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First Year

Seminar Topics


Art with a Dash of Math

Is there any connection between art and math? This seminar will explore the connections between the arts and mathematical ideas through readings, videos, creative assignments, and discussion.

Beautiful Souls: Models of Resistance:

We have all been in situations where we followed social pressure when the most prudent behavior would have been to resist it. The writer Susan Sontag says it best: “At the center of our moral life are the great models of resistance: the great stories of those who have said ‘No.’” This seminar examines several accounts where individuals in leadership positions surmised the situation and did the right thing against significant odds. The stories range from defying Nazi persecution during the Holocaust to contemporary corporate whistleblowers. Lessons derived from these “beautiful souls” can be used to enhance our resistance or what is commonly referred to as human agency.

Better Together: Flourishing in a Diverse World

We live in a world that is increasingly characterized by diversity, difference, and conflict. Diversity itself is neither good nor bad, but the way we approach diversity can make it healthy or toxic. In this seminar, we will consider ways to engage race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, national origin, worldview, etc., in ways that are healthy, productive, and life-giving. A guiding philosophy for the course will be the African notion of Ubuntu, “I am because we are.” This is the third of a three-year cycle with Ubuntu as McMurry’s university theme.

Economics of Sports:

Many of us either participate or participated in sports, and/or simply became fans for the enjoyment, exercise, and fulfillment that they provide(d).  However, organized sports would not exist if there were not substantial economic justifications that allows sports to flourish.  This course will enlighten students regarding the economic benefits and consequences of sports in the United States. The focus is on how economic principles such as supply and demand, elasticities of demand, regulation, anti-trust, anti-competitive markets and other factors influence the way sports businesses operate, pay their players, attract fans, and impact the communities in which they reside. The course will provide a head start for those students who will take principles of economics and also provide experience at analyzing market conditions and operational approaches in American sports leagues and individual sports.

Global Village:

Global Village offers a highly informative tour around the world. Touching down in several countries on each continent, students will learn about the interactions of the social world through history, music, religion and cultural traditions, thus gaining a panoramic vision of the world we inhabit. Students will learn through a variety of means, including International movies, short readings, and interesting documentaries.

Honors - “Do We Have Free Will?”

An exploration of the nature of free will, particularly as it relates to moral responsibility and to the question of whether or not free will is compatible with a scientific view of the world.

You must be enrolled in the University's Honors Program to take this class.

Honors - Historical Trends

News is the first draft of history, wrote one correspondent at the height of World War II. He was right, but is today’s much faster paced world of social media and breaking news, we often never get to the second, third, or fourth drafts. So, how is news made?  How is history made? In this class, students will study topics ripped from today’s headlines and serve as cast and crew for an Internet Broadcast show entitled, Historical Trends with Dr. Don Frazier. In the process, students will be organized into the various elements of a broadcast team and do in depth research to present a talk show format for a global audience aimed at the informed public and people their age. In the process, you will learn writing, editing, video, production, and management skills that will serve you well throughout your college career and beyond.

You must be enrolled in the University's Honors Program to take this class.

I Learned the REALLY big stuff from my Kindergarten teacher

Now that you are in college, you will make many decisions every day.  The little decisions that you make, though, are often more important than the big ones. This seminar, taught by a former early childhood educator, will explore  those simple lessons that, if learned and followed, will help you develop habits that lead to success.  Step back in time and revisit the wonderful things you learned (and maybe forgot) when you were five.

Life is fair … and other impossible Dreams

Fairness and Impossible are vague concepts that often seem in conflict. This course will exam models, so that paradoxes can be analyzed and the possibility of fairness can be determined. Specific examples will include, voting systems, fair division and apportionment problems. The consequences of Arrow’s impossibility theorem and the Balinsky-Young theorem will be part of this discussion, and other impossibility theorems will be discussed.

Mindsets, and Mind-Traps: The Psychology of Everything.

This course will examine the way our fundamental mindsets, or frames of reference, inform (and often misinform) our understanding of everything—people, relationships, opportunities and threats.  This course will also examine ways to be a more accurate and effective at navigating the challenges of life.

Parchment Barriers: Rocking the First Amendment

This seminar course examines the rhetoric and constitutional issues associated with the First Amendment. The Founders of this country seemingly issued contradictory commands and then passed on to us a challenging legacy to figure things out on our own. The question is, how are we doing and where has the judiciary positioned us going into the 21st Century? This course provides an introduction to the rhetoric of the Supreme Court as it frames the concepts of liberty, rights, and the powers of government with respect to religion, speech, and protest.

The Art of Mindfulness and Manners in the Digital Age

We live in a highly competitive, fast-paced and stressful world. This course will help to prepare you to navigate daily university life with proper etiquette, composure and sense of self.  Armed with the tools of this experience you will become aware of the requirements of proper decorum and courtesy. Topics covered will include classroom etiquette, navigating social events, appropriate attire, table manners, introductions, interviews, proper rules of grammar in writing and speaking and stress management. Class activities will include active discussions, participation practicing through roll-play, conducting a survey of your professors and researching and writing a formal paper.

The Leadership Challenge — How ordinary people can change the world:

This seminar will look at the leadership practices college students use to transform values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations and risks into rewards. Students will have the opportunity hear the voices of leaders and unsung heroes of various local and world changing movements and how those leaders persevered even when facing semmingly impossible challenges. Stories range from a volunteer at a suicide hotline, to the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, Desmond Tutu, to children’s rights activists, to leaders trying to impact climate change and to key political activists around the globe. This seminar will seek to provide students with the skills and inspiration to impact their campus, local, national and global communities.

The Social Bermuda Triangle: Navigating Gender, Race, and Class

The Bermuda Triangle is said to be a puzzling and dangerous space for those who travel into its waters. In the same way, many students find navigating the social realities of gender, race, and social class puzzling and dangerous at times. In this course we will examine how these social statuses influence our own identities as well as the social world in which we live. Through readings, examination of popular culture, and personal reflection, this course should help students to better understand their own statuses in relation to others’ and to navigate the gender, race, and class triangle more skillfully.

We shall overcome: 20th Century Music and Protest Movements

Music has been a mode of expression for artists, communities, and the country as a whole, from the Revolutionary War and Yankee Doodle to World War I and God Bless America to John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance. This course will discuss the roles that various artists and musical styles played in social justice movements from the Revolutionary War to the present, with our main focus on events from the 20th Century. Discussion will include the the identification of characteristics of lyrics and musical style that also played a significant role in the popularization of these songs.

Why sO cIviLizEd?

(Read in the Joker’s voice)

This seminar is designed to explore the dawn of civilization. Who became civilized? Why did they become civilized while another group didn’t?  How did they become civilized?  What are the benefits versus the costs of civilization? These are only some of the questions we will explore in this seminar. Along the way we’ll also be looking at how to be the college student you want to be so that you achieve the goals you need to achieve.

Zombie U: College, Identity Construction, and The Walking Dead

What happens when you go to college? What problems do you face, and how do you address them? While you may not deal with the exact problems that arise in a zombie apocalypse, you may still experience similar difficulties as you learn to navigate this new environment. This course will explore the many struggles that Rick Grimes and others face as they attempt to contend with a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled reality while addressing the ways in which each character establishes and then modifies his/her own identity. Topics of discussion will include:  Identity construction, problem-solving, collaboration, relationships, and several other applicable concepts.