2018-19 First-Year Seminars -- Classes & Registration TBA

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Below, is the 2017-18 First-Year Seminar Courses


Title: Everything Old Is New Again: A Study of New Traditionalism

Course Description: This seminar examines the paradox of the modern New Traditionalist movement and the effect of the movement on popular culture. Students will examine the principles, life skills, and usage of modern technology common to New Traditionalism in relationship to the student’s thoughts and activities. Through a hands-on exploration of “old-fashioned” skills, students will evaluate modern topics such as modern lifestyles, energy usage and carbon footprinting while evaluating their reading and writing skills and personal views of “modern” and “old-fashioned” techniques, crafts, and values. The post-9/11 resurgence of traditional craftsmanship and global issues related to the function of modern society will be discussed.

(Amanda Stewart, Associate Professor of Biology)


Title: O My Gods! Mythology and Me

Course Description: 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)


Title: The Beatles and Their Times

Course Description: 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 and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts)


Title: Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose: The Portrayal of (Student) Athletes in Popular Culture

Course Description: How many times have we seen the "dumb/pompous jock" stereotype play out in a movie or television show? How many times have student-athletes been accused of only being in school to play a sport rather than to obtain a degree? The students in this class will examine the ways in which athletes, especially student-athletes, are portrayed in movies, television shows, books, magazines, and news programs/ publications. ​This class will utilize small and large group discussions, field trips, and guest speakers to further explore the stereotypes faced by athletes at all levels of competition. 

(Heather Taylor, Assistant Professor of English, Director of the McCann Learning Center)


Title: We Are Family

Course Description: 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 of Education, Chair of the Education Department)


Title: Science and Pseudoscience

Course Description: “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)


Title: Catching Your Dreams!

Course Description: “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?” (Eminem). This course will explore the theme of achieving dreams by seizing opportunities, making good choices, and overcoming obstacles through studying an array of genres—rap, poetry, and reading The Last Lecture, a New York Times best-selling book, co-authored by Randy Pausch. What are your dreams?  What do you hope to achieve after attending Bethany College?  What steps do you need to take to make your dreams become your new reality?  The goal of this course is that you “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined!” (Thoreau).

 (Danielle Mehlman-Brightwell, Learning Specialist)


Title: From Gray’s Anatomy to Grey’s Anatomy: The History of Medicine

Course Description: This seminar looks at medicine throughout history and is intended for individuals interested in pursuing a career in the medical and allied health field. From the first recorded proof of Witch Doctors in 10,000 BC to sequencing the Human Genome in the early 2000s AD, this course discusses a number of topics including ethical issues in medicine, drug discovery, medical research, and even the significance of the viral phenomenon of 2014: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This course also looks at the admission process for various medical related graduate programs including, but not limited to, Medical School, Physical Therapy School, and Physician's Assistant School.

(Carolyn Kitchens, Assistant Professor of Chemistry)


Title: Introduction to Curiosity: I didn’t know that? 

Course Description: This course provides an introduction and opportunity for you to transition to university life, as you discover how to ask and find resources available (academic, co-curricular, community). Coming to college requires you know a lot about a lot of things, so you will examine the principles of curiosity through the thematic lens of communication. This subject of this course is you. It is intentionally designed to promote your self-awareness and personal success—in college and in life after college—by empowering you with curiosity skills and intellectual development strategies that are applicable across subjects (transferable, cross-disciplinary skills) and across time (durable, lifelong learning skills).

(M.E. Yancosek-Gamble, Associate Professor of Communications and Media Arts and Chair of the Department of Communications and Media Arts)


Title: May the Force Be With You

Course Description: Renowned psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, described a collective unconscious of instincts and archetypes, universal symbols and themes, shared among humanity. This seminar will explore these universal themes and archetypes as portrayed in the Star Wars movies. Participants will consider the connectedness of the Light and Dark sides of the Force, and analyze other movie motifs such as the hero’s journey. As Yoda teaches us, “Do or do not. There is no try.”  And may the force be with us all!!

(Diane Snyder, Assistant Professor of Psychology)


Title: Immigrant Experiences

Course Description: This interdisciplinary course will focus on present-day immigration both to the US and to countries around the worlds, and will examine the history of immigration and different interpretations of immigration laws and policies. Course materials and activities will include movies, documentaries, music, poetry and prose, as well as an investigation of students’ families’ own immigration history, and some field trips.

This seminar also uses immigration as a metaphor for what first-year students experience when they cross the border between high school and college. Together we will explore the usefulness and the limitations of the metaphor, always moving forward towards fuller integration into the Bethany College culture.

(Harald Menz, Professor of World Languages & Cultures, Director of International Studies, Co-Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Co-Chair for the Department of Humanities)


Title: Creativity

Course Description: Begin your Bethany Experience with an adventure in Creativity. This course is an opportunity to respond to all the new and old things in artistic ways. The seminar is structured to allow each student to enhance talents already possessed and to entertain new possibilities, using Bethany as the primary muse. Students will simultaneously explore a range of artistic genres (Music, Theatre, Visual Art, Creative Writing, Digital Media, etc.), college expectations and professional possibilities. “Every child is born an artist. The trick is to remain one when they grow up.” ---Picasso  

(Luke Hardt, Associate Professor of Theatre and Director of the Bethany College Theatre)


Title: The Laughing Academy

Course Description: This course will study theories and concepts of humor to discover what makes people laugh and how we use comedy in personal, professional, and cultural pursuits. We will analyze texts from literature, film, television, stand up, podcasts, and the many forms of jokes to develop close reading and critical thinking skills while also learning about the resources and practices of Bethany College. Students will be expected to explore the Bethany campus and community as we complete weekly reading and writing assignments and learn about concepts and practices of humor in American and world cultures.

(Travis Straub, Assistant Professor of English, Co-director of the Bethany First Year Experience)