Students participating in a water study.

Have you ever wondered if we can connect with the cosmos? Or what’s real, what’s fake - and how can you ever really know? And where did everything, yes everything, even come from? The First-Year Seminar series answers these and other questions by approaching critical thinking and academic curriculum on a completely new level.

From black holes and Black Mirror, to Black Panther and the Mother of Dragons, first-year seminars have it all! We asked our inventive professors to develop courses that focus on intriguing topics (e.g. climate, morality, comic books and fairy tales), and then to structure the topics to meet our rigorous academic standards. The courses described below in the First-Year Seminar series are all held in small, interactive classes—limited to 19 students in each course, and are available to all CU Boulder first-year students.

These seminars are a great way to develop communication skills, make connections with professors and students who share your interests, and explore topics that can help you discover the academic path that’s right for you!

We also offer a limited number of First Year Seminars with an international component: FYSM 1200 First year Seminars International. These courses meet on a regular schedule during the semester, and end with a week abroad in early January.

First-Year Seminars are a great way to explore topics that can help you discover the academic path that’s right for you.

To register for a First-Year Seminar class:

1. Search FYSM 1000 (or FYSM 1200 for our International Seminars) in myCUinfo. You’ll see that each topic has its own section number. 

2. Enroll in the topic that interests you most or schedule an appointment with your advisor through MyCUHub to learn how a First-Year Seminar course fits into your academic plan.

Fall 2019 First-Year Seminars

The Origins of Racism

Andres I. Prieto - Spanish & Portuguese

Have white people always been white? Were there Native Americans before Columbus? Is Latino a race or an ethnicity? In this class, we will explore how European men developed and imposed their own racial categories on the native peoples of the Americas and on the African slaves they imported in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and how populations reacted to the new labels applied to them. By focusing on the colonization of Spanish America and the US, we will try to understand how certain ideas about race came to be, and the similarities and differences between early modern attitudes and our own.

Improvisation: Thinking on Your Feet

Kevin Rich, Theatre & Dance

In this experience-based course, you will learn and practice the basic rules of improvisation and be introduced to a variety of applications of improv, including long-form, short-form, Playback and red-nosed clown.  Improv is often associated with comedy (because it’s fun and hilarious!) but it also provides essential skills in collaboration, creativity, and communication and is increasingly being taught in law schools, business schools, and beyond.  No improv or performance experience is necessary to enroll in this course;  we’ll start with the basics and work our way up, culminating in a fun final performance with your classmates that will leave you feeling more confident about public speaking, collaborating with others, and thinking on your feet!

Game of Thrones and the Logic of Political Survival

Adrian Shin, Political Science

All political leaders face the challenge of keeping their jobs or heads. Whether you are the ruler of King’s Landing or the Mother of Dragons, your desire to survive motivates your policy choices. Using the series Game of Thrones, this seminar introduces first-year students to some of the most important concepts in political science and discusses how to maximize their chance of survival should they decide to enter politics.

Real vs. Fake: How Can You Tell?

Douglas Duncan, APS

How can you tell good from bad science on the internet? Astronomy vs. astrology? Climate change vs. climate change denial? Conventional vs. unconventional medicine? How does a nonscientist make wise choices among real and fake sources of information? This seminar broadens the curriculum to include all kinds of real and fake news. What are the tell-tale signs of each? How can you protect yourself from being "conned"? Fakes can be fun, but avoiding being fooled is serious. And what really did land in Roswell, New Mexico?!

The Biology of Sex and Gender

Sam Flaxman, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

What do the biological sciences have to teach us about what it means to be male, female, or none of the above? To what extent do scientific findings and "human nature" impact our moral and ethical views related to sex, gender and sexual behavior? We will employ a holistic approach to understanding how scientific findings fit with and potentially change our perceptions of ourselves and others, and how such findings have been used or abused throughout history. This course has been approved for GenEd-Natural Science credit.

Headwaters: Going Upriver in Literature and Film 

Thomas Levi Thompson, Asian Languages and Civilizations

Taking account of river journeys as our focal point, this seminar explores headwaters in literature and film. We will also reflect on what it means to travel into the unknown, to seek out unexplored headwaters, to undertake a life-changing journey upriver. Along the way, we will discuss the works of Joseph Conrad, Tayyib Saleh, Ibn Fadlan, Francis Ford Coppola, Ciro Guerra, Werner Herzog, Toni Morrison and Rudaki, among others. This class has been approved for GenEd-Diversity Global Perspective credit.

Investigating Art, Media, Culture and Visual Literacy Through Drawing 

Tyler Alpern, Libby Arts RAP

This seminar teaches basic drawing skills together with the mechanics of two-dimensional space, and deconstructs the kinds of artistic images students commonly encounter in social media, street art, graffiti, advertising, comics and tattoos as a basis for understanding how complex visual language communicates profound meaning. Experiential learning activities introduce the practices of design thinking, idea production, the creative process and critical thinking. This course has been approved for GenEd-Arts & Humanities credit. 

Boxing: The Original Greek Mental and Physical Fitness Program 

Murray Cox, Applied Mathematics

As the philosophical Greeks understood long ago, the mind and body work as one and must be in harmony. A number of world-class intellects have used boxing as a vehicle to focus the mind, challenge the body, and face the adrenalin and excitement of athleticism mano a mano. An Olympic captain conducts training; guest speakers are gold medal winners and other world-class athletes.

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How to Think (Philosophically) About Sex

David Boonin, Philosophy 

Are violent sexual fantasies immoral? What about playing video games that feature sexual violence? Hiring a prostitute? Incest? Sexual promiscuity? And what should we say when a person’s consent to sex is compromised because they’ve been given false information or they’re moderately intoxicated or quite young? Is it wrong to be a sperm donor or pay someone to carry a pregnancy to term? Sex raises a lot of important and difficult ethical questions. This introductory-level, discussion-oriented seminar will provide a critical survey of what contemporary philosophers have said about many of these questions, and help students learn how to think, talk and write about such questions clearly, critically and constructively.

Leonardo da Vinci: Art, Form and Function—Then and Now

Rishi Raj, Mechanical Engineering

Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisain 1503 at the age of 51, but he also drew turbulent water and the human body, and created precise mechanisms for manufacturing and defense as a way to give form to his ideas. This seminar explores his mind and methods, still valid today, and applies them to molecular biology, microelectronics, robotics, energy and materials science. This highly interdisciplinary course has three aspects: immersion in the work of Leonardo da Vinci, working on and writing about specific topics within one of these areas, and constructive discussion of each other’s work.

Why Be Moral?

Brian Talbot, Philosophy

Why we should care about doing the right thing? Although discussions of this topic go back to the beginnings of philosophy, there remain to this day the fiercest of disagreements about how to answer the question. This seminar examines the variety of answers that have been given over the centuries. Students will be asked to think analytically about the question, and to reflect honestly on the question from within their own lives, so as to seek an understanding that is both intellectual and personal.

Asia Travels: Perceptions of Self, Constructions of Other

J Colleen Berry, Center for Asian Studies

Does travel create more understanding and bring people closer together? Or does it just reinforce stereotypes and generate negative feelings? This course examines how travel by both Asian people and non-Asian people shapes and reflects our views of ourselves and of others. It will challenge your assumptions and deepen your travel experiences throughout the world. This class has been approved for GenEd-Diversity: Global Perspective credit.

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Science and Art in an Interdisciplinary World

Jorge Pérez-Gallego, Critical Media Practices

Carl Sagan once said, “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” Similarly, art is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of work. Thus, the sciences and the arts are two complementary ways of thinking about the world inside and around us. This course examines the duality while empowering students as they embark on a new academic journey that will allow them to explore their scientific and artistic inquisitiveness. This course is rooted in NEST—Nature, Environment, Science & Technology Studio for the Arts, a campus initiative that combines artistic practice and scientific research to explore our common and disparate ways of observing, recording, experimenting and knowing.

America Compared:  The Greatest Country in the World?

Sven Steinmo, Political Science

We've heard a lot about the U.S. being "exceptional." But what does that mean? How and why is the USA different from other democracies, and what does that mean for our future in the 21st century?

Witchcraft in Premodern Europe and America

Celine Dauverd, History

Do you believe in magic? How do magic and religion differ? Were witches considered a real threat? This course will guide you through European and American rationalization of the persecution of witches. Cultural historians of witchcraft usually rely on archival sources, painstakingly teasing out stories from trial records, to eventually create alluring works that offer a window into an era associated with European expansion, the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. In this course, students will read witchcraft manuals, transcripts of tried witches and secondary literature, participate in skits, and practice history by writing journal entries pretending to be a witch. 

Gandhi and Meditation:  Practicing Peace Inside and Out

Cathy Comstock, Farrand RAP

Gandhi stunned the world by showing that nonviolence can be a force more powerful than violence, and demonstrating the power of meditation to keep us peaceful, strong and happy even in the most stressful of situations. In this class you will learn all the ways that nonviolence can transform the world. And you will learn meditative techniques that apply to every part of your life. We all have an astounding inner technology just waiting to bring us a happiness, well-being and focus far beyond that which we may have imagined to be possible. This course has been approved for GenEd-Social Science credit. 

Here Comes the Sun: How the Nearest Star Affects our Lives

Steven R. Cranmer, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences 

Are you fascinated by that huge, fiery powerhouse up in the sky that sustains all life on Earth? In this seminar, you will discover what makes the sun shine, how it affects Earth's climate and biology, how we can harness its power, and how it can produce hazardous "solar storms" that may have serious consequences here on the ground. We will seek out deep connections between topics as seemingly different as rainbows, ancient myths and alien life forms. You'll also chart a unique course by designing your own group projects, writing about topics that interest you and carrying out in-class debates.

Global Citizenship 

Antonio Papuzza, Organizational Leadership & Information Analytics

What are  the challenges and opportunities of being a global citizen? The global environment in which economics, culture and technology converge is diverse, changing, complex and interdependent. Life, work and business, in this third millennium, urge the new generation to learn specific global frameworks and tools to keep up with life on a global level. This course provides some of the interdisciplinary perspectives necessary to understand global realities, while encouraging students to explore and develop their own ideas and talents to find their own place in the global future of the planet. This course, ultimately, empowers students through knowledge, competencies and transformative reflections to engage in a responsible and impactful way with the global dynamics of the planet.

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Be Boulder: Exploring the Power of Place 

John M. Ackerman, Program for Writing and Rhetoric 

Welcome to Boulder! Whether you come from near or far, our seminar will explore your relation to the places that ground us, and challenge our memories and imagination, or even alter how we learn and live. We'll read, talk and write, but moreover we'll walk, touch, record, laugh and assemble the Boulder that is most within our reach. It will all seem a little less strange, and you'll end up a little more resilient, as you begin your academic journey. This course has been approved for GenEd-Lower Division Written Communication credit. 

Black Holes in Science, Media and Culture 

Mitch Begelman, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences 

This seminar explores how one of the most unexpected and compelling science ideas of the 20th century—black holes—has been expressed by scientists, disseminated to the general public and incorporated into popular culture. After studying key ideas in black hole science, we will examine and critique how these ideas have been conveyed to the general public through newspapers, magazines, blogs, videos and social media, and how black hole-related concepts have been used in science fiction novels and films. How accurately has the science been portrayed, and how much has it been distorted to tell a story? How have black holes served as metaphors for issues unrelated to their scientific nature?

The Pursuit of Happiness

Catherine Kunce, Program for Writing and Rhetoric 

Many go to college hoping that doing so will bring happiness, either immediately or in the long run. Yet, do we really know what happiness is, or how to obtain it? Join us in exploring what people, throughout history and in varied disciplines, have suggested is the best way to achieve happiness. We'll test ideas about pursuing happiness through class discussions and through treks in and around Boulder, which National Geographic in 2017 named "the happiest city" in the United States.

Social Effects of Technology

David Paradis, History

Ever feel like your phone or Facebook has more control over your time than you'd like? Ever wonder what life will be like when artificial Intelligence becomes more advanced. Maybe you would like to be an inventor and wonder what kinds of obstacles inventors have faced in the past. This course will examine technology, its creators and their societies to provide some historical perspective on our growing reliance on technology.

Community as Classroom: Responding to Public Problems

Sabrina Sideris, CU Engage

This interactive and engaging course explores public problems by integrating our studies inside the classroom with an off-campus learning opportunity. Students will explore how problems are solved by innovative community leaders who think outside the box. Learners will empower themselves to make a difference by increasing their understanding of public problems, as defined by local nonprofit organizations.

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Ideas of India: Intellectual Legacies of Saints, Scholars and Scoundrels

Rahul Parson, Asian Languages and Civilizations

India generates many images, associations, stories and sensations. What are the legacies of these things, how did they come to be, and how accurate are they? This course is about the cultures, wisdom and associations of a dynamic and marvelous part of the world.

Radically Modern

Patrick Greaney, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures

What did it mean to be a radical artist in the early 20th century? Why did some modern artists and writers imagine that their creations would transform politics, gender, race, sexuality and all aspects of everyday life? This course will introduce students to the history and theory of the avant-garde in early 20th-century Europe. We will discuss original artworks and documents held in the CU Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, and Norlin Library Special Collections. 

Building Sustainable Communities 

Lupita Montoya, Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering 

Engineering design can be used to solve technical or scientific problems and societal challenges. Through problem definition, background research, requirement specification, brainstorm solutions, solution selection, prototype, test and redesign, our goal will be to contribute our efforts to building sustainable and resilient communities in the U.S. and abroad. Dynamic multidisciplinary teams with diverse intellectual, social and academic backgrounds will tackle real problems in real communities. Students will explore concepts such as resilience, grit, growth mindset, diversity and justice to deliver the best solution to the problems they set out to solve. 

Race and Citizenship in U.S. History and Culture 

Seema Sohi, Ethnic Studies

Throughout American history, citizenship has been used to draw boundaries between those who are included as members of national, state and local communities, and entitled to respect, protection and rights—and those who are excluded and thus not entitled to such rights. Examining the experiences of various ethnic and racial groups in the United States through issues including mass incarceration, criminal justice and immigration, this course will explore how race, gender and sexuality have been central to determining who are treated as first- or second-class citizens, and what that says about justice and equality in the contemporary United States.

The Origin of Everything

Kieran Murphy, French and Italian

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the universe, the solar system, life on earth, human civilization and modern society? This course offers instruction from world-class experts in each area, as guest speakers from multiple departments will share the latest research in their fields. We’ll think about what all these origins may have in common, what we can and can't know about the past, and how understanding these origins can help us be better thinkers about the future.

The Vietnam Wars in Film, Literature, Music and Memory 

Steven Dike, Honors/Honors Residential Academic Program 

Every war is fought twice—first on the battlefield, and then in the realm of memory. We will read some of the great literature  of the Vietnam War, such as Tim O'Brien's The Things they Carried, Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War, Graham Greene's The Quiet American, and the recent Pulitzer-Prize meta-novel, Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer. We will look at how Hollywood told the story of Vietnam through films like Forrest GumpPlatoonand Apocalypse Now, and explore Vietnamese films like When the Tenth Month Comes. And we will listen to the music of the times to discover how soldiers and activists used it to make sense of the war.

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The Mathematics of Social Networks: Stuff That Your Friends Say About You!

James Curry, Applied Mathematics and TCP

Social networks are everywhere and used by both young and old. This course will focus on some of the underlying mathematics—matrices, graphs and networks—to learn the backstory of social networks. A lot has happened since a version of this course was first taught in spring 2016: the discovery of fake social media accounts, Facebook’s presentation before Congress and its increasingly reflective response as a company, the move from Facebook to Instagram, critical reviews by Pew Research, the presence of big data, etc. Weekly writing assignments and a final report are required to pass the course. You will learn to be a better writer!

Good Men Are Hard to Find: O’Connor, McCarthy and the Coens

Jan Whitt, Journalism

The class is for anyone who loves film and literature and who doesn't mind a dose of creepiness and mystery. Our class examines several themes: 1) the concept of “grace”; 2) the fusion of comedy and horror, and the role of dark humor and farce; and 3) the prevalence of the grotesque in Southern literature. We will read O'Connor's The Displaced PersonGood Country PeopleA Good Man Is Hard To FindThe Life You Save May Be Your Own and Revelation, along with Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. For individual or group presentations, students will select from nine Coen brothers films, including The Big LebowskiFargoRaising Arizona and True Grit. The class will screen No Country for Old Men together. 

Women's Voices in Italy

Michael Ardizzoni and Cosetta Seno, French and Italian

This seminar will focus on the role played by women in Italian society in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will analyze the variety of ways in which women have contributed to Italian culture and have become active agents of their own stories. In particular, we will discuss the centrality of women in the arts (literature, cinema, television and music); as historical and political subjects (from Fascism to contemporary activism); and as intellectual leaders (from the 1960s feminist struggles to the current #metoo movement and contemporary fights for diversity and inclusivity).

Immigrant Colorado

Vilja Hulden, History 

A century ago, more than 1 in 3 Americans were born overseas or had foreign-born parents. But to many, immigrants from places like Italy or Poland seemed “too foreign," and World War I raised fears about immigrant loyalty. In this hands-on class, we complete a project that takes us to that century-ago moment by focusing on immigrants in specific Colorado localities. Our end product is an online exhibit with data visualizations, document analyses and maps that illuminate the immigrant history of these places and show how it ties into a broader discussion of what it means to be an immigrant in America—and what it means to be American.

Stratospheric Explorations

Cora Randall, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

This course explores such topics as the ozone hole, the polar vortex and climate change, introducing students to the fundamental physical and chemical principles that govern pollution, weather and climate while also studying the history of atmospheric science, policy and communication of controversial topics. Students engage in hands-on measurements of the stratosphere and analysis of NASA satellite data, and practice thinking critically and creatively about the observations and their implications. Students emerge from the class with a better understanding of some of the most profound aspects of the Earth's atmosphere, an appreciation for how scientific research is conducted, and a heightened awareness of how the media portray scientific issues related to the Earth's climate system. This course is accepted for credit toward the CU Boulder Space Minor “Earth, Space and the Universe” requirement category. This course has been approved for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) majors and minors. 

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Cultural Difference Through Hispanic Literature

Mary K. Long, Spanish and Portugese

The course explores notions of cultural difference starting in the 13th century up to the present in works by authors from Spain, Peru, Argentina, Mexico and U.S. Latino literary traditions. We'll meet, among others, Lazarillo de Tormes, a rascal from 16th-century Spain who cleverly challenges the unfair structures of his era; Jesusa, a young woman who fought during the Mexican Revolution; and Ernesto, a bilingual writer coming of age in the Andes of Peru. We explore historical, political and geographical realities of the worlds depicted and reflect in the ways individuals and cultures define themselves in juxtaposition to Others.

Native American Visualities

Penny Kelsey, English 

This seminar introduces students to a range of contemporary and traditional Native American writing systems (e.g., Lakota pictographs, Iroquois wampum belts and Mayan hieroglyphs), earthworks (e.g., “mounds”) and their relationship to astronomy, Native American indie film, tribal comics and other contemporary Native art.  Students will explore the relationship between visual expression, orality, recordkeeping and “reading” in the Western sense.  The course will consider how memorization of the significant agreements, such as treaties, that are recorded with wampum belts functions vis-à-vis other oral traditions, such as the Quran.

East Asian Comic Cultures

Evelyn Shih, Asian Languages and Civilizations

How do we write about what is funny? This course looks at how this question has been asked and answered by theorists of the comic and by cultural producers in modern East Asia. Moving through various theories of the comic, we will test them against works of film, cartoons and literature. Students reflect on their own comic sensibility to locate their positions as cultural critics. This course has been approved for GenEd-Arts & Humanities credit.

Liberty: Political Revolution in Colonial American Society 

Jim Hodge, Military Science

Intellectual and moral change in Colonial America led to the desire for independence. We will come to appreciate the impact and result of the British government’s legacy of European conflict in the New World. As described by J. Mercierca, “Colonial Americans had once been content with their role within the empire—content with the knowledge that they were British subjects, living ‘under the best national civil constitution in the world.’” In this interactive course, we will examine the events and outcomes of what John Adams termed the true revolution, and how events abroad and domestic guided the “Founding Fathers” to a decision to abandon reconciliation and seek separation and independence.

High-tech Applications in Weather and Climate 

Zhien Wang, ATOC

Boulder is one of the world centers in weather and climate research. In this seminar we'll review basic concepts and explore the economic significance of weather and climate; discuss techniques used in current weather and climate observation, research and forecast; and visit state-of-the-art research facilities in the region. Group projects will allow students to develop creative approaches to deal with challenging weather and climate issues. The primary goal of the seminar is to promote interdisciplinary and problem-driven thinking and teamwork.

The Science of Science Fiction

David Brain, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences

"That movie was great, but the science sure seemed wrong." Do the two halves of that sentence even belong together? This course will critically assess "movie science," in some weeks discussing prevalent themes in science fiction and in others discussing individual movies. If appropriate, we will devote one lecture to watching a current release in the theater. Students will also collaborate to devise their own scientifically accurate movie plot. Disclaimer: Movie plots will be revealed in this class!

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Designing the Renaissance

Anja Lange, Herbst Program of Humanities

You’ve heard of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante and Boccaccio, but do you really know who they were? Did you know that they were great artists, engineers and writers of the Renaissance, a time in history that marks the birthplace of modernity and defines who you are as a person today? In this class we learn how to read and appreciate the great art pieces of the time, study Florentine literature, and examine great architectural and engineering marvels. In January, the course will conclude with a faculty-supervised trip to Florence, Italy!

How Should One Live?

Mitzi Lee, Philosophy

How should one live? What are the goals and essential elements of a well-lived, happy and flourishing life? One of the most profound contributions of ancient Greek philosophy to Western thought was its exploration of this question. In this course, we will begin by exploring answers offered by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, including their concepts of eudaimonia or "happiness" and of aretê or "virtue." In the second half of the course, we turn to the Epicurean and Stoic approaches to philosophy as a way of life, and will experiment with some of their recommendations for living well.

Astronauts & Innovators: Topics in Space Exploration from the Cold War to the Future of Spacefaring 

Galina Siergiejczyk, Global Residential Academic Program 

By exploring the history of space exploration, this seminar will equip students with critical learning skills to understand the history of the Space Race from Russian and American perspectives, and to grasp the current trends and future innovations in space tourism, medicine, commerce and law. The course examines the relationships between history, science and politics of the Space Age, beginning with the early space flight pioneers and the Cold War’s Space Race, and concluding with current advances in humanity’s interstellar aspirations.

Evil, Illusions and Androids: Uncertainty in Literature, Philosophy and Film

Lauren Shizuko Stone, Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

How can we know what's right or even real? In this seminar, we will consider the role that uncertainty plays in our knowledge by considering questions such as whether the existence of evil challenges the idea of a benevolent creator, what role our own minds play in what we think of as “real,” and how the rise of technology and artificial intelligence might make it increasingly difficult to distinguish humans from machines. With readings from ancient and modern philosophy, literature from 19th-century Romanticism to 20th-century science fiction, and 20th- and 21st-century films, we will be able to see how definitions of morality, reality and humanity have been shaped by the limits of our knowledge.

Human Rights: Rites of Passage in Film and Literature

Masano Yamashita, French and Italian

How do human rights take into account human development and flourishing? This course will focus on the representation of transitional moments in human life (coming-of-age narratives, tales recounting moving to a new place or school, a midlife crisis, an alternative gender identity) with the view to understanding the characteristics and complexities of a life fully lived. Themes pertaining to moral dilemmas, race and gender, freedom, and authority will be a particular focus of this semester.  

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Documentary Photography and Epistemic Justice 

Anthony Abiragi, Program for Writing and Rhetoric

In our era of post-truth politics, it is vital that we, as citizens and as scholars, revisit and remobilize traditions of activist truth-telling. This seminar will focus on the history of documentary photography and its concerns with knowledge, truth and justice. How can photography lend a voice to those who are socially invisible and thereby denied a share in the construction of social knowledge?  That will be the guiding question of this seminar.

Monsters and Heroes: Exploring Good and Evil in Film

Elizabeth Anderman, Farrand RAP

What are monsters? Who are heroes? How do zombies, aliens, villains and bad girls reveal what society represses in order to believe in order and goodness? In this course we will screen, discuss and write about films that feature monsters and heroes, and explore how they embody what we fear. In oral presentations, creative projects and research papers, students will compare older and contemporary movies to explore how our culture's responses to and representations of good and evil change over time.

Iliad to Blade Runner 2049 

Hardy Fredricksmeyer, Engineering - Herbst Humanities

This course will take an in-depth and sustained look at female and male heroes in fiction and nonfiction; from antiquity to the age of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering; from Homer’s epic poem of war,The Iliad, to the recent film Blade Runner 2049. We will consider Western heroism as an evolutionary process at the levels of sociology, biology, psychology, religion, mythology and ethics.

Skywatching

Erica Ellingson, Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences

Humans everywhere and throughout all of history have marveled at the sky. In this seminar, you will learn both modern and ancient ways of understanding the sun, moon, stars and beyond. This seminar is taught in the evenings at Sommers Bausch Observatory and will emphasize observations with telescopes and with the naked eye.  

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Comic Books & Public Pedagogy

Rick Stevens, Media Studies

Comics are one of the most influential media of the 21st century, inspiring everything from Oscar-nominated films like Black Panther to television series to video games. These spaces are thought of as entertaining escapism, but comic book narratives have always been sites of cultural education and political struggle. Students in this class will read comics, but also learn to critically engage and discuss comic texts as sites of cultural learning. Topics include fan culture, particular genres of comics, and connections between comics and other forms of visual text.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Jeffrey DeShell, English

After the apocalypse, what will we wear? This course will examine some of the themes, ideas, characteristics and techniques of recent post-apocalyptic fiction, focusing on novels such asThe Road(McCarthy),Station Eleven(St. John Mandel), andBrown Girlin the Ring(Hopkinson) among others, and we’ll watchRoad Warriorand other relevant films.   We’ll think about the recent interest in the post-apocalyptic, and articulate a few reasons as to why this might be.

Project Manage Your University Experience

Elizabeth Gibson Engineering Management

College is more than completing a set of courses; it's the start of your adult life. Learning and applying project management skills can smooth your transition into college life. Projects have a life cycle with a beginning and an end. They are unique and filled with uncertainty about what to expect. Each project shares a common framework that includes five process groups: initiation, planning, execution, close, and monitoring and control. The focus of this course is to learn and apply project management knowledge skills as students identify, initiate and develop a plan for a successful CU Boulder experience.

Spring 2019 First-Year Seminars

The Art of Storytelling

Elspeth Dusinberre, Classics

How did people in the ancient world tell stories? How did they manipulate time, characters, the place or pace of telling to increase the impact of a tale? This first-year seminar considers story-telling in the literature, art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome, exploring the ways in which narratives and audiences interact to create vibrant stories.

Science Under Siege

William Adams, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Facts, truth, critical evaluation of evidence. All seem to be increasingly under fire from those with a particular mind-set, political persuasion, set of religious beliefs or sense of belonging to a group that is believed to espouse a particular position. In this class, students will explore the evidence and counterclaims pertinent to a range of scientific topics. These may include: genetically engineered crops, vaccines and autism, nuclear power vs. coal, climate change, stem-cell research, the age of the earth and the evolution of life.

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FYSM 1200 First-Year Seminar International

Fall 2019 International Seminars

Designing the Renaissance 

Anja Lange, Herbst Program of Humanities

You’ve heard of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante and Boccaccio, but do you really know who they were? Did you know that they were great artists, engineers and writers of the Renaissance, a time in history that marks the birthplace of modernity and defines who you are as a person today? In this class we learn how to read and appreciate the great art pieces of the time, study Florentine literature, and examine great architectural and engineering marvels. In January, the course will conclude with a faculty-supervised trip to Florence, Italy!

Students presenting during a class.

Students in Michaele Ferguson’s Playing Politics First-Year International Seminar.

Playing Politics

Michaele Ferguson, Political Science

Why just study politics when you can play politics? In the fall, we will play immersive role-playing games simulating important events in American political history. Along the way, we will develop skills in critical thinking, persuasive writing, public speaking, political organizing, leadership and teamwork. Then, over winter break we take the show on the road to Paris, where we will play the French Revolution where it actually happened.

Note: For FYSM 1200 First-Year International Seminars only, additional fees apply to cover travel costs, and enrollment requires permission from the First Year Seminar program. For more information about the international seminars, financial aid and scholarships to cover additional fees, please contact: GlobalIntensives@Colorado.edu.