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 2018 – Course Descriptions

ANTH-150 – Social Landscapes of South Asia,
Professor Sugandhi, Department of Anthropology

This course examines the diverse communities and cultures that make up the landscapes of South Asia. Students will explore both South Asian history and contemporary society through discussion, text, film, music and community experience.  Students will be encouraged to think anthropologically about the many difficulties facing the region today, such as economic inequality, environmental change, and political instability.  By looking at the broader context of South Asian societies as they have developed over time, students will come to understand both the social and historical roots of many global challenges, and the ways in which anthropological knowledge can be applied to address these problems.


ANTH-181-04 – Forensic Osteology, an Introduction, Professor Connie Anderson, Department of 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.

ARTH-104 – Global Art of the Modern World,
Professor Doug Zullo, Department of Art and Art History

In this course, we will examine some of the major monuments, artists, and artistic developments around the world from the 18th century to the present day. Students will develop an understanding of human cultural diversity through explorations of the relationship between works of art and the historical, political, religious, and philosophical context of the peoples that produced and made use of them, as well as to build the fundamental skills of visual analysis and the critical concepts and vocabulary necessary for discussing works of art as historical documents.


BIOL-101 – Biology in Practice: Astrobiology, Professor Stanley K. Sessions, Department of Biology

Astrobiology is a relatively new field of interdisciplinary scientific research that investigates the origin, evolution, and future of life in the universe. In this course we will consider the core questions of Astrobiology: Where did the atoms and molecules, and especially organic compounds that characterize life come from in the first place? Are we alone? How can we find out? What do we expect to find? What is the fate of life on Earth? How can life as we know it adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space? In order to begin to address these important questions, we will first explore how life originated on Earth.


ENGL-155 – Men, Manhood, and Culture, Professor Navarette, Department of English

This course examines representations of “masculine” behavior in contemporary American popular culture through feature films, documentaries, fiction, and essays. Students will examine the works of writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Thurber, and Margaret Talbot, as well as films like Tarzan the Ape Man (1932),  Do the Right Thing (1989) and Fight Club (1999) to explore how masculinity is defined within American popular culture. And perhaps answer the question of what it means, in contemporary America, to be “a real man.”


EDUC-250 – Critical Ethnography: Using Action Research to Unmask Ourselves, Professor Bloom, Department of Education

In this course we will divide our time between traditional seminar-style classes and action research in the field.  We will read and critically analyze several school-based ethnographies that challenge the reader to question their assumptions about class, race, gender, sexuality, and (dis)ability.  The course will develop into an action research project in which students will apply their learning to study of the culture(s) of their own college community through surveys, participant-observation, focus group interviews and one-on-one interviews.


ENSS-201 – Ideas and Practice of Sustainability, Professor Mark Davies, Department of Education

Sustainability represents much more than just saving the rainforests and recycling trash. The idea of sustainability invites questions about who we are, why we act the way we do, how we got into this situation, and what we are going to do about it. This course integrates the ideas, theories, and practices of sustainability in real world applications to the local living environment. We will investigate the promises and pitfalls of our local foodshed, and the environmental, social and economic issues that limit, threaten or promote a sustainable food system.


HIST-216 – Witchcraft & Witch-hunting, Professor Peter Wallace, Department of History

Between 1450 and 1750, perhaps 100,000 European and American men and women were tried as witches, and at least 45,000 were executed, often after gruesome torture. We will read, discuss, and write about dozens of documents from the lurid descriptions of demonologists, to trial transcripts, to tales of possession and exorcisms to see what we can learn about the past and about (perhaps) ourselves. We will also consider numerous the inter-personal dynamics of witchcraft (nosy neighbors) and the motives of with-hunting (fear of black magic). This course culminates with a substantial research paper on witchcraft and the early modern witch-hunts.


HIST-276 – American Indian History Since 1763, Professor Anderson, Department of History

This course examines the interaction between Native Americans and the United States from 1700 to the present. The topics covered include wars and alliances, trade patterns, revitalization movements, Federal-Indian relations, philanthropic and missionary activities, the reservation period, and the Red Power movement in the U.S. civil rights era.


MUSI-160 – Music of World Wars I and II, Professor Diane Paige, Department of Music

This course explores the role that music played in World Wars I and II. Students will consider music for and by soldiers, music as propaganda, music in reaction to wartime events, music on the home front and the civilian experience, music made for and by victims of war time atrocities, and the music of remembrance. Experience with music helpful but not necessary.


MUST-250 – Collectors & Collecting, Doug Kendall and Quentin Lewis, Yager Museum of Art & Culture

Everyone collects something – either consciously or unconsciously. This course examines collecting and collectors from anthropological, historical, archaeological, and literary perspectives, focusing on the idea of collecting as a form of control; a way for a person to organize and make sense of their world.   Students will gain an understanding of collecting as a social practice, the growth of museums as public collections, the role of collecting in historical developments such as colonialism and consumer culture, and the role of individual collectors, including Willard Yager, founder of Hartwick’s museum, in shaping public awareness of art, history and culture.


NURS-134 – Foundations in Nursing Theory and Laboratory, Department of Nursing (5 credits)

Introduces nursing as an art and science distinguished by humanistic caring. Study initially focuses on the self and ones’ adjustment to college and exposure to tools one can use to achieve success as a college student and beginning nursing professional for maximization of health and wellness as an individual, then progresses to the concept of “client” in the health system. This conceptual leap requires an understanding of individual differences, personal and professional values, beliefs, culture, interpersonal communication, the healthcare system, baccalaureate nursing, and the role of the nurse as a change agent, wellness coach, collaborator, decision maker, and care manager in the improvement of holistic health. In the laboratory students are introduced to self- assessment tools and mindful awareness, used to determine an individual’s health status and common nursing interventions and actions, and stress management techniques used to meet the healthcare needs of clients of all ages in structured and unstructured settings. Students have the opportunity to apply therapeutic use of self and basic nursing skills learned in the laboratory, skills modules and in simulation in long term care and outpatient care, and community settings. Community service hours are required as part of the course, and it is for majors only. Pre-requisites/Co-Requisites: matriculation in the Nursing Program and BIOL 206.


RELS-150 – Mindfulness & Narcissism, Professor Wisnewski, Department of Philosophy

Despite ancient roots, the term ‘mindfulness’ shows up in surprisingly contemporary contexts. Corporations use it to increase worker productivity; law enforcement uses it to reduce incidents of police violence; couples’ therapy uses it as a way to improve couples’ communication. The earliest forms of mindfulness, however, are not designed to improve the self, but rather to eliminate it. In this course, we will explore the historical roots of mindfulness and meditation in ancient philosophy and religion, contrasting the technique of mindfulness meditation in the past with its more contemporary versions.


MUED-100 – Introduction to Music Education, Professor Sheehy, Department of Music

This introductory course to music education will address the social, historical, and philosophical foundations of the discipline. The course includes an overview and exploration of methods and approaches to teaching and learning in a variety of early childhood, elementary and secondary music settings. Students will begin to develop a personal philosophy of music education and explore ways to advocate for their local music programs. Required for Music Education majors. Open to other students who are considering music education as a potential major. Enrolling students must be able to read music at a rudimentary level or higher. Reading tablature only not accepted.


POSC-150 – Political Games, Professor Forster-Rothbart, Department of Political Science

Think you can draft the United States Constitution, negotiate the conditions of peace following the Second World War, and take the seats of United Nations Security Council member states facing impending genocide in Rwanda—all in the course of a semester? Participants in this seminar will take on the roles of statesmen, activists, journalists and more in three extended role-playing games. You will learn specifics about topics such as the origins of democratic systems, the development of the post-World War II international order and the challenges to the United Nations in realizing its ambitious mission. You will also practice the research, writing and speaking skills that are essential to college success. The course will introduce concepts useful both to the continuing study of political science and to being a knowledgeable and active citizen.

RELS-150 – Foodways, Faith and Fairness,
 Professor Lisle Dalton, Department of Religious Studies

This course asks you to think seriously about food: How is it produced? How is it cooked and shared? What symbolic meanings does it hold? To explore these and other questions, we will focus on communities and their “foodways”—strategies for producing, regulating, cooking, and sharing food. These communities will include various faith traditions, both within the American religious mainstream and alternative visions. 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.


THEA-150 – Write Out Loud, Professor Kano-White, Department of Theatre

Students will write and perform original works inspired by the issues they are most passionate about.  Utilizing a variety of writing and performance styles students will engage the creative process through the exploration of issues such as diversity, race, LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, and social change.  The course will culminate in a showcase presentation of solo and collaborative works. No previous writing or performance experience necessary. 

THEA-150 – Art of Cinema, 
Professor Marc Shaw, Department of Theatre

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

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