First Year Seminars

Fall 2016

Public Issues and Global Economy

Dr. Carpenter

MWF 9:30-10:20

This course is about public issues of our times. The class examines issues such as offshoring of business, pollution, wage differential between men and women, government debt, and other issues. Many issues may be considered non-economic and controversial however, applying basic economic analysis students will develop a new way of thinking about the important issues in today's economy. The course will illustrate that economics is not only a new way to view and analyze today's issues but also entertaining and informative. Student will learn how to recognize the trade-offs involved in every decision and conceptualize the cost and benefits of any actions or government policy. Students will develop basic study and research skills and other basic learning tools as they progress through the class to enhance their college learning progress while attending Mansfield University.

Microbes Change the World

Dr. Kagle

TTH 1:00-2:15

Microbes were shaping our planet for billions of years before the first humans walked the Earth. Today, microbes influence everything from the air we breathe, to literature, to world politics. In this course we will examine how several specific microbes have changed our planet, human history, and how we understand the living world.

Black Gold

Dr. Kopf

TTH 10:00-11:15

In this course you will investigate the ways in which our use of fossil fuels has helped to shape the social, economic, and environmental choices we make as a society.You will use government data, written and video accounts, and your personal experiences to evaluate some of the ways that our present reliance on fossil fuels influences our choices and our social structures today.You will also build some basic predictive models based on present day and historical data trends to form opinions on the possible future impacts of continued reliance on fossil fuels, and evaluate some of the potential pros and cons of alternative energy sources like solar, nuclear, or biofuels.During the course of these investigations you will be introduced to some of the methods of inquiry and campus resources that will be critical to your development as a student over the course of your studies.

Art and the History of the Book

MW 1:30-2:45

This course introduces first-year students to the changing historical perspectives and conceptual attitudes of the book as a work of art and an object of intellectual and multicultural significance. Students will explore scholarly and creative aspects of book structure and design, content and meaning, and hands-on artistic methods inherent to the development of books from the beginning of recorded time to present day.

Type and Clay: Create Identity

Dr. Whitehouse

MW 1:30-2:45

From the ancient Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia, who made wedge-like marks in cuneiforms as a means of communication—to the decorated vessels from which we eat and drink today—typography and clay have been partners for thousands of years as they exist in our world as both functional objects and sculptural art. This First Year Seminar will explore the histories, forms, and artistic expressions associated with these two mediums, while examining the various 'hats' worn by students, which reflect and shape their identity. Readings, lectures, discussions, and projects will facilitate creative expression, information research, and the everyday hurdles of being a new college student.

Our Lives through Music

Dr. Laib


Students will have the opportunity to share their favorite music with their peers while exploring the historical context of and societal influences on that music, generational differences in musical choices, and how music is used in our every-day lives. They will improve their observation skills by learning some of the fundamentals of music and how and what to listen for, and as the class explores varying musical genres and their influences on each other, students will broaden their understanding of the origins of their favorite music and gain an appreciation for the music of others.

My Life in Pictures

Dr. Monkelien

MWF 1:30-2:20

My Life in Pictures:  Is a picture worth a thousand words? Take and find photographs to describe your life today, your life past and your life future. Write and tell stories about your photographs while learning about yourself and discovering what you want for your life.

Climb That Mountain

Dr. Guignard

TTH 2:30-3:45

Climbing mountains is a physical act and an imaginative act, an escape and an engagement, at once euphoric and exhausting. In this seminar, students will explore the physical, mental, and metaphorical facets of climbing mountains through multiple disciplines, including but not limited to literature, psychology, rhetoric, physiology, physics, and geology. Students will look at how mountain climbing is portrayed to the public through written and visual texts, and they will explore why such texts about a relatively fringe activity holds such sway over public imagination.

Fabulous Berlin

Dr. Holtman

MWF 12:30-1:20

From small fishing village in the 13th century, to trading post, to Prussian capital, divided between two Germanys, then finally reunited, Berlin has had a turbulent and unique past leading to its vibrant present and a most promising future. Together, we will explore the glamorous, sometimes gritty, artistic, and action-packed capital of the Federal Republic of Germany from multiple perspectives: history, the arts, social issues, cuisine, festivals and civic life, geography, diplomacy and government, diversity, night life, architecture and city planning, the infamous Wall and former East Germany, language(s), and much more. There is no place else on earth like it, and you will be ready for your visit when you've finished this course! 

Machu Picchu

Dr. Keeth

MWF 12:30-1:20

Wrapped by the Urubamba River and towering at the height of 7,970 feet, stands the 15th Century Incan city of Machu Picchu—icon, symbol, and World Heritage sanctuary. In this First Year Seminar course, the lost Incan city becomes a pivot around which students begin explore the world and the many cultures and the academic disciplines that help interpret its realities. Through classroom discussion, exploratory writing, and a research paper students will recognize the importance of knowledge accumulation through personal inquisition, will compare different interpretations of this archeological site, will reflect on different artistic and academic works, and will discuss their perception of culture, society, and language. The goal of this course is to stretch one's thinking and prepare to embark on one's own academic quest.

Zombie Apocalypse

Dr. Mason

TTH 10:00-11:15

Students learn that there are many approaches to solving such problems as surviving the undead and surviving college. Among the things they experience are alternate ways to approach problems, the benefits of working with other people and strategies for facing insurmountable problems. We also spend time exploring majors, meeting professors from departments on campus and interviewing some of the authors whose books we read.

Discovering France

Dr. Oyallon

MWF 10:30-11:20

The course will look at France today through a selection of readings from primary and secondary sources. We will examine French daily life as experienced by university students, as well as by school students, parents, and professionals and workers of all kinds. We will look at the music French people listen to, the social media they prefer, the websites they use, the movies and TV shows they watch, the newspapers, magazines, and books they read. We will examine French attitudes toward work, sport, leisure, social life, religion, politics, medical care, gender matters. We will look at the diversity of people in France—at traditional French citizens as well as at former and recent immigrants, visitors, tourists, and others. We will get a sense of the importance of historical events (from the French Revolution on) in French attitudes today. We will compare things French with things American.

Star Wars: The Student Awakens

Dr. Holderby

TTH 2:30-3:45

Using the seven Star Wars movies, this class will examine a variety of topics, including politics, security, rebellion, feminism, and diversity.We will study the Mansfield Creed from the perspective of the Jedi Code.We will come to understand and perhaps even appreciate the Rebel and the Empire's viewpoint on society and the universe.

Grimm Variations

Dr. Pifer

MWF 9:30-10:20

This course examines famous and not so famous stories from the oral tradition commonly known as Fairy Tales. Students will read, discuss, and write about fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and variations of these tales around the world and in other works of literature, film, and television. Students will also examine these well-known stories through the lenses of different academic disciplines, such as history, folklore, or psychology, and learn to argue their own interpretation of these tales.

Learning to Serve

Dr. Daly

MW 2:30-3:45

Students who volunteer receive the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country. Some other intangible benefits are pride, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment when we serve others. The Corporation for National Community Service (2016) reports that students learn to solve problems, strengthen communities, improve lives, connect to others and transform their own lives through service learning during college. This course will teach the skills to create community change through a local service project.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Dr. Guenther

T-TH 10:00-11:15

Researching family history has become popular through documentary and dramatic television programs.This course will assist students in finding how their families have shaped and affected United States and global history along with understanding their place in the history of Mansfield University.