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 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.

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.

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 2014:
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 2014:
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.

Spring 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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

BUS 180 - Straughan, Robert D. (Rob) / Oliver, Elizabeth G.

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Earth Lab

GEOL 105 - Knapp, Elizabeth P. / Mitchell, Euan C.

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.

Spring 2016, GEOL 105-01: First-Year Seminar: Earth Lab: Introduction to the Geology of Hawaii (4). First-Year Seminar. Additional fee. Prerequisite: First-Year class standing. Instructor consent required. An introductory study of earth science and the geology of the Hawaiian Islands.  Its purpose is to provide an unparalleled opportunity to observe a wide variety of geologic processes in action.  This course entails close interaction with the faculty and intensive study amongst the students during the term. (SL) Knapp.

FS: First-year Seminar

PHYS 180 - Khalifa, Moataz

A seminar for first-year students.

Spring 2016, PHYS 180-01: FS: Introduction to Nanoscience (4). First-year Seminar. Prerequisite: First-year class standing. An interdisciplinary introduction to the emerging field of nanoscience. The course covers a broad range of topics: fundamentals of nanoscience, self-assembled nanostructures with applications to nanomedicine, graphene, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots. Students discuss current and future nanotechnology applications in engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science, and gain experience in scientific writing, literature surveys, and improve their presentation skills. This course Includes traditional lectures as well as seminar-type workshops and "hands-on" lab projects using the scanning electron microscope and the thin-film lab on campus. (SL) Khalifa .

Winter 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.

FS: First-Year Seminar

ARTH 180 - Bent, George R.

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