2014 First Year Seminar Courses
The first year seminar (FYS) focuses on a specific topic in a wide range of areas. The small class size allows you to interact closely with a professor who will help you cultivate a vision for your liberal arts education. The FYS will also expose you to basic writing, communication, and critical thinking skills, among others. Additionally, the faculty member who teaches this seminar will serve as your initial academic advisor during the fall semester and will help you explore the opportunities of a University of Mount Union education, including scheduling for classes until you’ve declared a major.
These courses are full four credit hour courses that will last throughout the entire fall semester and have the same academic rigor and expectations as any other college course. Please carefully consider this as you share your preference for your First Year Seminar below. To aid you in making this decision, please read the descriptions of the seminar courses to help you choose your top five FYS choices.
SECTION 01 -
Monuments & Memorials: A Design Perspective
This course will examine how monuments and memorials are conceived and designed. Students will become aware of the social, political, and environmental events that shape the circumstances for the creation of large and small, local and national monuments. The course will introduce students to the many varied design considerations that must be factored into the artist’s interpretations of what has been termed “the collective memory.” The course will demonstrate through an interactive, collaborative, hands-on studio application of design processes of how abstract ideas are manifested into the real structures and environments that individuals, communities, nations and cultures can both accept, appreciate, revere, and also reject, diminish, despise.
SECTION 02 -
The Big Bang Theory
How did our universe begin? Why do we think there was a Big Bang? What is our universe really like? In this conceptually based course, we will explore the vast reaches of intergalactic space to infinitesimal workings of subatomic particles, and such ideas as anti-matter and parallel universes.
SECTION 03 -
Watching the Detective
“I get so angry when the teardrops start/but he can’t be wounded ‘cause he’s got no heart,” sings Elvis Costello in his praise song to the hardboiled detective . . . a hard-drinking, cynical, street-smart anti-hero of a world where sometimes heroes are thugs and thugs are men (or women) of honor. Hardboiled is attitude . . . at times the clear-eyed, objective forensics of a “high-functioning sociopath” – the cocaine-addicted consulting detective who investigates crimes to stave off boredom. From Sam Spade to Spencer, Basil Rathbone to Benedict Cumberbatch (and Robert Downey jr. too!) we’ll explore the worlds of the detective, women who love (or hate) them -- not to mention those who look to replace them – on screen and in print. What can “watching the detective” teach us about masculinity and femininity? Truth and justice? Heroes? Villains? Sidekicks? “The game is on!”
SECTION 04 -
Do you think of yourself as a creative person, or do you cringe at the very idea of having to produce something new and different? Do you wish you have more time and opportunities to be creative? In this course you will have the opportunity to practice being creative in a low-risk, casual environment. We will study the works and words of highly creative people and experts on creativity to find out how you can become a more creative person in school, work, and in everyday life. We’ll read a lot in this course, but we’ll also listen to music and podcasts, talk to people in the community, watch films, and experience other forms of expression. Come ready to think, write and talk!
SECTION 05 -
One Person Can Change the World
One person can make a positive difference in the world. This seminar shows how that’s happening through a series of readings, Ted Talks, inspired lectures and guest speakers. By the end of the semester you will develop your own idea and have a plan for changing the world around you.
SECTION 06 -
Pandorans, Wookies & Spock
In this seminar we will use science fiction and fantasy to delve into the way that our most “far-out” thinkers have handled historical issues such as slavery, gender relations and war. We will watch movies and series episodes, read graphic novels and excerpts from traditional novels. Science fiction is more than speed-of-light star ships, big blue people and transporter beams. We will find that it has very interesting and insightful things to say about important social and political issues.
SECTION 07 -
Texting, Tweeting and Status Updates
It has been proposed that today’s generation of teenagers are writing and reading more than any other. The catch is that much of this reading and writing takes place through texting, tweeting status updates, Wikipedia and webpages. As a result, many argue that the very nature of how we communicate has changed, and that we, as a culture, are losing our competitive edge globally. Others argue that these new communication technologies are actually changing how we think. In this first year seminar, we will examine the many sides of this issue, paying attention to both popular and “scholarly” perspectives, in an attempt to answer the question: Is technology making us stupid?
SECTION 08 -
Nature: Past, Present & Future
With the publication of Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature, the concept that humans could be separated from the ecosphere of the earth is also ended. McKibben argues – convincingly -- t that we are major shapers of the ecosphere; our actions impact every square inch of the planet. And yet, for most of western cultural history we have operated as if humans were separate from the natural world, unable to shape or impact it in any lasting way. In this seminar we will explore the western tradition of separation from Nature and its consequences for humans and the environment. Students will read seminal, original works that had an impact on the perception of relationship between humans and the biosphere. They will use these works, contemporary writings, and personal experiences to construct statements about their relationships to the environment and their own ethical perspectives about how humans should interact with it.
SECTION 09 -
As Seen on TV: Science in the Movies, Commercials and News
If you enjoy the story of Harry Potter or Star Wars, are skeptical of the claims of manufacturers as they market their products, or are confused by news stories which are contradictory, then this is the course for you. Using case studies, the science behind the movies will be investigated, the claims of manufacturers examined and tested, and news reports analyzed. We will see how data are collected, validated, and used to generate great ideas and possibilities, and provide a healthy level of skepticism. You are certain to have a new appreciation of what is seen on TV.
SECTION 10 -
Contagion: Ethics in a Time of Crisis
When there is a widespread outbreak of infectious disease, ethical, legal, and political principles are tested, and many questions arise. Who should receive scarce medial resources when there is not enough for everyone? If the disease is unknown and dangerous, are doctors still obligated to care for the sick? What powers should the government have to force citizens into isolation or quarantine, or to receive unwanted vaccinations? Through a variety of readings and case studies, we will explore human responses to the threats posed by infections disease, with a focus on the ethical aspects of such situations.
SECTION 11 -
Why do we go to war? What would drive groups of people to systematically kill other groups of people? Is it human nature? Are we hardwired to kill each other? Is there something about the way countries function that drives them to fight? Is it just the way the world works? Is it possible to prevent war and is there such a thing as just war? This seminar will examine these questions in order to try to explain why wars happen and whether or not they can be prevented.
SECTION 12 -
Martyrs or Fools? Heroes of Faith Based Social Justice
From sleeping beauty to disguised soldier, from evil stepmother to doting daughter, from charming prince to scheming uncle, Disney films offer a wide array of gender performances. The various characters in Disney have been both shaped by cultural norms and exerted influence in reinforcing certain expectations of how men and women should look and act. In this seminar, we will analuze the portrayal of gender in select animated Disney films and consider how these portrayals represent issues around gender in their cultural context.
SECTION 13 -
Sleight of Hand Magic – Theory & Performance
Want to learn how to create and perform your own sleight of hand magic effects, as well as critique your performances and the performances of others? In this class you will study how to create each of the nine major types of conjuring effects: appearance, vanish, transposition, transformation, penetration, restoration, extraordinary feats, telekinesis, and extrasensory perception. Theoretical topics will include (but not be limited to) visual illusion, cognitive illusion, faulty logic, good continuation, active misdirection, time misdirection, social misdirection, inattentional blindness, change blindness, and the misinformation effect. The instructor for this course was a full-time professional magician for five years.
SECTION 14 -
Nudity for All? Why We Choose Clothes
Clothing historians tell us that clothing first originated for: 1. Protection from the environment, 2. Sexual attraction, 3. Modesty, and 4. Self-adornment. Since we no longer live the way first humans did, are these reasons still valid today> Would you re-order this list, or add or subtract reasons? How and why do you choose and wear the clothes that you do? Do you want to dress like Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Justin Bieber, or Lady Gaga? (If you dress like them, will you look and act like them too?) How do we define and refine our own identities with the clothes that we wear?
SECTION 15 -
RELIGION & AFRICANA STUDIES
Have you ever been told that you could do something? Or that you did not have what it took? Then you will relate to Malcolm X, one of the most controversial figures in American history. As a youngster Malcolm wanted to be a lawyer but was told he was not being realistic. As a person with a different background than others, you may have had to deal with stereotypes and misconceptions, too. This course will examine the life and times of Malcolm X and see how he was not only able to achieve but to become a role model for many others. We will also look at the lives of two other men who themselves were told that they could not achieve but were able to overcome their background and become successful.
SECTION 16 -
Anywhere but Home: Exploring Adventure Travel
Pack your bags, and get ready to embark on an in-depth look at the joy of travel. In this course, you’ll discover and discuss what renowned authors have to say about leaving home (as we also engage in a bit of our travel-related writing). Together, we’ll explore both the spiritual and practical sides of away-from-home adventures. . . examining everything from cultures and customs to planning and packing. If you believe that the journey can be as captivating as the destination, we’ll save you the aisle seat.
SECTION 18 -
CSI Mount Union: Forensic Science It’s Not What They Show You on TV
Do you enjoy shows like CSI, NCIS, Law and Order and Hawaii 5-0? Would you like to learn more about how forensic scientists do their jobs? This course will use case studies to examine the world of the forensic scientist. This will take us from the crime scene, through the laboratory, to the courthouse. We will see how evidence is collected, analyzed and presented in court. You will see the science of forensic science and may never look at a crime drama on television the same way again.
SECTION 19 -
Demons and Diagnoses
Historically, illnesses such as schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy were viewed as cases of demonic possession. The afflicted would be subject to exorcism to drive the demons out to cure the individual. The rise of psychiatric knowledge allowed for different explanations and treatment for individuals suffering from mental disorders. However, in modern society exorcisms and claims of possession are curiously on the rise. Is demonic possession possible? Are cases of possession explainable through a Psychiatric lens? You will investigate these questions as we engage in an exploration and debate between an ancient rite and a modern practice.
SECTION 20 -
Horses in Art – Friend, Fury & Beast
In this seminar we will delve into the fire, spirit and myth of the horse. Artists have always been attracted to the beauty of these majestic animals. Horses have been documented through art for 30.000 years. They played a major role in the making of civilization through transportation, labor, warfare and entertainment. We will explore how society has shaped, and has been shaped by the horse, primarily through the study of art. We will study drawings and paintings, as well as photography and sculpture, and consider examples drawn across history, from the ancient world through contemporary art.
SECTION 21 -
Myth and Meaning
Myths are prominent in popular culture right now, from Percy Jackson to Lord of the Rings. Because myths are narratives that provide meaning and perspective for our life journeys, is the use of myth in books and movies a sign that our culture is seeking order, meaning and direction? Explore the earliest stories from around the world and discover the deep meanings behind the myths. In this class, we will read ancient myths to contemporary works that utilize mythic characters and structures.
SECTION 22 -
Different Realities: Inter-Cultural Encounters
This seminar will address how the world is perceived and experienced differently in different cultures. This will be facilitated by deliberately creating a class made up of half U.S. students and half international students. Using sociological methods, at each class meeting students will examine differences in social structures and social processes experienced among the countries they come from through discussions, demonstrations, and cooperative explorations. This early opportunity to understand their own identity and their own taken-for-granted assumptions through being exposed to cultural diversity as well as learning how to make successful interpersonal relationships – friendships – with a diverse group of people will help students widen their horizons and lead then to take better advantage of opportunities offered to them to enrich their experiences during their four years at the University of Mount Union.
SECTION 23 -
The Holocaust in Print & Film
How effective is propaganda in encouraging racial/ethnic hatred? What steps were taken to bureaucratize the extermination process? How can otherwise ordinary people be transformed into merciless killers of men, women, and children? To what lengths will people go to stay alive? To what extent are people willing to turn against their long-time neighbors?
SECTION 24 -
Sir Kenneth Robinson claims, “Creativity is as important as literacy.” This seminar is an exploration of the creative process . . . how people are creative, why people are creative, when people are creative . . . The course will develop creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills as well as examine current cognitive research regarding (capital-C) CREATIVITY as well as more common forms of creativity including what might appear to be serendipitous creative acts. Biographies of Capital C Creative folks will be investigated, including Albert Einstein, T.S. Eliot, Sigmund Freud, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Martha Graham, and Mahatma Gandhi. Special topics will include the necessity of imagination as a by-product of globalization, empathy as a feature of the “new” creativity, education and curiosity (and other C-words, e.g. cosmopolitanism), future thoughts, the “optimism” bias, humor and creativity, multiple intelligences ala Howard Gardner, IQ and Creativity Tests, the new Bloom’s Taxonomy, lateral thinking and Eureka Thinking, creativity as a function of the human spirit, as well as common mental locks that inhibit creativity – and education as a conspirator to these locks. The class will take on a group creative project, which will involve a product to be on display on campus, as well as in one of the local schools.
SECTION 25 -
The End of the American Empire
In his farewell address, President Ronald Reagan noted, “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life . . . and how stands the city on this winter night? . . . After 200 years, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what the storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.” These days, however, there is growing talk about American decline, waning influence, prestige, respect, etc. . . Have you ever paused to think how we went from the image of the “shining city on a hill” to “that used to be us” mentality and predictions of American decline? What might this imply for your own future? Are these predictions of American decline fueled by domestic developments, international developments, or a combination of both? This seminar will allow you to explore the various arguments, identify the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. in the 21st century, and evaluate what this might mean for your own future. You will learn about the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the U.S. in the 21st century and as a result be better placed to maximize your opportunities – personal and professional – in an ever-changing environment.
SECTION 26 -
You are What You Eat: Understanding Our Food Supply
Despite major advances in medical science, Americans have increasing rates of obesity and related rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. Some say this may result in the first generation of Americans who may not live as long as their parents. Processed foods and reliance on “junk” food is a major reason for the increases in obesity. This seminar will examine how our food is made and marketed. Students who take the seminar will be become better lifelong consumers of food, leading to a healthier lifestyle.
SECTION 27 -
In this course we will take a close look at the Western Reserve (Northeast Ohio) through stories both written and spoken. The stories may be by or about people like John D. Rockefeller, Toni Morrison, Elliot Ness, or your grandmother. About places like Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the West Side Market, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Lake Erie, a cemetery in your hometown. About events like the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the first use of an electric streetlight, and the founding of your hometown. Think nothing ever happens around here? You might be surprised.
SECTION 28 -
The Meaning of Life
What is the meaning of life? Those who believe in God often claim that, apart from God, life would have no meaning. Is that true? Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Is that true? What makes life worth living? Many argue that science shows that there is no intelligent design behind the universe. Does it? In this seminar you will explore questions like these. At the end of the day, we may not all agree about the meaning of life, but we will have explored interesting and thought-provoking answers to life’s ultimate question.
SECTION 29 -
Ultra: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
Can you imagine running 135 consecutive miles, starting at the basin of Death Valley and finishing at the 14,505 foot summit of Mt. Whitney . . . and doing it in temperatures that exceed 115F? How about ascending and descending the 19,000 foot Mt. Kilimanjaro without any assistance, and doing it in just over 9 hours? Or even still, how about swimming in open water for 2.4 miles, riding your bike for 112 miles, and then running 26.2 miles . . . on two prosthetic legs? This course will explore the stories of athletes who sacrifice their time, energy, money, and bodies to achieve incredible feats. Most of the examples we will discuss will involve athletes, but we will explore some cases that involve people in business, education, and the arts. Over the course of the semester, you will be introduced to these people and explore the theories that attempt to explain 1) what motivates them, 2) what regulates their behaviors during training, and 3) whether they may apply the discipline in one domain to other aspects of their daily lives. We will also look at the role of failure in their performances and discuss how we can learn and benefit from our own successes and failures in everyday life. In addition to learning about other people’s adventures, you’ll be given the opportunity to train for your own feat of “endurance” during the semester.
SECTION 30 -
Join our “Black Chamber: bolted, hidden, guarded, sees all, hears all.” Learn how code-makers and code-breakers cost Mary, Queen of Scots, her head; Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor, his life; and Samuel Tilden, the Presidency of the United States. Use math and statistics to study the rotating grille, the one-time pad, le chiffre indechiffrable, and public key ciphers. Examine the Playfair cipher John F. Kennedy used to avoid capture by the Japanese and try to solve the Beale cipher that pinpoints the location of $40 million in gold. Now, about that credit card number you typed into iTunes…
SECTION 31 -
The Human Question Explore in Literature and Film
What does it mean to be human? Speculative fiction imagines times, places, situations that could or might be. Literature like this challenges us to question who we are and helps us to explore our human identity and our humanity. It asks the question "What if?" What if science and technology developed conscious androids or robots? Enhanced our brains or bodies with biotechnology? How do we distinguish ourselves from smart machines? From clones? In this class, using a variety of literary works and films, we will dive into this interesting question of who we are and what we mean by “being human.”
SECTION 32 -
The Great Wall of China: Myth and Reality
The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest wonders on earth. This seminar is designed to explore its architectural grandeur, historical significance and relevance to the contemporary world. In this seminar you will examine various aspects of the Great Wall and through our discussion broaden your world view of different cultures and history.
SECTION 33 -
Save Your Iceberg... Think Radically
What is that issue that needs to be solved? What do you see that needs to change? How do you make life better for your neighbors, friends, family or community? What is your iceberg that is melting? It could be building a more sustainable community, forming an athletic league where you live, dealing with childhood obesity. In this class you will learn how you take “what pains your heart” to a level that becomes part of the solution. During the semester, you will study successful social projects that have identified social issues that need attention (the melting iceberg) and develop a plan to present to future partners using an entrepreneurial process. Because every organization must raise more money than it spends, you will need to identify various ways to fund your endeavor. Finally, you will study the change process developed by Dr. John Kotter that will help you implement your solution.
Honors First Year Seminars/HON 110
SECTION 01 -
Martyrs or Fools? Heroes of Faith-Based Social Justice
This course investigates the lives and work of individuals who, based on religious values and commitments, have worked for social justice and change in their particular contexts. Through the use of both primary and secondary resources, students will consider some of the “greats” in this area: Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Archbishop Oscar Romero, William Wilburforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others. The course will also pay some attention to the work of more local individuals who likely will never be famous for their efforts but who nonetheless have dedicated their lives to the work of social justice and change. The course will include a service learning option and a site visit to an appropriate venue(s).
SECTION 02 -
What will our future look like? What should we do when our love of liberty conflicts with our desire for safety and happiness? Dystopian fiction imagines what our world might become if certain real-life trends and value conflicts continue toward their logical extremes. The “negative utopias” it presents shock us in order to provoke critical thinking about the logic and morality that underpins our lives. Seminar assignments range from analyzing literature and film to doing your own creative writing. The course covers novels such as Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, and The Handmaid’s Tale and films such as A Clockwork Orange and The Children of Men.
SECTION 03 -
The Truth is Out There: Biology Meets Science Fiction
What might be the future of human evolution? How would we react to an alien species? How could we survive on Mars? How does our environment influence our behavior? Could we clone a dinosaur? Should we? These and other exciting questions will be answered, or at least addressed, when Biology Meets Science Fiction in this First Year Honors Seminar. From H.G. Wells to Michael Crichton, science fiction authors have explored the scientific discoveries and controversies of their times, weaving tales of mystery and adventure that have entertained readers for more than a century. By studying selected novels and films, we’ll learn about some ground-breaking biological discoveries, and how they have helped shape our relationships with our fellow creatures on planet earth.