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.

Be A Changemaker

Do you wish you could make a difference in your community or even the world? Be A Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to effect real change. We will approach our study and work through the lens of social entrepreneurship, which seeks to use business tools and markets creatively for social impact and creates innovative and resourceful approaches to addressing social problems. You will find all the inspiration and knowledge you need to start making a difference through social changemaker profiles, step-by-step exercises, and practical activities.

Working with a local organization, we will research ideas, build a team, and develop a plan that will create lasting positive change. Apply lessons from the business world to problems that need solving and become a savvy activist with valuable skills that will benefit you for a lifetime!

Growing Your Inner Scientist

Course Description: All scientists share a curiosity about the world. As Hope Jahren (whose book, Lab Girl, we will read) puts it: “Ask a question. Guess what? You are now a scientist.” And, while science requires an objective eye, scientists themselves are subjective human beings with strengths and flaws. What kind of scientist are you? In this course we will practice being community-engaged scientists in Western NC.

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.

Everybody’s Environment! From Environmentalism to Environmental Justice

Course Description: What happens when community-based justice work and environmentalism intersect? In this First Year Seminar, students find out. We explore diverse perspectives on environmental issues, asking: “which perspectives are missing? whose voices don’t we hear? what does just and inclusive environmental protection look like?” We walk, talk, read, write and discuss, and also collaborate with a partner organization to work on environmental solutions with diverse communities in the greater Asheville area.

Good Trouble: Partnering with Kids as Podcasters and Change-Makers

Course Description: This hands-on, experiential course follows the example of Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights activist from a young age, who urged young people to “be hopeful,” to “never be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble.” In that spirit, we will partner with third graders at Asheville’s Isaac Dickson School to identify problems impacting us and our communities, interview community experts, dream up solutions, and make and distribute podcasts that spread the word: young people can solve big problems. Along the way, we will learn about podcasting, elementary education, civic engagement, and multimedia forms of expression.

Crafting Community: Craftivism 101

Course Description: Can craft change the world? In this course we will explore ways to build, mold, and weave community. Craftivist scholar, M.C. Baumstark, defines craftivism as using a craft position to engage with systems of power. What does it mean to have a craft position? And what local systems of power can we engage with to generate positive change? We will learn a variety of craftivist techniques and strategies before engaging with a community organization to collaboratively conceive of a craftivist project to develop and employ. If you love making things as much as making a difference, this course is for you.

The Evolution of “All Men are Created Equal”

Course Description: Has the grand experiment of American democracy 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. We will look at how many of these debates are still alive and well, shattering the illusion of American exceptionalism. This course will include community engagement opportunities with community partners working for voter registration and education.

The Outdoor Classroom: Exploring How Children Grow and Learn in the Natural World

Course Description: Did you know that on average, children spend up to 44 hours per week in front of some type of screen? Many children may only play outside for less than 10 minutes per day. Often a child’s access to nature is based on their race, income, and zip code. In this class, we will explore how learning in the natural world benefits a young child’s physical, social, cognitive, and mental well being, even if access is limited. We will work closely with a nearby early learning center to create a natural outdoor play area and classroom. Want to play in a mud kitchen, explore a sensory garden, count with a tree cookie, or splash in a stream?

Latin America Through Film

Course Description: This class introduces the history and cultures of Latin America – primarily Mexico and Brazil – through classic and contemporary films, from Black Orpheus to Roma. We use the films to explore key concepts in cultural anthropology and Latin American history, such as representation, globalization, gender, race, colonialism, migration, and more, and we will also learn about the immigrant experience in Western North Carolina. The class provides opportunities to develop critical skills as well as an appreciation for enjoying film collectively on a big screen.

Networked Landscapes: Sustainable Development and the Internet

Course Description:

Data mining, server farms, the cloud: quite often we use terminology typically equated with the natural world — and our interaction with it — to describe our increasingly ubiquitous digital world. Yet paradoxically, we tend to treat the internet as ethereal and placeless, an invisible digital atmosphere that has little connection to our physical environment. But as the internet grows and evolves, it is increasingly reshaping the material world. Cyberspace is not detached from physical space — it is actively, often rapidly, reconfiguring it.

This seminar will examine the material realities of the digital. From cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to e-waste in China, from gentrification in San Francisco to digital redlining in communities across the globe, this course will focus on sustainable development in the digital age. In what can be broadly categorized as “digital political ecology,” the course will examine the transformations occurring at the intersection of sustainability, globalization, and the internet.

You and Your Learning Brain

Course Description: This course explores how the fields of education and neuroscience are intersecting to guide our current understanding about learning and the brain. The course investigates this expanding field through the lens of educators who seek to improve teaching and learning for all students. Your brain, and the unique developmental stage of late adolescence, is the starting point for our exploration. The course incorporates an experiential approach to learning that requires students to engage in practices that are being explored as brain-supportive such as regular exercise and mindfulness meditation. The course includes community engagement experiences with younger students in support of their growth and learning.

Saving the Southern Apps: Biodiversity Conservation in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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. This course includes a required overnight camping trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Honors: The Biology of Sex

Course Description: Why does sex exist? In many ways, clonal reproduction could be considered the ideal reproductive strategy; no mates are required and 100% of parental genes are passed on to the next generation! Successfully reproducing sexual organisms, by contrast, must find and secure a mate. And after all that effort, only 50% of each parent’s genes are inherited by their offspring! In this course, we will use a variety of organisms to explore the evolutionary and genetic consequences of sexual reproduction on Earth. This work will be enhanced through partnerships with local organizations working to conserve biodiversity and educate the general public about science.

Honors: Forgotten Pollinators

Course Description: We depend on animal pollinators for production of nearly 80 percent of the seeds and fruits that make up the human diet, and yet this essential service has been ignored and often threatened by human activity. In this course, we will study the fascinating and vital relationships between plants and the animals they depend on for reproduction: bees, beetles, bats and many others, some common and familiar, others almost unknown. We will focus on the science of plant reproduction and the ecology of pollination, and will examine the threats to this ecological relationship. We will also work with a local organization to help create and preserve environments that encourage and protect pollinators.

Honors: The Art and Science of Human Flourishing

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 focus on ways to facilitate community connectivity and a greater ability to work with your own capacity to become more resilient, flexible, connected, and caring.