First Year Seminars

Hartwick student smiling on campus

The Discover Your Place First Year Seminar will help you settle into the community and start on your own FlightPath.

All incoming Hartwick College students enroll in a section of Discover Your Place in the fall term.

These seminars begin with an exploration of who you are now, the strengths you bring to Hartwick, and where you want to go. We will explore the Hartwick community — its history and traditions, its people and region, and the many opportunities for connection. In addition to this common material, each seminar will have a specific academic exploration related in some way to the greater Oneonta region. The academic focus of each section is described below.

Fall 2021 Discover Your Place First Year Seminars

Discover Your Place: Visualizing Communities with Interactive Maps
Dr. Mark Wolff, Department of Modern Languages

For this course students will design and build an interactive map and website to visualize different historical and current communities associated with Hartwick College. The map and website will engage students, prospective students, faculty, alumni, and local residents. No prior experience with computer programming is required and students can learn a lot about web development and social media marketing.

Discover Your Place: Is There Water for All?
Dr. Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad, Department of Geology & Environmental Sciences

Oneonta resides in the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, which is one of the main contributors to the Chesapeake Bay Estuary. This course will investigate local water sources, water usage, pollution, water treatment, and remediation options. We will look into the environmental, economical, and political aspects of water distribution from the local level to the whole watershed level.

Discover Your Place: Upstate Latinx
Dr. Jason Antrosio, Department of Anthropology

Traditionally, Latinx (or Latino/a) communities have been associated with certain US geographies: Puerto Ricans in New York City, Cubans in Florida, and Mexicans in the southwest. Although Latinx communities have always been more prominent in northern locales and rural areas than these stereotypes suggest, in recent years there has been increased visibility throughout the United States. What does it mean to be Latinx in upstate New York? This course examines through reading, film, and field projects the demographics and meaning of how Latinos are reshaping the upstate New York experience.

Discover Your Place: Foodways, Faith and Fairness (restricted to honors and honors invited students)
Dr. Lisle Dalton, Department of Religious Studies

This course will ask students 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.

Discover Your Place: A**holes and Community, How to Mean What You Say
Dr. Matt Chick, Department of Political Science

What defines a community? Is it some threshold number of people? Some common purpose? Or is it more about a geographic area where they are located? Some combination of all of the above? This course has two goals. First, to both demonstrate the value of being precise with concepts as well as offer strategies for students to achieve that precision in their thinking, writing, and speaking. Second will be to deploy those skills, as a class, on the concept of “community”. What does the word community mean and to whom? What ought we make out of the differences in these meanings? This second goal involve talking with Oneonta community leaders as well as independent archival research on our local community.

Discover Your Place: Men, Manhood, and Culture: Representations of Manhood in Film and Fiction
Dr. Susan Navarette, Department of English

This course takes as its subject what sociologists and cultural critics describe as a critical—and unaddressed—“public health crisis”: men, self-esteem, and the politics of “masculine” behavior. Our explorations will be anchored in selected representations of “masculine” behavior in contemporary American popular culture and cultural artifacts: in feature films, selected documentaries, essays, and short fiction. Novels and stories written by Sherman Alexie, Ernest Hemingway, and James Thurber, and films such as Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs, Robocop, and Warrior will serve as so many “opportunities” to examine the myths, models, and modes of masculine behavior to which men struggle to conform—or, alternatively, those they are desperate to avoid.

We will supplement our discussion of these primary texts through an examination of the historical, mythopoetic, and cultural sources (“Tarzan,” Houdini, Diego Maradona, Zizou, and Arnold Schwarzenegger of popular lore and culture) that have helped to shape our sense of what it means to be “a real man.” Men at work, men in love, men in the jungle, men at play, men with guns, men at war, men on the fringes: these will be some of the “types” and realms of experience we will examine in our attempt to arrive at a partial understanding of the popular conceptions and constructions of men, their manhood, and the competing masculinities that constitute both.

Explicit content.
Feature films and documentaries that take as their subject human behavior in general—and in particular men’s behavior among and in front of men and women—are bound to contain explicit and sometimes unsettling content. Such is the case with the visual texts (i.e., films, documentaries, paintings) that we will encounter this semester: some feature disturbing or sexually explicit scenes or images; raw language figures in others. If you anticipate finding “raw” language and/or the occasionally sexually explicit, violent or uncomfortable-making scene in some way offensive, please consider whether this course’s subject matter will suit you. If you suspect that you will feel uncomfortable discussing adult themes, scenes, and ideas in the company of your peers, please consider whether this course’s subject matter will suit you.

Discover Your Place: Mindfulness and Personal Success
Dr. Pauline Stamp, Department of Business Administration & Accounting

This experiential course is an introduction to the practice of Mindfulness. Students will learn the principles of mindfulness, develop their own meditation practice, and apply mindfulness principles to daily life. Students will learn strategies to skillfully work with thoughts, emotions, and sensations while developing their capacity to enhance mind-body awareness of present-moment experience. The course will introduce the history, theories, and research in the field of mindfulness and the emerging science that shows promising, beneficial effects for physical and mental health and well-being. This course is designed for beginners and is suitable for those with experience who want to refine their practice. Students will work with the professor as well as local practitioners licensed in the field of mindfulness and meditation.

Discover Your Place: Communicating Across the Partisan Political Divide
Dr. Amy Forster Rothbart, Department of Political Science

While New York as a whole is a consistently blue state on the election maps, Otsego County and other areas around Hartwick are very much purple blends of Democratic and Republican voters. We will look at some of the factors that are associated with preference for the Republican and Democratic parties. We will then consider how to transcend the divide that keeps people of different political views from having important discussions about issues that are crucial to the region and the country.

Discover Your Place: The Meaning of DNA
Dr. Andrew Piefer, Department of Chemistry

Deoxyribonucleic acid. The blueprint of life. The stuff of life. The secret of life. The molecule of evolution. The most important molecule. Innocence, guilt, you’re the daddy, you’re sick, you’re healthy, you’re god. A tool, a weapon, a money maker, a time machine. The meaning of DNA encompasses all of these statements and more, but ultimately it depends on perspective. This course will explore the multiple meanings of DNA from many perspectives: scientific, medical, business, ethical, legal, in the hope of helping you craft your own personal meaning.

Discover Your Place: Regional Arts and Culture
Dr. Karina Walker, Department of Modern Languages

This section focuses on better understanding Hartwick, Oneonta, and the surrounding region through its artistic and cultural production. We will engage in critical analysis of cultural objects to better understand the people who’ve created them and the spaces they inhabit. Through this work we will discover, uncover, and recover, the histories, stories, and lived experiences of individuals in our communities. As a group we will go on field trips, visit archives, explore virtual and physical spaces, and meet community members, all with the aim of learning about our surroundings.

Discover Your Place: A Student’s History of the Catskills Region
Dr. Ross Bussell, Department of Education

In this course, we will take a deeper look at the history of Oneonta and the surrounding region. We will focus on developing historical guides that would be appropriate for school aged children that focus on the rich and deep history of this region, beginning with Hartwick College and Oneonta, and expanding to the entire Catskills region.

Discover Your Place: The Math and Science of Environmental Justice
Dr. Kevin Schultz, Department of Physics

In this class we will study the science and mathematics behind the modern day justice movements. We will focus primarily on environmental and climate justice issues, such as global warming, pollutants in our water, and toxic waste. Basic math skills will be assumed, but the rest will be introduced as we need it. This class is designed to be of interest to those students with a strong interest in social issues, regardless of their science background.

Discover Your Place: This Is (Your) America: Movies About Our Nation, Reviewed by You
Dr. Marc Shaw, Department of Theatre Arts

Learn and apply film studies terms by watching and reviewing films that ask important questions about America today. Refine your communication skills as you post Youtube reviews of films, demonstrate knowledge of film terms on your own podcast channel, and ultimately create your own film project “My America, 2021.”

Discover Your Place: Cultural Landscapes of Upstate New York
Professor Tim Vatovec, Environment, Sustainability and Society Program

In this course, students will work to ‘Discover Their Place’, both at Hartwick College, as well as in the broader community and region. To guide us on our discovery, we will take a ‘cultural landscape’ approach. Cultural Landscapes are the “interaction of people and place: a social group and its spaces, particularly the spaces to which the group belongs and from which its members derive some part of their shared identity and meaning” (Jackson, 1997). There are many examples of cultural landscapes in Upstate New York, including agricultural landscapes (dairy farms), designed landscapes (parks), pop culture landscapes (baseball), and landscapes of significance which have a historical theme, or are related to a specific event or activity. In this course, we will work to uncover and describe cultural landscapes in our area to better understand how they developed, our place in them, and how they are connected at the regional, national, and global scales.

Discover Your Place: Success Strategies for Nursing (3 sections)
Department of Nursing Faculty

These sections specifically for nursing students go further into research-based strategies and techniques effective in facilitating student success in the college environment. Students gain confidence and skill as they participate in activities that focus on time and stress management, study techniques, test-taking strategies, identifying important information, and how to meet academic expectations. Students develop/expand abilities in critical thinking, note taking, goal setting, paper/presentation development, self-reflection, and decision-making while also learning about healthcare services in Otsego County.