First-year Seminar Topics

Fall 2023

See Zagweb for days/times.

CENG 193, FYS: Equity & Infrastructure. Through our exploration of civil engineering's many sub-disciplines, we will emphasize the societal connections through a mix of real-world project examples and activities. At the heart of this work is the recognition that equitable service to society requires that we seek to understand and incorporate the perspectives of those served by our work as well as understanding the past decisions and practices that have led us to where we are today. The course will emphasize the importance of community engagement, ethical considerations, sociology, public health, and sustainability in the design and implementation of engineering infrastructure. Instructor: Young

CENG 193, FYS: Nature Based Solutions. This course explores nature-based solutions from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on the construction of knowledge across multiple disciplines. Students will examine how personal and cultural perspectives influence knowledge generation and a deeper understanding of nature based solutions. The course also emphasizes integrating the principles of Gonzaga's mission with academic, personal, and spiritual aspirations as they relate to nature based solutions. Instructor: Niezgoda

CLAS 193, FYS: Dangerous Drama. From the departments of Theatre & Dance and Classical Civilizations, this unique, interdisciplinary course blends reflective and creative practices to explore Greek tragedy and the powerful, societal and communal effects theatre can have on both performers and spectators alike. We begin in ancient Athens, with classical Greek tragedies – ritually performed in religious and political contexts – and follow their legacy to our modern day. We will pay special attention to the use of these historic plays to create community, facilitate emotional healing, and to galvanize political action. We consider if and how live theatre can continue to create meaningful change in our own world and how the arts might reclaim the sacred and the future in our complex and rapidly shifting world. Instructor: Pistone

COMM 193, FYS: Relationshipping. People need each other. Repeated studies show that relationships and feelings of connectedness are the keys to better mental health, improved cognition, and a longer, more joyful existence. So, if relationships can save us, then why is being with other people so… complicated? Drawing on a range of disciplines, this course will explore the ways relationships teach us how to love, how to grieve, how to live more emphatically, and how (and why) to establish boundaries. Most importantly, we will learn how other people not only sustain us but contribute to our growth. Since mediated relationships are part of our socialization, we will see how pop culture and celebrity inform us—teaching us relational norms of both what to do, even more likely, what not to do—when in the company of others. Instructor: Morehouse.

COMM 193, FYS: Semiotics of Advertising. This course will examine advertising as a central form of communication in American culture.  Through a multi-disciplinary approach that will develop your analytical and expressive powers, and, not least, enhance your appreciation and understanding of the process of human communication.   In addition to examining ads as rhetorical or persuasive objects, we will analyze advertisements through conceptual perspectives that include semiotics, anthropology, phenomenology, political history, aesthetics, and Gestalt psychology. Instructor: Osborne

CPEN 193, FYS: Computers, Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Society. Today’s world is filled with electronic devices and computers. Driven by the ubiquity of these two basic technologies, disruptive advances in various fields, including internet, robotics, and artificial intelligence have emerged and are causing all aspects of the physical world in which we live to undergo a major transformation. In this course students will address the question of how to pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding in such a fast-changing world and how to predict and adapt to the uncertain societal impact of these transformations. Through the interwoven histories of science, technology, and art and their critical examination, we will try to shed light on how people see and experience the world of technology and its purpose in building a better future.  The course will employ active learning through student presentations, student-led discussion, and sustained dialogue with other students, faculty and members of the academic and business communities. Students will be expected to be active participants, reading and listening carefully, and contributing to class discussion by bringing their unique perspective. Instructor: Talarico

EDTE 193, 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 actBased 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-useInstructor: Cox

EDTE 193, FYS: Possibilities & Predicament. Media influences perception. For example, Emmy-award winning TV show "Abbott Elementary", a light-hearted "mockumentary" chronicles the day-to-day experiences of teachers in an urban elementary school while offering critical commentary on numerous issues facing public education. From teacher shortages to funding inequities, from gifted programs to the role of the arts in schools, from relationships with students to school discipline, "Abbott Elementary" invites viewers to grapple with their own experiences with and perceptions of public schools, all while centering the humanity of students, teachers, and communities. This seminar draws on theories and research from various disciplines to explore the critical education issues represented in media like "Abbott Elementary". Students will engage with theoretical and empirical perspectives on issues and then analyze how this issue is represented in selected episodes, blending scholarly and "pop culture" perspectives. Instructor: Girtz

EENG 193, FYS: Computers, Robots, Artificial Intelligence & Society. Please description above for CPEN 193. Instructor: Talarico

ENGL 193, FYS: Freaks, Geeks, and Outsiders. We have all met--or perhaps even identified with--people who are seen as different, strange, or on the margins. Drawing from a range of disciplines, this course will provide us with the opportunity to explore and analyze what makes someone “freakish” or aberrant; what it means to be a “geek” (a word whose connotations have shifted dramatically over the past thirty years); and what characteristics historically have positioned people as “outsiders” rather than “insiders." Our exploration will be guided by a central question: what are the dividing lines between "normality" and "abnormality"? Fulfills a Social Justice designation* Instructor: Ciasullo.

ENGL 193, FYS: 1960’s in 21 Songs. Before there was Black Lives Matter, there were the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. Before Megan Rapinoe, there was Stonewall and Muhammed Ali. Before the War on Terror, there was Vietnam. And before the fracturing of audiences with Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube, 73,000,000 Americans watched four lads from Liverpool start a revolution on their televisions. The 1960s was a decade of mass movements and mass media, one when a “new generation” imagined better worlds… and, by the end, faced deepening nightmares. This class will examine the decade at the intersection of media and society, using the popular music of the day – artists such as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin -- to frame interdisciplinary discussions on civil rights, women’s and gay liberation, art, religion, war, and what it means to be American. Students will be expected to be active participants, reading and listening carefully, and contributing to class discussion. A number of controversial and difficult topics will be featured, and students are cautioned that the language and topics may be challenging. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fulfills a Social Justice (SJ) designation* Instructor: Cooney.

ENGL 193, FYS: Unsettling the American West. What is ‘the West’? How have myths, stories, histories, events, and technologies produced this place, real and fictional, called 'the West?' In this FYS, we’ll begin with ideas of ‘space’ and ‘place’ in order to focus on the American ‘West’ not only as a phenomenon of geology, ecology, and topography, but also as a place produced by histories, land uses, cultural encounters, art, and more. We’ll approach the West from diverse disciplinary perspectives, also attending to our own attachments to place. Coursework will include student-led presentations and discussions, weekly and sustained writing in dialogue with readings and classwork, and a research-project. Texts will include selected literary readings, essays from diverse fields, as well as a variety of visual media. Throughout, a central focus will be reflection on ourselves as learners beginning college-level studies. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Easterling.

ENGL 193, FYS: What is a University? The primary purpose of this First-Year Seminar is to explore as much as we can about a university. Drawing from a wide range of perspectives will provide us with insight as to how an institution of higher education operates. We will delve into the history of universities, the politics involved in academia, and the practicalities of keeping a university running. We will consider various types of universities while also focusing on Gonzaga and how it is similar to and different from other universities. Course activities will require students to research these issues and others and to share the knowledge that they gain from that research in our seminar meetings. The goal of this sharing is to “cultivate [an] understanding” of what it means to be part of a university community at this point of their education and to take that understanding with them when they leave Gonzaga. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fulfills a Writing-Enriched (WE) designation*. Instructor: Pajer.

HONS 193, FYS: Honors First Year Seminar CEL - Spokane as Text.  Spokane as Text uses Spokane as a case study for contemporary urban life in America. Students read widely in Philosophy, Sociology, and History, with some Political Science, Economics, and Civil Engineering. Topics covered in the course range from the impact of the placement of I-90, the balance between economic progress and displacement seen in Kendall Yards and the West Central neighborhood, the historical causes of the current housing crisis, and the history of indigeneity in the Columbia Plateau. Course designed for Honors Students. Fulfills a Social Justice (SJ) designation* Instructor: Tredennick

INMD 193, FYS: Resonate Fearlessly.  This First-Year Seminar is an introduction to public speaking, including techniques to lessen speaker anxiety and the use of effective visual aids to enhance speaker presentations. With an emphasis on storytelling and persuasion, students will present two Ted Talk-related assignments in addition to other speeches and written assignments. This course reinforces skills in critical thinking and thoughtful verbal and written expression in an activity-filled interactive environment. Instructor: McMahon

MENG 193, FYS: Matter and Consciousness.  This course explores the interface between the formed and the unformedEnergy contained in all physical matter, including animated (living) beings, is categorized according to scientific definitions and compared with scholarly definitions of consciousness and existenceFundamental concepts and definitions of solid materials from which our existential infrastructure is created are discussedManifestation and manufacturing are compared. Instructor: Ferro

MENG 193, FYS: Failure. In this seminar, we will explore the role failure has in our lives. From large scale disasters, design failures, and our own personal narratives; failure is a key motivational tool that we can learn from. We will read a variety of texts, watch films, and listen to podcasts as we engage with our relationships between each other, our aspirations, the role of science and engineering in society, and how we learn to fail successfully. Instructor: Fitzgerald

MENG 193, FYS: Tools: from Steam Engines to AI.  This course explores the development of technology and innovation from the industrial revolution to the present day, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of modern engineering. Throughout the course, we will explore the evolutionary path of technological advancements and the tools that have facilitated this development. By examining key milestones, from the steam engine and the rise of precision manufacturing, through to the development of AI, we will seek a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness between engineering, science, and society. Instructor: Baumgardner

MUSC 193, FYS: Social Justice and Music. With music and social movements as our primary source, this First-Year Seminar focuses on how rap and hip-hop have been a means to communicate complex cultural, social, and political issues of Western culture from the 1970s to the present. We will journey through the vast landscape of Black musical traditions that will come to influence the cultural and musical phenomena known as hip-hop. The main questions we will explore include: 1. How has race been constructed in Western music history, in music criticism (of African diasporic music and musicians) 2. How has the commercialization of rap and hip-hop aided in the personification of antebellum stereotypes and imperialistic/capitalistic agendas? 3. How has hip-hop impacted social movements in the Americas and abroad? At the completion of this course, students will be able to (1) articulate how their own personal and cultural views affect their empirical and theoretical knowledge and understanding, (2) appreciate various music genres and how they intersect with current and popular music, with an emphasis on Black music traditions, (3) think about how music has impacted social movements and they can be agents of change with music, (4) understand social factors related to resilience and how to foster resilience, (5) reflect on their role in creating a better world. Finally, (6) integrate the principles of Gonzaga’s mission with their academic, personal, and spiritual aspirations. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fulfills a Social Justice designation*Instructor: Tarver

PHIL 193, FYS: Tolkien & 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 creationEngages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Instructor: Bradley

PHIL 193, FYS: Conversion & Transformation. Conversion is a process in which a person's core beliefs are significantly altered or replaced. This course will examine multiple forms of conversion—philosophical, existential, religious, antireligious, and aesthetic—and will seek to understand the nature of the conversion process. Using intellectual tools from a variety of disciplines, we will explore the roles that evidence and counter-evidence play in alteration of belief, and will consider extra-evidential factors such as emotion, group identity, and self-perception. Instructor: Calhoun.

PHYS 193, FYS: Pseudoscience & Conspiracies. This course is a deep dive into the basis of science and scientific knowledge. What is science and why should we accept it as a means of building knowledge? We will explore the idea of pseudoscience: ideas and beliefs that are packaged under a veil of science despite a lack of supporting scientific evidence. We will also explore the links between pseudoscience and conspiracy theories, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two. The understanding of how and why smart people may believe in different ideas, or even in unfounded ideas is of particular importance in our current age of information and dis-information. Instructor: Geske.

RELI 193, 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 about "ethnic groups," colonization, and the international system of states? We examine current debates within the United Nations about indigenous peoples and human rights. We look at the 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 actively oppose their oppression and create sustainable futures. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation* Instructor: Baraza


RELI 193, FYS: Sacred Waters. Taking water as its organizing subject, this course introduces students to interdisciplinary and imaginative ways to approach a seemingly basic topic. As a FYS rooted in Religious Studies, it pays special attention to the ways that stories, myths, rituals, art, and relations to other-than-human beings accompany and pervade human use and understanding of water, alongside and intertwined with scientific, biological, political, and economic aspects of water. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation*. Instructor: Callahan


RELI 193, FYS: Vietnam-Ethics of War Addresses the first-year core question, “How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding” through a multiple disciplinary analysis of the Vietnam War. In recent American history, few events have evoked as much controversy and debate as the Vietnam War. Positions on the war ranged from total support to total opposition with often little room in between these views. For this reason, the Vietnam War calls forth a variety of viewpoints regarding the political, social, and moral consequences of the war. Many of these viewpoints reflect concerns related to justice such as the morality of war, the just war theory, colonialism, cultural narratives, the cold war, protest movements, and the draft. Seen through the lens of ethics, history, popular culture, music, and politics, we will look at the war from the perspective of policy makers, soldiers, and the Vietnamese people. We will see how each of these groups dealt with the ethics of the war in relation to their own situation and role in the war. We will try to gain some understanding of the impact of the war on America, on Vietnam, and on the people whose lives became intertwined with the war. Since war is not an isolated phenomenon, this understanding will equip students to develop an analysis of war in a more contemporary context. Fulfills a Social Justice (SJ) designation*Instructor: Large


RELI 193, FYS: The Problem of God. The Problem of God explores the various ways in which human beings have asked and attempted to answer questions about the origin of existence, about the meaning and purpose of life, about the experience of suffering and death by appealing to God. Students will examine different methods for answering these questions through texts in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, as well as through the arts, spirituality, and ritual practice. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Instructor: Mudd


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 into discussion about different kinds of education, and apply humanities insights to unresolved conflicts. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fulfills a Global Studies (GS)designation*. Instructor: Sheveland


RELI 193, FYS: Generative Balance: Whole Person Growth through Deep Learning. Being a human being allows growth mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. Each potentially involves an intentional cultivation of one’s mind. In this FYS, students explore what it means to be a human, how humans generate thoughts, and the practices and neurology of empathy needed for generative human connection. We will take a hands-on journey examining how the fields of psychology, theology, literature, performance embodiment, endurance sport, neurology, and neuroscience assist learning about the human condition, provoke self-reflection and community engagement, expose bias and ethical dysfunction and disengagement, and how we might personally embrace Gonzaga’s Baccalaureate goals, deepening the quality of life, expanding intellect, and growing spiritually. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructors: Starbuck and Measor. 


RELI 193, FYS: Religion and Medicine. Are religions and medical science compatible? How do they relate, support, and challenge each other over the history? What are the tensions that can be quite destructive between them at times? What opportunities can they bring to humanity if we can find a good way to utilize both properly? This course will examine questions such as these. The course aims at helping students to go beyond their preconceptions and develop a critical analysis to (1) concretely identify issues that need to be resolved, (2) avoid falling into the trap of exclusivity or extreme, (3) recognize elements that help to enrich rather than impoverish our ability, and (4) view everything through a humanistic and wholistic lens. Instructor:  Tran


THEA 193, FYS: Theatre & Neurodivergence.  An ensemble-based interdisciplinary service-learning course in which students are trained in the Hunter Heartbeat Method, a series of theatrical games originally designed by Kelly Hunter (formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company) to remediate common difficulties for children on the autism spectrum. This work has since been developed as essential training and foundational skill-building for all performers, and provides an embodied, physical “vocabulary” that is inclusive of members of neurodiverse communities. While students will be engaged in performance, this is not specifically an acting course, as students will engage with the course material through the lens of their own primary field of study. No prior experience with Shakespeare or theatre is required." Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Edwards


THEA 193, FYS: Dangerous Drama. From the departments of Theatre & Dance and Classical Civilizations, this unique, interdisciplinary course blends reflective and creative practices to explore Greek tragedy and the powerful, societal and communal effects theatre can have on both performers and spectators alike. We begin in ancient Athens, with classical Greek tragedies – ritually performed in religious and political contexts – and follow their legacy to our modern day. We will pay special attention to the use of these historic plays to create community, facilitate emotional healing, and to galvanize political action. We consider if and how live theatre can continue to create meaningful change in our own world and how the arts might reclaim the sacred and the future in our complex and rapidly shifting world. Instructor: Pepiton


WGST 193, FYS: Gender & Sexuality in Games This class will explore the impact of gender and sexuality within the history, theory, and design of both tabletop and video games. We’ll study how these issues arise within representation in games, gaming communities, and the wider industry. Readings will include both academic texts and a variety of different games. In the process, students will not only develop a deeper understanding of the interactive media they frequently consume but also apply this understanding through design. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Dame-Griff, Avery

* 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 students with 60 or more credits, including AA/AS-T degree holders, are not required to fulfill the designation requirements.