First Year Seminars

First Year Seminars

First Year Seminars at Hartwick College are your introduction to the liberal arts. All incoming Hartwick College students enroll in a First Year Seminar in the fall term.

The First Year Seminars are designed to facilitate college-level work and help you explore diverse perspectives around a common subject, theme, or issue. Enrollment is limited and class size is small so that you can benefit from working closely with faculty mentors and your peers. You will engage as colleagues in the process of discovery and respectful critical discussion.

First Year Seminars 2016 – Course Descriptions

Art of Cinema (THEA-150-Cd), Professor Marc Shaw, Theatre Arts

An examination of the visual, aural and narrative language systems used to convey meaning in this most popular of art forms. From the most concrete components of cinematic art (story structure, photographic composition, sound, etc.) to the most abstract, the course will provide a foundation for your personal “cineliteracy.”


Chocolate $Money$: 101 Financial Accounting (ACCO-101-Ab), Professor Penny Wightman, Accounting

Ever wonder how much money is made in the candy business? Find out in this first year experience that explores the financial performance of the world’s largest chocolate producers. You’ll be introduced to the financial information critical to decision-making for managers. You’ll read and interpret the financial position of the likes of Hershey & Nestle. You’ll learn the components of that position, understand the results of their operations, and evaluate their cash flows. Coverage includes accounting principles and concepts as well as models for financial analysis and ethical decision-making. Through readings, activities and hands-on experiences you’ll master the systems required to measure “Chocolate $Money$.” Note: This course may contain an out-of-class experiential learning component (September field trip).


Computer Game Programming (CISC-118-3Ab), Professor Robert Gann, Computer Science

In this course you will learn to program by creating computer games. The course will involve problem solving, teamwork, and learning to learn new things. As the course progresses, we’ll move from simple games to complex games with sophisticated graphics. By the end of the course, you will have a number of games to share on places like your Facebook page. There will be almost no teaching in this course; you will learn programming by doing a series of increasingly challenging self-paced tutorials and by working together to meet those challenges.


Digital Hilltops (HUMA-150-Cd), Professor Mark Wolff, French

This course is an introduction to digital methods of text encoding and data analysis for the humanities. Students will help build an online database of Hilltops, the Hartwick College student newspaper. Working with recently scanned issues of the newspaper published from 1928 to 1996, students will learn how to prepare textual data for online access and computational processing. The website they develop will allow users to browse the newspaper, search for keywords, and discover patterns of word usage on a large scale. Students will also learn how to work with geographic information systems (GIS) to create links between the newspaper and maps of the campus and other parts of the world. The results of this interdisciplinary project will be shared with Hartwick students, faculty, staff, and alumni. No prior experience with programming is required, but students should feel comfortable experimenting with computers by following examples.


Drawing & 2-D Design (ART-250-24), Professor Rich Barlow, Art

By taking a multidisciplinary approach, students learn the basic design elements and principles common to all two-dimensional art, while also developing many basic drawing skills. Students explore these elements and principles through reading, lecture, discussion and exercises; they then put to use this design vocabulary in discussion, critique, written assignments, and drawing projects. Students will explore the possibilities of drawing materials by making compositions from observation and from the imagination. They will learn to render basic formal elements (line, shape, value, color, texture, mass, color) as they investigate perspective, composition, and pictorial space. Using various combinations of media, subject and approach to drawing, students become aware of the relationship of the whole to the parts by working on numerous compositional and design ideas. Students will also learn to view and analyze works of art, and how to present finished artwork professionally. Open to students with no previous experience or with some art background. This course fulfills the ART 113 & 115 pre-requisites for further study in the Art Department.


Foodways, Faith and Fairness (Honors FYS, RELS-150-HI), Professor Lisle Dalton, Religious Studies

“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.” -Dorothy Day

This course asks you to think seriously about food: How is it produced? How is it distributed? How is it cooked and shared? What symbolic meanings does it hold? How do communities build a shared vision of “the Good” around the things they eat? To explore these questions, we will focus on a variety of communities and their “foodways”—that is, their particular strategies for producing, regulating, cooking, and sharing food. This will include the foodways of various faith traditions, both within the American religious mainstream and alternative visions. We will also study the general structures of the American food system and voices that seek to challenge and reform that system on ethical grounds. To fully engage with our subject matter we will spend some of our class sessions in the kitchen, putting our foodways theory into edible practice.


Forensic Osteology, An Introduction (ANTH-181-04), Professor Connie Anderson, Anthropology

Working in the Anthropology Laboratory of Hartwick’s Yager Hall, students will receive a whole or partial skeleton which they will analyze and describe. They will learn what information can be gleaned from bones and study some important cases, including remains from Stonehenge, Inca tombs in the Andes, 1607 Jamestown, and other examples. We will discuss contentious issues in forensic osteology, and each student will share a presentation on an issue, method or discovery near the end of the semester. Evaluation will consist of regular quizzes dealing with the bones themselves, the description of their skeletons, the final presentation, and three essay exams combining casework and theory.


Geological History of the Catskills (GEOL-150-78), Professor Robert Titus, Geology & Environmental Sciences

The course has two major aspects. First is the course content. We will go on a large number of field trips, visiting various geological sites throughout Otsego County. These will illustrate the bedrock geology of the Catskills, the Ice Age history of the Catskills, and the geological landscapes found there as well. We will visit these sites and learn about the geology represented at each one. Collectively they will record a geological history of the Catskills. The second aspect is the process of the course. The course is aimed at developing student’s ability to express themselves in written and oral presentations. During the field season, students will be writing field trip reports. The purpose of these reports is to develop student writing skills. They will be graded according to content and writing. There will be a focus on paragraph and sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. After it is too cold and dark for field work students will make indoor oral presentations about topics in science of their choosing. The purpose is to develop speaking skills.


Harry Potter’s England (HIST-252-06), Professor Cherilyn Lacy, History

The Harry Potter novels take place in a fictional universe complete with its own history of wizarding wars, international confederations, goblin rebellions, and legendary figures. Yet this fictional history is closely mapped onto British history, particularly a nostalgic vision of Victorian England and Britain’s “finest hour” standing against Nazi Germany during World War II. This course uses Harry Potter as a gateway for exploring themes in British history since 1800, from questions of race and ethnicity (Mudbloods), to the importance of education (Hogwarts) and industrialization (the Hogwarts Express) to Victorian identity. We will also explore how the Potter novels advance a particular view of historical research and scholarship, especially through their contrast between the exciting, secret investigations of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and the dull, boring history lectures of the ghostly Professor Binns. Throughout the course, we will draw upon excerpts from the Harry Potter films and novels, as well as contemporary literature, art, parliamentary proceedings, political cartoons, and other sources of evidence to consider how accounts of the past are made and remade.


Ideas and Practice of Sustainability (INTR-201-78), Professor Mark Davies, Education

Sustainability represents much more than just recycling plastics or buying “green” products. The idea of sustainability invites bigger questions about how we live and how we can change habits to preserve vital resources for the future. This course integrates the ideas, theories, and practices of sustainability to study a local, real world problem and discover solutions. Students will utilize concepts of sustainability through an in-depth analysis of the local foodshed’s barriers and potential for growth. The study of the foodshed will be informed by several field experiences where we will meet farmers, food producers, restaurant owners, and local consumers as we investigate the environmental, social and economic issues that limit, threaten, or promote a sustainable food system. Coursework will include writing papers examining practical aspects of sustainability, and an action research project which aims to explore and celebrate the value of our local foodshed.


Microbiology of Food, Biology in Practice (BIOL 101-3FH), Professor Mary Allen, Biology

When microorganisms ferment foods they change the textures, aromas, and flavors, producing new products as diverse as yogurt, cheese, kimchi, and soy sauce. The benefits of fermented foods are counter-balanced by the need to prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms that may contaminate food. This course will explore the scientific connections between microorganisms and food through investigative discovery, not merely the presentation of known scientific concepts. As such the course will emphasize how scientists go about gathering, analyzing, interpreting and communicating biological information. You will act as scientists, carrying out investigations into topics like the making of cheese curds and the antimicrobial properties of spices. The course culminates with an independently designed research project investigating a connection between microbiology and food.


Mind and Self (PHIL-150-34Cd), Professor J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Philosophy

This course meets every weekday for the first seven weeks of the term.

An exploration of philosophical treatments of the idea of consciousness and the self, both East and West, and their relation to happiness, death, and the good life. The course will begin by examining ancient philosophical work (mostly Buddhist) that argues for meditation as a key to understanding the impermanence of all things. We will then turn our attention to ancient Greece, reading works by Plato and some Pre-Socratic philosophers, examining the role of reason in understanding the mind and the nature of a “self.” Finally, we will consider some contemporary work in cognitive science and phenomenology on the nature of consciousness, the experience of the self, and the idea of happiness. PLEASE NOTE: Because many of our sources utilize meditation as a means of examining the nature of the mind and various claims made about the self, we too will engage in this practice.


Music Education, an Introduction (MUED-100-Ef), Music Education

This course is for music education majors only. This introductory course to music education will address the social, historical, and philosophical foundations of the discipline. An overview and exploration of methods and approaches to teaching and learning in early childhood, elementary and secondary general music, choral, string, and instrumental music settings will be included. The topics of diversity, lifelong learning, alternative contexts for the teaching and learning of music, world musics, and teaching exceptional learners in music will be introduced. Students will begin to develop a personal philosophy of music education.


Salamander Science, Biology in Practice (BIOL-101-2Fh), Professor Stan Sessions, Biology

The ability to regenerate lost body parts, such as legs, tails, and even hearts and brains, sets salamanders apart from all other vertebrate animals and explains why they are of great interest in biomedical research such as regenerative medicine. Salamanders also are outstanding in having far more DNA in their genomes than other animals, including humans, making them model organisms for understanding the structure and function of our genomes. One of the goals of this course will be to become familiar with all of the kinds of living salamanders, how to tell them apart from each other, how they are related to each other, where they are found, how they live (their ecology), their physiology, their anatomy, and behavior, and how they regenerate. We will especially focus on those species of salamanders that are found near Hartwick College—the class features field trips to various localities where we are likely to find salamanders, including Hartwick’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus. This course will help you gain a good understanding of what biology is all about, and successful completion of this course will also fulfill a Biology Laboratory credit.


Schools: The Great Equalizer? (EDUC-150-56), Professor Johanna Mitchell, Education

Bigotry. Poverty. War. In 1848, Horace Mann wrote that if schooling were made public and compulsory, it would eventually eliminate those societal ills along with ignorance, intemperance, avarice, and others. Yet most of those conditions persist at varying levels of severity. Why? Is the curriculum boring and irrelevant? Are teachers incompetent? Are administrators out of touch? Is the system broken? Or is the social structure more impervious to change than these visionaries imagined? This course explores why American public schooling has not accomplished the lofty goals envisioned for it. Students will speak and write about their own experiences, read the great school debates and controversies, and observe contemporary classrooms where teachers are sincerely attempting to make a positive difference without using dunce caps or wooden paddles.


Sympathy for the Devil: the Diabolical in Literature and Film (ENGL-150-78), Professor Lisa Darien, English

The Rolling Stones are not the only artists who have implied that the diabolical can also be attractive. For example, the poet William Blake famously wrote of Paradise Lost that its author, John Milton, was “of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” Despite the clear fact that the Devil by definition must be bad, throughout time, artists have portrayed him as fascinating and enchanting, rather than repellent. What makes the Devil appealing? And what does his appeal reveal about the culture in question? Students in this course will explore the figure of the Devil from his first appearance as Satan (Hebrew for “adversary”) in the Book of Job through more recent diabolical characters such as Futurama’s Robot Devil and Lucifer’s, well, Lucifer! We will also examine, in part or whole, Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margerita; the Fausts of Marlowe, Goethe, and Gounod; Shakespeare’s Richard III; Milton’s Paradise Lost; and other diabolical works of art.


Understanding Cancer (CHEM-150-06), Professor Mark Erickson, Chemistry

This course takes a holistic approach to the subject of cancer by first understanding the disease through the eyes of science and medicine, followed by an investigation of cancer’s effect on the patient, family, and society. Students will begin with understanding the biological and biochemical causes and effects of cancer, accompanied by investigation into other related risk factors such as diet, genetics, socioeconomic influences, and healthcare availability. Other topics of interest may include religious perspectives on cancer, death and dying, pain management, economics of cancer treatment, art and music therapy, and the artistic expressions of cancer victims and their families. The ideas and topics in this learning experience originate with the participants–we will hear the voices from the class to gain a comprehensive understanding.


Women in Photography: Beginning Photography Workshop (ART-241-68$), Professor Katharine Kreisher, Art

Through this studio art course students learn traditional silver photography techniques (film camera and wet darkroom) while exploring the history of photographic images made by women working in the field from 1839 to the present. Research projects and presentation will assist class members to understand historical trends and contemporary issues of the medium, as well as to define some of the unique aspects of photography by women and consider how gender may affect art-making. Students will produce a portfolio of their own images influenced by their research and new understanding. Film camera with variable aperture and shutterspeed is required. Digital point-and-shoot or cell phone camera is useful for color work. Research leads to a 6-8 page paper and a PowerPoint presentation. This course is equivalent to Art 241 (Photo I) and also carries a WGS (Women and Gender Studies) designation. Contact Professor of Art Katharine Kreisher for more information about cameras. ( or 607-638-9461)

Fundamentals in Nursing Science (NURS-134)
, Nursing

Please note that these First Year Seminars are required of Nursing majors and are limited to Nursing majors only.

Introduces Nursing as an art and a science that is distinguished by humanistic caring. Study will initially focus on the self and maximizing one’s position on the health/illness continuum but will progress to the concept of client in the health system. This conceptual leap requires an understanding of individual differences, values, beliefs, culture, interpersonal communication, the health care system, nursing as a profession from a baccalaureate perspective, and as a unique change agent for the improvement of holistic health. In the laboratory, students are introduced to self-assessment tools to determine individual health status and will learn fundamental nursing skills basic to nursing practice. Students will also be engaged in observation and actual practice of nursing skills in acute and chronic care settings.

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