First-Year Seminars

First-Year seminars are designed to introduce you to a field of study by way of a special topic, issue, or problem of interest to you. You will have the challenge of exploring the course material in depth with a faculty member and a small group of peers. These topics are accessible to all students either with no prerequisites or with prerequisites first-years should have completed, such as the writing requirement. Limited to 15 students, these seminars will be reading and discussion-based with an emphasis on papers, projects, studio work, or hands-on field experience rather than exams. All of the first-year seminars are regular courses, worth either 3 or 4 credits, and most fulfill an FDR requirement. In some cases, these seminars may serve as a prerequisite or satisfy a requirement in a major.

More than three-quarters of first-year students at Washington and Lee fulfill their FDR FW requirement in WRIT 100, Writing Seminar for First Years. 24-26 sections taught by professors of Classics, English, Journalism, History, Religion, and Philosophy are offered annually in fall and winter. These Writing Seminars for First-Years emphasize the development of argumentative writing skills in topical courses  on a variety of subjects, from "Faith and Doubt" to "I See Dead People." See the course offerings for more information.

Please take this opportunity to review these exciting course offerings. For full descriptions of the seminars follow the links.

Fall 2019

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Lind, Stephen J.

Topics vary by subject and term.

Fall 2019, BUS 180-01: FS: Business Presentation Fundamentals (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. An introductory seminar offering fundamental perspectives, structures, strategies, and skills needed to communicate effectively within a business context. Class readings and discussions cover a variety of professional communication scenarios. Students focus on developing core competencies in live business presentations and transferrable insights and skills. Subjects include, for example, audience analysis, strategic organization, delivery, and external aids like slide decks. Using a variety of written, video, and studio methods, students engage in significant peer feedback and receive individualized feedback on their live presentations from the faculty. Lind.

Brain and Behavior

CBSC 111 - Lorig, Tyler S.

An introduction to behavioral neuroscience, including the physiological bases of sensation, learning and memory, motivation, cognition, and abnormal behavior.

 

Ancient Greek Religion

CLAS 223 - Laughy, Michael H., Jr.

In this course, we examine the strange and wonderful world of ancient Greek religion, beginning with stories of the gods that all Greeks knew: Homer and Hesiod. We then study religion on the ground, examining how religion functioned at a number of sanctuaries and shrines in Greece. Topics covered in this course include ancient conceptions of the cosmos; the nature of Greek deities and heroes; the distinction between myth and religion; the art and architecture of sanctuaries; ritual performances and festivals; ritual sacrifice; sacred games; oracles; the underworld; sacred mysteries; women and religion; and the socio-political role of Greek ritual practice.

FS: First-Year Seminar

DCI 180 - Abdoney, Mary / Teaff, Elizabeth A.

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2019, DCI 180-01: FS: Black Mirrors and Digital Culture (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. How do various web tools and platforms dictate how we interact with each other? Why do we use some platforms for personal reasons, others for coursework, and some for professional purposes? Is there one correct way to use the web? In this seminar, we critically examine social media platforms, information repositories, apps, and other tools to create personal understandings of how a tool or company's motive influences our personal use of information and how we interact with our community. Themes include online identity, privacy, democracy, and the academic web. We explore these topics through the lenses of inclusiveness, information bias, "Big Data", and social networks. The course culminates in a multimedia narrative, giving students hands-on experience with various web publishing and content management technologies. (HU) Abdoney, Teaff.

Foundations of Education

EDUC 200 - Moffa, Eric D.

An introduction to the issues relating to American public education in the 21st century. Students are introduced to information about teaching strategies and school policy upon which future courses can build. Emphasis is given to school efforts to create environments which promote equity and excellence within a multicultural system. Required for teacher licensure in Virginia. Fall Term 2019 : EDUC 200-02 is a first-year seminar and open only to first-year students.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. The study of our physical environment and the processes shaping it. The materials and structure of the Earth's crust, the origin of the landforms, the concept of geologic time, and the nature of the Earth's interior are considered, with special emphasis on field study in the region near Lexington. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 196 - Weissman, Jeremy L.

A consideration of selected issues in philosophy. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2019, PHIL 196-01: First-Year Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory: Ethics and Emerging Technologies (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. By some accounts, technology is the defining aspect of modern society that shapes how we experience the world. At the same time, technology is accelerating at a pace that challenges our ability to take stock of the ethical issues at hand. In this seminar, we take a critical look at a number of cutting-edge technologies that are still largely on the horizon and attempt to decipher the ethical issues they present and how such problems might be mitigated. Some emerging technologies we critically analyze include artificial intelligence, human enhancement, virtual reality, surveillance technologies, synthetic biology, self-driving cars, and killer robots. (HU) Weissman.

FS: First-Year Seminar

POL 180 - Rush, Mark E.

First-year seminar.

Fall 2019, POL 180-01: FY Seminar: The Future of Law: The Impact of Science and Technology (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing only. An introduction to traditional legal conceptions of rights and justice, examining how advances in science and technology force us to reconsider their scope or rearticulate their meaning. Topics include individual and group rights, privacy, property, speech and autonomy, conscientious objection, and how advances in science and technology enhance and constrain the exercise of these rights. The seminar requirements include attendance at public lectures by several speakers in the Mudd Center's 2019-20 Series on The Ethics of Technology. [Under consideration to count towards the Law, Justice, and Society minor, though not yet approved]. (SS2) Rush.

Ancient Greek Religion

REL 223 - Laughy, Michael H., Jr.

In this course, we examine the strange and wonderful world of ancient Greek religion, beginning with stories of the gods that all Greeks knew: Homer and Hesiod. We then study religion on the ground, examining how religion functioned at a number of sanctuaries and shrines in Greece. Topics covered in this course include ancient conceptions of the cosmos; the nature of Greek deities and heroes; the distinction between myth and religion; the art and architecture of sanctuaries; ritual performances and festivals; ritual sacrifice; sacred games; oracles; the underworld; sacred mysteries; women and religion; and the socio-political role of Greek ritual practice.

FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology

SOAN 180A - Mondal, Lipon K.

First-year seminar.

Fall 2019, SOAN 180A-01: FS: Introduction to South Asia (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. An introduction to the historical, social, political, cultural, economic, and religious aspects of South Asia. We discuss four different societal phases of South Asia--Sanskritization (the Hindu Kingdom, Antiquity to 1204); lslamization (Muslim Sultanate, 1204-1757); Anglicization (British Colonialism, 1747-1947); and Decolonization /Hybridization (Postcolonial South Asia, 1947-2019)--emphasizing contemporary socio-cultural and political economic issues and problems. Students examine South Asia's connections to global politics, economy, and terrorism, and collaborations with U.S. and global anti-terror war efforts. To offer a critical analytical framework for studying South Asia, this seminar incorporates insights from anthropology, economics, history, political science, sociology, and women and gender studies. (SS4) Mondal.

Spring 2019

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

MATH 180 - Humke, Paul D.

First-year seminar.

Spring 2019, Math 180-01: FS:A Brief Voyage to the 4th Dimension (4). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing and MATH 102 or equivalent. A beginning look at the geometry of 4-dimensional Euclidean space, including learning some tools for studying 4-dimensional objects, and beginning to understand the difficulties in "seeing" such objects. Students also begin measuring in this 4-dimensional setting. The last week of the course is devoted to group projects and presentations. (SC) Humke.

Winter 2019

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

FS: First-Year Seminar

DCI 180 - Abdoney, Mary

A seminar for first-year students.

Winter 2019, DCI 180-01: FS: Black Mirrors and Digital Culture (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. How do various web tools and platforms dictate how we interact with each other? Why do we use some platforms for personal reasons, others for coursework, and some for professional purposes? Is there one correct way to use the web? In this seminar, we critically examine social media platforms, information repositories, apps, and other tools to create personal understandings of how a tool or company's motive influences our personal use of information and how we interact with our community. Themes include online identity, privacy, democracy, and the academic web. We explore these topics through the lenses of inclusiveness, information bias, "Big Data", and social networks. The course culminates in a multimedia narrative, giving students hands-on experience with various web publishing and content management technologies. (HU) Abdoney

FS: First-Year Seminar

DCI 180 - Teaff, Elizabeth A. / Kiser, Paula S.

A seminar for first-year students.

Winter 2019, DCI 180-02: FS: Black Mirrors and Digital Culture (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. How do various web tools and platforms dictate how we interact with each other? Why do we use some platforms for personal reasons, others for coursework, and some for professional purposes? Is there one correct way to use the web? In this seminar, we critically examine social media platforms, information repositories, apps, and other tools to create personal understandings of how a tool or company's motive influences our personal use of information and how we interact with our community. Themes include online identity, privacy, democracy, and the academic web. We explore these topics through the lenses of inclusiveness, information bias, "Big Data", and social networks. The course culminates in a multimedia narrative, giving students hands-on experience with various web publishing and content management technologies. (HU) Teaff.

FS: First-Year Seminar

LIT 180 - Fregnac-Clave, Francoise

First-year seminar.

Winter 2019, LIT 180-01: First-Year Seminar: From Page and Stage to Celluloid: Carmen (4). Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Bizet's opera, Carmen , based on the so-named novella by French author Mérimée, popularized the character of the fiery gypsy abroad more than in France. We trace her sisters in French, Spanish, and Russian literature, opera, and art, and her reincarnations in film, including Charlie Chaplin's A Burlesque on Carmen , Otto Preminger's Carmen Jones , Federico Rosi's filmed opera Carmen , J.-L. Godard's Prénom Carmen , Carlos Saura's Carmen . We study how the world stage, the artistic trends, the mores, and the concerns of the times shape and renew this enduring character and the men she beguiles. (HL) Frégnac-Clave.

FS: First-Year Seminar

MATH 180A - McRae, Alan

First-year seminar.

Winter 2019, MATH 180A-01: FS: Close Encounters with the Impossible (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing only. Are you the type of person who embraces the contradictory?  Is the word "impossible" not in your vocabulary? Would it surprise you to learn that you are keeping good company with, wait, hold your breath, mathematicians? Don't mathematicians shun contradictions and the impossible? Well some of the greatest discoveries in mathematics were the result of flirting with the contradictory (parallel lines meet, giving rise to perspective in art) and the impossible (the fourth dimension, curved space, infinity . . . ). Would you like to learn how to take a solid ball, cut it up into six pieces and, without deforming or changing the shape of any of those pieces, put them back together to get TWO solid balls, each the same size as the original? 2 = 1?!  You don't need to be traditionally mathy (the Urban Dictionary says "mathy" is a word) to enjoy this course. (SC) McRae .