First-year Seminar Topics

Fall 2024

See Zagweb for days/times.

CENG 193, FYS: Nature Based Solutions. As stated by the European Commission, nature-based solutions are: “solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes, and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic intervention. Nature-based solutions must therefore benefit biodiversity and support the delivery of a range of ecosystem services.” Essentially, Nature Based Solutions are actions that work with and mimic nature to address societal challenges, while providing economic, social, and environmental benefits. Learning about nature-based solutions empowers students to become environmentally conscious individuals, equips them with problem-solving skills, and prepares them for a sustainable future. The goals of this seminar are to foster a sense of responsibility, connection with nature, and the ability to contribute to positive environmental change. 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: Shimabuku

CENG 193, FYS: Equity & Infrastructure.
Through the exploration of civil engineering's many sub-disciplines, the course emphasizes the societal connections through 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. Fulfills a Social Justice (SJ) designation*. Instructor: Young

CLAS 193, FYS: Role-Playing Greek Myth.
In this course, we’ll be doing two exciting things: learning about Greek myth and learning about game design. We’ll start by learning about Greek mythology in a playful and immersive way, engaging with ancient Greek authors and seeing the original version of stories that show up now in places like Percy Jackson and Hades. We’ll do this by developing and creating a Greek mythology role playing game (RPG) on the general model of Dungeons and Dragons, using a prototype a game that Dr. Pistone is developing. Over the course of the semester, we’ll also talk to game designers, look at how games are designed, and what’s important in board and video game design, to equip us to build and improve on our RPG. By the end of the semester, you will know more about Greek myth, more about game design, and be a contributor to an exciting new game. Instructor: Pistone

COMM 193, FYS: Communication, Culture & Liberation.
This course will examine the interplay of culture, media and politics as communicative forces that shape American society. 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. A central theme is the reciprocity among politics, propaganda, and advertising, and how cultural values are inculcated, upheld, and/or contested. We will analyze communication phenomena through using concepts from semiotics, anthropology, phenomenology, communication and visual theory. 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 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. Instructor: Cox

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

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: 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.

HEAL 193/ RELI 193, FYS: Religion and Medicine.
See RELI 193 description below. Instructor: Tran

HONS 193, FYS: Honors First Year Seminar CEL - Spokane as Text. S
pokane 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* Instructors: Morehouse and Roden

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

MDLA 193, FYS: Exploring Spain.
Together, you and the instructor will examine geography, history, art, literature, music, architecture, gastronomy, politics, modern society, and immigration and emigration in order to develop a deeper understanding of Spain’s culture. Fulfills a Global Studies (GS) designation*. Instructor: Birginal

MDLA 193, FYS: Approaches to the Amazon Rainforest.
The course will examine the trajectory of the Amazon Rainforest from space (prior to the Encounter with European explorers) to place (from the Conquest until present day). Through an examination of indigenous cultural and spiritual beliefs, conquest and organization of the forest, scientific exploration, economic development, extractivist practices, and recent environmental movements, we will study the implications of the various ways the Amazon has been imagined and constructed within multiple disciplines, and how these have impacted the peoples, flora, and fauna that inhabit the region. Instructor: Stephanis

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

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: Autonomous – From the Horseless Carriage to Driverless Vehicles.
This course will explore the history and development of the global automotive industry. Instructor: Weston

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: 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.

PHIL 193, FYS: CEL Strangers.
This course will focus on the experiences we have when we encounter strangers: unfamiliar people, concepts, methods, experiences, and environments. We will consider how we confront and respond to strangers, the ways in which diverse disciplines approach that which is strange and attempt to make it familiar, and how our encounters with strangers affect our perceptions of ourselves. The course is also designed as a Service Learning course, so that students are encountering, learning from, and serving persons who are members of marginalized communities in the Spokane area. Instructor: Weidel

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: Mindfulness and Spiritual Growth.
Focus is on students’ spiritual growth and the interdisciplinary field of contemplative studies. This course is designed to engage students with both the theoretical foundations and practical applications of contemplation and mindfulness in various contexts. Instructor: Chien

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: Mudd

RELI 193, FYS: Religion and Stuff.
Is a religion primarily a set of beliefs and symbols? Or does religion also require things? How are beliefs developed and encoded in conversation with the things around us? And what impact do religions have on their material environments? This course seeks to explore religion and/as physical stuff, not only belief. Instructor: Porter

RELI 193, FYS: Magic. T
his course will explore the perennial human quest to transcend and move beyond our own human limitations via tapping and controlling supernatural and physical forces and resources. Instructor: Pschaida

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.
This FYS explores the “integrated internal self,” what it means to be authentically human, and best practices needed for generative human connection in professional and nonprofessional settings, particularly for students anticipating professional health careers. Thematically, this course rigorously pursues the question posed by the poet in Psalm 8, “When I look to your heavens, the work of your fingers…what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them.” This course utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to generating knowledge around these key (and other student-generated) questions: What is a human being? How is a human being part of nature? How might humans relate to the Other, perhaps even the Divine? How might we understand the ancient poetry of the soul in post-modernity and how can this poetry help us connect with others as completely human even in professional settings? Why do humans tend to objectify others psychologically? Why is non-binary gender identity potentially threatening to some and salvific to others? Why do humans struggle with racism? Why do humans so often fear and avoid failure? Why do humans dehumanize? Through flipped classroom discussion, journalling, project-based learning, and key readings, this course aims to expose the student to the gift of the university and its various schools, scholarly approaches, and libraries when facing existential questions of the human condition. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fulfills a Social Justice (SJ) designation*. Instructor: Starbuck

RELI 193, FYS: Religion and Medical Science.
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 holistic 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

WGST 193, FYS: Love.
In All About Love, bell hooks states, “to begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility.” This first-year seminar examines both the concept and practice of love from a feminist perspective. We will also draw on historical, sociological, religious, and philosophical research to shed critical light on a variety of questions, including: What is love? Why does society continually associate love with happiness? How does our understanding of love shape gender and other social identities such as race, class, sexuality, and ability? Is love performative? How does love manifest in structures of power-making? What is decolonial love? How is social justice and politics of love tied together? How do we use love as a tool for social justice? What is moral, what is normal, and who gets to decide? What is the truth about love? Through the discussion of readings in the classroom, analyzing films, writing response papers and a research essay, we will apply the principles of Gonzaga’s mission with their academic, personal, and spiritual interests. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Rodriguez-Coss.

WGST 193, FYS: Extraordinary Bodies. Drawing from several interdisciplinary fields, such as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, students in this course will examine the ways that the human body has been classified as either “normal” or “deviant” in both historical and contemporary contexts. Students will learn how human dignity has been denied to people whose bodies are marked by science/medicine as “extraordinary” or “deviant” with respect to disability, fatness, sex category, and race, among other embodiments. Through this course of study, students will address the first-year core question “How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?” Students will develop an understanding of how various academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences study the human body and make sense of bodily difference. Students will also explore both the social consequences and liberatory possibilities of a life lived in a body marked as “extraordinary.” Finally, students will choose a local problem that affects a marginalized group and complete an action-learning project to address that problem. Through the readings, written assignments, and class project, students will have the opportunity to integrate the principles of Gonzaga’s mission with their academic, personal, and spiritual interests. Engages with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Instructor: Diaz

* 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.