The Bethany Plan

A great future. Bethany will take you there.

That’s what we do.


Let’s take the first step – the one from high school to college. We call it the “First-Year Experience,” which includes our First-Year Seminar. You’ll participate in a small group and learn how to learn – at the highest level. This will be the cornerstone of your next four years.

You won’t be alone. You’ll have mentors every step of the way, teachers who truly care. They’ll help shape your academic interests and set your goals. If you don’t have any, you will. Again, that’s what we do. You’ll be reading at a whole new level. You’ll learn to write effectively. You’ll learn to be a critical thinker – the very tools you need to make an impression in the real world. That’s what employers look for.

During your sophomore and junior years, and not a moment too soon, you’ll have the opportunity to become engaged in global learning, and spend time out of the country in a global setting. Out-of-class learning, internships included, is more than encouraged – we insist on it.

As a senior, you’ll complete the Capstone Experience, a senior project created specifically to get you on your way to a master’s and/or the entry-level job market – to transform you into a knowledgeable, productive human being. In your senior year, the final step: comprehensive exams, both written and oral. Here’s an opportunity to find out what you know about your major, how much you’ve absorbed and how well you express it. These exams may not be a piece of cake, but you can do it. The rigor of the Bethany Plan experience will see you through.

And when you come out on the other side, you will have earned it. You’ll be smart, articulate and well-rounded. You’ll have been transformed into someone with the confidence to take the next step in your life head on. You will be better. And that’s a promise. The Bethany Plan works. Really works. That’s what makes us such a great investment. That’s what makes our graduates distinctive.


The First-Year Experience is designed to meet the following goals:

  • Provide a small seminar of students with a faculty mentor/advisor who will help them to improve writing and thinking skills and familiarize them with the academic life of the College, while they study a specialized subject area
  • Provide a bridge between the high school experience and the Bethany experience designed to enable students to engage actively and successfully as they grow and learn inside the classroom and out
  • Provide students with an intense, single-class, topic-driven learning experience designed to enhance college-level reading, writing and research skills

First-Year Seminars introduce students to the study of a specialized subject area, help students improve writing and thinking skills, and familiarize students with the academic life of the College. The faculty member who leads a student’s seminar will serve as that student’s academic advisor and mentor.

2018-19 First-Year Seminars
Register for your First-Year Seminar using the form below.

AA. And the Winner Is…

Description: This is a course about awards—the people who give them and the people who win them. Students will explore a variety of honors bestowed by halls of fame and other organizations, such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars) and the Swedish Academy (Nobel Prize). Through readings, discussion, and written assignments, students will examine the traits and experiences that tend to distinguish “winners” from “losers” and the “great” from the “good.” As part of the course, students will identify and examine awards that recognize outstanding accomplishments in their own areas of interest, including scholarships.

Keywords: goal-setting, popular culture, sports

Example classroom activities: In class meetings, I envision exploring songs, movies, and short literary texts that have won industry awards; discussing what makes them (and not others) worthy of distinction; and leading students to speculate how awards reflect the eras in which they are given. Since the Nobel Prizes are announced in the fall, we might explore the blogs and betting pools that pop up on the internet and encourage visitors to make predictions for the eventual winners. For assignments, I expect to have students research the official criteria for halls of fame that interest them, determine whether and how that criteria is reflected in recent inductees, and prepare a proposal for a new inductee that the organization would find persuasive. As the course description indicates, I also want students to research and draft applications for scholarships. These might be scholarships that students are able to apply for immediately, or they might be “aspirational” scholarships that they will be in a position to apply for in a couple of years, such as the Rhodes or Marshall.

Instructor: Dustin Hixenbaugh, PhD, Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Hixenbaugh teaches writing and literature classes and advises English Education majors. Before coming to Bethany, he taught high school English on the Mexican border and a variety of classes at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also earned his doctorate in Comparative Literature. He is the faculty advisor to the Bison Alliance, Bethany’s LGBTQIA+ student organization.

BB. The Kalon Experience: Scholarship, Leadership, and Service

Course Description: This seminar is designed exclusively for Kalon Scholar Service Leaders. It will focus on the development of leadership and civic engagement skills as a mechanism to build community. Students will explore research on leadership, interview campus leaders, and explore the importance of using their education to engage with and serve their communities. This will be accomplished within the context of transitioning from high school to college, adapting their academic skills, learning how to live with roommates and working with others from diverse backgrounds.

Keywords: leadership, civic engagement, service

Example classroom activities: A variety of activities will be used including: speakers, self-assessment surveys, interviews with campus leaders, service projects, small and large group discussions, oral presentations, Ted talks, and team-building activities

Instructor: Katherine Shelek-Furbee, Professor and Chair of Social Work, Kalon Scholar Service Leader Faculty Advisor

Professor Shelek-Furbee has taught at Bethany since 1984. She is the Program Director and Department Chair of Social Work. Her credentials include a Master’s Degree in Social Work from West Virginia University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Alderson-Broaddus College. In addition to social work, Professor Shelek-Furbee has advanced training in the prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and women’s issues. She has served as the Faculty Advisor for the Kalon Scholar Service Leaders since 2002.

CC. 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 and reading The Last Lecture.  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 come true?  The goal of this course is that you “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!” -Thoreau.

Keywords: Goals, Research, Close readings

Example classroom activities: In this course, students will read, study, and watch biographies on a new artist each week.  We will examine specific literary components of each artists’ work and will have class discussions on if the artists achieved their dreams or if obstacles stood in their way.  Students will create a digital time capsule, in which, they will compose letters to their future selves discussing their dreams, write a metaphor of their current life, and will share with their future selves what authors and artists they found inspirational.  Students will receive a digital copy of their letters on their graduation day. In addition, students will complete an in-depth study on one of the artists studied in class and will share with their classmates their research.  Finally, students will compose a poetry explication of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

Instructor: Instructor Mehlman-Brightwell has been teaching English/composition/communication courses for over ten years.  At Bethany College, she currently teaches developmental writing and freshmen seminar and is a learning specialist at the McCann Writing Center.  Obtaining two Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Communications from Wheeling Jesuit University and a Master of Arts in Education degree with a reading specialist certification from Muskingum University.  She will be graduating in May 2018 with an additional master’s degree in English with a specialization in writing and rhetoric from Bowling Green State University.  She plans to continue her education and research by obtaining a Ph.D. in English with concentrations in rhetoric and media.

DD. Intercultural Communications through Food

Course description: Worldwide interest in intercultural communication grows out of two assumptions.  First, we live in an age when changes in technology, travel, economic and political systems, immigration patterns, and population density have created a world in which we increasingly interact with people from different cultures.  Second, we are more and more aware that culture affects communication in both subtle and profound ways.   Your cultural background and experiences help determine how the world looks to you and how you interact in that world.  One easy and fun way to learn these important cultural concepts is through food. We will shop, prepare and eat food as a way to learn about each other, and other cultures.

Keywords: Intercultural, communication, institutions

Example classroom activities: recipe demonstrations, identity exercises, discussions of readings on the cultural significance of meals and cuisine

Instructor: Mary Elizabeth “M. E.” Yancosek Gamble, Chair, Communications and Media Arts Department at Bethany College.  She is the owned Yancosek Gamble Communications, an organizational consulting firm.  She introduced, and has taught entrepreneurial media at Bethany College since 2009.

Before teaching at Bethany she was the state director of the Small Business Division of the West Virginia Development Office. Before being named state director, she was the Small Business Developer for Loudoun County, Virginia.  Immediately before, she was the director of the regional office of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.

A native of Washington, Pennsylvania, she has a BA from California University of Pennsylvania, an MA from Marshall University (WV), both in communication studies, and has done post-graduate work in organizational communication from Bowling Green State University (OH). She is a proud nursing school drop-out from Wheeling Jesuit University.

She is married to Dr. Mort Gamble, Senior Vice President of College Advancement at Virginia Wesleyan University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.  They own a small farm in Washington, Pennsylvania, and M. E. lives in Hibernia, on the campus and shares the house with a rescued cat named Robert Palmer “Bobby” Gamble.

EE. Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. 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 to only being in school to play a sport? The students in this class will examine ways in which athletes, especially student-athletes, are portrayed in movies, television, books, magazines, and the news. This class will utilize discussion, research, and guest speakers to further explore portrayals of and stereotypes faced by athletes at all levels of competition.

Keywords: Student-athletes, stereotypes, Popular Culture

Example classroom activities:

Guest Speakers—

Guest speakers may include, but are not limited to: Brian Rose, former student-athlete and current Bethany College Athletic Director; Pat Ford, current Director of the Business Development Corporation of Brooke and Hancock Counties and former Division I football player; Abbie Hoard, former student-athlete and current Head Athletic Trainer at Bethany College; Jesse Wukasch, assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Fairmont State University (Division II); Brad Jones, Bethany College Tennis Coach; Brian Sansom, Bethany College Women’s Basketball Coach, Courtney Kline, Bethany College Volleyball Coach; Jan Forsty, Bethany College Softball Coach. (Speakers will be contacted after confirmation of class to verify interest and to confirm dates.)

Students will develop interview questions for the group. After each interview, students will complete a short reflection that includes: one thing they learned, one thing they were surprised to hear, and one thing they would like to know more about.

Timed Writing—

Students are given a topic and a set about of time to write. They MUST keep writing for the entire time. At the beginning of the semester, students will have 1:30 and the time will increase in 15 second intervals over the course of the semester.

Every Class—

Word of the Day, Poem of the Day, and Run Down of things that are happening on campus (academics, athletics, and student activities).

Reading Circles—

Smaller groups that work together to read, break down, and present on assigned readings. These readings will range from popular publications to peer-reviewed journal articles.

Instructor: Heather A. Taylor, Director McCann Learning Center and Assistant Professor of English

Taylor graduated from Bethany in 2005 with a degree in English and taught first-year English at the high school level before returning to Bethany in 2007 as Coordinator of the McCann Writing Center. She earned her MA in Creative Writing: Fiction (2013) and her MFA in Creative Writing: Publishing (2014) from Wilkes University. An unlikely sports fan, Taylor enjoys rooting for the Saints, Pens, Pirates, Indians, and, of course, the Bethany Bison (#RollGreen). When not cheering on a team, Taylor serves as Academic Advisor to the Brothers of Beta Theta Pi, co-advises the Relay for Life, plays team trivia, reads, writes, and enjoys good coffee.

FF. Immigrant Experiences

Course description: This interdisciplinary course focuses on present-day immigration both to the US and to countries around the world. We will organize our work around student-generated, real-world projects involving the experiences of immigrants. Course materials and activities depend on the needs of the participants’ projects, but might include movies, documentaries, music, literature, historical documents, and field trips.

We will also use “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 limitations of the metaphor, always moving towards fuller integration into Bethany College community.

Keywords: Social justice, activism, project-driven inquiry

Example classroom activities: 

  • Creating an all-campus awareness raising activity regarding DACA recipients and inhumane borders.
  • Students identify, invite, and host a speaker on immigration topics.
  • Students explore the College Catalogue, and use it as a resource to plan their career at Bethany College and beyond.

Instructor: Harald Menz, Ph.D., Professor of World Languages and Cultures, Co-Chair, Department of Humanities, Director of International Studies, Co-Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.

After more than 20 years of teaching at Bethany, I’m still striving to teach the best class ever. Lately, I have started to give more and more ownership over selection of topics, strategies, and materials to my students.  That way I’m not the only one to blame if it fails . While I teach mainly German language and culture courses, my first year seminar courses often involve intercultural topics that deal with people from around the world.

HH. It’s Elementary!  A Historical Look at the Science that Shaped Us

Course description:  This course is designed for students seeking a career in a scientific field and will be a look into fascinating scientific events that shaped human history, such as cooking, fireworks, cosmetics, weapons and warfare, and medicine and toxicology.  For a portion of the class, the students will investigate Bethany’s long history in scientific achievement, with historical context for luminaries such as Robert Richardson, Earl Oglebay, and Amos Dolbear, among others.  The course will be arranged in three sections, with a significant amount of overlap: 1) a study of scientific revolutions that shaped our world, 2) a study of the history and traditions of Bethany College and 3) a study of Bethanians who have contributed to science and agriculture.  Each student will give a short presentation over the selected historical figure.

Keywords:  scientific discovery, history, Bethany

Example classroom activities:  Presentation and demonstration of major scientific discoveries, Trip to Campbell mansion, trip to the library, campus scavenger hunt for plaques containing descriptions of Bethanian scientists, readings of selected works from famous Bethanians, written report and student presentations over a selected Bethanian historical figure, presentation and demonstration of major scientific discoveries

Instructor:  Dr. Scott Brothers, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Brothers received his doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from Texas A&M University in December 2011 and began a tenure-track position at Bethany College in the fall of 2012.  His pedagogical interests are in active-learning inquiry-based modules in the classroom, integration of computational modules, student use of case studies, and implementation of green and sustainable techniques.  His research interests are computational and quantum chemistry of inorganic systems, electrochemistry of conductive materials such as polymers, synthesis of nanomaterials, and thermodynamics of natural fuel sources.

II. The Ceramic Age

Course description: The Ceramic Age is designed to familiarize students with mankind’s relationship with clay. We will discuss how humans have used this material, how clay has shaped human history, and clays role in the modern world. Students will have the opportunity to try clay prospecting, refine the material, and form objects. As we explore different methods of clay construction and decoration, we will also discuss different ceramic cultures throughout time.

Keywords: Pottery, Clay, Creativity

Example classroom activities: Clay harvesting, clay refinement, primitive forming methods, decoration techniques, glazing, common reading discussions, research project with writing component, presentation of research project, and familiarization with Bethany and its resources.

Instructor: Aaron Anslow, Associate Professor of Fine Arts

Aaron Anslow has been working with clay since his education at Bethany College where he received his BA in Visual Arts in 2006. While at Bethany he studied art at Regents College in London, England. After graduating from Bethany he furthered his education by earning a MFA in Ceramics from West Virginia University in 2011. During this time at WVU he focused on both functional and nonfunctional ceramics, worked in the production studio, and studied ceramics at Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, in People’s Republic of China. Aaron is currently an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Bethany College specializing in Three-Dimensional Art.

JJ. Science and Pseudoscience

Course description: Pseudoscience continues to mislead people with “fake news” being one of the latest examples. How can you tell science from pseudoscience, and how much confidence should you have in the findings of scientific studies? How can science help us understand controversial topics like global warming, vaccines, and gun ownership? What are the limits of science in helping us make decisions and laws? Join us in in an effort to sort out fact from fiction and improve our choices in life.

Keywords: science, inquiry, truth

Example classroom activities: Analyzing and critiquing science and pseudoscience in the popular press and other types of media. Critically examining controversial topics to make informed decisions.

Instructor: Dr. Bill Hicks

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia attending a large public school called Council Rock. I then went on to Bloomsburg University, Miami University, and finally Oregon State University where I earned a Ph.D. in Forest Science. I taught for a year at Montana Tech before arriving in Bethany in 2003. My research focuses on how forests take up and store carbon, helping to reduce global warming. I enjoy getting outside, cooking, and spending time with my four cats.

KK. Facebook, “Fake News,” and Fact-Checkers: What does it mean to be an informed citizen in the information age?

Course Description: There has never been more information about our political world at our fingertips than there is today.  But how do we make sense of it?  Do we have an obligation as citizens to remain informed?  This class will evaluate the importance of an engaged and informed citizenry in our democracy, and use the insights of psychology to better understand how political information is processed.  Over the course of this seminar, students will gain the tools required to become more informed consumers of political information, and develop the skills necessary to have more meaningful and effective conversations about politics.

Keywords: politics, media, engagement

Example classroom activities:

  • Log their own personal news consumption over the course of a week, including social media, and determine the composition of their information environment
  • Work in groups to establish working definitions of objectivity, bias, and newsworthy and use them to analyze an array of media sources
  • Practice using skills for effective political discourse in one-on-one conversations with their classmates, and provide constructive feedback

Instructor: Katti McNally, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Katti McNally teaches classes on American political institutions, political behavior, and research methods.  Her interests include congressional representation, political inequality, identity politics, and elite political behavior.

LL. You Say You Want a Revolution

Course description: Why do people revolt? What roles do governments play in fomenting or squashing rebellion? What makes a revolution successful? What even counts as a “revolution”? To answer these questions and more, this course will explore factors involved in both creating and crushing wide-ranging forms of contention, such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Arab Spring, and the growing potential for climate-based unrest. By the end of the course students will have developed a critical understanding of historical and contemporary social movements, collective action problems, and revolutions by drawing connections among economics, gender studies, art, psychology, and political science.

Keywords: Political science, critical analysis, teamwork

Example classroom activities:

  • Analyzing primary documents including songs, propaganda posters, written texts, and speeches;
  • Discussing how to analyze college-level readings as well as how to make academic arguments;
  • Creating a fictional revolution from the ground-up, from tackling collective action problems to creating propaganda;
  • Discussing revolutions in current events.

Instructor: Kayce Mobley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science

A native of Brunswick, Georgia, Kayce Mobley earned her B.A. at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, where she majored in political science and minored in classical studies. She then obtained her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Georgia in 2015, while simultaneously completing a graduate certificate in university teaching. Before joining the faculty at Bethany in 2018, she taught at Wabash College and Pittsburg State University.

Dr. Mobley’s research interests broadly concern international relations, with specific focus on foreign policy, security studies, and ethics. She frames political science as a link between the sciences and the humanities – a field that addresses problems of flawed humanity with a theoretically and methodologically rich approach. Her teaching interests include American foreign policy, security studies, political theory, gender issues, and the foundational classes for international relations and comparative politics.  In the classroom, she challenges her students to consider multiple explanations for and implications of political decisions through lively conversations and activities.

MM. The Laughing Academy

Course description: This course will explore humor and comedy, looking at what makes people laugh, how to craft a good joke, and how to engage with an audience. We’ll learn how to succeed in college and get the most out of your time at Bethany while practicing liberal arts skills like critical thinking and close reading by crafting jokes.

Keywords: Comedy, humor, writing

Example classroom activities: The writers’ room- bouncing joke ideas off each other and improving them; Stand-up comedy routines performed in front of the class and later for a larger audience; Constructive criticism and analysis of reading assignments and videos of professional comedians

Instructor: Travis Straub, Assistant Professor of English, Director of the Bethany First Year Experience

Professor Straub completed his undergraduate education at West Virginia University and earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been at Bethany for five years, teaching writing courses including composition, creative writing, professional writing, and environmental writing. He writes short stories that have been published in a number of literary publications, and is currently working on a couple novels. He has performed live comedy in the Deep South and hosted an open mic comedy night in Savannah, Georgia.

Burj_Al_Arab.jpgStudy Abroad

While travel abroad is often a once-in-a-college-career dream for many at colleges and universities, some students at Bethany are constantly traveling overseas – and getting credit, too. Thanks to well-established affiliations with universities around the globe, students can spend a semester studying in France, Spain, Germany, Japan, England, Canada, Argentina or Greece. Some students have visited as many as ten countries during their four years at Bethany.


Internships are also an important component of a Bethany education as students gain professional and developmental experiences through working in their related fields of study or through the many leadership opportunities available.

Internship.jpgIf it’s a Bethany internship, it’ll pay handsomely later. Bethany has contacts with companies all over the U.S. and the world. That’s what Bethany internships are all about. Opportunities for a students to put their skills into action. Students take advantage of them to coincide with their field of study and to get a real taste of the real world. That’s the big payoff.

Students may spend the summer, January Term or even a whole semester combining practical professional experience with formal off-campus study.

Each student must successfully complete a Senior Project consistent with the guidelines and requirements of the department of the student’s major. Guidelines are available from the chair of each department. A student may propose a senior project earning two, three or four credits as determined through consultation with the faculty of the major department. Projects are proposed, scheduled and evaluated in accordance with guidelines established by each major department. The project is supervised and evaluated by the stBDEBethany-249.jpgudent’s senior project advisor and by at least one additional faculty member. The project grade is submitted by the department chair. The completed project is filed in the library archives. A Senior Project Book is published yearly.

Senior Project Book Archives

2011        2012
2013       2014




comps2.jpgCulminating the Bethany education is the Senior Comprehensive Examination. Comprehensive exams help students demonstrate their mastery of a subject and lead the student to a sense of self-confidence and achievement.

Bethany is one of only a few undergraduate institutions in the country that conduct comprehensive exams.

A truly unique experience, the exams are broken up into two days of written exams and a one hour oral exam with a panel of faculty. The exams are offered in January and in May.

Students who do unusually well in the Senior Comprehensive Examination earn a pass with distinction.