2015-16 First-Year Seminars

All incoming students are required to take a Freshman Seminar course first semester as well as complete a January Term (J-Term) before Spring Semester.

Program Goals

The First-Year Experience is designed to meet the following goals:

• Provide a small seminar of students with a faculty mentor/advisor who will help them to improve writing and thinking
skills and familiarize them with the academic life of the College, while they study a specialized subject area
• Provide a bridge between the high school experience and the Bethany experience designed to enable students to engage actively and successfully as they grow and learn
• Provide students with an intense, single-class, topic driven learning experience designed to enhance college level reading, writing and research skills
All students who meet one of the following conditions are required to complete successfully the First-Year Experience, including FSEM 111 and FSEM 113.
• The student has graduated from high school but never attended college, even if she or he has completed college credits while in high school
• The student has enrolled in another college and is transferring fewer than 13 credits to Bethany

FSEM 111: 3 credits

These seminars introduce students to the study of a specialized subject area, help students improve writing and thinking skills, and familiarize students with the academic life of the College. The faculty member who leads a student's seminar will serve as that student's academic advisor and mentor.

AA. O My Gods! This course will examine a wide range of mythologies from all over the world, both ancient and modern. It will explore fairy tales, sagas, epic poetry, ghost stories, and various forms of young adult literature, including the Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit and the Ring Trilogy, the works of Rick Riordan and much more. It will also explore mythic ideas in films such as the Star Wars series, American Western drama, The Matrix, The Hunger Games, and more. Special consideration will be given to the meaning of mythic ideas in everyday life.
(Scott Thayer, College Chaplain)
BB. Iconic Teachers from Mary McLeod Bethune to John Keating: Lessons from Fact, Fiction, and Film. Students in this seminar will examine what it means to be a teacher. Using readings, films, speakers, and student-conducted research, participants will identify the characteristics of a "good" teacher. Participants will consider what motivates a person to teach and how the characteristics of a good teacher can be applied to other areas of life.
(Christina Sampson, Director of McCann Learning Center)
CC. We Are Family This course will examine the role of the family and study of individual development, interpersonal and intra-family relationships, and development of the family throughout the life cycle. A study of the societal changes which affect families over the life cycle. Emphasis is placed on effective communication and knowledgeable choices regarding marriage, parenting divorce, family crises and aging. Attention is given to successful marriage and family relationships based on research examining dating and mate selection, marriage, sexuality, family interaction, family resource management, parenting, divorce, and remarriage. Students will explore how human development is influenced by the different types of environmental systems and gain a better understanding why we may behave differently when we compare our behavior in the presence of our family and our behavior when we are in school or at work.
(Sherri Theaker, Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department)
DD. The Beatles and their Times This seminar engages the student in a study of music, popular culture, and history through the phenomenon of the Beatles. Our examination involves listening to music, viewing DVDs, research, writing, discussion and special projects tailored to student interests. An objective of this course is to understand and appreciate the dramatic paradigm shift in popular culture during the 1960s and its ramifications, both musically and sociologically for its own time and beyond.
(Pandel Collaros, Assistant Professor of Music
FF. Bethany College History: The Truth This seminar engages students in basic research into the history of Bethany College. Students search through the College archives (examining old newspapers, letters, minutes of meetings, yearbooks, etc.), engage in interviews and read existing histories of the College. In the process they encounter fundamental issues of historical research and writing. As the capstone experience of the seminar, students engage in primary research on one of the College’s buildings, including the building itself, its history, and a biography of the person or persons for whom it is named.
(Gary Kappel, Perry E. and Aleece C. Gresham Chair in Humanities and Professor of History)
GG. Happiness 101: Philosophies of Happiness. This seminar is an attempt to identify, describe and implement habits of body and mind that can lead to increased happiness. Using Tal Ben-Sharar's Happier as a starting point, students will identify through critical thought, reading and writing, a personal practice of eudemonia. Student will also read Barry Schwarz's The Paradox of Choice in addition to researching the topic of happiness from the standpoint of eminent thinkers of the student's choosing.
(Luke Hardt, Associate Professor of Theatre, Director of the Bethany College Theatre and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts)
HH. Stress, Coping and Health This seminar is intended to teach freshmen about the link between stress and mental as well as physical health. Initial discussions will focus on the effects of stress on anxiety, depression, cardiovascular function, and susceptibility to disease. After that, discussion will focus on ways to cope with stress. Coping techniques for everyday stresses will include humor, social support, exercise and developing a positive self-image. The seminar will also emphasize coping styles specific for the college experience including time management, open communication, conflict resolution, using on-campus resources and developing effective studying techniques to deal with such issues as adjusting to college-level academics, dealing with separation from home and adjusting to a new environment. Students will be graded on attendance, seminar participation and weekly self-reflection papers. Any student is welcome to take this seminar, but the anxious student may benefit the most.
(Mark Affeltranger, Associate Professor of Psychology and Chair of the Psychology Department)
II. The Neverending Story "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We tell stories every day--we Tweet them, text them, Instagram them, Snapchat them--even our Pintrest boards and Pandora stations tell a story. This class will examine the development of story from oral tradition to written expression. We'll read (and write) poems, tall tales, autobiographies, short plays, and short stories. We'll watch films, listen to podcasts, and maybe even interview an author or two. "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
(Heather Taylor, Assistant Professor in English and Coordinator of the McCann Writing Center)
JJ. ESPN Rules!: Sports Communication, Journalism and Society This course takes a practical approach in introducing students to sports communication. Hands-on exercises in sports journalism and sports media effects are emphasized in areas of sports writing, producing, announcing, and planning for sports productions in a multi-media digital sports world. ESPN's type of approach to producing and analyzing sports is studied and critiqued, including an examination of sports media issues such as ethical sports business practices, and societal problems of race, discrimination and gender equality. Historical sports personalities and sports media career options are explored.
(Patrick Sutherland, Professor of Communications and General Manager of WVBC-Radio
KK. Science & Pseudoscience "What is truth?" and "What kinds of truth are there?" are challenging questions. As far as scientific truth is concerned, the question has become more manageable since the Renaissance when experimental science broke away from mysticism, alchemy, astrology, and magical thinking. None-the-less, our culture is still flooded with many non-scientific beliefs and biases, if not outright pseudoscientific convictions. In this seminar you will learn about the wide-range of pseudoscience from astrology, bigfoot, crop circles, demonic possession, exorcism, flat Earthers .... to zombies through readings, videos, and class discussions. Belief in the bizarre may have many explanations and we will investigate some of the possibilities. You will pick your favorite pseudoscience topics for essays or your oral report, as you inform your classmates on these mistaken but no doubt interesting byways of modern culture. Also, we will learn about critical thinking and the kinds of questions most amenable to experimental science.
(John Burns, Professor of Biology)
LL. Who am I? This seminar is an introduction to the process of identity formation. According to Erik Erikson, late adolescence and early adulthood is the period of identity confusion and a time of self-discovery. Past experiences and future goals help guide us to become the person we are. Through selected readings, interpersonal interactions, and self-exploratory activities and writing, students will gain a better understanding of the qualities that make them unique and what affiliates them with others. Existential questions, such as Who Am I? and What is the meaning of my life? will be explored.
(Kelly Schuller, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of First Year Experience)
MM. Become A Campus Leader Do you hold positions of leadership in your high school? Do you aspire to become a leader in your major field of study? This seminar will show you how to use your past experiences as a leader, identify the innate character traits you possess hat are important for leadership, and develop the skills needed to be a successful leader. During the seminar experience, you will complete personality tests and self-assessments, interview other leaders, explore leadership theories and current research on effective leadership, and discover leadership opportunities on campus that will translate into successful leadership in your chosen career. Your experiences in this seminar will help you to become a campus and community leader, prepared to take on the challenges waiting for you in your future.
(Kathy Furbee, Professor of Social Work, Program Director and Chair of the Department of Social Work)
NN. From Big Bangs to Bad Breaks: Perceptions of Scientists on the Small Screen "In the twenty-first century, television has become competitive with and, in some cases, has even superseded Hollywood drama and comedy. A happy consequence of this is the number of engaging and interesting representations of science, technology, and medicine on the small screen and the written page. This seminar will examine archetypes of scientists in modern pop culture, using class discussion, reading, writing, and visual aids including television episodes and pulp science comics from the nuclear era. Topics will include tortured "mad scientist" geniuses (House, M.D., Breaking Bad, Fringe), socially-inept deductive reasoners (Sherlock, Elementary, The Big Bang Theory), and modern forensic scientists and medical practitioners (Bones, CSI, Scrubs). Science fiction pulps such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and others will be presented for a historical context for pop culture science. Students will journal their experiences, reflecting on how modern scientific stereotypes are portrayed on television. They will also consider which character traits they possess, as well as how they can use these attributes in their future careers in science, education, the humanities, or other fields. The course will conclude with the students writing and presenting a short television episode or writing or illustrating a science fiction pulp."
(Scott Brothers, Assistant Professor of Chemistry)
DaVinci Thinking In this First Year Seminar, students will examine the vast potential human beings have for learning and creativity based on Michael Gelb's book, How to Think Like Leonardo daVinci. With Leonardo as their inspiration, students will discover the "interconnectedness" of everything and be introduced to a new way of thinking creatively through a series of writing, drawing, mental and physical exercises.
(Kenn Morgan, Professor of Fine Arts)
PP. The Religious Experience: Cults and the End of the World  This course will be an exploration of cults and new religious movements that have arisen primarily in the US. Heavy emphasis will be placed on charismatic cult leaders and the end-time scenarios espoused by many of these movements. Topics discussed will include Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, Freemasons, Satanic cults, Branch Davidians, The People’s Temple, Heaven’s Gate, the Unification Church and others.
(Brooke Deal, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and T.W. Phillips Chair of the Religious Studies Program)