Choosing a First Year Seminar

A Warren Wilson College education conveys knowledge as well as the skills to critically consider and put that knowledge to use to address complicated real-world problems. Warren Wilson’s educational emphasis on the development of civic identity offers the skills, knowledge, and experiences that foster in students the capacity and commitment to effectively work toward a just, equitable, and sustainable world. The First Year Seminar at Warren Wilson introduces students to civic identity development through a theme-based course that is academically challenging, community-engaged, and writing-intensive.

Honors Sections provide students the opportunity to thrive in an academically stimulating learning environment. Through careful integration of research, field work, class discussion, and community engagement, Honors FYS promotes advanced student scholarship and intellectual inquiry in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Choose your top 3 choices for a FYS course from the options below – your Integrated Advising Coach will assist you in getting registered for it.

Early Voices That Defined Our Country

Course Description: If the United States was a grand experiment, has it worked? What were early American thinkers trying to build, and did they succeed? In this course, we will pay particular attention to early points of contention: slavery, women’s rights, etc. In this, an election year, we will look at how these early debates are still alive and well. The course will include community engagement opportunities with community partners working against voter suppression.

Graphic Novels, Religion, and Social Issues in the Modern World

Course Description: Graphic novels are transgressive spaces. They can invite us into strange, unimaginable worlds, and lift up the stories of heroines and villains in a cosmic struggle of good versus evil.  They can also provide a mirror to reflect on the sometimes hard, cruel realities of this world, and expose us to the complicated moral and ethical questions facing humanity. While many folks grow up reading and loving comics and graphic novels for entertainment, this genre of writing is an important place to look for deep discourse and dialogue about how religion and culture overlap. This First Year Seminar (FYS) will use graphic novels and comics to dive deeply into the intersection of religion and social issues in our modern world. These novels will cover issues of revolution and resiliency, doubt and questioning, injustice and immigration, trauma and healing, and the power of representation and belonging. In addition to reading and discussing these works in class, students will have the opportunity to discuss storytelling and visual representation as we learn to tell the stories that shape them and their world through this unique format. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to read, write, and engage with religious texts, faith leaders, and sacred storytellers to better understand the deep connection between religion and society. We will also partner with local organizations that are working to address issues of poverty and housing insecurity in Asheville and Buncombe County.

The Art and Science of Human Flourishing

Course Description: What contributes to satisfying, engaged, and meaningful living? What conditions help people to flourish? How is flourishing related to our role in community, both at Warren Wilson and in the greater community? We will address these questions by exploring research in psychology and other fields on well-being, happiness, purpose, relationships, and related topics. Further, we will work directly to facilitate community connectivity and a greater ability to work with your own capacity to change so as to become more resilient, flexible, connected, and caring.

Oh, the Horror! Contemporary Horror as a Vehicle for Social Change

Course Description: Horror literature and film has always engaged with issues of social justice, either directly or through highlighting the fears of a particular historical moment. The current “resurgence” in horror fiction and film is no different, and writers like Paul Tremblay and Victor LaValle and directors like Jordan Peele and Ari Aster are open about their intentions in making social justice issues central to what they do. This course will look at the ways contemporary horror not only raises awareness of social justice issues but may also mark a path toward possible solutions.

Resistance, Freedom and Activism: An Introduction to Black Women’s History, 1619-present

Course Description: This course is designed to offer students an introduction to black women’s history. We will incorporate a range of scholarship from various perspectives that engage how black women have navigated the interlocking constraints of racism and sexism. The course will cover such topics as resistance, meanings of freedom, institution building and organizational activism, the emergence of black feminism and women’s liberation, work/labor, cultural expression, religion, racial identity, and sexuality. We will also explore the multiple methodologies and ideologies of black women as leaders, organizers, community builders, and citizens.

A Civil Right: From Math Anxiety to Math Literacy

Course Description: What makes something a civil right? What violates civil rights? What is math literacy? Is math literacy a civil right? Should it be? What is math anxiety and how does it prevent math literacy? In this course students will explore these questions by researching, reading, and discussing civil rights historically, math literacy, and math anxiety. Students will work with community partners to explore race relations and/or educational access. This course is designed for students who wish to learn about the civil rights movement and to learn about math anxiety in order to help those who suffer from it (even if the afflicted person is you!).

Animal Domestication- What is it? Why People Do it? Should People Do it?

Course Description: What does it mean to be domesticated? Animals play a critical role in human society and human lives. In this course we will explore historical, biological, and ethical issues around this relationship. We will discuss several species that are either long domesticated, recently domesticated, or candidates for future domestication. What are the common genetic factors involved in allowing humans and other animals to live together? Are there animals that cannot be domesticated? An important element of this course will be working with community partners that directly grapple with the consequences of domestication.

Telling Your Story through Zines and Comix

Course Description: How do you tell a story with images? In this studio course, students will develop visual language skills by creating zines and comix using text, drawings and handmade prints. Students will draw inspiration from contemporary printmakers and graphic novelists while learning the foundational skills of craftsmanship, tools, and techniques of printmaking and book binding from a historic and cultural perspective. We will also explore the intersection of text and image through drawing techniques that combine elements of visual art and the vocabulary of comix. Along with telling personal stories, we will engage with a community partner to become a voice for others and transform their stories into hand held prints and books. Course fee to cover materials: $60

Telling a Story Through Music

Course Description: Music often tells a story. Songs are used to narrate events, convey emotional experiences, and reinforce the myths we tell about ourselves. Music is also used to assist in other forms of storytelling, including film, spoken word, theater, radio, and advertising. What makes music so effective in telling a story, and how might we learn to use music to tell our stories and the stories we care about? In this class, we’ll share stories in several community contexts, using music in various ways: to frame our subject, to set the tone, to invite participation, and to serve as a point of departure for introducing broader themes.

Saving the Southern Apps: Biodiversity Conservation in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Honors Seminar)

Course Description: Conservation: that means saving nature, right? But what do we save? What do we sacrifice in the process? Who will benefit, and who is left out of the conversation? In this course we’ll use the Southern Blue Ridge Region, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, as a case study for the successes and challenges biodiversity conservation has faced over the last century. We will partner with local conservation groups to explore conservation efforts first hand through field trips to nearby national parks, national forests, wild and scenic rivers, and conservation easements.

You Are What You Eat?: Exploring Food Experiences, Power, and Oppression

Course Description: In this course, students will investigate how dimensions of identity including race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and ability intersect with food experiences. Students will be encouraged to think critically about their own food experiences and how their various identities have contributed to opportunities or obstacles. Increasing students’ cultural awareness and humility is a main goal of this course. In addition to readings, discussions, and assignments, students will contribute their time to the class community partnerships. These community engagement experiences will support students’ consideration of how power and oppression manifest in the dominant food systems of the United States.

Monuments and Counter-Monuments (Honors Seminar)

Course Description: Recent controversies over Confederate monuments in Southern U.S. States have brought attention to deeply philosophical questions about the role of monuments in public spaces and their relation to a public (or publics) more generally. Surveying a wide range of case studies, this Honors-designated course will take an in-depth, scholarly approach to these questions. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the complex social, cultural, and political issues around the function and significance of monuments in public space, as well as practical awareness of these issues through service projects relating to public art and the shared use of civic space.

Experimental Archaeology: Understanding the First Swannanoa Community

Course Description: Long before Warren Wilson students experienced the Swannanoa valley, a different people called this valley home. They were Tsalagi, Cherokee ancestors, and one of their largest villages from the 15th century is located on the Warren Wilson College campus. Through experimental archaeology, this class explores the craft traditions and technology of the Cherokees and other traditional peoples from around the world. Through readings, videos, and workshops we will explore the ways in which all of our ancestors adapted to their worlds with tools and material culture This is a fully experiential course where we will learn to make stone tools, pottery, and other forms of artifacts. Our lessons will also be applied to the on-going construction of a replica of the Tsalagi (Pisgah culture) village at the Warren Wilson archaeology site.