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.

Spring 2017

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 2017, 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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

MATH 180 - Humke, Paul D.

First-year seminar.

Spring 2017, 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 2017

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

CLAS 180 - Dance, Caleb M.

Topic varies by term.

Winter 2017, CLAS 180-01: Blasts from the Classical Past: Considering the Ancient Canon (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. This seminar is about traditions--those of the literary and philosophical cultures with which much of Western society has identified and continues to identify, as well as those of communities that are un(der)represented in the historical canon. Through close-reading, discussion, analysis, and writing, we examine the theatrical, literary, historical, and philosophical traditions represented in the readings and consider our relationship to these traditions as individuals and as members of various modem communities. We also explore the ways in which the works respond to one another as literary and cultural artifacts. Our ultimate goals are to refine our skills as critical readers/thinkers/writers and to enjoy and enrich ourselves and one another in the process. (HL) Dance. Winter 2017 and every third year

Fall 2016

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.

General Geology with Field Emphasis

GEOL 100A - Rahl, Jeffrey M.

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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

JOUR 180A - Finch, Kevin D.

Topics vary by term.

Fall 2016, JOUR 180A-01: FS: Politics, the Press and the Public (3). First-year seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year standing. The news media have been intertwined with elections since our country's founding. In the 21st century, though, media messages bombard us around the clock from myriad new devices and sources. In this highly interactive seminar, first-year students examine these messages through real-time monitoring of advertising and campaign coverage of the 2016 presidential race (and other fall races) and, after Election Day, close analysis of the outcomes. (HU) Finch.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Cooper, Gregory J. (Greg)

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2016, PHIL 180-01: FS: Animal Minds (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. 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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - McGonigal, Andrew J.

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2016, PHIL 180-02: FS:Knowledge and Doubt (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. What's your name? What did you do yesterday? What is in front of you right now? How do you know these things? In fact, do you know these things? Are you sure? Isn't it possible that you could be wrong, or deceived? If it's possible that you're being deceived then can you really say that you know? Even if you don't know what time it is, do you have good reason for holding your beliefs? This course explores a range of issues concerning human knowledge and associated epistemological concepts (such as having a good reason for belief, or "justification"). (HU) McGonigal.

Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

POV 101A - Pickett, Howard Y.

An exploration of the nature, scope, causes, effects and possible remedies for poverty as a social, moral, political and policy, economic, legal, psychological, religious, and biological problem. The course focuses on domestic poverty but also considers poverty as a global problem.

Fall 2016:

POV 101A: FS: Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (3). First-Year seminar.

Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

POV 101A - Brotzman, Kelly L.

An exploration of the nature, scope, causes, effects and possible remedies for poverty as a social, moral, political and policy, economic, legal, psychological, religious, and biological problem. The course focuses on domestic poverty but also considers poverty as a global problem.

Fall 2016:

POV 101A: FS: Poverty and Human Capability: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (3). First-Year seminar.

General Sociology

SOAN 102A - Chin, Lynn G. (Lynny)

Human society: culture, personality, human nature, social groups, associations, and institutions; analysis of major institutions and of modern social trends.