First-Year Seminars by Semester

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Seminars are open to first-year students only. All first-year seminars can be scheduled through LionPATH.

 

Fall 2022

AFAM 83 (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in African American Studies (IL, US, GH)

Class #19609 | Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, 11:15 a.m.–12:05 p.m. | Instructor: Christina Haynes

AFAM 83 has two primary purposes. First, it is designed to introduce students to college life and help them identify the resources and opportunities that will be most helpful to their future personal and professional path. Secondly, this seminar will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of African American and Diaspora studies. They will learn about major themes and topics in the field and meet faculty from various disciplines (History, English, Anthropology, Religion, Communication) who are researching those topics. Both aspects of the course will give students a clearer sense of the academic and personal opportunities available at Penn State and in African American Studies.

ANTH 83S (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Anthropology (GS)

Class #19600 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:10–11:00 a.m. | Instructor: Laurel Pearson

ANTH 83S First-Year Seminar in Anthropology introduces students to anthropology as a scientific discipline with ties to other social and natural sciences. Through active participation in the seminar, students will be exposed to an aspect of anthropology that corresponds to a faculty member’s area of expertise. Because students are introduced to cutting-edge research, the course content will vary from one semester to the next. Seminar topics highlight current debates in the discipline and the research process. Research design, analytical methods, and sampling issues are covered by having students read and discuss new and controversial developments in anthropology. Strong emphasis is placed on the broader societal significance of scholarly research related to the seminar’s principal focus. Student comprehension of topics raised in class will be assessed by classroom participation, exams, and papers. In addition to the academic topic and issues of this course, students can expect to gain a general introduction to the University as an academic community and have the opportunity to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. Students will develop an understanding of the learning tools and resources available to them, including the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests. This seminar fulfills both a first-year seminar requirement and a general education social science requirement for bachelor of arts.

APLNG 83 (3 cr) Language as Social Practice (IL, US, GH)

Class #17515 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor: Sharon Childs

This course introduces the idea of understanding language use as social practice. This means studying how language serves to represent and to constrain  speakers in various social and cultural contexts. The activity of using language will be viewed through the lens of several research domains in the field of applied linguistics, a discipline that studies language in the way that real speakers and writers actually use it. The class will present readings taken from fields as varied as sociolinguistics (language as social performance); second language acquisition research (language as cognition, language as participation); language and identity; pragmatics (speech, act theory; conversational analysis); and language and power (language an power (language policy; gender and language). Whether being studied as a formal school subject or learned at a mother’s knee, language is inextricably bound up with who we are and who we become. Theoretical terminology, research-based findings, and innovative ideas about what language "really" is will be introduced and explored through accessible and engaging readings and activities.
Students will learn to look at language use in social contexts from multiple perspectives, seeing how it both reflects, and shapes, identity in context (while at the same time allowing speakers to modify and shape those very contexts). Given that this is a first-year class for first-semester students, emphasis will be placed on how the understanding these basic ideas of applied linguistics can help us to pursue a satisfying and enriched sense of self, whether as a speaker of a specific language, or as a member of multiple discourse communities. Students will conduct an interview project to better understand the issues faced by language learners in the local community. International students are particularly invited to join this course.

CAMS 83 (3 cr)  Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (IL, GH) 

Class #17743 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor: Anna Peterson

Critical approach to the study of ancient Mediterranean languages, literatures, histories, and material cultures. CAMS 83Y First-Year Seminar in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (3 credits) (GH;FYS;IL;Y) meets the (BA) Bachelor of Arts degree requirements and satisfies the (Y) Writing Across the Curriculum requirement in International Cultures. The first-year seminar in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) is concerned with selected features of one or more of the cultures that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea in antiquity, from around 3,500 B.C. to 500 A.D. The topic of CAMS first-year seminars varies. In all offerings of this course students will be introduced to the civilizations that surrounded the Mediterranean Sea in ancient times and why their great accomplishments, their struggles, and their failures remain important to us even today. Students will learn about ancient literature and physical remains that provide information about these cultures. Students will learn to assess theories about ancient societies, the types of evidence that exist for antiquity, and how to gain access to academic resources in the library and in electronic form. Some recent seminar topics include a critical study of widely believed Ancient Mysteries, such as the continent of Atlantis and Pyramid Power; a seminar on Greek Gods in Action, investigating how the Greeks believed that the gods influenced them and might even live among them; a seminar on the relationships among Christians, Jews, and Pagans in the later Roman period; and Word Power, a course that gives students linguistic tools to understand the sources and nature of much of our modern English vocabulary. Students will read selections of ancient literature in English translation and examine the remains of the societies that produced them to ponder basic questions about the meaning and value of human life. Some knowledge of ancient Mediterranean cultures has always been indispensable to intelligent participation in contemporary society. By examining selected topics in a seminar format, students learn how scholarship advances in in an academic environment while also learning how features of ancient languages, and religious, political, and social ideas formulated in antiquity give insights into our own culture and into the common humanity that all people share.

CAS 84 (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Communication Arts and Sciences (GH)

Class #20002 | Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, 11:15 a.m.–12:05 p.m. | Instructor: Antonio Golan

This course offers a dynamic introduction to major theoretical, critical, research and pedagogical issues in human communication. Specifically, it will introduce students to essential aspects of the study of rhetoric. The field of communication arts and sciences involves a wide variety of approaches to the study of human communication, including within the humanities-based area of rhetorical studies. For that reason, different versions of CAS 84 will vary depending on the expertise of the instructor. All versions of the course, however, will be designed according to common learning objectives and major topics in order to introduce first-year undergraduates to essential aspects of the humanistic study of communication using the tools of rhetorical studies.
Previous versions of the course, for example, have focused on: the role of women’s voices in modern social movements; rhetorical messages in popular music; and the rhetoric of environmentalism.
Whatever the specific focus of the course in a given semester, CAS 84 benefits students by introducing them to important dimensions of rhetorical studies during their first year at the University. Doing so allows potential majors or minors to our department to develop skills in studying the humanistic study of communication early in their undergraduate careers while gaining a functional knowledge of the field in general. Opportunities to plan a double major, a minor, and explore other miscellaneous forms of academic or professional training naturally follow from this early experience.

CMLIT 83S (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Comparative Literature (GH, US, IL)

Class #19651| Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor Thomas Beebee

CMLIT 83S/CMLIT 122 Sci Fi Global This course examines science fiction and the fictions of science from an international and interdisciplinary perspective. Course content includes a history of the idea of science, of its engagement with and by fictional, filmic, dramatic, and poetic narratives, within an explicitly comparative framework that includes material from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Students will develop a theory of genre and its development over time; they will recognize regional, cultural, and historical differences and forms of change that affect the intellectual development of the arts and sciences.

HIST 83 (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in History

Class #26064 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor Jonathan Brockopp

Students are expected to master the subject material of this seminar, as well as to acquire basic skills useful to the study of the humanities and Liberal Arts. The topics chosen for these seminars will acquaint students with a major figure, theme, or development in a significant historical area. Through readings, discussions, lectures, and research projects, students will learn to read historical documents and secondary sources, discuss them, formulate effective arguments, and write essays and papers. Historical analysis of this type will provide students with techniques for appreciating and judging arguments and presentations in many fields of learning. 

LHR 83S (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Labor and Human Resources (GS)

Class #27151| Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:05–4:20 p.m. | Instructor Michael Maffie

This course provides a general introduction to the field of labor, employment relations, and human resources, as well as a more in-depth examination of an issue or topic related to the field and it does so in a small class environment. It also introduces first-year students to the University as an academic community, to their responsibilities as a member of that community, and to the wide range of the opportunities and resources available to them.

PHIL 83 (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Philosophy (GH)

Class #19110 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:05–10:20 a.m. | Instructor: John Christman

First-year seminars in philosophy provide critical introductions to fundamental philosophical issues and problems. Each first-year seminar develops a broad overview of historical and contemporary thought through readings, discussions, and student writings. In this way, students will gain an understanding of important figures, ideas, problems, and theories that have shaped and continued to influence thought and practice around the world. Students will examine diverse viewpoints that will allow them to understand a wide range of views and challenge them to defend their own positions. First-year seminars involve active use of writing, speaking, and group projects. They provide opportunities for gathering information, analyzing problems, and synthesizing diverse perspectives. Finally, each first year seminar in philosophy allows students to link theory to their own lives.

PLSC 83S (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Political Science

Class #17538 | Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 1:25–2:15PM | Instructor: Gretchen Casper

Exploration of current topics of interest in political science, international relations, and/or political theory. Every first-year seminar in Political Science focuses on several of the major questions of the field. Many of these questions concern the constitutional arrangements of governments: What is it that we want governments to do, and what is the ideal government arrangement? Why does every nation (and every state and city) have somewhat different constitutional provisions for legislation, judicial, military and executive functions of government? What can we learn from careful comparisons of different types of government? What is unique to the American system and what are the consequences of this uniqueness? Other questions concern power: To what extent do wealthy individuals and wealthy organizations have disproportionate power in society? Is this appropriate or not? What is the impact of governmental attempts to limit the influence of the wealthy? We are also very much interested in the international system: What types of foreign policies and diplomatic strategies reduce the likelihood of war? What is the role of international organizations (such as the UN or World Bank) and multinational corporations in shaping conflicts between nations? Finally, we are interested in ordinary citizens: Do citizens know enough to formulate rational opinions on public issues? Why are many citizens apathetic? What motivates citizens to support one candidate over another or to favor particular policies and philosophies? Each first-year seminar will select a special topic of interest and use that topic to explore a subset of these questions in order to provide a challenging introduction to political science. In the course of doing so, each first-year seminar in political science will also introduce students to specialized materials (such as government documents), library resources, and appropriate electronic media. In addition, each seminar will emphasize the standards of evidence, logic, and critical thinking required to develop effective and persuasive reports and oral presentations. Students will write essay exams and one or more written reports on the relevant topic of their own choices. Class participation is required. The course fulfills both a first-year seminar and a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement. The course will be offered three times per year with a maximum of 20 seats per offering. In addition to the academic topic and issues of this course, students can expect to gain a general introduction to the University as an academic community and have the opportunity to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. Students will develop an understanding of the learning tools and resources available to them, including the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests.

PSYCH 83S (3 cr) First-Year Seminar in Psychology (GS)               

Class #17483 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:05–1:20 p.m. | Instructor: TBD

Implications of contemporary psychological research and theory. PSYCH 83S First-Year Seminar in Psychology (3) (GS;FYS) (BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. Modern science provides perspectives on human beings that may conflict with our intuitive and conventional views of ourselves as individuals capable of free choice and responsibility. These perspectives raise important questions for how we understand ourselves and others. The goal of this course is to help students to understand the basis of these contemporary scientific views of human beings, and to think critically about the ways in which these views shape human experience. The specific research and theories discuss will vary by section. Students will read selections from the scholarly literature in psychology, as well as popular or media selections related to the topic. The class format will be open discussion, and students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Evaluation will be based on short writing assignments, exams, in-class presentations, and class participation. Writing assignments will generally require that students apply concepts discussed in class to particular topics, or that they use library and Web resources to find relevant material. In addition to the academic topic and issues of this course, students can expect to gain a general introduction to the University as an academic community and have the opportunity to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. Students will develop an understanding of the learning tools and resources available to them including the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests. This course fulfills the first-year seminar requirement as well as a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement.

SOC 83 (3 cr) Social Interaction in Everyday Life (GS)

Class #28063 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor: Melissa Hardy

This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. Each section or offering of this course will be limited to 20 students who will be instructed by an experienced faculty member. Each section will focus on a well-defined body of scholarship that addresses a relatively specific topic while at the same time provide an opportunity for surveying broadly existing knowledge in the discipline. The specific content of the course will vary from offering to offering, and depending on the interests of the instructor, will introduce students to a sociological perspective on particular social issues. For example, one section examines racism and sexism as axes of privilege and oppression. Other sections may deal with major social institutions, such as the family or religion, or with fundamental social processes (e.g., demographic, social, and psychological). Finally, some sections may have a heavier policy emphasis--examining responses to social issues--while others might take a comparative or international approach. Each section will emphasize the development of discussion, writing, and analytical skills and will give students the opportunity to work individually and in small groups. Students can expect to receive a general introduction to the University as an academic community and to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. They will also become familiar with the learning tools and resources available to them, and they will be able to establish relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests. This course fulfills a general education or bachelor of arts requirement in the social/behavioral sciences.

WMNST 83N (3 cr) First Year Seminar in Women's Studies (US, GH, GS)

Class #17567 | Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:35–11:50 a.m. | Instructor: Manini Samarth

WMNST 83N First-Year Seminar in Women’s Studies (3) This course introduces first-year students to the complex and interdisciplinary field of Womens, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Students develop an understanding of a feminist approach to understanding stratifications of power and privilege in society not only impact but co-constitute constructions of gender and sexual identity that are sometimes at odd with an individuals lived experience.
Students learn that social variables such as gender, age, social class, religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation and place of residence affect the way people view the world, behave and communicate. Students will develop the ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information about these identity intersections from a variety of sources, and use them to synthesize and analyze their own lived experience as a gendered being. Through the reading of texts, discussions, debates, and individual and collaborative projects, students are introduced to: feminist analysis of current topics and issues in womens and gender studies; to using women's and gender studies as a discipline and form of critical engagement; to the concepts of interdisciplinary vs. multidisciplinary research and scholarship; to intersectional analysis of identity, power, and oppression; to scholarly conduct and responsibilities
Students will be expected to develop an understanding of current issues and debates within and beyond the field of women's and gender studies as they relate to contemporary fiction and nonfiction writing as well as feminist thought through social media. Students will recognize that social variables such as gender, age, social class, religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and place of residence affect the way people view the world, behave, and communicate. Students will develop the ability to locate, organize, and evaluate information about these identity intersections from a variety of sources and use them to synthesize and analyze their own ideas as well as come to an understanding regarding the stratification of power and privilege in society.
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