First-year Seminar Topics

Spring 2020

See Zagweb for days/times.

BIOL 193, FYS: Into the Wild. This first-year seminar uses several different disciplinary perspectives to look at the interface between humans and nature. We will ask questions like, “What does it mean to be wild?” “Where and how do humans and wildness come into contact?” “What are the risks and benefits of human-nature interactions, for both human and non-human beings?” We will answer those questions from the perspectives of biology, history, philosophy, and literature. Students will have the opportunity to explore their own interests in the human-nature interface through a semester-long small-group research project. Professor Boose.

CRES 193, FYS: Race and Sports. This course examines sports through the lens of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Focusing both on individual sports (American football, baseball, basketball, track/field, figure skating, golf, and others) we will discuss how racial stereotypes exist and are reproduced in sports coverage, advertising, and general discourse surrounding players, positions, and other aspects of the game. Additionally, we will consider the history of sport in the U.S., focusing on integration (especially in baseball) and the racialization of particular sports (i.e. football and hockey). Furthermore, this course also looks at sports as a “field” in which U.S. racial categories and racial discrimination are reproduced in terms of pay, physical impact on players, and a broad perpetuation of racial inequity. Course texts will include not only scholarly work on sports, but also documentaries, feature films, and televised games. Professor Dame-Griff.

ENGL 193, FYS: Literature and the Search for Meaning. This FYS is designed to introduce students to learning and knowing as deliberate, creative processes by engaging the question of what makes for a meaningful life. The course will emphasize writing and reading as tools for participation in the creation of meaning. The course will focus on bulding a personal map of meaning in conjuction with a study of how literary works approach meaning, along with consideration of the approach to meaning by various works from philosophy, psychology, and religious studies. Fulfills a Writing-Enriched (WE) designation.* Professor Butterworth

ENGL 193, FYS: The Time of Your Life. Time. Is it a measurement? A state of mind? Fluid? Who knows best—physicists? Computer Scientists, Poets? Philosophers? Monks? Shamans? Children? The questions about time are as infinite as time (purportedly) is itself. Still and yet, one central truth is undeniable: time matters. A lot. Students in this class will explore the concept of time from multiple perspectives, disciplines, and cultures. Students will manipulate their understanding of time and the value placed personally on how it is spent through student-led experiments and the experiments of others. Students will read, discuss, ask, and do. By semester’s end, students will consider the value of time as it relates to their future. This class is team-taught with ENGL 193.02 and ITEC 193.01. Fulfills both a Social Justice (SJ) and a Writing-Enriched (WE) designation.* Professors Bryant and Halliday.

ENGL 193, FYS: Technology meets Humanity. We’re racing down the information superhighway in driverless cars, posting selfies at every mile marker, and sharing our location in Snapchat stories and on Instagram feeds. We use (or are used by) facial and voice recognition software, wearable trackers, Bluetooth technology. And we know that someone, somewhere, may be tracking our every move. Where (if anywhere) does this highway end? In what ways do our technologies limit us? In what ways do they make us smarter, more creative, vulnerable, less satisfied? In this class, we’ll explore our relationships to our own devices and examine what our technologies tell us about what it means to be human. Professor Grey.

ENGL 193, FYS: Creativity. This course will engage in questions about creativity, innovation, and what it means to be a creative person. We will look at links between creativity, conformity, mental illness, business, and art.

Students will design a creative classroom, engage in creative projects, and come up with their own creativity theories. Professor Ciesla

ENGL 193, FYS: Genius. How do we define genius and to what or whom do we afford this category? Is genius an inherent quality or is it learned? Today we use the term genius to refer to high intelligence and exceptional creative ability; however, this definition of genius is a relatively new one. In this course, we will discuss the historical evolution of genius from its roots in Greek and Roman antiquity to our understanding of it today. To this end, we will explore the function of genius in different cultural and historical contexts as well as different disciplinary contexts. Professor Naraghi.

ENVS 193: FYS: Digital Ecology. This course examines complex interactions and relations between human and "digital" environment. It raises wider questions about the nature of environment (or ecology) and the transformation of environment into a digital form. We will learn how the complex interaction between human and the digital environment produce both conditions for new human experience, commodification of environment, and possibilities for new environmental practices (policies, politics, and activisms). We will elaborate how digital worlds shape (or are shaped by) our humanity. Studying this topic will help us better understand the environment from an alternative point of view. In this course, we will engage with a variety of course materials including books, journals, movies, and photographs. Professor Amri.

HIST 193, FYS: Pompeii - Fact and Fiction. Can we truly reconstruct the past? How do we differentiate between historical fact and fiction, as we explore and interpret events of the past? This course will pursue answers to these questions through examining one of the most fascinating (and deadly) episodes in ancient history: the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE and the subsequent destruction of Pompeii and its neighboring cities. Using archaeological, anthropological, art historical and textual/historical evidence (e.g., everyday objects, ancient graffiti, skeletal remains, world-class art and monuments), this seminar will investigate what we both do and do not know about the Pompeii’s origins, its vibrant culture, its downfall, and its rediscovery nearly 250 years ago. Furthermore, we shall employ that knowledge to understand the ways in which Pompeii and its people – women and men, citizens, slaves and foreigners – have been received and reinterpreted within modern historical fiction and current public imagination, through the critical analysis of books, films and other media. Professor Goldman

ITEC 193, FYS: The Time of Your Life. Time. Is it a measurement? A state of mind? Fluid? Who knows best—physicists? Computer Scientists, Poets? Philosophers? Monks? Shamans? Children? The questions about time are as infinite as time (purportedly) is itself. Still and yet, one central truth is undeniable: time matters. A lot. Students in this class will explore the concept of time from multiple perspectives, disciplines, and cultures. Students will manipulate their understanding of time and the value placed personally on how it is spent through student-led experiments and the experiments of others. Students will read, discuss, ask, and do. By semester’s end, students will consider the value of time as it relates to their future. This class is team-taught with ENGL 193.02 and ITEC 193.01 Fulfills both a Social Justice (SJ) and a Writing-Enriched (WE) designation.* Professors Bryant and Halliday.

INST 193, FYS: Identity, Reflection, and Construction of Knowledge. This course introduces students to the concept of “social constructionism” as a constantly changing conflation of knowledges about ourselves and the world around us, collectively organized, individually deployed and relative to the time and place in which it exists. As new members of a learning community at Gonzaga, this First Year Seminar (FYS) will help students understand the fluid nature of knowledge, and their nascent roles as members of a learning community. Students will practice journaling and reflection as one way to learn about themselves and society, while exploring the diversity of cultural knowledges from around the globe. We will examine the concept of cultural identity as the intersection of identity and knowledge in diverse societies, and challenge students to think about their own emergent cultural identities in relation to the culture of higher education. Fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation.* Professor Kinsella.

MDLA 193, FYS: Exploring Spain. Spend a virtual semester in Spain, exploring daily life and discovering just what it is that sets Spain apart. You will look at the geography, history, art, literature, music, and food of Spain in order to develop a deeper understanding of Spain’s culture. Fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation.* Professor Birginal.

MDLA 193, FYS: Japanese Culture. Course will focus on special aspects of Japanese culture including etiquette, customs, traditions, social issues, and human relations at work and in school. Fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation.* Professor Katsushima.

PHIL 193, FYS: Tolkien and the Philosophy of Language. This course will look at the way language reveals truth, with a particular focus on the creation of stories through the use of metaphor and myth in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It is an interdisciplinary course that weaves together the philosophy of language, literary theory, and Catholic sacramental theology to examine the sacredness of nature and the way that our role as creators allows us to participate in the ongoing act of divine creation. Professor Bradley

PHIL 193: FYS: Loneliness and Community. It’s hard to imagine any person existing without at least some experience of feeling or being lonely. For many of us, loneliness is situational: it’s what we feel when we first immerse ourselves into a new community or when a relationship ends. For some, loneliness is a feeling they wrestle with more consistently. In this class, we will look at what it is to be and feel lonely. We won’t stop there, though. We’ll study how community and connection to other people (might) help alleviate loneliness. We’ll ask if the experience of loneliness today is unique to our time, or if there is something common to all human experiences of loneliness. We’ll ask how different scholars from diverse fields suggest we “deal” with the problem of loneliness and discover whether there are skills and practices we can adopt to lessen our own and others’ lonely feelings. Professor Howard

POLS 193, FYS: Find Your Political Opinion. Every student will decide her or his own political viewpoint about a handful of pressing political issues. Students will pick some of the issues. The point is to learn how to figure out and support your views as well as talk respectfully with each other about disagreements. Professor Waterman.

RELI 193, FYS: Jesuit Education: A Fire Kindling Other Fires. This first-year seminar addresses the first-year core question, “How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?” Through a multidisciplinary approach to Jesuit education by walking the cat back to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises, and the Jesuit plan of learning (Ratio Studiorum), students will apply insights to modern educational and societal situations by placing texts and interpretations in dialogue with contemporary issues of faith, community, spirituality, learning, and social justice. Professor Kuder.

RELI 193, FYS: American Monsters. American Monsters examines what we are afraid of and why. By taking monsters as our object of study, we will interrogate questions about fear, outsiders, cultural/social boundaries, ideas and notions of the supernatural. Monsters reveal the limits of our tolerance, our reservations about others, and our fears about ourselves. Professor Clark.

RELI 193, FYS: The Depths: Psalms and the Human Condition. Being a human being means at least, among many other things, to struggle with relationships; that is to struggle with one’s self as well as to struggle with others and/or the “Other.” The psalms of the Hebrew Bible embrace this most human experience with startling honesty, urgency, humility, and empathy. This multi-disciplinary course allows students to creatively explore and then enter into the worlds of the psalmists while also giving voice to a student’s own developing self and depth in human relationships. Professor Starbuck.

RELI 193, FYS: Citizens or Strangers: Early Christianity in the Roman World. The first Christians were sometimes martyrs, sometimes prophets, and sometimes the greatest supporters of the society of which they were a part. Using the origins of Christianity as a case study, this class looks at the nature of religion, its relation to society as a whole, and the conditions of the first Christians. Professor Hauck.

RELI 103, FYS: Indigenous Peoples and Global Issues. This course explores contemporary issues of indigenous peoples throughout the world. We begin by examining the concept of a "Fourth World." Who are indigenous peoples and how have they been categorized in relation to "ethnic groups," colonization, and the international system of states? We examine current debates within the United Nations about indigenous peoples and human rights. We take a look at law and economics of colonialism and emerging issues of globalization. Through films, literature and social science readings, this course looks at those issues, and focuses on how indigenous peoples are actively working to oppose their oppression and create sustainable futures. Fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation* Professor Baraza

RELI 193, FYS: Violence and the Humanities. What insights and tools do the humanities disciplines offer students who wish to grapple with the problem of violence today? Students In this course explore various academic perspectives from the humanities, enter in to discussion about different kinds of education, and apply humanities insights to unresolved conflicts. Carries a Global Studies designation.* Professor Sheveland.

EDTE 193/201, FYS: Learning Theories/Epistemologies. This course is designed to introduce the undergraduate student to the epistemology of various disciplines and to make them aware of their own personal epistemology. In addition, the contributions of behaviorism, humanistic psychology, and cognitive psychology will be examined in order to give a basis for critically analyzing how and why human growth and development occur in the teaching and learning act. Based on the dynamics of respect of individual differences within the learning community, prior learning and authentic scholarly exploration of historical and current literature, students will be able to articulate, develop and seek alternatives to their theories-in-use. Professor Cox.

* To fulfill university core requirements, students must complete 2 Writing-Enriched (WE) designated courses (in addition to Writing), 1 Global Studies (GS) designated course (in addition to World/Comparative Religion), and 1 Social Justice (SJ) designated course. Designations double-count. That is, students completing an FYS with a designation, get credit for the FYS and fulfill the designation it carries. Transfer students with 45 or more credits have a reduced designation requirement (1 WE, and 2 total of either 1 WE, 1 GS, and/or 1 SJ), and transfer students with 60 or more credits, including AA/AS-T degree holders, are not required to fulfill the designation requirements.