First-Year Seminar Courses 2022-2023

You'll take a FYS within your first two semesters at Xavier. FYS is a rigorous, academic, 3-credit course. In the catalog, FYS is called CORE 100. Search under "Core Curriculum" to find these courses.

Fall 2022

Black Literature and Faith
Adam Clark
This seminar explores the dynamics of faith, struggle, resistance, and hope in the lives of African Americans from the deep past to the present through the lens of great works in classic and modern Black literature.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Rereading Frankenstein
David Reid
In this multidisciplinary seminar, we’ll begin with a close reading of Mary Shelley’s timeless 1818 novel Frankenstein and will trace its evolution into the pop-culture icon it has become. Included in the first part of the course will be literary analysis that situates Shelley’s masterpiece in historical and philosophical context. In the second half of the course, we will extend the themes and ideas of Frankenstein into our modern world of artificial intelligence, considering issues of The Common Good along the way. The course materials will include four novels, one biography and several films. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein…200 years old…and yet…it’s alive!
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Difficult Women
Niamh J. O’Leary
This seminar explores the concept of the "difficult woman," throughout history. Beginning with Medea and Eve, we consider these prototypes of difficult women--imperfect, vengeful, different visions of maternity, hypersexualized, and more. We will look at how stereotypes of the difficult woman operate differently for BIPOC women, and how they intersect with racism, classism, and more. We will trace these ideas about difficult women from literature, to film, to news media, to the criminal justice system. The course asks how a more nuanced notion of femininity, gender, and power can contribute to the greater good, and how humanity is ill-served by fixating on ideas of difficult women.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Our Southern Border: How We Got Here and How to Move Forward
Irene Hodgson
This class will look at how the current situation at the southern border has roots in U.S. foreign policy, especially in Latin America, but also look at the implications of changing situations in other countries such as Afghanistan and Ukraine. We will examine different narratives that respond to changing ideas of what the U.S. is and aspires to be. We will seek insights from Jesuits and other religious and moral leaders as to what our obligation is as humans, as a nation, and as individuals, to promote the common good.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Growing Pains
Kelly Austin
Welcome to college, that space between adolescence and full-blown adulting. That means the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood, without the experience. It's a time to explore who you want to be (identity) and what you want to do (vocation). Some psychologists call this developmental phase emerging adulthood. In this section of First-Year Seminar, we'll study theories of development, identity and belonging to see what makes this phase of life unique and interesting and challenging—and sometimes terrifying. After all, they're called "growing pains" for a reason. We'll examine literature that highlights adolescence and emerging adulthood and use those discussions to investigate your own journey on the path to adulthood.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Bob Dylan
Graley Herren 

This seminar will trace the artistic evolution of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. Along with careful analysis of his songs as written and performed, we will examine his work in various contexts: musical, literary, cultural, historical, political, and autobiographical.

The Lives of Black Women and Girls
ShaDawn Battle
Incredulous reactions to Meg Thee Stallion’s accusation that a Black man shot her are a part of an epistemic framework in which Black women and girls are perceived to be unworthy of protection, their bodies disposable, and their truths undermined or deemed inconsequential to a racist, patriarchal, misogynoiristic, homo / transphobic, and ableist U.S. regime. This course will employ a Black Feminist framework to make legible the interdependent forces that imperil the lives of Black women and girls, including Black trans women. To examine the material and ideological realities of Black women and girls in the U.S. such as, Sha’Carri Richardson, Breonna Taylor, Dajerria Becton, the enslaved Anarcha, and Laverne Cox, we will take up the following topics: Black Women and Girls in Sports; Black Women and Girls in the Medical Industrial Complex; and Black Women and Girls and the Policing Apparatus.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Lavender Leaders, Lavender Legacies
Travis Speice
What does it mean to be a leader? In this seminar, students will reflect on their own leadership potential. We will read about the lives of LGBTQ+ people who have made significant contributions in their field, examining both their leadership style and the legacy they've left behind. Students will be asked, "What kind of legacy will I leave?"      This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Uprising: Slave Rebellions in the Atlantic World
Randy Browne
From the early 1500s through the end of the nineteenth century, millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved throughout the Americas. In this seminar we will explore enslaved people's armed resistance to slavery, during the Middle Passage and in American slave societies.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Confederate Monuments
Frank Rzeczkowski
This seminar examines the current controversies over monuments to the Confederacy through an examination of the broader historical, social, cultural, and political contexts surrounding the issue. We will also explore the ideas and purposes behind memorialization in a broader sense (including on Xavier’s campus), and seek to understand the decision-making process behind memorialization and the messages memorials seek to convey.

Great (and not so great) Expectations
Lara Dorger
We live in our own heads most of the time, but we often evaluate our wants mostly in terms of the outcomes rather than what makes the foundations of our wants. Often our sense of success is arbitrary and personal and may depend mostly on preconceived beliefs. Rather than focusing on solely an end result, a more-sound approach would involve understanding our expectations going forward. This seminar has you carefully reading 12 short stories to use as a springboard to foster the practice of asking questions about topics relevant to you at this time: school, career, and relationships, among other subjects. Some of the questions you will have the chance to discuss are "Can I be a good friend if I stop listening to my friend's problems?" "How much work am I willing to do to get an A?" or the age-old question "What is love?" While answers may not be forthcoming for all questions, you will have the chance to create the habit of examining your expectations prior to evaluating your success or failure, a key component to analysis, through the media of short stories and writing.

The Art of Expression: Cultivating Creativity for Balance, Growth, and Community
Madeleine Mitchell
Anyone can be an artist, but many people don't see themselves as one. This seminar explores how creative expression is an integral part of being human and how it contributes to personal and intellectual growth, meaningful life work, and stronger communities. In this course, we will examine various roles of artistic expression in society: healer, teller of hard truths, voice of solidarity, and catalyst for social change. Students will study and research examples of art movements, engage with local artists, and create individual works of art.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Food on the Move: From Ship to Shore
Margaret Martin
In this FYS, we explore food on the move, from ancient Roman olive oil to South African wine, from wars "won on their stomachs" to high-tech military labs, from banana boats to modern shipping containers. Our plates are full--of history, technology, logistics, economics, politics, ethics, and more.

Colonial Shadows
José María Mantero
In this course, we will study works of literature, art, and film to better understand how colonial ideologies are still present today in the Americas and how these relate to our own individual faith and our Jesuit institutional identity. The readings (short stories, poems, essays, and a series of scholarly articles) and works of art (paintings, etchings, graphic art and graffiti, for example) will come from traditional and non-traditional sources as we examine the parallels between literary and artistic expressions within a discrete historical context. We will also study films and include other digital media such as podcasts and video recordings that document and construct the historical perspective. The overall objective of the course is to examine the manner in which specific texts, works, media, and artistic objectives dialogue with a particular historical context and both reflect and transcend broader shifts in ideology and faith.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Slow Food: We Are What We Eat
Kelly Blank
Slow Food is an international movement that began in Italy in 1986, emphasizing Good, Clean, and Fair food. In this First Year Seminar, we will discuss the history, philosophy, and influence of the Slow Food movement worldwide while examining the problems with the modern agricultural machine both in a local and in a global context. Topics of discussion will include the importance of local and seasonal produce, the inherent connections between plate and planet, the water footprint of food, labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), biodiversity, food deserts, and the ethics of meat production and consumption.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

History of Xavier
C. Walker Gollar
This course explores the history of Xavier especially in relationship to recent campus-wide discussions about Xavier’s historical connections to slavery. Amidst national debate about what to do with Confederate monuments, how to make sense of the brutal killing of George Floyd, and what the recent events at the Capitol signify, etc., Xavier has been wrestling with some heretofore untold aspects of the school’s past. Over the past four years, Xavier has entertained some vibrant conversations. This course is an invitation to join the discussion.

God on Trial
Martin Madar
This seminar will examine the religious dimension of human existence in relation to a number of problems and challenges: the problem of knowledge; the relation of faith and reason; various historical, social and existential critiques of belief; the challenge of atheism and humanism.

Kat Morris
Vaccines are life-saving tools to prevent disease with very low risk to the patient, and exemplify the sentiment of "the greater good". So why are so many people so eager to avoid vaccination? In this seminar we will strive to answer this question by exploring how vaccines are developed, tested, and deployed. We will discuss the use of aborted fetal cells in development of some vaccines, the historic testing of vaccines on marginalized people without their consent, and the rise of the anti-vaccination movement.

Entrepreneurship: How to Outswim the Sharks in the Tank
Mike Halloran
This course dives into the questions of how and why entrepreneurship can serve the greater good and the role of entrepreneurship in your professional career, no matter what career that you decide to pursue. Learn how entrepreneurs deal with failure, find their purpose, and their keys to success. Course includes 8-10 guest entrepreneur speakers, thought-providing class discussions, learning about the exciting entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati, and investigating the benefits and costs of entrepreneurship for individuals and society as a whole.

Ireland, Culture, & Film
Timothy White
This course explores Irish culture since the late nineteenth century focusing on the development of Irish identity and how this identity has been challenged by those not included in the historic conception of Irish national identity.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Montaigne: Art of Introspection
John Ray
This course involves detailed reading and discussion of Montaigne’s Essays. With the aid of Sara Bakewell’s How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, we—each one of us—will attempt to answer this same question by writing our own introspective journal in response to what we find most compelling in Montaigne. In class, emphasis will be on student discussion of the Essays.

No Such Thing as a Stupid Question (in Business and Economics)
Jagan Jacob
In this seminar, we ask ourselves questions related to business organizations, economics, ethics, and (even) politics. We will read and discuss various case studies, participate in team debates, give group presentations, and write a term paper. Topics range from “should a tweet from a decade ago get you fired?” to “what are the misconceptions the US gets wrong about China and its economy?”.

Stakeholders in Global Sustainability
Elaine Crable
This class will explore global issues around environmental sustainability and climate change. Environmental sustainability involves an examination of multiple areas and we will explore stakeholders such as individuals, businesses, countries, and governments. You will do a deep dive study of a particular aspect of UN Sustainability Goals for 2030 as a research activity.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Survey of Emerging Artforms
Jason C. White
This course helps students to answer the question, “What’s new in the Arts?” by introducing them to emerging art movements and new genres of art developing around the world. Using excerpts from selected arts-based history books and video demonstrations, this course also introduces students to innovators and pioneers of contemporary visual, literary and performing arts practices.

Cybersecurity is Everyone’s Business
Deep Ramanayake
Do you have the knowledge and basic skills to protect your data online? In today's digitally connected world, cybersecurity is everyone's business—from personal to professional. In this course, we will cover the latest in awareness, basic cybersecurity literacy, cybersecurity issues in multiple disciplines, ethics and behavior related to digital information, societal impact of cybersecurity, and protection of data. Who owns the digital you?

Sport at the Service of Humanity
Sr. Rose Ann Fleming
How can sport serve humanity? Selected readings show how sport brings humanity together across global boundaries to celebrate human talent, regardless of religion, race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability. Immersive experiences such as visits and interviews with members of professional teams and NCAA Division I teams, indicate how sport teaches men and women positive values of joy, respect, love, compassion, enlightenment and balance. Dialoguing with sport experts, and attendance at local sports games, enables the class participant to reflect, critique, and discuss, orally and in writing, the principles and values that sport offers humanity, as well as how to address the evils and scandals that can arise when the power of wealth and greed in sport corrupt the sport environment.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Games and Virtues
Greg Braun
This course looks at games of all types, with a focus on board, card, and role playing games. What can games today and throughout history tell us about humanity? What virtues & skills are valued by games, and by society? What does the mathematical field of game theory tell us about how people make decisions, particularly important ethical decisions? How do probability and the mechanics of games affect what we take away from them? What is the nature of play itself? Students will design a game as a group project throughout the semester.


Spring 2023

Coming soon