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First-Year Seminars

Discover new ideas with a First-Year Seminar at Northern Vermont University-Johnson.

First-year seminars are interdisciplinary, seminar-style courses taught by Northern Vermont University-Johnson faculty and specifically for first-year students. You and your classmates will have chosen the seminar based on shared interests, and the small-group, collaborative environment will provide a challenging but supportive environment for you to acclimate to the rigors of college-level academics.

Fall 2021 First-Year Seminars

iMe: Reinventing Yourself in the Digital Age (ART 1080 – FYS)

Instructor: Sean Clute
Credits: 3

Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook, viewed cats from around the world on YouTube or conquered a video game with online teammates? Digital technology is making it easier than ever to express yourself and communicate on a global scale. With the advent of virtual realities like Second Life, you can reach beyond globalism and enter the realm of total imagination. With all of these exciting changes, how do you navigate this new world? In this seminar, we will explore technology’s role in our lives. Through an interdisciplinary approach, we will examine science, art and literature’s take on topics including Web 2.0, cybernetics and virtual reality. We will look at how these topics have influenced robotics, viral videos and most important, you.

Art & Ethics (ARH 1030 – FYS)

Instructor: Mary Martin
Credits: 3

This course is designed to explore ethics of the art world from many angles. We will study graffiti and street art and how graffiti artists have migrated from illicit street art into the galleries and museums. We will discuss art and activism in terms of environmental art and architecture as well as art as political protest. We will explore articles and case law that deal with the issues of illegal export, import, censorship, copyright and display.  We will see how war has dislocated and destroyed artworks.

Dystopia: Cautionary Tales of a Nightmarish Future (ENG 1360 – FYS)

Instructor: Tyrone Shaw
Credits: 3

Probing basic questions of human nature and society, dystopian (the worst of all possible worlds) literature and film reveal anxieties that remain chillingly applicable today. We will explore such issues as the self, alienation, freedom, complicity, citizenship, love, faith, sex, technology and happiness through a variety of novels and films.

Dreams, Freedom, and Wonder (ENG 1045 – FYS)

Instructor: Russ Weis
Credits: 3

In this course you will view, discuss, and then write about a number of American films from the past quarter century.  Each film incorporates themes of writing, dreaming, and discovering one’s truest self.  Along the way, your thinking will expand, and your critical reading and writing skills will improve.  Field trips to an arts cinema and/or a local film festival will enhance the classroom experience.

Journaling: Writing in New Territory (ENG 1420 – FYS)

Instructor: Rose Modry
Credits: 3

The objective of this course is to use writing as a means to stimulate reflective and critical thinking. With these skills, the students can then see the world through these lenses, as students and as writers. Students will do investigative writing; that is, they will not only write what they observe, but also they will write about how and why these observations affect the interpretation of experience, insight and knowledge. Students will use daily writing as a crucial medium for thinking. Students use their journals as a way to communicate through observation, reflection, introspection and written expression.

Censoring Popular Culture (ENG 1450 – FYS)

Instructor: Jeff Bickerstaff
Credits: 3

Witch hunts, scapegoats, public burnings and a whole lot of dirty words – who knew the First Amendment could be so interesting? This seminar will explore ways that free speech disputes go beyond hypersexual songs, ultraviolent video games, and hippie comedians yanked off stage in handcuffs to core conflicts deep in the heart of the American identity. Throughout the semester, we’ll touch on history, mass psychology, elitism, moral crusaders and political grandstanders, weird rituals, and what it means to really protect children. In class, we’ll look at banned books and listen to controversial music and comedy. We’ll also study old news footage to get a better understanding of the nature of hysteria.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (MAT 1095 – FYS)

Instructor: Greg Petrics
Credits: 3

This course is a contemporary review of the classical work of the same name by Edward Tufte. The course explores classical visual displays of quantitative information, and introduces the foundational skills to create them.

A Call to Action (SSC 1050 – FYS)

Instructor: Jae Basiliere
Credits: 3

This class will examine major movements of social action from the peace movement to the Civil Rights movement, learn tools to activate your citizenship, and learn the art of deliberative dialogue. Students will participate in a service project and learn about social issues, social activism, local community organizations and initiatives, and ways to make change in our communities.

Deep Survival Class (OEL 1090 – FYS)

Instructor: Brad Moskowitz
Credits: 3

This seminar is not designed to teach the primitive living skills associated with surviving in the wilderness. However, it does involve wilderness experiences and associated course work that explores how and/or why some people manage to survive life threatening experiences while others don’t live to tell their story. This course involves weekly meetings and a multi-day backcountry experience to help participants understand how the concepts of leadership, community, and having a sense of place are integral to surviving in the wilderness, and how these lessons directly relate to surviving and thriving in the college experience, and in life.
Prerequisite: None.

What’s Your Story (THA-1025 – NJ01)

Instructor: Isaac Eddy
Credits: 3

This course is designed as an introduction to the act of creating art and telling stories based on our own lived experience. Through studying other writers, illustrators, performance artists, filmmakers, and comedians, we will learn how to cultivate stories from our own lives that are compelling in a similar way. The course will culminate in a final showcase of original works of video, writing, and performance created by students in the class. No previous experience is required, as we will be exploring new frontiers of storytelling together. This course is intended for extroverted performers and introverted writers alike.

This course counts in the General Core Category: First Year Seminar