First Year

2019 Seminar Topics


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.”

Beautiful Souls: Overcoming the Bystander Effect 
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.

Expectations and Communication in and out of the Squared Circle
We often identify Professional Wrestling or Sports Entertainment as fake or not real, but behind the scenes the business of pro wrestling is more real than you could ever imagine. The key to a successful business requires two major components, clear and concise expectations as well as consistent and honest communication. These two points are critical to the success and happiness in personal relationships, educational training, and career work. Laying everything out on the table and understanding all points of view is important to your own success and that of the people you work with. Using the A&E documentary Hitman Hart, Wrestling with Shadows, and other interviews with famed pro wrestlers Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, we will take a look at the importance and seriousness of effective communication and expectation management.

Hidden Figures: Voices from the Other Side:
As the feature film Hidden Figures has informed us, there are often people who occupy the shadows of history.  How is it that we, as a society, are just now hearing the story of these NASA scientists?  Structures of power go a long way in answering this question.  In accord with this, many other stories have went untold.  This seminar will listen to the stories of people who have went unheard.  We will explore major historical events from “the other side”.  Our story of the founding of this country has been told primarily from the viewpoint of European settlers.  What would it sound like from the perspective from the Native Americans?  How about the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of African-Americans?  How about the numerous wars from those who lost?  Come on a journey this semester to the “other side”.

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. 

‘I’d Prefer Not To’
This seminar will use “Bartleby, the Scrivener”, by Hermen Melville and “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath as a centralizing texts. Branching off from these studies in how not to start a career and find mentors, the class will delve into how to discover your passion, how to communicate clearly with others, and dive into workplace & practical ethics.

It’s not Easy Being Green
Go green! Save the planet! We hear a lot about making “environmentally friendly” choices, but what does that really mean? In the real world, choices are trade-offs, we gain one thing and lose something else. Solar power is clean, but expensive and unreliable, while nuclear power is cheap and reliable, but creates hazardous waste. In this seminar we will examine the trade space of real world environmental issues in order to look beyond “feel good” environmentalism and think critically about the pros and cons of our options. Topics will include energy, transportation, recycling, and many others.

Leadership Challenge – How ordinary people can change the world (AS)
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 seemingly 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.

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.

Money Matters (AS)
Whether you think you’re a master of saving it or spend it like it’s an unlimited resource, money is something that everyone has a hard time figuring out. Using the teachings of Dave Ramsey and other financial gurus, this course aims to give you a solid foundation and the tools for building a bright financial future.

Movies and Meaning. 
In his Ars Poetica, or The Art of Poetry, the Roman poet Horace claims literature has two purposes: “to entertain and to instruct.” Although Horace formulated this analysis in first century BCE and was thinking about poetry, many critics would agree that his analysis applies to the modern art of film-making. A movie not only should engage us with suspense and move us emotionally, it also should impart to us some wisdom about virtue, character, and a life well-lived. In this seminar we’ll watch an array of classic and contemporary films and analyze how they instruct us. Students will take an exam on narrative elements and write two short papers that analyze the themes of films. Each student will also present to the class an outline of a movie in which he or she might be the protagonist.

The Art of Mindfulness and Manners in the Digital Age (AS)
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.

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.

The Globalization of Crime 
With the world changing and advancing with technology, criminal organizations are taking advantage of new opportunities. The advancement of travel, ease of communication, and an increase in demand, has all contributed to the globalization of crime. Every nation has been affected by the globalization of crime and the problem continues to grow.  Topics to be explored are trafficking in human beings (human sex trafficking), smuggling of migrants, drug trafficking, including the Mexican Drug cartels, arms trafficking, the illegal sale of human body parts, and terrorism.  A variety of methods will be used to enhance learning, including international movies, documentaries, and case studies.  

The Problem with Free Speech
Most people are familiar with Oliver Wendell Holmes’ statements about “clear and present danger” and “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theatre.” But, how many know why Holmes uttered those words and how many are aware of the legacy those words have left behind? Why is it important, or is it even important at all? Does hate speech matter, is it even a thing? This seminar course examines the rhetoric and constitutional issues associated with the First Amendment as it is framed within the concepts of liberty, rights, and the powers of government with respect to religion and speech.

Whose Side Are You On Anyway?
This seminar will focus on perspective.  We will start with a look at a well-known literary character from two different perspectives. Then we will dive into multiple real-world issues and look at how our individual perspectives relate to how we talk about these issues and whether a change in perspective alters those discussions.  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.

*AS – Academic Success – These seminars are offered in partnership with the Mindset for Success Office.