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 2017 – Course Descriptions

American Political History (HIST-103), Professor Chad Anderson

This course will examine the essential topics of American political history, but our special focus will be paranoia and conspiracy theories—an enduring and relevant subject for Americans today. Although the United States emerged, in part, from a fear of conspiracy, the nature of those fears has changed greatly during the last two centuries. Our class discussion and reading will explore the evolution of these ideas from the eighteenth century to the present. We will examine both primary sources (documents from the past) and secondary sources (the writing of historians) that place conspiracy—real and imagined—at the heart of American politics.

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

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.”

Biology in Practice: Astrobiology (BIOL-101), Professor Stanley K. Sessions

Description: Astrobiology is a relatively new field of interdisciplinary scientific research that combines biology, chemistry, and physics to investigate the origin, evolution, and future of life in the universe. At this point in time, we know for certain that life does exist in the universe, on our own planet Earth. But we do not know if life exists anywhere else in the universe, in our galaxy, or even our own solar system. As we speak, NASA is searching for evidence of life on Mars. In this course we will consider the core questions of Astrobiology and their implications, such as: Where did the atoms and molecules, and especially organic compounds that characterize life come from in the first place? Are we alone, or is the universe teeming with life? How can we find out? What do we look for? What do we expect to find? What about intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Will we be able to travel to and colonize other planetary systems? 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 answer these important questions we need to understand first of all how life originated on Earth and what are the minimal characteristics of life and how living organisms evolve.

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

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.

Endings: The Exploration of Beginnings

You can’t have beginnings without endings. This course explores how humans have grappled with this apparent paradox through music, drama, literature, religion, science, and popular culture. Each of the faculty members teaching this course specializes in one or more of these human constructs, but we will be out of our element (science pun intended!) much of the time. This means that we’ll be learning alongside you. If you ever wanted to take a course that represents the breadth of the liberal arts, this is it!

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

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.

Foodways, Faith and Fairness (RELS-150), Professor Lisle Dalton

“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.

Foundations of Nursing Science (NURS 134)

Introduces nursing as an art and science distinguished by humanistic caring. Focuses initially on self-assessment and the skills needed to achieve academic, personal, and professional success.  Students explore the role of the professional nurse in health and wellness including self-care and the care of clients. Individual differences, personal and professional values, beliefs, culture, interpersonal communication, the healthcare system, baccalaureate nursing, and the role of the nurse (as change agent, wellness coach, collaborator, decision maker, and care manager) in the improvement of health are explored.  In the laboratory, students are introduced to self-assessment tools and techniques of mindful awareness to determine individual health status.  Common nursing interventions, actions, and stress and coping techniques used to meet the healthcare needs of clients across the lifespan and continuum of care are explored and applied.  Students apply therapeutic use of self and basic nursing skills, in a variety of clinical settings.  Community service hours are required as part of the course.  The course is offered for majors only in the fall semester (for traditional students) and for ASP and RNOP Accelerated Program students only, in the summer. Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: Matriculation in the Nursing Program and BIOL-206.

Geological History of the Catskills (GEOL-150), Professor Robert Titus

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.

Global Art of the Modern World (ARTH-104), Professor Doug Zullo

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.

Imperial Nightmares (ENGL-150), Professor David Cody

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, Franz Kafka, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Machen, Karl Marx, Herman Melville, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, and H. G. Wells and more.

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

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.

Plants and People (BIOL-101), Professor Doug Hamilton

This is an introductory Biology course designed to provide an opportunity to learn how biology is used as a tool to understand the origin and diversity of life. By studying plants and their relationships to people we will touch on the fields of photosynthesis, plant fibers, plant reproduction, food production, environmental science, natural and artificial selection, and biotechnology.  The laboratory component will emphasize experimental design including the use of analytical statistics.  By the end of the course, we hope students will have gained a basic understanding of the major concepts of biology and the unifying principles that help make sense of the biodiversity that we observe, and of some of the changes that are coming in the future. 

Political Change (POSC-150), Professor Amy Forster-Rothbart

Questions of the causes and consequences of movements for political change have long been important to comparative politics. In the wake of American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as recent movements for democracy in the former Soviet Union, Middle East, and Southeast Asia, these questions are once again in the forefront of the minds of scholars and policymakers. This class will look at societal, elite and institutional dimensions of political transition and its aftermath. Through the study of both historical and contemporary examples, we will seek to understand how change comes about and what determines the forms it takes. 

The Search for Life in the Universe: Exoplanets! (PHYS-165), Professor Parker Troischt

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 some for of life.  This course will cover these recent discoveries, the discovery techniques, 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 efforts made to evaluate if some of these planets might host living organisms.  

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

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 shutter speed is required. Digital point-and-shoot or cell phone camera is useful for color work.

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