11 Uncommon Courses to Take Your First Year

Welcome to the First-Year Seminar (FYS) at Xavier. Yes, it’s an official three-hour course, but it's much more than that. It’s also an opportunity for you to work closely with a professor and about 15 fellow first-year Musketeers exploring important and challenging issues that you choose.

What makes FYS different? Every course is a personal passionate interest of the professor, and they’re excited to teach it. 

What’s also cool is to be in a class where everyone’s a first-year student, not taking the same major and not living in the same dorm. At the end of FYS, you’ll not only make new friends, your brain will make the transition from high-school to high-def college—plus you may even have a lot of fun!

Here’s just a sampling of the nearly 30 First-Year Seminar courses you’ll have the opportunity to choose from in the fall:

1. Villains and Antiheroes         
A consideration of the definitions of heroism and villainy—from revenge narratives, to tales of vigilante justice, to fortunate falls, to damaged or despicable “everyman” heroes.

2. Bicycling Our Bioregion                                                     
Got a bike? Let’s ride! This course will introduce students to Cincinnati, its bioregion, and many other towns in the region. Students will spend seven days on half-day bicycling history excursions around Cincinnati. The course is built on themes prominent in sustainability education, including ways of viewing humans as part of nature.

3. Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation 
Sacred Navajo places—like Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly—teach us what it means to be human. This course includes travel over Spring Break to the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation.

4. Saint Francis and Pope Francis       
What happens when the sincerity of one of Christianity’s most famous saints meets the vision of history’s first Jesuit pope?

5. Reading YouTube                                
A class on YouTube? Really? Yes, really.

6. Popular Culture and The Civil Rights Movement 
An examination of the Civil Rights Movement in newspapers, photos and films, as well as music, theater and visual art.

7. Games and Virtues       
Speaking of Cards Against Humanity—What can games today and throughout history tell us about humanity? What virtues and skills are valued by games—and by society? What is the nature of play itself? Students will design a game as a group project.

8. Paris                                              
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.

9. Rereading Frankenstein                                
Take an in-depth, multidisciplinary look at Mary Shelley’s timeless novel, Frankenstein. You’ll then trace the evolution of her monster, in fiction, film and more as it became a cultural icon for over 200 years.

10. U2: Elevating Your Inner Social Justice Activist  
After 175 million albums sold—and counting—can a Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band teach us anything about our own call to social justice activism? This course examines how U2 inspired generations of activists, many of them college students, to elevate their own social justice awareness around causes that benefit the greater good.

11. Searching for Meaning in a Scientific Age 
Can science explain everything? In this seminar, you will discuss the relation between scientific explanations and the individual’s search for a life that makes sense.

All First-Year Seminar Classes