Course Offerings - Catalog 2012-13


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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

2011-2012 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 102 Recreating Revolution
In this course, students act out roles of characters engaged in writing France's first constitution in 1791. They form factions, write newspapers, and debate one another all in the hopes of writing a document that best reflects their views. At the same time, some students  represent the Parisian crowd, which will pressure the delegates to address the pressing concerns of those who are not represented in the Assembly. At the end of the experience, students will assess the impact of ideas on people's actions, the roles of contingency and accident in history, and the nature of revolution.

FYS 113 Shipwrecks and Castaways in Film and Literature
This course examines the scenario of a shipwreck survivor(s) confronting the elements. Relevant treatments include epic (Homer), drama (The Tempest), novels (Robinson Crusoe), movies (Cast Away), and television (Lost, Gilligan's Island). Our goal is to explore how individuals and groups are cast away, survive, and often are transformed on deserted (and inhabited) islands.

FYS 120 Sports Psychology
This course takes a psychological approach toward sports and athletic endeavors. We begin with an exploration of the “mind-body” connection, then emphasize how thoughts influence physical performance and how physical states influence mental abilities. Topics include sport-related motivation, competition, social interactions and teamwork. The course also explores the area of “peak performance,” which focuses on the synergistic relationship between mind and body.

FYS 122 English Civil Wars
This course explores the causes, the course of, and the impacts of the English Civil Wars. These wars led to some of the most important political, social, and economic developments in English history–developments which would have world wide implications.

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 125 Behind the Headlines
This course utilizes internet resources to enable students to gain an informed and critical understanding of current national and international news stories. Lead stories will include the main issues going into the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns.  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 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 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 may include at least one field trip to explore the work of a leader in his or her workplace.

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 143 Food in Film, Fiction, and Fine Arts
We will study the role of food in films featuring a wide variety of cuisines, and read two novels upon which two of the films were based.  We will also look at food as art form and try our hand at creating a still life. Invited guests will give us cooking demonstrations and talk about the cuisines of their heritage cultures. A field trip is planned to an ethnic restaurant.

FYS 153 Heard Around the World: A Global Look at Music Making and Culture
This course  introduces ways to think about and listen to music from a variety of diverse cultures--including the Americas, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe. Students  explore the fundamental elements of music and see how they vary in different musical traditions. Effects of cultural influences such as gender and ethnicity are also considered.  The course features workshops with West African musicians and dancers and a workshop in Southeast Asian gamelan enesemble. It also features visits with musicians from a variety of musical cultures.

FYS 154 Wi-Fi Politics and Digital Democracy
This course introduces students to cutting-edge political issues and policies and explores how the internet and technology affects defense policy, the legal system, and democratic politics. Students study the legal and social ramifications of peer-to-peer downloading (should the government allow the "free" sharing of music?), as well as how domestic and international security has changed (information warfare, netwar, cyberwar, cybercrime, security cameras, etc.).  Also, we will examine new models of campaigning and governance involving social networking and increased connectivity.

FYS 155 Spain: Culture and Film
This course will connect students with Spanish culture through the medium of film.  As artistic objects that reflect cultural and social values, movies made in Spain--supplemented by academic readings--will enable students to acquire an informed and critical understanding of Spanish culture and its place within the world.

FYS 156 Who Are We?  American Immigration History
This course will concentrate on American immigration history.  The course will delve into the various waves of immigration from the earliest founding of the North American colonies to the present day.  In addition to looking at the United States as a whole there will be individual profiles of states, communities and some discussion of family genealogy.  Particular attention is given to the shifting causes and patterns of immigration, similarities and differences amont the experiences of immigrants in the United States, nativism, the development of immigration restrictions, and the effects of immigration on the economic, social, cultural, and political life of the nation over time.

FYS 157 The Psychology of Alfred Hitchcock Films
In a career that spanned six decades, more than sixty films, and 268 television programs, Alfred Hitchcock is the most widely recognized director in the world and is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.  The acknowledged master of the thriller/suspense genre he virtually invented, Hitchcock was also a brilliant technician who said he preferred to film stories ‘with lots of psychology’ to ‘make his audience suffer as much as possible.’  A primary focus of the course is to examine how Hitchcock manipulated audience perceptions through his treatment of psychological principles, including emotion, motivation, perception, states of consciousness, personality, memory, morality, and social behavior.  Main theories considered include gender and feminist theories, psychoanalytic theory, and various film theories applied to Hitchcock films.  Films to be explored include Sabotage (1939), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1957), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964).

FYS 158 The Chemistry of Food
You need to eat!  But, why are some foods better than others?  We will explore food as chemists.  How do individual food components contribute to the quality of food?  What chemical changes take place when a food is treated with acid or heated? Finally, we will enjoy the benefits of our experiments.

FYS 159 Consumer Culture, Globalization and the Environment
Americans once considered washers, air conditioners and cars great luxuries.  Today these modern conveniences are seen as things we simply “can’t live without.”  Yet how did this become so?  And what are the ecological, social and political implications of an ever-expanding set of needs?  Further, how can the planet sustain demand if billions of consumers in China and India come to define life’s necessities in similar ways?  How do we reconcile the needs of the planet and human health with persistent poverty and the desperate need for many families to consume more just to stay alive?   In the context of concerns about resource depletion, climate change, population growth and sustainability, this course explores the relationship between consumer culture, globalization, and the environment. Through a series of field trips we’ll also take a reflective look at the impacts of our own consumption practices.

FYS 160 The Documentary Film Tradition: From Flaherty to Herzog
Taught by award-winning documentary film-maker (and Centre alum) Tom Thurman, this course examines the history of documentary filmmaking from the 1920’s to the present, focusing primarily but not exclusively upon English language productions. Major directors covered include Flaherty, Grierson, Riefenstahl, Wiseman, Pennebaker, Welles, Ford, Kopple, Scorsese, Morris and Herzog, among others. Genres emphasized include travelogues, political, ethnographic, and personal films, plus movements classified as romanticism and cinema verite.

FYS 161 Scandals and Blunders in Science
This course will explore how science works and what can happen when things go wrong. Sometimes individuals falsify data or artifacts. Sometimes individuals overinterpret patterns at the limit of detection. Through the process of science, both kinds of problems can be discovered and the record set straight. Cases to be examined include Cold Fusion, Piltdown Man, and Polywater.

FYS 162 Gender and the Western
The Western is a particularly (and sometimes peculiarly) American genre that has been both immensely popular and of great political and cultural significance.  In this course we will explore a variety of Western stories in literature and film, paying particular attention to the ways this genre shapes our conceptions of masculinity and femininity.

FYS 163 Food and Campus Sustainability
This course examines campus sustainability and food from multiple disciplinary perspectives.  We will investigate the meanings and practice of sustainability on campuses, both at Centre and around the country.  Our discussions will engage the institutional, ethical, and practical aspects of food production, distribution, and consumption.  In particular, we will enrich class readings and discussion with field trips, guest speakers, and a study of the campus garden.

FYS 164 What’s Your Favorite Color? Color Theory in Art and Society
This course will involve art studio experience emphasizing the mechanics of color organization and interaction as well as the descriptive and expressive function of color in art and in the world in general.  In addition to using two dimensional marking and shaping materials and processes, students will examine the aesthetic use of color by way of studio practice, reading materials and audio visual aids so to analyze effects and implications of color theory in art, media and society via lectures, literature, film and individual research.

FYS 165 The Brothers Karamazov
We will read and engage Dostoevsky’s novel on both personal and intellectual levels.  For example, we will explore the experience and meaning of happiness, suffering, sin, love, and the sacred.  We will situate our reading of the novel in relation to the author’s biography, Russian history, and Christianity.