First Year Seminars

Student ImageThe First Year Seminar allows you to become a member of your new community in a dynamic environment and to experience intellectual life at the university level. Taught by professors with a passion for the subject and a passion for teaching, these courses are designed to encourage exploration of new ideas, examine a range of academic topics, challenge you to set high goals for your academic career, and promote a lifelong love of learning. First Year Seminars count as a core Liberal Studies requirement for all degree programs.  

Honor’s Credit

Many seminars can be offered for Honor’s credit with an individual contract.  Please talk to your advisor and instructor if you want to pursue this option.


First-Year Seminars: Spring 2016


ACCT 195 Intro to Fraud Examination
11923 ACCT-195 01
Students will be guided through the maze of occupational fraud and abuse, learning the nature of the many fraudulent schemes, and how they can be prevented and/or detected.  They will learn the basic concepts of investigation and theories of criminology. 


BIOL 192 – Plant Diversity
10109 BIOL 192 01
10111 BIOL 192 30 - LAB
Would you like to learn more about how plants grow, flower, and fruit so that you can grow your own plants successfully?  Have you ever wished you could identify the plants around you and know their nutritive, medicinal and other values? Have you ever wondered where the plants that are used to produce coffee, tea, beer, wine, aspirin, codeine, marijuana, and chocolate grow naturally, as well as how they are harvested and processed into the foods, drinks, and drugs that have changed human history forever?  If so, Plant Diversity is the first-year seminar for you!  Students in Plant Diversity rarely sit still: students are often outside, in the lab, or producing their own plant products.  This course can be challenging because a lot of information is covered in one semester; however, for those students with an interest in plants or the natural world, the knowledge and experience gained is worth the effort.


CHEM 193-01 - Chemistry in the Arts
12452 CHEM 193-01
Art and chemistry have been linked since our Paleolithic ancestors first used mineral pigments, such as ochre or manganese, to create images on a rock wall.  From these ancient cave drawings, to painted items in Egyptian tombs, to the dyed, woven baskets of the Cherokee, art is a window into both the culture of a people and the way in which a people interact with their physical world through chemistry.   We can ask questions such as, how do/did artists of their time create certain visual effects?  How do the properties of the artist’s materials affect their aesthetic intent? How will interactions between artistic materials and their environment affect the physical and aesthetic properties of the artwork over time?    In this seminar, using a mixture of lecture and hands-on activities we’ll study the relationship between the chemistry of a material and its use in various types of art.  We’ll also study how chemical analysis can be used to discover how an artist created an artwork and how we can use chemistry to both restore and preserve art. 


COMM 190 - A User’s Guide to the Mass Media                                                            
11226 COMM 190 01
11179 COMM 190 02
An increasing number of media streams vie for your attention every day. But the messages may not always be as simple as they seem. Learn to read between the lines and recognize the nuance and subtext of all media.  Take a look behind the curtain to see how diverse motives, agendas and practices affect the media you consume. And see how that same media responds and reacts to pressures and trends from you. Media and culture are bound together in an elaborate dance. This course will help you understand that dance.


CS 191 How Does Software Work?
10349 CS 191 01
How do computer programs create interactive websites, games, and many other types of applications? Learn through a programming experience. Students in some sections will learn to write programs in the Scratch programming environment, to create animations and games and others will learn to write programs in JavaScript to create interactive web applications.  The ability to write software is a powerful tool that can be used for good or bad. Consequently, we will also reflect on the implications of software on society. For example, what restrictions on privacy are needed for safety from malicious software? Is initiating cyber-warfare ever justifiable? Are software patents encouraging innovation or not?


ENGR 190 - Technology Systems                                        
11893 ENGR 190 01 
11921 ENGR 190-02
-HON(Maker Themed)
ENGR 190 is an introductory engineering course for non-engineering majors.  This course provides an in-depth view of the engineering and technology that we rely on every day in every aspect of our modern life. Whether it is the digital SLR camera that takes breathtaking pictures of the Great Smoky Mountains in autumn, the Hubble Telescope offering views of the deepest portions of the universe, using Twitter, Skype, or smart phones to connecting you instantaneously to your family and friends anywhere in the world, the hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) that help you find your way when  lost on a deep mountain trail, or the pacemaker that save people’s lives, these innovative engineering advancements have become an integral part of our culture. Together, we will investigate where these technologies came from, how they work, and where they might take us in the future.   The course will also incorporate four hands-on projects ranging from making images from Hubble Telescope data of the deep universe to building and testing a medieval Trebuchet.  Advanced mathematics will not be required for this course.  The challenging modern topics will be presented conceptually and only basic math (some trigonometry and simple algebra) will be needed to complete the projects.  The focus will be on conceptual understanding, proportional reasoning, estimating, and graphical interpretation.  Verbal and written communication of scientific ideas will be emphasized throughout the course.


ENGR 199 – Introduction to Engineering Practice and Principles                     
11680 ENGR 199 01
11681 ENGR 199 02
11682 ENGR 199 30 – LAB
11683 ENGR 199 70 – LAB
Introduction to the engineering disciplines, curriculum, personal and professional development, teamwork, project planning, communication skills, and conceptual design engineering. This is a required class for all students considering majors in engineering or engineering technology.


ENGL 190 – First Year Seminar in Literature
10657 ENGL 190 01 
10662 ENGL 190 05
This course will examine reading and writing about literature, with an emphasis on human experience and values.


ENGL 190 – First Year Seminar in Literature 
10657 ENGL 190 03 
In this First Year Seminar, we will read a variety of Literature about peace and nonviolence.  With so much conflict and violence around us, you might wonder where this literature comes from and why people write it.  Those are questions we'll answer as we read and discuss fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.  Students will take responsibility for developing discussions, writing essays, and participating in on-and off campus literary experiences.


ENGL 190 – First Year Seminar in Literature: My Family, Home, Belonging
10661 ENGL 190-04
This course will examine reading and writing about literature, with an emphasis on human experience and values. As an introduction to some facets of “English” as a discipline, this seminar will explore different ways that “home,” “family,” and “a sense of belonging,” are presented in short stories, poetry, essays, and film. For example, we will read Barbara Kingsolver’s 2001 collection of personal essays, Small Wonder, as well as Sir Thomas Moore’s 1516 fictional “novel,” Utopia. Short stories and poems by American and international authors, and films such as A River Runs Through It, The Joy Luck Club, and City of Joy will provide other views and perspectives in addition to an introduction to different literary genres. Further, the class will engage in experiential and service learning projects, such as doing a “Family Heritage” interview and oral presentation, learning about the history of Sylva and Cullowhee, and helping build homes with “Habitat for Humanity.” Students will do a variety of writing assignments, from literary and film interpretation to personal as well as researched essays.


 ENG 191 – First Year Seminar in Creative Writing
10664 ENG 191-01
10663 ENG 191-70
This course will introduce students to, or strengthen their acquaintance with, some writing practices common to most creative genres, including (but not limited to) journaling, brainstorming, global revision, and sentence-level revision for clarity, compression, vivid description, and effective grammar, syntax, and dictation.  After reviewing some basics of the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, the course will ask students to produce and revise creative work in the genre(s) which most appeal to them.  The course makes use of individual conferences, peer workshops, and both portfolio and examination assessment to support students in developing their understanding of creative writing and producing and revising work which they can be proud.


ENVH 190 - From Black Death to Bioterrorism
10170 ENVH 190-01
This course uses current events to examine basic public and environmental health concepts as they apply to the average U.S. citizen; critical evaluation of various public health components such as environmental disease agents, radiation, chemical exposures, biological hazards (including potential bioterrorism agents), noise, air, water, and soil pollutants, and food safety; and, an assessment of the various ways that the public can be protected.


GEOL- Geology, Landscapes, and Human Psyche
12222 GEOL 191-01
How and why human spirit and culture is linked to the physical world. This class will explore the physical world – its appearance, climate, and ecology – and how this physical landscape affects human culture. The aim of this course is to develop your sense of place from a geologic perspective, and to give you the understanding to connect human culture with the surrounding landscape. Meet geology faculty and learn about why all humans are affected by how the earth works!


MKT 195 – Facebook Generation: Marketing
12170 MKT 195 01    
12175 MKT 195 02
Do you really want to be a Facebook "friend" with Wal-Mart?  Would you actually read updates from Coca-Cola in your Twitter feed?  Few would argue that social networks have generated a tidal wave of change in the way people communicate and get information.  As a result, companies are often left bewildered, anxious and just plain frustrated as they deal with new approaches toward marketing, advertising and consumer behavior.  Oddly enough, insight into handling these changes is starting to emerge from an unexpected place -- ancient history -- and a possible link between the age-old process of "friending" in tribal societies and its budding equivalent in latest and greatest cutting edge communication networks.  This course will explore this exciting idea of linkages between human communications in past and present, bringing together ideas and activities from several camps of thought, including media theory, anthropology, communication studies and marketing.  Through this multi-colored lens, this seminar intends to shed light on why we typically avoid spam on our Facebook Wall, but at the same time are willing to embrace online relationships with some brands and companies.


MATH 192 – Fractals: Geometry of Nature
11716 MATH 192 01
Investigate basic mathematical principles behind fractals with connections to literature, art, science, and the general world.


MUS 190 - First Year Seminar                                                                                        
10938 MUS 190 01
In this class we will investigate women’s and girls’ experiences as performers, fans, critics, and music industry professionals. Readings and class activities will highlight women’s and girls’ experiences during different historical eras. Regular listening assignments will include a variety of American popular music from the 1920s through the present day. We will approach the material chronologically, moving through different genres of American popular music (eg., blues, tin pan alley, girl group, folk, punk, etc.), as well as topically, addressing specific social issues that shaped women’s and girls’ lives and how popular music has been and continues to be implicated in these issues. From reading and listening assignments, we will examine and analyze the ways in which women and girls constructed their identities through music, how they negotiated power dynamics in political, social, and cultural situations, and how music establishes and defines generational and cultural affiliations.                                                                                               


ND 190 - Personal Nutrition                                                                              
100002 ND 190 01
How do I avoid the freshman 15?  What are the healthiest foods to eat on campus?  Should I still be taking vitamins?  Explore the answers to these questions and more, design your own personal eating plan (chocolate cream pie included) and discover how the foods you eat influence your appearance, energy level, health, and longevity. 


PSC 190 – Freshmen Seminar Topic: International Relations Through Film                 
11783 PSC 190 01
This freshman seminar will explore themes of contemporary relations as depicted in film.  Each week we will watch and discuss a film, and students will reflect on the film and discussion in a short paper.  Topics to be covered include: the cold war, nuclear proliferation, civil conflict, genocide, human rights, terrorism, environmental politics, and international development.


PSC 190 – Freshmen Seminar in Political Science: The Nuclear Age   
11574 PSC 190 03
The United States shocked the world in 1945 when it dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.  Immediately, some proclaimed it the Winning Weapon, meanwhile many others predicted the end of humanity as we would surely use these in the next war.  Yet since 1945 no atomic bomb has been used in war.  This course will try to answer the question of why not and evaluate how much the atomic bomb has changed the world. 


Many seminars can be offered for Honor’s credit with an individual contract.  Please talk to your advisor and instructor if you want to pursue this option. 


These first-year seminars are limited to students who choose to enroll in the associated Learning Community.  A Learning Community is a set of linked courses that place students with similar interests together in two or three courses. Instructors collaborate to define the connections and intersections of paired courses. For more details on LC cohorts and schedules you may visit this page.



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