Course Offerings - Catalog 2010-11


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First-Year Studies


All first-year students are required to enroll in a First-Year Studies course during CentreTerm. First-Year 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.

First-Year Studies Courses

2009-2010 Offerings:

FYS 101 Your Automobile, Our Environment
No other invention has had such a dramatic impact on human lifestyles and the environment as the automobile. This course explores the social and environmental impact that our perceived need for personal transportation has had. Environmental impact is explored from a number of perspectives including: origins of the automobile and its evolution; impact of manufacturing technology; automobile utilization impacts on natural resources, climate, and the atmosphere; the impact of the automobile on urban design and potential alternatives to personal transportation.


FYS 108 Chaos and Fractals: A Revolution in Science
We will explore a phenomenon known as chaos, which is the tendency for very simple systems to exhibit extremely complicated behavior.  The understanding of chaos is regarded by many as one of the most important scientific ideas of the 20th century.  The historical context will be discussed, the necessary mathematics will be explained and the beauty of many chaotic systems will be explored via computer, including the intricate structure of shapes known as fractals. 


FRS 116 Teens and Teachers in the Media
Students examine media representations of teachers and schools including television and film. We will read excerpts from a variety of books (both fiction and nonfiction) as well as view and analyze visual depictions of schoolteachers and students in school.


FYS 123 Japanese Culture in 16 Days
In Japan today, one can enjoy Starbucks coffee and McDonald's hamburgers, yet Japanese people are very different from Americans. This course examines, through hands-on experiences of cultural aspects, old Japan's impact on contemporary Japan. Actual classroom activities include origami, tea ceremony, and calligraphy.


FYS 124 Paris and the Impressionists
This class considers the cultural context of Impressionism, including the modernization of the City of Lights, with its new sewers and suburban railroads, contemporary trends in photography and sculpture and the cultural phenomena of exhibitions and international expositions. Students analyze artworks, contemporary critiques, discuss the role of women in the arts and present their findings to their colleagues.


FYS 125 Contemporary Events
This course will utilize internet resources, as well as newspapers and other printed material, to enable students to acquire an informed and critical understanding of current national and international events. The internet is especially useful in this regard. Search engines such as Google, and hyperlinks within articles, enable a reader to trace the origin and development of headline stories, and consult multiple sources in order to discern the limitations and biases that are inevitable in news coverage.


FYS 126 Shapeshifters: Literature and Film of Metomorphosis
This course focuses on the aesthetics of metamorphosis, a theme found in the literature of all ages and cultures, cutting across categories from social realism to fantasy. Discussion ranges widely, beginning with fairy tales and myths and continuing with fiction, drama, and contemporary film. Students have opportunities to respond to the material both imaginatively and analytically.


FYS 127 Violence in Latin America Through Fiction & Film
This course will incite students to question the relationship between violence, politics, culture, and art that has shaped Latin America during the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will begin with a series of readings that introduce students to the political, historical, and cultural constructs of Latin America. Then the class will focus on different representations of violence in a variety of texts that include, but are not limited to: short stories, films, visual art & architecture.


FYS 128 The Great War
An examination of the causes and consequences of “The Great War,” the First World War. The nature and psychology of combat, the imact of the War on gender roles, on the rise of modern mass movements, particularly communism and fascism, and on growing tensions in the Middle East, India, and China are among the topics to be examined. The documentary film series entitled The Great War will be used in the course.


FYS 129 African Polictics in Film and Fiction
A study of contemporary Africa through the historical and political analysis of novels and films authored and directed by Africans. The course will focus on important themes that emerge in such works. Examples of these themes include neocolonialism, the nature of dictatorship, foreign aid, apartheid, gender roles, and tradition vs. modernity.


FYS 130 Heroes, Religion and Pop Culture
In the past century the hero model has been re-shaped and introduced to the public through creative means such as literature, graphic novels and film. The characters in Chabon's Kavalier and Klay, Superman, Captain America, and others demonstrate the strong human desire for a savior and the comfort such a character provides. This course illustrates the genesis of the hero in religious traditions, discusses the divine hero's appearance in material culture, examines the historical context of the hero in the comic book and graphic novel genre, and discusses the prominence of the hero in film. We will ultimately examine what type of return to paradise the hero fulfills in religious and secular arenas and why this desire continually persists.


FYS 131 Storeytelling
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.


FYS 132 The Voice of Poetry
A study of the essential dimensions of poetry, including analysis, performance, and composition, as well as its role in community, education, and memory.


FYS 133 France Under German Occupation
This course involves a critical examination of France's darkest era in history, World War II. From the crushing defeat of the French army, to the exodus of the civilian population in front of the advancing German army, to the mass deportation of Jewish families, students are exposed to the harsh realities of the War as they were experienced by the French population. Unlike other courses that students may have taken on World War II, this course presents them with a uniquely French perspective on the period as it is expressed through personal accounts, fiction, and film.


FYS 134 Topics in Computing: Multimedia Bit By Bit
The class will examine digital media, especially images, but perhaps sounds or movies, through computation. Why and how are various digital media encoded? How can the encodings be manipulated? Our study will help us learn about computation: How does computation work? What kinds of choices are made? Digitization of media is a computational process. Can some technical understanding give us better insight into issues surrounding digital media? Students will learn some programming, often by example.


FYS 135 Women and Spirituality
This course challenges students to examine their religious beliefs and practices by analyzing the historical and pre-historical context within which Christian and Hebrew scriptures were composed, written, edited, and passed down. A close reading of certain sections of the Bible, coupled with short essays by contemporary feminist theologians interpreting these scriptures, should stimulate discussion of these materials as they relate to wider personal and social issues. In addition, theoretical, imaginative, and practical writings on alternative forms of spirituality will be examined.


FYS 136 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.


FYS 137 Snakes On a Plane
In this course we will explore the biological, cultural, and social aspects of snakes. Specifically, students will investigate snake morphology, behavior, and evolution using lectures, multimedia presentations, hands-on-activities, and field trips. We will also explore why some cultures worship snakes while others revile them and whether the fear of snakes stems from nature or nurture.


FYS 138 The Café and Public Life
The café has long been a storied place for creating public life, from convivial social groups to intellectual salons to revolutionary cells. We will study how the café is a “third place” – not home, not work – where people from different social groups can meet and mix. Caffeine, especially in coffee, tea, and chocolate, has fueled a modern public sphere that promotes hard work and clear thinking. We will make several field trips to different kinds of cafés to see for ourselves how they can be incubators of public life, and to actively create critical discourse ourselves by talking to café regulars.


FYS 139 Mathematics in Sports, Games and Gambling
In this class, we will examine areas of probability, statistics, and discrete mathematics. We will draw our examples from several sports and games and develop the mathematics necessary for students to rationally analyze gambling applications.


FYS 140 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.


FYS 141 Political Islam
The course begins with a survey of the primary tenets of Islam, emphasizing the differences among fundamentalism, radicalism, and reformism to demonstrate the variety of Islamic thought. These ideas are then examined in the specific contexts of several Middle Eastern countries--Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran--to discover how, and to what degree, religion shapes their politics. Finally, the class examines politics and Islam in a country in which Muslims are a small minority: the United States.