First-Year Seminars

First-Year seminars are designed to introduce you to a field of study by way of a special topic, issue, or problem of interest to you. You will have the challenge of exploring the course material in depth with a faculty member and a small group of peers. These topics are accessible to all students either with no prerequisites or with prerequisites first-years should have completed, such as the writing requirement. Limited to 15 students, these seminars will be reading and discussion-based with an emphasis on papers, projects, studio work, or hands-on field experience rather than exams. All of the first-year seminars are regular courses, worth either 3 or 4 credits, and most fulfill an FDR requirement. In some cases, these seminars may serve as a prerequisite or satisfy a requirement in a major.

Please take this opportunity to review these exciting course offerings.

Spring 2021

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Straughan, Robert D. (Rob)

Topics vary by subject and term.

Spring 2021, BUS 180-01: FS: Business and Social Responsibility (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. An examination of the debate regarding the role of business as both an economic driver and a catalyst for social change. The course will examine competing perspectives on the mandate for business using readings, cases, and conversations with business practitioners. The course will take a global perspective, considering the impact of political, historical, and cultural variations in the role of business and society. Straughan.

 

FS: First-Year Seminar

MATH 180 - McRae, Alan

First-year seminar.

Spring 2021, MATH 180-01: First-Year Seminar: Math + Art (3).  A course in mathematics and art for liberal arts students. Our goal is to explore how some of the greatest mathematical ideas had parallel developments in the world of art, all told through a narrative of culture and the history of ideas. (SC) McRae.

FS: First-year Seminar

PHYS 180 - McClain, Thomas J. (Tom)

A seminar for first-year students.

Spring 2021, PHYS 180-01: First-Year Seminar: Hands-on Technology (4). Prerequisite: First-year class standing.  Have you ever wondered how a touchscreen works? Or a battery? Or where you electricity comes from, or how you can use it to power a fan (or a car)? Find out with a hands-on, inquiry-based tour of modern technology, where you learn about each device by building a prototype and under- standing the concepts upon which it relies. Students will demonstrate proficiency by presenting their prototypes and the theory behind them in regular written reports and oral presentations. No background in physics or mathematics beyond high school algebra is required. No additional fees. (SL) McClain.

FS: First-Year Seminar

POL 180 - Rush, Mark E. / Kuettner, Paul R. (Dick)

First-year seminar.

Spring 2021, POL 180-01: First-Year Seminar: Minority Voting Rights and Gerrymandering (3).  Prerequisite: First-year class standing. This course introduces students to the history of voting rights discrimination against minorities in the United States with a particular focus on African Americans and gerrymandering. The course begins with a study of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how it has evolved through congressional amendments and Supreme Court decisions. We then investigate theories of minority representation and democracy. To place the theoretical aspects of the course into practical perspective, the class entails a lab component in which students learn to conduct basic spreadsheet and statistical analysis of data and use redistricting software (ArcMap). We will use Virginia elections and census data to produce alternative election maps of Virginia to demonstrate how we can make elections fairer, more competitive and create more opportunities for minority representation. Approved for Experiential Learning credit. (SS2) Rush and Keuttner.

 

Winter 2021

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Lind, Stephen J.

Topics vary by subject and term.

FS: First-Year Seminar

ECON 180 - Casey, James F. (Jim) / Goldsmith, Arthur H. (Art)

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Winter 2021, ECON 180-01: FS: The 4th Industrial Revolution and the Future of Work and Society (4).  This fall, millions of students will head off to start college, eager to understand more about themselves and the world they will work and live in. The technologies of the 4th Industrial revolution - voice and facial recognition, machine learning, and algorithms to guide predictions, all of which fall under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, and industrial robotics - are emerging as defining features of the economic and social world they will encounter as students and in the labor force. The purpose of this course is to explore - the determinants and socioeconomic impact of - the fourth industrial revolution through an economic lens while also drawing on insights from other disciplines. Prompted by Samuelson - utilizing the full range of fundamental economic ideas and concepts found in a conventional course on the principles of micro and macroeconomics will be introduced, mastered, and drawn upon to facilitate our exploration of the 4th Industrial revolution. Although Samuelson was a visionary, he failed to recognize {articulate?} the benefits of simultaneously incorporating insights from other disciplines while learning the core forms of reasoning and analysis at the heart of conventional economics. This course will integrate relevant ideas from other disciplines with those of economics to provide students with a deeper - and richer - understanding of how the fourth industrial revolution is and will continue to shape and impact contemporary society. Goldsmith and Casey.

Selected Topics

GEOL 197A - Harbor, David J.

Selected topical coverage of various timely or general interest subject areas in geology. The topic selected varies from year to year and is announced in advance of the registration period. Topics have included impact and extinction of the dinosaurs; volcanoes and tectonics; geologic consideration in land-use planning; and the geology of national parks. May be repeated for a maximum of four credits if the topic is different.

Winter 2021, GEOL 197A-01: FS: Carbon Farming Winter 2020 (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Can agriculture help us out of the global carbon crisis? Learn how soils form and function, and why two centuries of agriculture has eroded and depleted many of them. Then explore how regenerative agriculture can restore soil health, fix water quality problems, increase drought and pest resilience and increase farm profits. Explore the scientific research that shows how soils can store carbon and how much might be sequestered by using new practices. Talk with farmers and soil professionals from your home area. Explore local soils and agriculture practices. Assignments will include bibliographies, podcasts, farm plans and a final project/presentation. (SC) Harbor.

Fall 2020

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Lind, Stephen J.

Topics vary by subject and term.

Fall 2020, BUS 180-01: FS: Business Presentation Fundamentals (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. An introductory seminar offering fundamental perspectives, structures, strategies, and skills needed to communicate effectively within a business context. Special attention will be paid to the essentials needed for business collaborations that happen in virtual environments. Through readings, discussion, and personalized feedback, students focus on developing core competencies in live business presentations. These transferable insights and skills include, for example, audience analysis, strategic organization, virtual delivery, essential technologies, and slide deck design. Lind.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Lind, Stephen J.

Topics vary by subject and term.

Brain and Behavior

CBSC 111 - Lorig, Tyler S.

An introduction to behavioral neuroscience, including the physiological bases of sensation, learning and memory, motivation, cognition, and abnormal behavior.

 

FS: First-Year Seminar

CLAS 180 - Loar, Matthew P.

Topic and FDR varies by term.

Fall 2020, CLAS 180-01: FS: Troy and the Tragedy of War (3).  First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  This course will examine how poets, playwrights, and psychiatrists from ancient Greece to modern Nigeria, Ireland, Mexico, and the United States have used the Trojan War and the literature written about it to explore the tragedy of war. Readings will toggle between ancient Greek poetry and drama and contemporary nonfiction and drama, always with an eye to how the ancient source texts are being reinterpreted and repurposed for different audiences at different times in different places. Among other things, we will study how Homer's Iliad  has helped Vietnam War veterans process PTSD; how staging Greek plays on military bases has facilitated difficult conversations about the struggles of war; and how performing adaptations of Greek tragedies has enabled playwrights to communicate universal truths about the traumas inflicted by war. (HU) Loar.

FS: First-Year Seminar

DCI 180 - Abdoney, Mary / Teaff, Elizabeth A.

A seminar for first-year students. Applicability to FDRs and other requirements varies.

Fall 2020, DCI 180-01: FS: Black Mirrors and Digital Culture (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. How do various web tools and platforms dictate how we interact with each other? Why do we use some platforms for personal reasons, others for coursework, and some for professional purposes? Is there one correct way to use the web? In this seminar, we critically examine social media platforms, information repositories, apps, and other tools to create personal understandings of how a tool or company's motive influences our personal use of information and how we interact with our community. Themes include online identity, privacy, democracy, and the academic web. We explore these topics through the lenses of inclusiveness, information bias, "Big Data", and social networks. The course culminates in a multimedia narrative, giving students hands-on experience with various web publishing and content management technologies. (HU) Abdoney and Teaff.

Educating Citizens for Democracy

EDUC 230 - Moffa, Eric D.

Students study the relationship between education and democracy by critically examining various theories of democracy, competing conceptions of citizenship, and its implications for formal education. Specifically, students investigate the actual and possible roles for citizens in a democracy and the function of education in reproducing, altering, or challenging these roles. Students analyze and evaluate historic and philosophical texts, educational research, and conduct a narrative inquiry project to help draw conclusions about the best practices and policies for educating citizens for democracy.

Dynamic Earth: Introductory Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101 or 102.    Involves moderate hiking and other physical activities outside in all types of weather. Additional fee required. The study of Earth systems, our physical environment, and the processes shaping our planet with special emphasis on field study of the region near Lexington. Topics include: plate tectonics; the materials and structure of the Earth's crust; natural hazards including earthquakes and volcanoes; the origin of landforms; and the concept of deep time. Additional topics, with emphasis varying by instructor, include: climate change; weathering and erosion; water quality and movement; energy resources; geospatial and quantitative data analysis; and the relationship between humans and the environment. Laboratory course with lab fee. 

Fall 2020, GEOL 100A-01: FS: Dynamic Earth: Introductory Geology with Field Emphasis (4). For Fall 2020, please note that field activities for this section only will focus on sites within walking distance of campus.  (SL) Rahl.

FS: First-Year Seminar

JOUR 180 - Bhalla, Nandini

Topic and applicability to FDRs and other requirements varies.

Fall 2020, JOUR 180-01: Introduction to Global Public Relations (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. This course introduces students to the global perspectives of public relations. Corporations, governments, and non-government organizations (NGOs) actively seek to build and maintain mutually-beneficial relationships with the publics in other countries. Research indicates that multinational corporations (MNCs) often struggle to build reputation among local people. In this class, we will discuss various key differences among nations such as culture, media system, political system, and economic structure, which will help us to understand the basic fabric of the country. We will also learn the tactics and strategies of effective public relations in different countries. We will study and discuss various case studies from different countries. Bhalla.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 196A - Weissman, Jeremy L.

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2020, PHIL 196A-01: First Year Seminar: Ethics of International Relations (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. As we enter an increasingly globalized society, few things have characterized modern political conflicts more than the proper role of the individual nation upon the world stage. We attempt to decipher just what that role ought to be. Some of the ethical questions we consider include: When can we justly go to war? When is a humanitarian or environmental intervention warranted? What are our duties to less-industrialized nations in the name of global economic justice? What are our duties towards immigrants? (HU) Weissman .

FS: First-Year Seminar

POL 180 - Strong, Robert A. (Bob)

First-year seminar.

Fall 2020, POL 180-01: First-Year Seminar: Elections (3).  First-Year Seminar.  Prerequisite: First-year class standing. This seminar will follow the major events in the 2020 American presidential election while providing context and content for critical analysis of the current election cycle.  Topics covered will include: the history of presidential selection in the American political regime, the origins and evolution of the primary/caucus nomination system, the role of media in presidential politics, the lessons learned from the presidential election of 2016, the contested issues in 2020 and the future of presidential politics following the unusual events that have occurred in the current presidential selection process. (SS2) Strong.

FS: First-Year Seminar

POL 180 - Strong, Robert A. (Bob)

First-year seminar.

FS: First-Year Seminar in Anthropology

SOAN 181 - Narayanan, Sandhya K.

First-year seminar.

Fall 2020, SOAN 181-01: First-Year Seminar: Art of the Shade: The Anthropology of Insults, Sarcasm, and Back-Handed Compliments (3).  Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. What does TheRock have in common with the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey? Other than their charm and charisma, they are masters at talking trash and throwing shade at their opponents. We explore the anthropology of insults, sarcasm, and other types of pointed forms of comedy, and see how anthropologists study insults, sarcasm, and jokes. We also discuss what these types of comedic performances tell us about our need to express our feelings about social difference, form social bonds, or just have a moment in the spotlight. Let the shade throwing begin! (SS4) Narayanan .

FS: First-year Seminar

WGSS 180 - Bell, Melina C.

First-year seminar. Topics vary with term and instructor.

Fall 2020, WGSS 180-01: FS: Gender and Sport (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. This course introduces students to the fields of feminist theory, queer theory, and women's and gender studies by acquainting students with key theoretical concepts of the discipline, while exploring how the social practices and representations of sport are influenced by the gendered social framework within which they occur. Through an interdisciplinary approach, students learn to use gender as an analytical tool that intersects in complex ways with other categories of social power, such as race, class, and sexuality, focusing on the domain of sport. A central aim of the course is to encourage students to think critically about the relationship between their identities and their participation in sports, academics, and other pursuits, and their experiences as gendered beings in contemporary society. (HU) M. Bell.