Previous/Current Courses


Fall 2015:

Crime and Violence in Latin America: Dr. Michele Leiby, Political Science

In Dr. Leiby’s FYS, the class explored human rights and political violence in Latin America. Their service project was at Immigrant Workers Project in Canton, where they assisted in the legal process gaining Latin American refugees asylum in the United States.


Utopian and Dystopian Visions: Dr. Thomas Tierney, Sociology

This course sought to discover the true definitions of a utopia and a dystopia through examples in literature. For their service project, students bowled with adults with developmental disabilities once a week in Scot Lanes.


Human Memory, Dr. Grit Herzmann, Neuroscience

Students aimed to better understand memory and how it changes over time. There were two service project options that students could pick from: volunteer work at Cornerstone Elementary School or volunteer work at Brookdale Senior Living Solutions.


Fall 2016:

Want to Change the World? Harnessing Creativity, Dr. Paul Edmiston, Chemistry

Are you embarking on your college career with the future goal of making a better world by developing a new idea into a successful non-profit organization or business? This seminar will study how to harness innovation by learning from agents of change, including those in the local community. Using modern social science research and insight from potential mentors, participants will formulate a plan around an innovative idea. The class will engage in activities and exercises intended to examine habits of thought and behavior. The final project will be a Shark Tank like pitch for the organizations you plan to create.


Catching Up or Leading the Way: How the U.S. Education System Stacks Up on a Global Stage, Dr. Sharon Ferguson, Education

Are education systems in China and other countries really as superior as some people claim? What makes Finland so hot and how has its stellar performance drawn the attention of education and government officials around the world? View the American education model from a global perspective and find out why China and other nations in Asia are actually reforming their systems to be more like their American counterparts. In this seminar we will explore the American education system and how it compares to other countries. What does it mean when it is said that regardless of nationality, as soon as students complete the eighth grade, they have just Two Million Minutes to prepare for college and ultimately a career. We will watch this groundbreaking documentary. We will visit three different after-school programs at an elementary school, middle school, and high school.


Speech, Language, and Socioeconomic Status, Dr. Joan Furey, Communication Sciences and Disorders

How do speech and language differ as a function of socioeconomic status? What are the consequences of those differences? What can or should be done to address the differences? In this course, students will develop critical thinking and writing skills as we explore the nature of speech and language differences in children. As part of the Community Connections Program, this course involves a service learning component.


Just Work: Class, Race, and Gender, Dr. Chuck Kammer, Religious Studies

An exploration of work with a focus on what makes work meaningful and what makes it dehumanizing. Also a discussion of how we assign social and monetary value to various forms of work. What relationship do these issues have to race, class and gender and to the glaring inequalities of wealth in the United States? There is an experiential learning component, as all students will work three hours a week in Custodial Services, Grounds, or Campus Dining. Members of our Departments of Custodial Services, Grounds and Campus Dining will serve as co-instructors for the course.


The Eyewitness in History, Dr. Greg Shaya, History

Eyewitness accounts of traumatic events have an urgent power. In this seminar, we will study a series of eyewitness accounts from far and near, accounts that bear witness to plague, war, atrocity, disease, and deprivation. Looking to examples from the Spanish Conquest of the Americas to the Holocaust and to the Rwandan genocide and many more, we will consider profound questions. This first-year seminar will engage in service learning with the Boys and Girls Club of Wooster.


Fall 2017:

Somos sur: Exploring Latin America Through the Arts, Dr. Rikki Palmer, Spanish

Latin America is a region of astonishing geographic and cultural diversity. In this seminar, we will engage with works by contemporary Latin American writers, art- ists, filmmakers and musicians to explore major social and cultural issues, including identity, gender and race relations, the environment, and social justice. Our task will be to challenge simplistic assumptions about Latin America and to become more informed global citizens. At the same time, students will develop skills in reading, writing, oral expression, critical thinking, argumentation and analysis through daily discussion, formal and informal writing, and collaborative re- search. Students who register for this seminar should be prepared to discuss controversial issues in an ac- ademic setting. This section of FYS will participate in the Community Connections Program and will require time spent off-campus in service learning activities.


The Dust Bowl: Environmental Disaster in the American Imagination, Dr. Jeff Roche, History

It is the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history. In less than a generation, farm-
ers destroyed one of the greatest grasslands in the history of the planet. An ecosystem that had allowed megafauna from wooly mammoths to bison to cattle to flourish had become millions of acres of blowing sand and twenty-foot dunes. Mile-high storms blowing dust the consistency of flour raged every spring, chasing people indoors. The worst of the storms convinced people that the world was coming to an end. That day. Cattle died from starvation because the dust had ground their teeth to the gums. Babies died when their lungs filled with dust. The drought lasted a decade and was accompanied by Old Testament plagues of grasshoppers and rabbits. The story of the slow-motion disaster captured the attention of the government scientists, poets, filmmakers, novelists, politicians, photographers, diarists, painters, reporters, musicians. It has been the subject of excellent scholar- ship in history, geography, environmental studies, litera- ture, and botany. In this research-based seminar we will explore the Dust Bowl as a critical site in determining the American response to environmental disaster. We will “read” several of these works, with an emphasis on contemporary accounts –Alexandre Hogue’s painting Mother Earth Laid Bare or Woody Guthrie’s “Dust Bowl Blues” or Paul Sears’ essay “Deserts on the March” to list three examples. We will also consider the drastically different conclusions that various constituencies drew from the disaster both in contemporary accounts and in the scholarship since.


Self and Identity: Who am I?, Dr. Susan Clayton, Psychology

Everyone tries to answer this question. This course will take a psychological perspective on the self and on different sources of identity. We’ll also discuss why it matters: what difference does your self-concept make? How does it affect your attitudes and behavior? And how does it serve to link you or separate you from others? To answer these questions we’ll examine a variety of sources, including empirical research, fiction, and personal essays.


Speech, Language, and Socioeconomic Status: How do speech and language differ as a function of socioeconomic status?, Dr. Joan Furey, Communication

What are the consequences of those differences? What can or should be done to address those differ- ences? Whose role is it to address the differences? In this course, students will develop critical thinking and writing skills as we explore the nature of speech and language differences in children. As part of the Community Connections Program, this course involves a significant service learning component.


Encounters & Identities in Latin America: How did Latin America develop its incredibly diverse range of peoples and cultures?, Dr. Katie Holt, History

In this seminar, we’ll look at the interactions between New World, European, and African peoples, examining cultural exchanges and the formation of new, hybrid identities. We’ll start with Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his years wandering the Southwest, and move from there to analyzing more recent examples of cultural production and exchanges, from
the creation of Afro-Cuban jazz, the rise of the Dominican Republic as a baseball powerhouse, the sway of Brazil’s soap operas, and the global popularity of tacos. This FYS is participating in the Community Connections Program (FYS CCP), and we’ll volunteer as a group at a local school.