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

Spring 2018

Saint Francis & Pope Francis                                            Gillian Ahlgren

What happens when the sincerity of one of Christianity’s most famous saints meets the vision of history’s first Jesuit pope? Why did Pope Francis choose the name “Francis”?  What did/does he hope to accomplish? How do we in Jesuit institutions today walk in the footsteps of both of these spiritual leaders?

 

Popular Culture & The Civil Rights Movement              Christine Anderson           

This seminar examines the cultural significance of the Civil Rights Movement, including: portrayal of Civil Rights struggles in newspapers, photos, and films, as well as Civil Rights in music, theater, and visual art. We will examine the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s as well as contemporary movements for racial justice.

 

Reading YouTube                                                                Kelly Austin

A class on YouTube? Really? Yes, really. In this seminar, students will engage in online communities as they explore YouTube’s impact on our culture. We’ll practice “reading” YouTube texts critically, analyzing multiple genres in the YouTube universe: first-person vlogging, original programming, and literary adaptations—we’ll even read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice alongside its YouTube adaptation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. We’ll explore critical questions about this medium: How is YouTube changing our cultural literacy? How is it challenging our sense of community and connection? Students will cap off their exploration by producing their own contribution to YouTube.

 

Civil Disobedience                                                              Michelle Brady

Protesters take to the streets in violation of a curfew. Are they criminals, threatening public order? Or are they heroes? Does it matter what they are protesting, or how? We will consider these and other questions about civil disobedience.

 

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.

 

House of Dawn: Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation        Leon Chartrand

Sacred Navajo places—like Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly—teach us what it means to be human. In sacred places, we touch the pulse of a living planet. We feel fully alive because these places are fully alive. There, we discover the center of being. Flowing through us like breath are timeless lessons borne from a silence that transcends space and time. Just as the Ancient Ones did, we go to these places not for beauty and inspiration, but for the lessons.  This course includes travel over Spring Break to the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation.  You must pre-register and deposit at http://xavierexpeditions.com/

 

Paris                                                                                      Rachel Chrastil

Paris: the City of Light. Over the last two centuries, city planners, revolutionaries, artists, immigrants and tourists have all shaped Paris into their vision of the good city. In this course you’ll explore Paris from the catacombs to the top of the Eiffel Tower through novels, paintings, films, memoirs, and famous monuments.

 

All for One, One for All: Exploring Xavier's History          Anne Davies, Anne Ryckbost, and Alison Morgan

In this course, we will explore the history of Xavier University through the lens of four broad topics: campus life, Jesuit identity, university responses to national and local issues, and leadership. Archival records and personal stories will provide a background for students to examine campus traditions and the current state of the university.

 

Life and Death in the Gospels                                          Art Dewey

How did Anti-Semitism happen? What are the roots of the tragic relationship between Jews and Christians? This course focuses on the texts and traditions that led ultimately to the Holocaust. How can we learn to read critically texts that have spawned such a tragic history? What must we know of the rhetorical, economic, social contexts of these deadly texts? How can we take our place responsibly in a world increasingly violent due to the lack of interreligious dialogue?

 

Searching for Meaning in a Scientific Age                     Daniel Dwyer

Can science explain everything? Are yesterday’s mysteries inevitably going to be tomorrow’s scientific problems? In this seminar, we will discuss the relation between scientific explanations and the individual’s search for a life that makes sense. We will explore contemporary questions about love, family, friendship; human excellence and dignity; teaching, learning, and truth. At stake is whether modern science can explain away these genuinely human phenomena, or whether they still leave room for a role for philosophy and theology to overcome the cynicism of today’s youth.

 

God, Science, and Morality                                                            James Helmer

Does God exist, and if so, is there any necessary connection between God and morality? Or is it possible to provide a coherent account of the phenomenon of human morality in a Godless universe? In this seminar we will explore contemporary perspectives in the fields of religion, philosophy, and science (evolutionary biology, moral psychology, neuroscience) in order to consider the question of human morality in evolutionary perspective.

 

Difference, Disability, and the Gifts of the Spirit                       Thomas Knestricht

This FYS is based on the study of the Jesuit gifts of the Spirit. We will deconstruct these concepts using disability as our window into differences. It is the goal of the seminar for the students to gain a sense of solidarity and kinship with others who are different and, by using the concept of disability, learn to appreciate how difference is a social construction used to create false hierarchies and power that often prevent the gifts of the spirit from developing in individuals’ lives. These gifts provide the learner with tools allowing them to reflect, discern, and develop a sense of mission around a greater solidarity and kinship with all humans.

 

Battle for the Future                                                         Anas Malik

The “commons” means the shared resources, such as water, forests, and the atmosphere, which we all use. Many consider the Internet to be a new type of commons. Overuse and abuse can destroy the commons--dwindling forests, water scarcity, and climate change caused by greenhouse gases are examples. Can we figure out how to govern the commons sustainably?

 

Women in Time                                                                   Jennifer McFarlane Harris

What is time? Does it fly? Can we manage it? Map it? Travel through it? In this seminar, we will investigate the impossible beauty and fragility of time by reading texts that feature women “in time”: characters who time travel to the past or experience dystopia; writers who expand and contract time in narrative forms; cultural critics who ask big questions about gender roles and racial ideologies. Along the way we will consider how to best use our time in service of the greater good.

 

From Service to Solidarity                                                 Marcus Mescher

The greater good is advanced by service, but service is insufficient to achieve justice and solidarity. This course examines perspectives and practices of charity and justice to promote more integral personal, social, and ecological order. Specifically, it compares to the present socio-cultural context with philosophical and theological understandings of solidarity and the common good to identify beliefs, practices, and values necessary to produce shared commitments across real experiences of difference in the world today.

 

Villains and Antiheroes                                                     Niamh J. O’Leary

This seminar asks if villains can serve the greater good and why we love good stories about bad guys. How do we as a society decide what makes a person “bad,” and what value do we attach to that label? How has our understanding of a historical person’s relative villainy or heroism changed over time? Together, we will consider the definitions of heroism and villainy, debate whether you can work toward justice from outside the system, and study nontraditional approaches to the good—from revenge narratives, to tales of vigilante justice, to fortunate falls, to damaged or despicable “everyman” heroes.

 

Borderlands of Being Human                                                        Don Prues

This course keeps coming back to one three-pronged overarching question: What is the human animal, why do we think the way we think, and why do we act the way we act? Ultimately, this course will challenge our assumptions and our motivations about what we believe, what choices we make, what opinions we hold, what’s in our nature, and what it means to be human.

 

Rereading Frankenstein                                                    David Reid

In this seminar, we’ll take an in-depth, multidisciplinary look at Mary Shelley’s timeless novel, Frankenstein. We’ll then trace the evolution of her monster and his story as they become cultural icons over 200 years. The course materials will include film versions and derivative texts, as well as criticism and analysis from multiple perspectives.

 

After Dark                                                                             Kristen Renzi

Life after dark has traditionally taken on an alternative character: emotions run freely, repressed desires emerge, conviviality and violence intermingle, and sexuality and risk loom large. This course will look at the literary, historical, artistic, and cultural treatment of “after dark” to explore issues of dreams, desire, and danger that, while crucial to our personhood, often challenge our daytime assumptions of ethics and the good.

 

U2: Elevating Your Inner Social Justice Activist                        Sean Rhiney

Can a Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band that sells out stadiums all over the world teach us anything about our own call to social justice activism? Irish band U2 are considered one of the most successful and socially aware rock bands of the last three decades, particularly for the inspired work of lead singer Bono - a frequent nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize - to wipe out AIDS and poverty. This course will examine how U2’s music drove their own engaged activism while also inspiring generations of activists, many of them college students, to elevate their own social justice awareness around causes that benefit the greater good.

 

Making Babies                                                                     Jennifer Robbins

Does parenting make us moral? How--and why--has parenting evolved over time? From animals to early humans, from East to West, from ancient to modern, we will study the whys and hows behind the making and raising of babies. Beginning in biology, we will extend our analysis to the effects of parenting on human societies, religions and ethics.

 

Bicycling Our Bioregion                                                      Kathleen Smythe

This course will introduce students to Cincinnati, its bioregion, and many other towns in the region. In course, students will spend seven days on half-day bicycling history excursions around Cincinnati meeting a wide variety of people and end with a three-day trip up the Little Miami River valley. Students will also meet once/week to discuss readings and prepare for the bike trips. The course is built on themes prominent in sustainability education, including ways of viewing humans as part of nature. COURSE SCHEDULE: This class will not begin meeting until the end of February, when the weather is mild enough for regular rides. Students will go on a long morning ride once a week, either on Monday or Wednesday, and then meet for one hour on the other day. At the end of the semester, there will be a three-day trip. There is a $75 fee to enroll in this course to cover lodging, guest speakers and entrance to historical sites. In addition, students are responsible for necessary equipment (including their own bicycle) while on excursions.

 

Dante, Pilgrim of the Mind                                                 Michael Sweeney

Dante will be our guide to college as a journey—a pilgrimage of the mind. Medieval pilgrimage was a physical journey to the Holy Land or to some other holy site that was meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. In the Divine Comedy, Dante is often called a "pilgrim," but the Divine Comedy is a different kind of journey, an intellectual journey that is meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. This course will propose the question whether college is merely job training or whether it is also an intellectual pilgrimage. We will read closely Dante's Divine Comedy with the assistance of selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Thomas Aquinas' Summa theologiae.

 

Marriage: Crisis & Renewal                                                          Marita von Weissenberg

How do we know what marriage is? How, when, and why does marriage challenge or renew the greater good, and how can we even know? This course seeks to complicate our assumptions of marriage by exploring what marriage has been, is, and might yet become within the Western tradition. We will examine notions of marriage by examining ways history, law, psychology, and literature – to name a few – study marriage. 

 

Ireland, Culture, & Film                                                      Timothy White 

Employing film as a means of expressing and critiquing culture, this course explores the development of Irish nationalism and those who were not fully included in historic conceptions of Irish national identity. How did Irish nationalism marginalize women, Protestants, travellers, emigrants, new arrivals, and the poor in society? Have recent changes in Ireland contributed to a more inclusive national conception of the greater good? How has Northern Ireland developed a separate culture? Has historic Protestant ascendancy given way to parity of esteem and a true peace since the Good Friday Agreement?

 

The Partition of Good and Evil                                           Tyrone Williams

This section of CORE First Year Seminar concerns the intended and unintended effects of geographical, social, economic, cultural, and political partition. We will examine these various forms of division in several academic disciplines and literary and cinematic genres. We will discuss both the “good intentions” and self-serving impulses behind the erection of social, cultural, economic and political structures that serve reinforce belief in the necessity of partitioning.

 

Rowling, Lucas, Disney: Passion as Career                  Stephen Yandell

This course considers three artists who generated wildly creative, meaningful careers by pursuing their deepest passions: J. K. Rowling, George Lucas, and Walt Disney. These three, arguably some of the most influential storytellers of the past fifty years, serve as models for a range of passions on which a career might be built: an individual’s life pursuits, skills, and creative outputs. Texts by these and others will allow students to engage in critical analysis about the nature of passion and its connection to their lives. Students will have the opportunity to consider the passions of individuals they admire, articulate the most significant of their own passions, explore new ones, and reflect on passions’ connections to lifelong careers—callings that are not simply fulfilling to an individual, but contribute to society’s greater good.

 

Extraordinary Women: A Comparison of the Women of Grimm and Today’s Women with Disabilities                                                                                   Victoria Zascavage

This seminar revolves around the new millennium’s reactions to four 19th century tales edited by the Brothers Grimm in which the central character, a female, has a physical or mental impairment. The tales will be compared to current situations around the world for women with disabilities. The seminar will include pertinent reading and video production. 

 

Fall 2017

Reading YouTube                                        Kelly Austin

This seminar will explore media content on YouTube. We will study vlogs, original web series, and online literary adaptations, as well as theories on transmedia and fandom. As part of the unit on literary adaptations, we will be reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice alongside the YouTube modernization The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. We will examine how YouTube as a medium is changing our cultural literacy, the genres associated with YouTube, and learn how to read online texts more critically.

 

Remembering the Days of Slavery                      Randy Browne

In 1975, the Jamaican reggae artist Burning Spear recorded “Slavery Days.” His song asked a simple question—“Do you remember the days of slavery?” And he urged, “Cry and remember, please remember.” This course takes up Burning Spear’s challenge, asking how the history of Atlantic slavery has been remembered, represented, and memorialized on both sides of the Atlantic. What have different people and institutions chosen to remember—and forget—about the history of Atlantic slavery? How should we decide which representations to accept or reject? And how do our memories of the past shape our understanding of the present and hopes for the future? 

 

Catastrophe                                                 Timothy Brownlee

How ought we to respond to experiences of devastation that threaten human forms of life? In this seminar, we will examine the threats that environmental destruction and interpersonal violence pose to the conditions for human life, and ask about the status of ethics in conditions of catastrophe. We will consider major works of historical and contemporary literature, philosophy, and history.

 

Paris                                                              Rachel Chrastil

Paris: the City of Light. Over the last two centuries, city planners, revolutionaries, artists, immigrants and tourists have all shaped Paris into their vision of the good city. In this course you’ll explore Paris from the catacombs to the top of the Eiffel Tower through novels, paintings, films, memoirs, and famous monuments.

 

Myth and Modernity                                                Norman Finkelstein           

In this seminar, we will examine modern theories of myth, and modern treatments of myths in a number of literary genres, in order to understand how these ancient forms of thought continue to shape our modern world-view.

 

Technology & Transcendence                                 James Helmer

The American futurist and transhumanist thinker Ray Kurzweil has suggested that the essence of humanity is our creation and employment of technology. In exploring ethical and religious themes in relation to emerging biotechnologies, this seminar will engage "big questions" such as the reality of God/the Transcendent, the meaning of human existence, and the nature of the human condition (e.g., embodiment, life, death, sickness, disease, finitude, moral perfection). The seminar will give particular consideration to the ethics of employing such biotechnologies in order to overcome human limitation and to fundamentally alter the human condition.

 

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.

 

Modern Times                                             Staff Johnson

This course analyzes and explores the great events, personalities and ideas of the last 100 years, with an emphasis on those historical figures who sought truth and acted to make the world better. With this historical perspective, students analyze and reflect on our current time in terms of events and people who have made a positive difference.

 

Capital Punishment                                                Cheryl Jonson or Y. Gail Hurst

Capital punishment is one of the most controversial policies in America’s criminal justice system. With such controversy comes both staunch proponents and opponents who present persuading arguments for their respective positions. This course seeks to allow students to critically assess both the support for and opposition against the death penalty.

 

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.

 

Battle for the Future                                   Anas Malik

The “commons” means the shared resources, such as water, forests, and the atmosphere, which we all use. Many consider the Internet to be a new type of commons. Overuse and abuse can destroy the commons--dwindling forests, water scarcity, and climate change caused by greenhouse gases are examples. Can we figure out how to govern the commons sustainably?

 

The Human Need for Narrative                             Anne McCarty

Story? Who needs it? For a phenomenon that seems to serve little practical purpose for human survival, narrative plays a significant and ongoing role in our lives. In this class, we’ll explore various facets and functions of story and consider the following questions. How do we shape and how are we shaped by narrative? How do we employ narrative as we attempt to understand, cope with, and modify our past, present, and future both as individuals and as a society? How do the stories we currently produce and consume contribute to or detract from the greater good?

 

Beyond Hook Up Culture                            Marcus Mescher

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be male or female, gay or straight? What do we want from our relationships and experiences of intimacy? What resources can we employ to respond to experiences of discrimination, objectification, and violence? This course examines current experiences of identity and sexuality—especially through the prevalence of “hook up culture”—and compares that to what we can learn from a variety of disciplines and perspectives including theology, philosophy, sociology, and psychology to explore how personhood, relationships, and sexuality can contribute to “the greater good.”

 

Villains and Antiheroes                             Niamh J. O’Leary

This seminar asks if villains can serve the greater good and why we love good stories about bad guys. How do we as a society decide what makes a person “bad,” and what value do we attach to that label? How has our understanding of a historical person’s relative villainy or heroism changed over time? Together, we will consider the definitions of heroism and villainy, debate whether you can work toward justice from outside the system, and study nontraditional approaches to the good—from revenge narratives, to tales of vigilante justice, to fortunate falls, to damaged or despicable “everyman” heroes.

 

"You Can’t Say That!": Free Speech in the Digital Age             Randall Patnode

People will tell you, “It's a free country. I can say what I want.” But can you? Should you? This seminar will explore the tension between the desire for an orderly society and individual free speech in its many forms, including symbolic speech, political speech, and hate speech, and how access to digital communication complicates matters.

 

Borderlands of Being Human                                Don Prues

This course keeps coming back to one three-pronged overarching question: What is the human animal, why do we think the way we think, and why do we act the way we act? Ultimately, this course will challenge our assumptions and our motivations about what we believe, what choices we make, what opinions we hold, what’s in our nature, and what it means to be human.

 

Political Theory of Democracy                              John Ray

The course is a detailed reading of parts of John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, the Federalist Papers, and Tocqueville's Democracy in America with a view to understanding the political theory of modern liberal democracy. Emphasis will be on student discussion of the moral, political, and economic issues discussed in the texts. 

 

Health Care: Right or Privilege? or Obamacare & the Zombie Apocalypse

                       Jaylene Schaefer   

Is healthcare a privilege or fundamental right? This course will examine Obamacare in comparison to other countries, including our system’s ability to prevent illness, support wellness, and respond to crisis-be it flu pandemic, Ebola, or zombie apocalypse.

 

Caesar: Tyranny and Political Violence               Thomas Strunk

This course will focus on the image of the tyrant and tyranny in Western political culture; we will be using Julius Caesar as a touchstone to investigate tyranny and opposition to it across the centuries, including medieval, early modern, and contemporary views on tyranny and political violence in light of the greater good of society.

 

Dante, Pilgrim of the Mind                                    Michael Sweeney

Dante will be our guide to college as a journey—a pilgrimage of the mind. Medieval pilgrimage was a physical journey to the Holy Land or to some other holy site that was meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. In the Divine Comedy, Dante is often called a "pilgrim," but the Divine Comedy is a different kind of journey, an intellectual journey that is meant to change and rehearse the journey of a life. This course will propose the question whether college is merely job training or whether it is also an intellectual pilgrimage. We will read closely Dante's Divine Comedy with the assistance of selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Thomas Aquinas' Summa theologiae.

 

Exploring Real and Imaginary Places                    Rebecca Todd     

We all make journeys in our lives, through the known to the unknown, and back again. Where and how do we find ourselves? This seminar’s focus will be exploring real and imagined places, through reading (and creating) maps, pop culture artifacts, fiction and non-fiction. Students will be asked to write traditional essays and create multimodal ones.  

 

Marriage: Crisis & Renewal                                  Marita von Weissenberg

Why do we argue about marriage? How do we seek to understand it? This course seeks to complicate our assumptions by exploring what marriage has been, is, and might yet become within the Western tradition. We will examine challenges to notions of marriage through history, law, psychology, and literature, to name a few.  

 

Gimme More! A History of Stuff                               Amy Whipple

This class will explore the history and ethics of consumerism in Western society from the 1700s to the present. How have people made stuff, sold stuff, designed stuff, and decided who gets stuff? And why have people wanted all this stuff anyway?

 

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.

 

Quests for the Good                                                  James Wood

We human beings naturally yearn for something beyond ourselves, some higher reality that will fulfill us and satisfy our desires. We might call this longed-for yet elusive reality the Good. Some conceive of the Good as a higher order of reality, even a divine being; some see it in the enduring history and future promise of a nation; and some see it in the simple but perennial values of home and family. In this course we will read some of the most powerful and influential accounts that our culture has handed down of the pursuit of the Good and of the exemplary human beings who have pursued it. We will discuss how they conceived it, pursued it, and found or failed to find it. In the course of examining their stories, we will reflect on our own evolving conceptions of the Good and consider how we today might best seek it, both as individuals and as a community.

 

Hamilton: Then and Now                                           Jodi Wyett

This course considers the ongoing influence of eighteenth-century revolutionary ideas about human rights that shaped Western sociocultural thought and practice, including our notions of “the greater good”. We will study how “human” and “rights” were defined during the Enlightenment, paying particular attention to issues of race, class, and gender as well as how the musical Hamilton adapts (embraces? interrogates?) these ideas (ideals?) for modern audiences.

 

Extraordinary Women: A Comparison of the Women of Grimm and Today’s Women with Disabilities                                                                                   Victoria Zascavage

This seminar revolves around the new millennium’s reactions to four 19th century tales edited by the Brothers Grimm in which the central character, a female, has a physical or mental impairment. The tales will be compared to current situations around the world for women with disabilities. The seminar will include pertinent reading and video production.