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 Fall 2019 – Course Descriptions

ANTH-181: 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.

ANTH-150: Experiencing Archaeology, Professor Namita Sugandhi, Department of Anthropology

This class is about the science of investigating the past. Throughout the semester, students will learn about the archaeological study of major turning points in early human history, from the evolution of our species to the emergence of agriculture, cities, and writing.  This course will consider questions about the origins of social inequality and the sustainability of modern life.  Students will also have hands-on experience in some of the major techniques and practices used to construct narratives of the human story.  During the semester, students will participate in an archaeological dig, and will learn important skills such as survey and mapping, artifact documentation, and presentation of research.

ARTH-250: Other Voices in Printmaking and Photography, Professor Katherine Kreisher, Department of Art and Art History

Through this studio course students are introduced to both photography and printmaking processes while exploring the work of historical and contemporary image makers. “Other” Voices references the unique perspectives of artists who inhabit marginalized communities such as women of color or members of the LGBTQ community. A research project resulting in a short paper and a Powerpoint presentation will assist class members to understand historical trends and contemporary issues of art. Sketchbook-journal assignments are included. Students will use their own digital point-and-shoot cameras or cell phone cameras. Film cameras are on loan from the department of art and art history. $100 lab fee plus materials. WGS (Women’s and Gender Studies) credit possible. Following successful completion of this introductory course, students are prepared to move on to certain level II photography or printmaking courses.

ENGL-150: Imperial Nightmares, Professor David Cody, Department of English

This course examines the cultural anxieties reflected in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literary works that take up the question of the meaning of “Progress”—imperialist novels and romances, utopian and dystopian fictions, fantasies, adventure novels, science fictions, horror fictions, and satires. Together these works reveal intellectual and psychological assumptions about power, morality, sexuality, gender and race that remain deeply embedded in Western culture. They also foreground prevailing assumptions what is seen as “civilized” or “uncivilized,” as “advanced” or “primitive,” “superior” and “inferior.” Primary readings include works by Robert Browning, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Joseph Conrad, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and more.

ENSS-201: The Idea 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 bigger questions about who we are, why we act the way we do, how sustainability became an urgent concern, and what we’re going to do about it. This course integrates the ideas, theories, and practices of sustainability in real world application and analysis of the local foodshed.  We will investigate opportunities, challenges and barriers of our local foodshed, and the environmental, social and economic issues that limit, threaten, or promote a sustainable food system.             

GLST-160: Introduction to Global Studies, Professor Mark Wolff, Department of Modern Languages

This course introduces students to multiple perspectives on globalization using concepts such as diversity, tradition, hybrid or blended identities, and tolerance. It seeks to help students find ways to work respectfully and productively in an interconnected world. Activities outside of the classroom will include a visit to a local refugee center in Utica, New York. Students will learn how to connect their academic and professional interests to opportunities for global career development.

HIST-250: US Foreign Relations, Professor Kyle Burke, Department of History

Today, the United States projects its military, economic, political, and cultural power across nearly the entire globe. This course asks how and why that came to be, and with what consequences. Starting in the late colonial era and moving through the recent past, it offers not just a history of states and statesmen, war and diplomacy, but also a history of ideas, technologies, social movements, and globalization. Utilizing cutting-edge historical scholarship as well as journalism, speeches, state documents, images, films, and other primary sources, this course focuses especially on the themes of race, empire, capitalism, and democracy. By weaving the domestic and foreign strands of the American past into a seamless whole, the course offers fresh insights into U.S. and global history as well as the United States’ current position in world affairs. 

HIST-252: Harry Potter’s England, Professor Cherilyn Lacy, Department of History

The Harry Potter novels take place in a fictional universe. 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 will use Harry Potter as a lens through which to explore 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. The course 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.

MUED-100: Introduction to Music Edcuation, Professor Meghan Sheehy, Department of Music

This introductory course to music education will address the historical, social, philosophical, and legal foundations of music education. 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 music, and the characteristics of learners with disabilities in music and integrating music technology into the curriculum will be introduced. Students will begin to develop a personal philosophy of music education. Students will participate in field experiences within the community that provide interactions with community leaders and residents as a required component of this course. Enrolling students must be able to read music.

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. In addition to lectures, course activities will include role-playing games, cooperative card and board games, model building, as well as the exploration of other means of history-telling, such as graphic novels, political cartoons, amateur photos, and other ephemera, and mass-market films.

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; that is, 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.

PHYS-165: The Search for Life in the Universe, Professor Parker Troischt, Department of Physics

In the past decade or so, tremendous progress has been made in the search for other worlds or extra-solar planets (planets orbiting stars other than the Sun). Thousands of these “exoplanets” have been detected using a variety of methods and their location, sizes, temperature and atmospheres are being studied in an attempt to determine if one of these could possibly support life forms as we know them. This course will cover these recent discoveries and involve a study of the conditions necessary for life itself to evolve. The student will be introduced to several of the methods astronomers use to find exoplanets, characterize them and make efforts to evaluate if the planets might host living organisms. The course will require competency in basic high school level mathematics.

POSC-150: Politics through Games, Professor Amy Forster-Rothbart, Department of Political Science

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 roleplaying games. Students 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. Students 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: Mindfulness & Narcissism, Professor Jeremy Wisnewski, Department of Religious Studies – HONORS Seminar

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.

THEA-150: Write Out Loud, Professor Malissa 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 each student’s personal “cineliteracy”.

SPAN-150: Spain Through Film & Literature, Professor Karina Walker, Department of Modern Languages

This First Year Seminar will explore multiple Spanish cultural identitites, endeavoring to understand the socio-historical factors that have contributed to their contemporary expression. We will conduct a survey of Spanish cultural production including literature, film, painting, sculpture, illustration, and music, as we attempt to trace the origins, as well as follow the evolution, of this varied cultural landscape. As a framework for our analysis we will focus on conflicting national projects: the one anchored in tradition and homogeneity, the other promoting a pluraslistic and heterogenous view of Spanish identity. Prerequisite: None Curricular Designation:(FYS) Fulfills the First Year Seminar Requirement

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