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 2022

We do not offer any courses this term.


Winter 2022

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

DCI 180 - Tombarge, John W.

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

Winter 2022, DCI 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar: Every Map Tells a Story (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Place-based technologies permeate our lives, from the location services on our smartphones to the spatial-decision support systems that guide applications in areas such as disaster management, health care and public health, digital humanities, resource and water management, urban and regional planning, sustainability, and business analytics. This class will investigate the power of maps and spatial data to document and illustrate local and global issues. Learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to explore the world around you and share ideas. Apply GIS principles and tools to create your own maps and tell your own stories. Tombarge.

Are We Alone?

GEOL 152 - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Although there are likely trillions of billions of stars in the Universe, Earth remains the only planetary body known to harbor life. We will explore current thinking about the potential for extraterrestrial life, with a focus on the concept of planetary habitability. We will study relevant aspects of the planet we know best, Earth, including its formation, composition, climate, and tectonics, and apply this knowledge to the search for other habitable bodies. We will also contemplate the ethical and philosophical implications of the possibility of life beyond our planet.

FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology

SOAN 180 - Cataldi, John

First-year seminar.

Winter 2022, SOAN 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology: The Sociology of Conflict (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  This interactive class provides an introduction to social conflict with an emphasis on striving for objectivity while exploring the perspectives of various groups.  Concepts of group culture, collective identity, collective memory, and commemoration are closely interrelated with each other and are used as investigative tools when studying social conflict.  We are surrounded by diverse elements in our community and beyond, each with unique and sometimes opposing sentiments.  We will explore groups that have been on the forefront of controversy such as the police, the military and various ideological groups, with clinical rather than normative intent so as to expand our understanding of the world around us. Cataldi.

Fall 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.

Greek Literature from Homer to the Early Hellenistic Period

CLAS 203 - Crotty, Kevin M.

While epic, drama, history and philosophy trace their beginnings in many ways to ancient Greece, they are not simply different literary genres, but each offers a distinctive model of what it means to be a human being.  In this course, we will read, discuss and write about poetic works by Homer, the tragedians and comic playwrights, as well as philosophical works by Plato and Aristotle. We will discuss the different perspectives of these diverse genres, and the light they shed on such perennially pertinent questions as responsibility, power, violence, justice, and gender.

FS: First-Year Seminar

DCI 180 - Tombarge, John W.

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

Fall 2021, DCI 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar: Every Map Tells a Story (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Place-based technologies permeate our lives, from the location services on our smartphones to the spatial-decision support systems that guide applications in areas such as disaster management, health care and public health, digital humanities, resource and water management, urban and regional planning, sustainability, and business analytics. This class will investigate the power of maps and spatial data to document and illustrate local and global issues. Learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to explore the world around you and share ideas. Apply GIS principles and tools to create your own maps and tell your own stories. Tombarge.

FS: First-Year Seminar

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

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2021, ECON 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar: The 4th Industrial Revolution and the Future of Work and Society (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  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 contemporary social and economic life.  This course explores the determinants and socioeconomic impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution through an economic lens, while also embracing and utilizing insights from other disciplines.  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.  Indeed, this course meets the requirement for economics courses that have Economics 100 as a pre-requisite.  Students will develop their analysis, writing, and presentation skills through readings, short compositions, essay exams, class discussion, and small group activities. (SS1) Goldsmith and Casey.

Foundations of Education

EDUC 200 - Sigler, Haley W.

An introduction to the issues relating to American public education in the 21st century. Students are introduced to information about teaching strategies and school policy upon which future courses can build. Emphasis is given to school efforts to create environments which promote equity and excellence within a multicultural system. Required for teacher licensure in Virginia.

Fall Term 2021 : EDUC 200-01 is a first-year seminar and open only to first-year students.

Dynamic Earth: Introductory Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Harbor, David J.

No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101 or 102. Involves moderate hiking and other physical activities outside in all types of weather. 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. 

 

FS: First-Year Seminar

HIST 180 - Sammons, Franklin

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2021, HIST 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar: The History of American Capitalism: From Colonization to Crypto (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. What is capitalism, how did it develop in the United States, and how have historians studied it? These are the principal questions that will guide this course on the history of American capitalism from the colonial period to the present. To understand capitalism in its historical context, we will examine its relationship to the social, cultural, technological, environmental, and political changes that have defined American history: settler colonialism, slavery, industrialization, ecological transformation, consumerism, and more. Throughout, we will consider enduring questions about the relationships between economic growth and inequality, dynamism and instability, opportunity and exploitation. Each week you will read historical scholarship and examine primary sources not only to better understand American capitalism, but to develop your ability to sort and evaluate evidence, to make arguments, and to interpret the past. (HU) Sammons.

 

Greek Literature from Homer to the Early Hellenistic Period

LIT 203 - Crotty, Kevin M.

While epic, drama, history and philosophy trace their beginnings in many ways to ancient Greece, they are not simply different literary genres, but each offers a distinctive model of what it means to be a human being.  In this course, we will read, discuss and write about poetic works by Homer, the tragedians and comic playwrights, as well as philosophical works by Plato and Aristotle. We will discuss the different perspectives of these diverse genres, and the light they shed on such perennially pertinent questions as responsibility, power, violence, justice, and gender.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 196A - Zapata, Fernando R.

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

Fall 2021, PHIL 196A-01: First-Year Seminar: Free Markets, Private Property, and Economic Justice (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  We will consider philosophical questions surrounding the value of free markets and the justification of private property rights, along with other economic rights and liberties, in the history of liberal thought. Liberal political philosophy takes liberty to have fundamental importance as a political value, and some individual liberties as basic to live as free persons (for example, liberty of conscience and freedom to choose one's occupation). However, liberal thinkers disagree on whether economic liberties, such as extensive rights of private ownership of land and scarce resources, and laissez-faire freedom of contract, are basic or secondary. Liberal philosophers, such as Locke, Smith, and Mill, have competing views on the nature and scope of economic rights and liberties, and the government's role in regulating markets, on this basis. As private property rights within a system of free markets lead to situations of gross material inequality and poverty, we will think about how these institutions can conflict with claims of social or economic justice. (HU) Zapata.

 

FS: First-Year Seminar

POL 180 - Miller, Caleb R.

First-year seminar.

Fall 2021, POL 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar: Democracy and Its Critics (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  What's so good about democracy, anyway? From Hong Kong to Washington, D.C., democratic ideals of free and fair elections, informed public discourse, civil disobedience, and representative government are being tested, pushing citizens to ask themselves what they value about democracy and why they value it. In this course, we'll explore democratic theory from its beginnings in ancient Athens to the present, focusing on its relevance to the lived experience of 21st century citizens. In addition to reading classic works by Rousseau and Tocqueville, as well as more recent writings from thinkers like Hannah Arendt and David Foster Wallace, this course will incorporate various criticisms of democratic governance on the basis of both principle and practice, challenging students to consider whether democracy really is the best form of government, or if "true" democracy can ever be achieved. (SS2) C. Miller.

FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology

SOAN 180 - Cataldi, John

First-year seminar.

Fall 2021, SOAN 180-01: FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology: The Sociology of Conflict (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only.  This interactive class provides an introduction to social conflict with an emphasis on striving for objectivity while exploring the perspectives of various groups.  Concepts of group culture, collective identity, collective memory, and commemoration are closely interrelated with each other and are used as investigative tools when studying social conflict.  We are surrounded by diverse elements in our community and beyond, each with unique and sometimes opposing sentiments.  We will explore groups that have been on the forefront of controversy such as the police, the military and various ideological groups, with clinical rather than normative intent so as to expand our understanding of the world around us. Cataldi.