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.

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). Prerequsite: 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 .

Fall 2018

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 / Teaff, Elizabeth A.

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2018, 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 - Sigler, Haley W.

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 2018 : EDUC 200-03 is a first-year seminar and open only to first-year students.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores . GEOL 100A: First-Year seminar, open to FY students only. 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. No credit for students who have completed GEOL 101. Laboratory course. Lab fee required.

FS: First-Year Seminar

HIST 180A - DeLaney, Theodore C., Jr. (Ted)

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2018, HIST 180A-01: FS: Uncovering W&L's Past HIST (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. 180A-01 is a research seminar that will be reading and writing intensive, and focus on the African American past of W&L and other colleges. We will focus solely on archival research and the issues that eastern colleges have dealt with in reclaiming this past. (HU) DeLaney.

FS: First-Year Seminar

HIST 180B - Vise, Melissa E.

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2018, HIST 180B-01: FS: Plague: A Medieval Pandemic (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing only. An exploration of the causes, experiences, and consequences of the disease colloquially referred to as 'The Black Death.' Students develop the core skills of historical inquiry by critically engaging with primary sources and discussing questions such as: How did Europeans explain and respond to the disease? Did their society collapse in the face of such devastation or did it spark the Renaissance? How can we use modern science in our work as historians and what contributions might historians bring to the scientists' bench? By the end of this course, students are able to articulate informed perspectives on these topics, while providing compelling and balanced arguments for their interpretations. (HU) Vise.

Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology

PHIL 197 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

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

Fall 2018, PHIL 197-01: FS: Animal Minds (3). Prerequisite: First-year standing. First-year seminar. This course explores the philosophical and scientific literature on animal cognition. It examines questions such as: Do rats laugh? Does the praying mantis have the concept of prey? Do primates exhibit rudimentary moral behavior? Do animals attribute "mindedness" to other creatures? Does animal cognition involve beliefs, concepts, and rationality? Can the study of animal cognition tell us something about human cognition? How do we investigate these kinds of questions scientifically? What role does philosophical inquiry play? We explore both the history of thought on animal cognition as well as the most current scientific and philosophical literature to arrive at our best current understanding of these issues. (HU) Cooper.

Brain and Behavior

PSYC 111 - Lorig, Tyler S.

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

 

FS: First-Year Seminar

PSYC 180 - Stewart, Robert E. (Bob)

Topical description when offered.

Fall 2018, PSYC 180-01: First-Year Seminar: The Opioid Crisis (3) . First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. An exploration of how the neuroscientific mechanisms of pain and clinical pain management interconnect with policy and practice in the realms of healthcare, big pharma, legislation, and law enforcement. We also discuss how these interconnections have contributed to the widespread compulsive misuse of opioid pain-killing drugs that has become a national crisis in the past several years. (SS3). Stewart.

FS: First-Year Seminar

REL 180 - Sonia, Kerry M.

First-year seminar. Topics vary by term.

Fall 2018, REL 180-01: FS: Exodus and Exile: Oppression, Liberation, and Diaspora in Jewish Tradition (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. Assumes no prior knowledge of the Bible, and all readings are in English translation. The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is bookended by two epic stories, the Israelites' exodus from Egypt and, later, their exile to Babylon. These ancient stories confront important political and ideological questions of their time: what is the role of God in warfare? Why do God's people sometimes suffer defeat? What happens to a people uprooted from their homeland? Indeed, these issues continue to resonate among religious communities today. This course traces the interpretation of the biblical Exodus and Exile by writers working in different historical periods, examining these interpretations through the lenses of myth and memory—how do writers in these periods use the biblical narratives to construct their own history of Israel, Jews, and themselves? What are the social and political factors that shape such interpretations? Beginning with a close reading of the biblical stories in their ancient context, we consider the reinterpretation of the Exodus and Exile among later writers working in the Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antique, and Medieval periods. We conclude by examining the role of these biblical stories in American religious traditions, including the Passover Seder and the Civil Rights Movement. (HU) Sonia .

FS: First-Year Seminar in Sociology

SOAN 180A - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

First-year seminar.

Fall 2018, SOAN 180A-01: FS: Health and Concept of Race (3). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing only. A deep examination of how people think about what race is, and how societal conceptions of race affect people's health, whether health policy, health outcomes, access to healthcare, or relationship to the medical establishment. We tackle questions such as: What are different conceptions of race and what are some the institutions that socialize people into understanding what "race" is? Is skin color or ethnic predisposition to diseases like Sickle Cell Anemia indicative of a biological basis for race? Should race be used as a factor in medical diagnosis and is it an important factor to account for in medical research? What are some of the causes and outcomes of racial health disparities? Does race denote something inherently biological, cultural, or structural about one's ancestry, background, or lifestyle? In the end, students should be better able to articulate the complexities of that undergird racial disparity in health outcomes. (SS4) Chin.

Spring 2018

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 - Straughan, Robert D. (Rob) / Oliver, Elizabeth G.

Topics vary by subject and term.

Spring 2018, BUS 180: First-Year Seminar: International Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability (4). Prerequisite: FY standing and instructor consent. ACCT 201 recommended. Do corporations have an obligation to manage their social impact in addition to maximizing sales, profits and stock price? What happens when these objectives are in conflict with each other? This course seeks to explore the relative roles of businesses, not-for-profits, government and individual citizens in managing social and environmental impact. Significant time is spent exploring case studies and interacting with senior management of various companies. Recent examples include Carlsberg, Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group, Dunkin' Brands, Norden, Novo Nordisk, Pandora, Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, and Unilever. The class culminates with two weeks in Copenhagen visiting numerous Danish companies and developing a group research project on a topic chosen by the students. The time abroad also includes cultural excursions to places such as Frederiksborg Castle and Tivoli, dinners with Danish families, a harbor/canal tour, and a closing dinner featuring New Nordic cuisine. Oliver and Straughan.

Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Harbor, David J.

Preference given to first-years and sophomores. The emphasis and location of the study area differs from year to year. Most course activity involves outside field work with a series of multi-day to multi-week field trips. The primary goal of this course is an in-depth introduction to a particular region or field of geological study for introductory level science students. Information about the course is made available prior to the end of the fall term. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different but only four credits may be used toward major requirements. Lab fee required.

Spring 2018, GEOL 105-01: FS: Earth Lab: Sand (4). First-Year seminar. A Jockey John Robinson Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. Sand is everywhere. It is between our toes at the beach, sweeping beneath us in rivers, and blown against us in stinging desert storms. And yet, this ubiquitous, ordinary substance tells incredible stories of plate tectonic upheavals, vast seas covering now-dry continents, and journeys through rivers, into inland deserts, and along ocean shores. This field-based seminar explores the origin and nature of sand, its journeys, and how geologists use observations in modern environments along with detailed microscopic and field descriptions of rocks to define the conditions of landscapes long past. Participation requires camping on eastern barrier islands, travel to the Colorado Plateau of Utah, and a healthy imagination. Most expenses are covered by the Jockey John Robinson Fund. (SL) Harbor.