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.

More than three-quarters of first-year students at Washington and Lee fulfill their FDR FW requirement in WRIT 100, Writing Seminar for First Years. 24-26 sections taught by professors of Classics, English, Journalism, History, Religion, and Philosophy are offered annually in fall and winter. These Writing Seminars for First-Years emphasize the development of argumentative writing skills in topical courses  on a variety of subjects, from "Faith and Doubt" to "I See Dead People." See the course offerings for more information.

Please take this opportunity to review these exciting course offerings. For full descriptions of the seminars follow the links.

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.

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

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

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

 

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. 

FS: First-Year Seminar

JOUR 180 - Bhalla, Nandini

Topic and applicability to FDRs and other requirements varies.

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.

Spring 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.

Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Knapp, Elizabeth P.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements. Lab fee required.

Spring 2020, GEOL 105-03: FS: Earth Lab: Geology of Hawai'i (4). First-Year seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Instructor consent required. Additional course fee required, for which the student is responsible after Friday of the 7th week of winter term. An introductory study of earth science and the geology of the Hawaiian Islands taught for two weeks in Hawai'i. Its purpose is to provide an unparalleled opportunity to observe a wide variety of geologic processes in action. This course entails close interaction with the faculty and intensive study amongst the students during the term. (SL) Knapp.

Winter 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 180A - Lind, Stephen J.

Topics vary by subject and term.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 196 - Weissman, Jeremy L.

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

Winter 2020, PHIL 196-01: First-Year Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Ethics and Emerging Technologies (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. By some accounts, technology is the defining aspect of modern society that shapes how we experience the world. At the same time, technology is accelerating at a pace that challenges our ability to take stock of the ethical issues at hand. In this seminar, we take a critical look at a number of cutting-edge technologies that are still largely on the horizon and attempt to decipher the ethical issues they present and how such problems might be mitigated. Some emerging technologies we critically analyze include artificial intelligence, human enhancement, virtual reality, surveillance technologies, synthetic biology, self-driving cars, and killer robots. (HU) Weissman.