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 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.

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

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2017, HIST 180-01: FS: Uncovering W&L's Past HIST (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing.   180-01 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 180 - Patch, William L., Jr. (Bill)

Topics vary by term and instructor.

Fall 2017, HIST 180-02:  FS: The War to End All Wars. First-Year Seminar (3). Prerequisite: First-year class standing. Idealists in Britain and the USA justified participation in the First World War by arguing that it would end all wars, but the horrific reality of battle confounded their expectations. In this writing-intensive seminar, we analyze four very different literary accounts of the experience of war: an autobiography of a British officer who became a pacifist in the trenches; an autobiographical novel by a patriotic German who never lost faith in his nation's cause; a collection of poems by British women who served as munitions workers or nurses; and the memoir of the "Arab Revolt" against Ottoman Turkish rule by "Lawrence of Arabia". Students are asked to ponder what lessons can be learned today from the "Great War" of 1914-1918. (HU) Patch.

FS: First-Year Seminar

PHIL 180 - Dudley, William C. (Will) / Strong, Robert A. (Bob)

A seminar for first-year students.

Fall 2017, PHIL 180-01: Philosophy of Education: Why Are We Here? (3). First-Year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. What is education? Which purposes can and should it serve? What obligations do private colleges have to the communities and societies in which they operate? These questions about the nature of education are essential to philosophy, and also to the history and future of Washington and Lee University. In this course, students read and discuss classic texts in the philosophy of education in close conjunction with materials concerning the public policy commentaries about present practices in American liberal arts colleges. Special attention is paid to Washington and Lee, and students are encouraged to reflect upon their own educational goals and choices in light of the philosophical works that they read. (HU) Dudley, Strong.

FS: First-Year Seminar

REL 180 - Marks, Richard G.

Topics vary by term.

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