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Course Profiles

hipster.jpgHipster? Not Me
We examined how subcultures emerge and influence mainstream culture, looking at how food, fashion, music, art, and technology shaped the modern hipster, and we examine how media portrayals of subcultures influence us. The class explored what it means to be a member of a subculture and experienced hipster behaviors, visiting local stores, the downtown, bike shops, artisan markets, and toured a microbrewery and independent coffee houses.

springsteen.pngThe Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen

We followed Bruce Springsteen’s journey of exploration through topics as universal and as personal as love, fear, justice, and faith. We traced the development of Bruce Springsteen as an artist, students listened to the songs, watched performances, learned history, and read lyrics “behind” the songs. 

corn2.jpgcorn1.pngPeople of the Corn

How have plants shaped our food, health, ceremonies, and diverse cultures from prehistory to contemporary times? Trip to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens to explore biodiversity, plus time at the sustainable garden and in the Preserve. 

beaty.jpgThe Golden Connection: Math and Art

What is beauty?  In the Golden Connection weexplored the concept of mathematical beauty, looking at the golden ratio, repetition and patterns, proportions and ratios, and symmetry, and we looked for beauty by applying these ideas to architecture, art, music, and nature. 


fys-harmonica.jpgThe Sixties: The Times Were a-Changin'
FYS focused on the lives of college students during the 1960s from sociological perspectives. Topics in the class included the civil rights movement, women rights, and the Vietnam War. Students learned about college life in the 1960s, both from the professor herself, as well as different sources of media. Students visited a large collections of 60s memorabilia and participated in a mock lottery, which was used to demonstrated the drafting process during the Vietnam War.


fys-hummus.jpgFood for Function and Fun
Examined food and how it plays a role in our everyday lives. Other topics throughout the semester included food insecurity, socioeconomic disparity, and how race and economics influence food choices. Throughout the semester, students tried new foods, including hummus, mango, and different types of salsa. Students volunteered at Food for Thought and baked and decorated cupcakes for students on campus. Two guest speakers, Eric Bowen (Salisbury Farmers Market) and Hannah Limpert (the dietician on campus) came and spoke to the class.


FYS looked at how to cope with, adapt to, and not become overwhelmed by changes, especially during freshman year of college. Students read parables, including, "Who Moved My Cheese?" and "Our Iceberg is Melted," to learn about how to deal with changes. Students spent time together eating at DJ's, in the courtyard, and having an ice cream party to help with the transition to college.


fys-group4.jpgThe Humans and Machines
FYS students focused on how technology influences our lives. Students read two novels, Third-Wave and I-Robot, and went on a trip to Integro and learned how the company used machines to look for defects and removal of the defected things from the assembly line. Also, the class visited Ketner's Curriculum Materials Center (CMC) and created a 3D image using the 3D printer.


fys-group3.jpgPeople of the Corn
Students learned about how humans and plants have interacted throughout time and plant domestication. The class conducted an experiment to see how much Carbon-13 (found in yellow-corn #2) was found in their hair and how it compared to how much fast food they ate. Students went on a joint field trip with Take 2- What we wanted to do to the Stowe Botanical Gardens and completed some work in the Sustainable Gardens on campus.





fys-group2.jpgTake 2 - What We Wanted to Do
Sstudents spent the semester looking at film adaptations and how adaptions vary from one genre to another. Students read short stories based on the short film, Short Cuts and learned how the film was adapted from these stories. Along with watching Short Cuts, students read Old School and read the Orchid Thief. They also went on a joint field trip with Children of the Corn to the Charlotte Stowe Botanical Gardens.


fys-benfranklin.jpgEnlightened Kite Flying: Ben Franklin and his Friends
Looked at the Enlightenment and philosophical development. With these topics, students learned how to handle college by using examples from Benjamin Franklin's life. Students used templating and wrote layered papers to hone their skills, and learned lessons from the country's founders.


Students explored different topics in genetics, including consumer genetics (23andme), advances in DNA technology (including DNA sequencing and its use for identifying dog excrement), and genetics. They read "The Violinist Thumb," named after a violinist who had a genetic disease that affected his joints and connective tissues, to learn more in-depth about genetics.


fys-grou.jpgCrime and Punishment: Bad Boys/Girls Through the Lens of Media
Students investigated criminals and the crimes they committed, and completed a case study on one of these criminals. These topics were explored by using novels, films, and CDs to learn about different crimes and criminals. Students completed a monologue on the topic of Jesse James, based on their position of whether he was guilty or not, and also studied contemporary crimes that are covered by the media.

course-first.jpgFIRST! First Generation Seminar:

What does it mean to be first? 

This FYS explores famous firsts, looks at the challenges with the first generation students, builds social and cultural capital…and travels to Washington DC over break!





course-bigquestion.jpgLife’s Big Questions

Seeks to help students identify a sense of purpose in life and to recognize their capacity to make a difference!

Students grapple with ‘what is success?’, ‘what does it mean to be happy and how do I find happiness?’,  ‘what is it to be a good person?’, ‘how can I make a difference?’ and ‘what do I hope to get out of life…and give to the lives of others?’

Dinners, movies, and speakers complement class work.


course-ideas.jpgChallenging Ideas

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.”   

A college education should focus on growing your understanding of your world and yourself, not primarily on preparing you for a job.  Growing your understanding requires that you confront ideas—especially new ideas and uncomfortable ideas.  

We mean “challenging ideas” in two senses:  ideas will challenge us, and we will challenge ideas.  Through challenging ideas, we will learn an intellectual orientation that is essential to higher education.  This seminar is multidisciplinary; we consider challenging ideas from art, science, religion, psychology, history, education, music, and other disciplines.


course-nascar.jpgNASCAR: From Moonshine to Millionaires

Considers the role of the mega-sport of stock car racing in the United States, focusing on the history and influence NASCAR has had on the sociocultural life in the American South. 






spiritrock-pic1.jpgChanging the World through Social Entrepreneurship

After exploring social entrepreneurship and the business development process, student teams develop and implement a business plan that tackles a social problem or supports a cause of their choice. 

Students gain exposure to social entrepreneurship, insight into a problem/opportunity , and the importance of making a difference


course-food.jpgFood: A Multicultural History

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 

“Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.’ Jonathan Safran Foer

For centuries, food habits have been influenced by cultural beliefs, values, religion, and geographical location.  Why do different populations in the world grow to like certain food and find others taboo?  Food is an expression of identity, and as such, it also expresses our culture and tradition.  Through readings, lectures, films, and discussions, we examine the relationship between food and identity.  We explore the culture, cuisine, and customs of various regions across the word, including:  Native Americans, Northern and Southern Europeans, Africans, Mexicans and Central Americans, Caribbean Islanders, South Americans, and East Asians among others.


course-creativeexp.jpgCreative Expression:  Oral, Written, Aural, and Otherwise…

How is human expression used for successful communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking?  We practice expressing ourselves effectively, whether through oral presentation, writing, scientific experimentation, the arts, or otherwise.  The core question is:  How can I study and
practice creative expression to successfully engage my class,
my community, my society, my world?


course-geos.jpgGeographies of Home

What does home mean to you? We explore the multitude of meanings of home from diverse points of view, principally portrayed through novels but also from other sources as well, such as essays, film, and short stories. 





Of Orcs, Elves, Dwarfs, Hobbits, and Menfys-orcs.jpg

A quest to understand the creatures of Middle Earth in the Third Age created by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. We read the series and look deeper than the movies at how fate and predestination are interwoven with choices for good and for ill. Did the Ring completely expel goodness from a Gollum's heart? What is the source of the magic? Were Orcs clones of Sauron? Join our search for truth, if you dare! Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne ...

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them ...

Our class addresses big questions but also introduces students to the skills they need in college, and presents them with opportunities to study with others who share their interests.

When the Buffalo Roamed the Carolinasfys-buffalo.jpg

When the Buffalo Roamed the Carolinas Collecting and processing massive and delicious Burr Oak acorns to make acorn flour for acorn cakes. We study the historical ecology of the Carolinas integrating history, anthropology, and ecology to predict change over the next 500 years.




How Sports Have Shaped Societyfys-sports.jpg

This First Year Seminar (FYS) course is specifically designed for resident freshmen who want an integrated academic, co-curricular, and social experience. Students taking this section will live on the same residence hall floor, participate in regular hall programs specific to the class, study together, and be enrolled together in the FYS section. (A Living/Learning Community)


The Food, People, and Art of the American South fys-south.jpg

We use writing and reading about place—the American South — to understand personal identity. We turn our experiences and families into essays, conduct interviews and write magazine-style profiles, and critique music, movies, literature, and art. We visit Mert’s and the Mint Museum in Charlotte — and, of course, we eat barbecue.

Fun reading! “Y’all Ain’t Leaving ‘Til You Eat This Thing: Writing about Food,” “Fishing from Highway Overpasses: Writing about People & Place,” “(Re) Defining a Region: Cooking Southern Food, Filming Southern Movies, and Making Southern Music.”


How are civilizations the same and how are they different? How has the world as we know it changed and evolved? And what do tea and crumpets and croquet really mean?





FIRST! First-Generation Seminar

2011group.jpgWhat does it mean to be first? This FYS explores famous firsts, looks at the challenges with the first gen student, builds social and cultural capital ... and travels to Washington DC over break!

"My FYS had a diverse group of students with one very important thing in common: we were all "firsts." - Chris Money

"Taking an FYS course for first-generation students has shown me that there are other people like me, other people who are dedicated and determined to achieve some of the highest goals in life" - Gina Gerone


Life's Big Questions

questions.jpgSeeks to help students identify a sense of purpose in life and to recognize their capacity to make a difference!

Students grapple with 'what is success?', 'what does it mean to be happy and how do I find happiness?', 'what is it to be a good person?', 'how can I make a difference?' and 'what do I hope to get out of life ... and give to the lives of others?'

Dinners, movies, and speakers complement class work.

"Great course. I learned so much about myself and feel that I know the direction I want to go with my life."

"...the course really helped me get off to a good start with my college career."

Animals in Translation

animals.jpgWe ponder the often contradictory relationships we experience with the creatures around us as they serve as pets, food sources, entertainment, and test subjects, considering the religious, socio-political, psychological, and scientific theories about these relationships and reflect on the way animals are presented in art and literature.

"This class has allowed me to investigate and truly understand the relationships between animals and humans." - Ashley Everidge

"The topics for this course are highly compelling, and they have helped me to form my own opinions and gain a greater sense of self. The class is like a family, and we have all been able to share some great times..." - Kathleen Burris

"FYS it is one of my hardest classes but it has been essential to my learning of time management and what college is supposed to be like! But I have had a blast with the discussions and the trips that we have taken." - Alex Fulton

Pay it Forward: Corporate Social Responsibility

h4h.jpgWe explore the motives of corporations and the implications of their "good works" on society—and then we evaluate "good works" performed by individuals and how they impact society as a whole. Social responsibility is examined from different perspectives—historical, social, economic, and ethical.

"I plan on helping build the house for the needy family—it will serve a wonderful purpose and help me share an emotional bond." - Justin McCrary

"I'm helping at the Harvest Moon Ball at a nursing home. All of these activities are through Volunteer Catawba." - Katie Kennedy

Bet on it!

bet.jpgThis seminar explores the mathematics behind popular games and sports. We look at the probabilities in games, the mathematics of gaming, and the implications of gambling, games, and sports on society. We examine gaming from various perspectives, including the historical, economic, and ethical.

Race and Gender Issues in African-American Literature

Have race relations in America changed? We explore those relations in literature, music, and film, and attempt to understand the effects of that history on our relationships with each other.

"The workings of the human heart are the profoundest mystery of the universe. One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image." - Charles Chesnutt

Student Activism: Waiting for the World to Change

activiism.jpgHow has activism on campus influenced generations of students and how have these movements generated some of the most celebratory, liberating, and even tragic events in our nation's history? The focus of this seminar is to review activism events on campus that will demonstrate the enormous power of the student voice.

To better connect our students in the community of Salisbury we visit the elderly in various communities in Salisbury, delivering conversation and diabetic friendly Halloween Candy Bags.

Barbecue: Culture as Reflected in Culinary Tradition

bbq.jpgStudents explore the history of barbecue in historical, cultural, social, political, and religious contexts with an emphasis on North Carolina barbecue. Class activities include research, writing, guest speakers, visits to local BBQ "joints," and opportunities to attend both the largest barbecue festival in the nation (Lexington, NC) and a local barbecue competition (Salisbury, NC).

What Else But Home?

home.jpgThis seminar uses Michael Rosen's provocative memoir to look at the problem of poverty, class, race, and social opportunities from a variety of academic perspectives. We examine how ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, history,immigration, and finances all play a role in shaping the opportunities Americans have ... and we consider whether differences among people can be transcended by compassion, money, second chances ... and perhaps even baseball.

Author Michael Rosen "joins" our class by responding to student questions about his book and by participating on our class Facebook page!