McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences

Freshmen Seminars

The freshmen seminar program offers first year students the opportunity to explore an intellectually stimulating scholarly topic in the company of a small group of fellow students and a faculty member of the college. Each seminar satisfies a core requirement of the college, and introduces or develops one or more Baccalaureate Competencies (critical thinking, effective communication, knowledge integration, social responsibility), while introducing students to the expectations of college-level work.

Spring 2016

* Courses are linked with a common theme: "Beyond Wes Moore: Cities and Racial Identity".

*Black Lives Matter (AFST1022-001)

  • This course will look at the component parts of social organization. In particular, the relationship between cultures, structure, and power. We will look at how the organization of the United States through this relationship reinforces and allows for challenges to race relations (in particular, Black and white) in America. Our approach will utilize a historical and sociological description and analysis beginning with enslavement and bringing us up to the present.
    BOK: DC, SS


  • This course is designed for non-science majors and will begin by discussing basic animal classification with an emphasis on animals displayed at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Classes of animals that will be discussed include but are not limited to mammalia, aves, amphibia, reptilia, chondrichthyes and osteichthyes. Other taxa discussed include superclass agnatha and phylum arthropoda with an emphasis on class insecta. Basic characteristics and adaptations of these taxa will be discussed. Basic ecological principles will be described including evolution, adaptations to environmental pressures and population and community ecology. Many of the taxa will be observed through Zoo tours and live animal demonstrations that will emphasize the animal's characteristics, adaptations, evolutionary relationships and basic ecological concepts.
    BOK: NS

Signs and Symbols (ENGL1002-001)

  • This seminar will focus on recent controversies about visual rhetoric, such as the use and display of the Confederate flag, and other timely discussions, such as the appropriation of cultural symbols, campaign logo designs, corporate branding, and the sliding signifiers of class status and wealth.
    BOK: EC

Exploring Social Media (ENGL1002-002)

  • This Freshman Seminar will explore the complex and ever-changing world of social media.  We will read a diverse selection of texts that offer a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives on the social mediaverse.  Students will develop a substantial research project that pulls together primary and secondary research on a given social media platform.  We will also experiment with producing the genres and forms that serve as the medium for these social media sites.
    BOK: EC

Autobiography (ENGL1002-003)

  • This writing intensive course explores connections between personal experience and academic research.  This section teaches writers to develop research projects from their own interests and hobbies.  Using both popular culture and academic resources, the course will increase critical reading and writing skills for academic life and beyond.
    BOK: EC

Film Environment (ENGL1018-001)

  • A seminar devoted to examining selected novels, memoirs, and films that feature human beings encountering nature or dealing with environmental problems, such as animal extinction, pollution, mountain top removal, global warming, and others.  Texts will include Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and the film based on that book, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (and the recent film starring Reese Witherspoon), Dian Fossey’s memoir, Gorillas in the Mist (and film), Timothy Treadwell’s memoir, Among Grizzlies, and the film Grizzly Man, Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behavior (with the film The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies), and John Grisham’s recent novel, Gray Mountain.
    BOK: HU

*The Other Wes Moore (ENGL1018-001)

  • Using Wes Moore's dual narrative as a foundation, this course will examine samples of past and contemporary American discourse to assess how the concept of race shapes Americans' understanding of their country and its citizens. Our overarching goal will be to develop insightful cultural analysis as we consider the relative social influence of differing rhetorics of race on such issues as policing, voting rights, education, housing, and economic equity. Questions to be considered include: What is the relative power of political speech and personal narrative, and how do these forms intersect? How do particular rhetorical structures determine how ideas about race are legitimized and understood? What do particular rhetorics of race suggest to us about the social conditions within which they were and are produced?
    BOK: HU

Monsters, Magic & Morality (FREN1042-001)

  • The French literary canon is daunting, but if it is approached through some reader-friendly texts, a student can soon grasp the extent and importance of this world literature.  In this class we will read works of prose and poetry, including Perrault’s fairy tales, la Fontaine’s fables, Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and even some theater of the absurd.  Students will be encouraged to relate works of literature to other fields of study, to life and to laughter.  The work of the course will include written reactions, presentations in class (perhaps even some performance pieces, if a student chooses to do so) and a final exam.
    BOK: HU, DC

Religious Landscapes (GEOG1085-001)

  • "Contested Religious Landscapes of Northern Ireland" is a freshman seminar with an international study component. This course will examine the symbolic and vernacular religious landscapes and the visible / invisible boundaries between Catholic and Protestant spaces in Northern Ireland, focusing on demarcations that have separated areas based on religion. Vernacular landscapes, the everyday physical landscapes of particular places or regions that reflect the presence of the people living there, often contrast with symbolic landscapes, which reflect certain values, ideals and mores embedded in those particular places or regions. Religious landscapes are of significant interest in that the distinctions between the vernacular and the symbolic are often blurred and challenging to separate. Northern Ireland provides a current and historical lens through which this amalgamation is shown to be ever-present and constantly reinforced, as religious claims over secular space has long been a defining (if not historically contentious) issue linking place and identity.
    BOK: SS, SE

Surface Processes (GEOL1002C-001)

  • Earth's surface is continuously changing as tectonic, climatic, geomorphic, hydrologic and biological processes constantly operate. These changes affect the way we utilize and survive on our planet. This course will examine the nature of these processes from a geologic perspective to show how an understanding of their dynamics is relevant to the well being of humankind. Specifically, we will examine: 1) the management of geological resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, water and land space; 2) the effects of natural hazards on humans and how we can mitigate the hazards; 3) how geology can be used to help in the effective design and implementation of engineering projects; and 4) waste disposal and minimizing effects of pollution. Students will complete two group projects during this course.
    BOK: NS

*Race & Neighborhood (HIST1099-001)

  • The course examines the forces, events, and demographic movements that shaped the development of racially isolated, low-income African American communities in American cities in the 20th century, starting in the 19th century and continuing through the last 20 to 30 years of 20th century, with attention to trends in race, residence, and employment. It will look at the interaction between black efforts for self-determination, public policy choices at the local, state, and federal levels, and the actions of private individuals and organizations, all of which helped to shape the residential and economic environments experienced by urban African Americans.
    BOK: HP

*Race Ethnicity in Cities (HIST1099-002)

  • A comparative course, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, and would run parallel to my graduate seminar on the history of cities from a comparative perspective.  As you know, there were many, many varieties of slavery practiced in southwest Asia, aka the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world for most of human history. Most if not all of us are descended from slaves, as it was the predominant form of organizing labor economics until the 19th century.  How has this legacy been handled in different regional and cultural settings?  Why are some ethnicities conscious of their bound labor past, and others are not?  What are the measures of enforcement of ethnic identity?  Crucially for our theme of urban literacy:  how has the legacy of slavery and of ethnic identity changed with mass migration to cities from the late 19th century through to today?
    BOK: HP

Jesus, Judaism & History (JUDC1050-001)

  • This course is intended to introduce students to the figure of Jesus, his religious and  political environment, the writers who sought to record his life and work, and the fundamentals of Jesus' scholarship.
    BOK: HU, DC

*Sociology of Education (SOC1060-001)

  • Education endows students with particular skills, knowledge, and individual development to enhance their life opportunities and chances. It’s compulsory nature in the United States demonstrates the prominent role education plays in shaping our social selves and society. The schooling process will inevitably prepare students for careers in the labor force and help them become “productive” U.S. citizens. While the institution of education boasts the title of “the great equalizer,” we still find educational disparities among racial, gender, class, disability, geographic/spatial, and other social groups that continue to maintain inequality in our society. This course asks the critical question if the schooling process or the schooled citizens contribute to the persistent educational disparities in the U.S.? In order to answer this question, this course will examine the social, cultural, economic, and historical context, in which our educational system manifested.  We will then interrogate the schooling process, asking how are schools organized and what exactly are U.S. schooling processes, practices, and policies.  We will then consider the social actors in schools, and ask how do the roles of student, administrator, and teacher/faculty function to preserve our educational values and ideologies.  Finally, we will analyze the enduring qualities of inequality amongst racial, gender, class, disability, geographical/spatial, and other social groups. Adopting a sociological perspective on education will enhance your understanding of contemporary issues in education and critically examine how those issues within education also impact other social institutions in our society.
    BOK: SS, SE

Outrageous Writings by Women (WGS1052-001)

  • This Freshman Seminar examines fiction, poetry, drama, oratory, and political rhetoric that can be read as "outrageous," either contemporaneously or in its historical context. The course will consider why certain forms and/or content is or has been deemed "outrageous."
    BOK: HU, DC