By design, the College Seminars actively involve you in learning as envisioned by a liberal arts education. The small class environment allows for the examination of an academic area in a way that encourages first-year students to think critically and analytically. Since the instructors of the college seminars serve as their students’ academic advisers, they can assess the students’ abilities, interests, and concerns, and provide them with the proper counsel.

Carefully examine the offering of College Seminar topics for this semester. In making your selection, please keep in mind that the seminars are not introductions to major programs and you are not expected to have any prior knowledge of the subject matter. In your seminar you are required to:

  • Attend and contribute to every session. The exchange of ideas and information belongs to the process of learning and is an inherent feature of a seminar.
  • Study reflectively the assigned books, articles, and other readings.
  • Write several brief papers. It is important to write carefully, edit, and re-write your papers before submitting them as you work to improve your writing skills. Your instructor will help you with the organization and style of your papers.
  • Participate actively in the seminar, presenting your ideas formally and informally. You learn to develop the skills that are required to make effective oral presentations.

You will note that many of the faculty are teaching courses that go beyond their own disciplines. As a liberal arts student, you, too, should explore a wide range of interests, and the College Seminar will provide you with an excellent opportunity to begin to do so.

Your academic adviser, the instructor of the seminar, brings to it not only scholarly expertise and professional experience but also a special interest in the topic being studied and in the College Seminar program itself. All of the instructors have participated in special training workshops and have agreed to adopt a uniform set of written and oral requirements. Everyone is ready to help you benefit fully from this experience.

Assignment to a Seminar

CSEM 100-G01/ Global Peacebuilding and Leadership

Instructor: Jonathan Golden
THIS SEMINAR IS PART OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE LIVING LEARNING COMMUNITY.
In this seminar students will learn about grassroots peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts going on around the world. Students will be introduced to the theory and methods of conflict resolution through the examination of case studies. Students will also build a set of leadership skills and tools by putting methods learned in the classroom into practice on campus and in the community.

CSEM 100-G02/ Eataly: Food in Italian Culture

Instructor: Emanuele Occhipinti
THIS SEMINAR IS PART OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE LIVING LEARNING COMMUNITY.
The course will examine the role that food has played in defining and shaping Italian identity and society. By reading literary texts of different genres and time periods, and by watching movies, students will learn how gastronomy and Italian arts are deeply interwoven, and how the rich Italian culinary tradition has had an impact on many different areas of study such as literature, folklore, history, anthropology and cinema. The course will also explore some areas of Food Studies like food choices, sustainability and environment, and the importance and world impact of the Mediterranean Diet and the Italian Slow Food movement.

CSEM 100-G03/ Citizenship and Borders

Instructor: Sangay Mishra
THIS SEMINAR IS PART OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE LIVING LEARNING COMMUNITY.
This course seeks to understand the changing meanings of citizenship in the contemporary world. The concept of citizenship has always defined the borders of who belongs to the nation and who is an outsider. Citizenship presumes equality of treatment but historically differential and discriminatory treatment has been an integral part of how the concept has evolved. The course will focus on the meanings of citizenship by looking at the histories of inclusion and exclusion. Citizenship has also been inextricably linked to the nation state but the global flow of people across national boundaries has unhinged this relationship. The increased acceptance of the idea of dual citizenship – citizenship of more than one country- demands us to rethink the notion of citizenship that relied on loyalty and belonging to one nation. The course engages with some of these themes by looking at concrete examples.

CSEM 100-G04/ Why Do We Eat That?

Instructor: Maria Masucci
Clearly what we eat is more complicated than meeting nutritional needs. Culture, ethnicity, race, class, geography, environment and history all intersect and clash, becoming visible in how we produce our food and what we choose to eat. In this seminar we will travel through time and across the globe to examine such questions as: How have contact, conquest, exile and immigration created and continue to create cuisines and global change; is Italian-American food really very “Italian”? What is the global impact of our individual food choices; how did our sweet tooth change the course of human history; how has France’s demand for french cut green beans transformed northern Africa? Through readings, films and debates we will journey in this seminar from early agricultural societies to the spice trade, “Columbian Exchange”, “Green Revolution” and today’s debate over GMOs. We will ask and see the importance of asking; why in the world do we choose to eat that?

CSEM 100-G05/ Forensic Anthropology Examined

Instructor: Linda Van Blerkhom

Can forensic anthropologists really do all the amazing things you see on the TV show Bones? Just how accurate are the cases portrayed on CSI and other forensic shows? In this seminar we examine what forensic anthropologists really do and explore a number of actual cases, including human rights investigations and mass fatalities. Learn how experts match unidentified remains with missing persons or help the police determine cause and manner of death. We also consider how anthropologists have been instrumental in investigating mass graves related to human rights abuses and in finding and identifying US MIAs. While the holographic machine Angela uses on Bones may not actually exist, what forensic anthropologists can do is still pretty impressive.

CSEM 100-G06/ Eye. Spy. The Art of Observation

Instructor: Rebecca Soderholm
“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long,” wrote photographer Walker Evans. In an age of distraction, how often do we give a piece of the world our complete attention? Creative writing assignments encourage students to go forth into the world to preserve visual facts and moments with increasingly attuned perception and descriptive detail. Students develop observational skills critical to science, art and the humanities. At the end of the course students will apply observation and inquiry to original research of vintage vernacular photographs.

CSEM 100-G07/ Art and the Body

Instructor: Rita Keane
In this course we will study the human body in visual culture, considering questions such as: how has the body been employed in art over time? How and why do images of bodies signify differently for audiences? What do bodily ideals convey about ideologies of particular patrons and cultures? How do notions of the “ideal” body established in the past affect our thinking about images of bodies today? Our focus will be on ancient and medieval art, with some attention to early modern and modern artistic traditions. Our study will include, among others, ancient Egyptian mummies, images of Greek gods and goddesses, and fragmented bodies in medieval body-part reliquaries, with a consideration of how these traditions have affected our understandings of the body in art up to the present day.

CSEM 100-G08/ Fact or Fiction: Using Science to Tackle Popular Myths

Instructor: Tammy Windfelder
Have you ever wondered whether chocolate is really poisonous to dogs? Or whether a cockroach can live without its head? What about whether raw veggies are healthier than cooked ones? Or whether cell phones can cause brain cancer? In this seminar we will use science to examine a number of popular myths to determine whether they are fact… or fiction!

CSEM 100-G09/ Science in Fiction (But NOT Science Fiction)

Instructor: Molly Crowther
Scientific (and mathematical) principles can be eloquently explained via fictional vehicles. In this seminar, we will explore some classic and some new material in the ‘Science in Fiction’ genre. Readings will include Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions written by Edwin Abbott in 1884 and Mr. Tompkins In Paperback by George Gamow who wrote fantastical stories to explain fundamental ideas in physics to lay people. We will venture into poetry and comics as we separate fact from fiction in the portrayal and personification of the elements. Excerpts from other texts will also be used to complete our journey.

CSEM 100-G10/ The Meaning of Life in Ancient Thought

Instructor: John Lenz
What is the good life? Ancient Greek and Roman myths, literature, tragedies, epic, and philosophies present ways of living and thinking that are still relevant today. Are you stoic, epicurean or platonic? What did education and science teach about living better, at a time when the liberal arts were being formed, and beliefs in the old gods were changing? Should you carpe diem or study more? Who is happier, an independent thinker or a good citizen? While focusing on various Greek thinkers, we also read relevant works from ancient Mesopotamia, Rome, and the Bible.

CSEM 100-G11/ Mathematics: The Language of the Universe

Instructor: Steve Surace
In this class we will explore the applications of Mathematics to several areas in Science. Mathematics is the language of Physics and Physics is the foundation of the many of the other sciences. Everything from the description of how the Universe was born, down to the properties of atoms, electrons and quarks is described using the language of Mathematics. Not only is Mathematics the language of the physical sciences, but it is impossible to even write down the laws of nature without using Mathematics. The goal of this class is to discover some of these connections.

CSEM 100-G12/ Music and Sound Technology

Instructor: Leslie Sprout
Advertisements for sound technology have often claimed that recorded music is indistinguishable from live performance. “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” asked a famous commercial for cassette tapes in the 1970s, implying that the average listener could not tell the difference. The fact that most listeners long ago traded in their cassettes for CDs (even as some purists still champion analog recording over digital) calls this claim into question. What is certain is that, as sound technology has evolved rapidly from early phonograph records to today’s MP3s, these changing formats have profoundly impacted not only how we listen to music, but also what kinds of music we choose to perform, record, sell, and consume. In this course we will study examples from a wide range of recorded music genres – jazz, pop, classical, hip-hop, world beat and the blues – in order to learn about how sound technology has shaped the musical landscape of the recent past and present.

CSEM 100-G13/ Physics for Future Presidents

Instructor: Bjorg Larson
If you find yourself in charge of federal research budgets, NASA, international climate negotiations and counterterrorism agencies, what do you need to know to make good decisions? We’ll discuss the science behind the important issues in the news, from the energy crisis to nuclear bombs to global warming to sending humans into space.

CSEM 100-G14/ American Inequality

Instructor: Jason Jordan
The United States is a nation of both enormous wealth and staggering inequalities. Over the past 50 years, the United States has transformed from a remarkably egalitarian society into one of the most unequal democracies in the Western world. In America today, the top 10% of income earners control 73% of all the wealth, compared to less than 4% for the bottom 60%. By examining data from the United States and around the globe, this course explores the political and economic causes and consequences of rising inequality. The class is designed to provide an in depth analysis of one of today’s most important political and economic issues without requiring any prior knowledge of economics or political science.

CSEM 100-G15/ Politics of Popular Culture

Instructor: Jinee Lokaneeta
In this course, we examine the ways in which images and representations in films and TV shows affect our lives and politics and vice versa. We will draw examples from Hollywood and American TV shows and Bollywood and Indian TV shows among others. We will analyze a range of institutional contexts such as police, courts, and family and see the ways in which they get represented in popular culture. In addition, we will focus on particular themes such as violence, justice, and equality as they are experienced, represented and formed.

CANCELLED: CSEM 100-G16/ Hashtagging the Revolution: Social Media and Political Participation in the Digital Age

Social media platforms, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, have been used by different individuals and groups to mobilize public opinion and to promote political change. Some observers believe that these platforms are breaking down structures of powers and putting in place more democratic and participatory systems, while others question their relevance all together. To help us assess this debate, this first year seminar explores the social and technological changes that gave rise to social media and these platforms’ impact in several cases, including Iran’s Green Revolution, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, and Italy’s Five Star Movement.

CSEM 100-G17/ On Being Human

Instructor: George-Harold Jennings
In this seminar we examine the experience of being human. In addition to discussing ideas about human origin, we explore numerous psychological perspectives regarding human nature and society, social ills that diminish human expression, love, gender roles, healthy and unhealthy personalities, sexuality, parapsychological (Psi) phenomenon, spirituality, consciousness, death and dying, and religious concerns from both Western and Eastern perspectives.

CSEM 100-G18/ Community Service

Instructor: Stewart Robinette
While we believe community service to be a good thing, an activity that benefits others and improves our shared world, we may not have thought much about the meaning of community, or, indeed, of service. What constitutes a community? Do we belong to a single community or many? And is service always beneficial to those being served? We will explore assumptions and beliefs about these two key terms—both separately and together. This seminar is limited to Civic Scholars. Students will contribute 18-20 hours of community service over the course of the semester.

CSEM 100-G19/ Community Service

Instructor: Jonathan Reader
While we believe community service to be a good thing, an activity that benefits others and improves our shared world, we may not have thought much about the meaning of community, or, indeed, of service. What constitutes a community? Do we belong to a single community or many? And is service always beneficial to those being served? We will explore assumptions and beliefs about these two key terms—both separately and together. This seminar is limited to Civic Scholars. Students will contribute 18-20 hours of community service over the course of the semester.

CSEM 100-G20/ Community Service

Instructor: Amy Koritz
While we believe community service to be a good thing, an activity that benefits others and improves our shared world, we may not have thought much about the meaning of community, or, indeed, of service. What constitutes a community? Do we belong to a single community or many? And is service always beneficial to those being served? We will explore assumptions and beliefs about these two key terms—both separately and together. This seminar is limited to Civic Scholars. Students will contribute 18-20 hours of community service over the course of the semester.