freshman Studies Courses 2001-2002

FRS 101 Economics in an Ethical World
This seminar examines real and imagined tensions between economic and ethical goals. For example, must we sacrifice economic growth in order to protect the environment? Can we improve our standard of living without diminishing that of future generations? Can businesses compete in the global marketplace while operating within reasonable moral guidelines? These and related dilemmas are discussed with an eye toward optimal personal and social policymaking.

FRS 102 Stem Cells, Cloning and You
This course will examine the scientific and ethical issues surrounding the use of stem cells removed from human embryos or adults and the related issues of cloning. The potential to "grow" a variety of different cell types from stem cells in order to replace diseased cells has been heralded as a major advancement in medical research. Producing genetically identical individuals by cloning is postulated as a way to provide transplantable cells for diseased individuals. These technologies, however, elicit numerous ethical and philosophical questions, with which our society is currently grappling. For example, is it ethical to destroy an embryo in order to acquire stem cells? Is it ethical to produce genetic "twins" in a lab? What if the cloned individual has genetic defects that lead to illness or death? Students will work in small groups to understand the scientific information required to consider the ethical concerns. Class discussion, writing assignments, and student presentations are used to explore the ramifications of stem cell research and cloning.

FRS 103 Popular Music in American History
There is a $40 field trip fee for this course.
This course explores the diverse traditions of 19th and 20th-century American popular music to better understand their place in the broader history of the nation's culture. We'll cover three weeklong units: Making "Race Music," Making Country Music, and Making Rock and Roll. Issues to be addressed include the tension between music as art and music as commodity; the role of technology in the development of musical tastes; the power of music to influence political and social consciousness; and the role of music in creating racial, ethnic, and personal identities. The course includes team-designed web projects, and field trips to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville as well as other local music hotspots.

FRS 104 The French Revolution and Napoleon
This course examines the French Revolution from various perspectives, culminating in a mock trial of Napoleon. France's first emperor will stand accused of subverting everything the Revolution stood for. Based on a careful study of the memoirs of various participants in the Revolution, each student will portray a character during the trial. As we prepare for the trial, we will study not only the content of the Revolution, but also the various ways that historians approach their subjects and the possible products that result from their research, from academic monographs to historical theatre.

FRS 105 At-Risk Children and Youth
This course will focus on the individual and environmental factors that place children at risk as well as the skills children need to maintain resiliency in the face of these challenges. Students spend time at the beginning of the course reading and discussing the background literature in this area of psychology. In addition, students will learn how to develop intervention programs for children and have the opportunity to design and implement a short intervention program for students in a local middle school. Students must be available between 4:00 and 6:00 pm during the final week of class.

FRS 106 The World of Duke Ellington
This course will discuss all aspects of the life and music of Duke Ellington, one of America's greatest composers, jazz band leaders and pianist. We will study the major members of his orchestra as well as the figures, social climate and -events that affected his music. We will be concerned with social, artistic, and racial issues that define his life and music and the different eras in which his music was written. Students will develop critical listening skills and an understanding of music analysis through the pieces studied.

FRS 107 Great Advances in Science
This course will provide an analysis of at least three periods of significant scientific achievement: the scientific revolution of the 17th century; the emergence of Darwinian theories on evolution in the mid-19th century; and the development of modern physics at the beginning of the 20th century. Particular attention will be paid to the literature that disseminated and discussed the results and ramifications of the revolutionary ideas of each period. Time permitting, the course will also include a look at some modern scientific breakthroughs and communications.

FRS 108 Food in Film, Fiction, and the Fine Arts
We will study films featuring French, Italian, and Mexican food. We will read the books upon which the films were made and articles related to these cuisines and traditions related to eating. We will also study food as manifested in the work of artists from these cultures. Guests will be invited to talk to us about these cuisines and will show us how to prepare dishes from these cultures. Students will prepare meals, sometimes using recipes from the films. Visits are also planned to restaurants and markets specializing in the foods studied. Several evening group meals are required.

FRS 109 Centre and Politics
This seminar will focus on politics as a means of understanding and interpreting the historical development of the College. Special attention will be given to the founding of the College, the Civil War era, the 1960's, and the Vice Presidential Debate of 2000.

FRS 110 Judaism and Christianity in Dialogue
Friendship or fratricide: these are the alternatives that recent centuries have set before religions, and they have rarely been more stark. Since the end of World War II, however, Christians and Jews have begun to ask questions about one another's traditions, to break down age-old barriers of prejudice, and to explore not only differences, but similarities of faith as well. In this course, students will walk through some rich but very controversial terrain - the Bible, anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism, the Holocaust, the State of Israel, and challenges for the future. A trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is planned.

FRS 111 Under the Influence
This course explores human experience with beverage alcohol from earliest mysteries to modern fermentation and distillation technology. The products of these processes have provided an important "microscope" through which to study human culture and civilization. Students will be challenged to select a particularly important event or era in human cultural history (east or west) and assess the extent to which that event or era was influenced by the focal substance of this complex societal issue.

FRS 112 Transforming Arts
Students explore transformation and its role in creativity, imagination, and interconnected works of art. Fundamental to this exploration will be selected readings from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Using one or more of the myths recounted by Ovid as a starting-point, students will consider transformation as both subject and process in a wide variety of works drawn from literature, art, dance, music, and film.

FRS 113 Storytelling
This course will center upon storytelling performance. Storytelling takes many forms in our culture. It is an essential element in defining who we are as a culture, a nation, as groups, and as individuals. This course will explore storytelling as a large group activity, working in small groups, and solo performance. Individual sessions will be scheduled for the afternoon, usually 30-45 minutes. Some evening performances at the end of the term.

FRS 114 Rousseau Walking and Falling Down
A study of short works on pain, courage, and custom by three French moral and nature philosophers: Montaigne, Pascal and Rousseau. Focus not only on their happy travels and observations on foot but also on the near-death experiences resulting from terrible falls which changed the course of their work. The course asks two fundamental questions: What is the relationship between moralist writing on vice and virtue and the ancient habit of walking, hiking and pilgrimage? What happens when we fall. Morning meetings. Afternoon journeys in various places (town, park, hills, malls,) and in various configurations (class, small group, trios, pairs, alone) with possible extraordinary walks (sunset, sunrise, long hikes), depending on class decisions.

FRS 115 The Mathematical Experience
What is mathematics? Does mathematics depend on humans for its existence? What does it mean to "do" mathematics? These are just a few of the questions we'll discuss as we explore the rich and diverse world of mathematics from the perspectives of history, philosophy, sociology, and mathematics itself. We'll learn and explore various mathematical results and reflect on what they tell us about the beauty, the power, and the essential limitations of both mathematics and the human mind.

FRS 116 Seeing East Africa Through Its Schools & Literature
This course will use educational systems and literature rather than politics, history, and economics to achieve insights and understandings about life and society in East Africa. It is often assumed that ours is the only way of organizing an educational system; this course will study the changing ways that schooling has been organized in East Africa. Also it will delve into how schooling has reflected the struggle of the society to adapt to freedom from colonial rule and to answer some of the fundamental questions every national school system must answer - what are the goals of the society, what knowledge and values need to be passed on, and who shall be chosen to receive the limited education that can be offered? Insights into the history, feelings, and aspirations of a people can be gained through its literature. Also the clash of cultures is evident in literature. Not only will contemporary education be examined, but students will develop plans for a new education system.

FRS 117 American Utopianism: The Peaceable Kingdom
Using the 1826 version of Edward Hicks' famous folk painting, The Peaceable Kingdom, as a starting point, the course will first consider various strains of the utopian impulse in 19th-Century America, including neighboring Shakertown and Gethsemene Abbey. Students will then investigate intentional communities of the past 100 years based on the Hicks' vision of humans living in absolute harmony with nature and other animals.

FRS 118 Rainmaking: The Study of and Preparation for Leadership
This course will acquaint the student with the literature associated with leadership studies. The student will be exposed to a variety of authors, and have the opportunity to study and report on a 20th-Century leader of his or her choice. The class will feature several guest speakers (leaders in practice) from a variety of fields, and will include at least one field trip to explore the work of a leader in his or her workplace.

FRS 119 An Introduction to Drawing
The course will introduce the fundamentals of drawing, including perspective, light and shade, expressive use of various media, and the principles of design. Studio work will be complemented by written and oral assignments that teach students how to discuss and criticize drawings. Lectures, a museum visit, and student copies made from masterworks will familiarize students with the cultural contributions made in this medium since the Renaissance.

FRS 120 Christian Society
This course will consider the varied attempts to create a Christian civilization, along with the critiques and reformations made along the way. One focus of the course will be on the differences between Catholic and Protestant
conceptions of society. This will lead us to modern considerations of the very idea of Christian society. Students will be expected to engage and develop their own position in the great conversation about Christian society. Class will meet 8:00-9:00am during the first week in YOUN 102.

FRS 121 Introduction to Poetry Writing
A class devoted to the writing of poetry and to relevant readings designed to guide and inspire the beginning writer. A workshop class where students will write 2-3 poems a week, responding to assignments given, which we will then workshop in class.

FRS 122 Evolutionary Medicine
We will review and critically evaluate the potential role of evolutionary theory in medicine. Evolutionary theory, the cornerstone of modern biology, is now beginning to have an impact on the fields of medicine and human health. Recently there has been considerable interest in the idea that evolutionary thinking can inform decisions concerning care of the sick and prevention of disease. Proponents of this concept suggest that some symptoms of illness (such as fever) may be adaptive defenses that have emerged over generations of coevolution between humans and disease-causing organisms. Using a combination of readings, in-class discussions, laboratory exercises, and computer simulations, we will cover the basic tenets of evolutionary theory and explore their application to human health.