First-Year Seminar


First year students are invited to enroll in one of many First-Year Seminars taught by seasoned Miami faculty. The seminars are specially designed for first year students and focus on an intellectual theme, problem or issue based on the passion and expertise of the faculty member. Each course fulfills one of the Miami Plan Foundation areas and is limited to 23 students.

Students who enroll in a First Year Seminar have a unique opportunity to engage in a small-group learning experience and work closely with the faculty member. They will confront intellectual, creative and ethical ideas through active approaches to learning involving writing and lively discussions as ways of learning.

Proposing a First-Year Seminar

Faculty are encouraged to submit proposals for First-Year Seminars to the Liberal Education Council via John Tassoni using the First-Year Seminar proposal form. Proposals for the 2014-2015 academic year are due by December 6, 2013.

In your proposal, describe the student learning outcomes for each of the four Miami Plan principles  you expect students to accomplish by completing the seminar. For each outcome, give one example of an assignment, class activity, or other method that you use to help students meet the specified outcome.  If you are proposing this course to meet the Global Course requirement, please describe the ways this seminar will meet at the A-goal and at least two other goals required of G-Courses.

Current First-Year Seminar Opportunities

Academic Year 2014-2015


ART F103: Why Is That Art? (3):  
Why are some objects defined as art and others are not? Who decides? Through a combination of textual study, visual analysis, and reflection on our own judgments, we will address the cultural and temporal specificity of definitions of art. The seminar will pay close attention to how the question, “What is Art?” has been answered by modern artists and how museums and other institutions shape what is defined as art. The course will also include field trips to exhibitions at museums in the region. MPF: IIB.  (Fall 2015)

BIS F115: A Dream or a Nightmare? (3):  2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The legislative victory prompted a shift in the rhetorical strategies of Martin Luther King, Jr., who moved from a focus on civil rights to an emphasis on human rights. While King moved from a liberal to a more radical position in 1964, Malcolm X shifted from a separatist position to a more conciliatory one in that same year. This course explores the development of the argumentative strategies of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1960s, including feminist and other critiques of the movement.  MPF: IIB.  (Fall 2015)

BIO F107: Evolution: The Great Debate (3): Investigates, critiques, and analyzes two of the dominant paradigms in this topic area: examines the philosophical differences between religion and science. MPF: IVA Biological Science; CAS: D-BIO.  (Spring 2015)

CHM F108: The Chemistry and Culture of Food (3): Focuses on the chemistry of food and the scientific context of associated cultural practices and historical events.  Students will be introduced to chemical, physical, and biological concepts relevant to the composition, structure, function, and taste of food.  The diversity of methods by which people in different times and places have produced, preserved, and prepared similar ingredients will also be studied.  In addition, students will explore the role that specific foods (e.g., salt, sugar, spices) have played in the course of human history.  In lieu of a traditional chemistry lab, the course will include taste experiments and culinary experiences. MPF: IVB; CAS: D. (Spring 2015)

CLS F110: Ancient War and Modern Media (3):  Explores the longstanding influence of classical antiquity on western culture by looking specifically at the ways modern media has turned to representations of ancient warfare in thinking about contemporary society and conflict.  Looks at how modern film often “takes sides,” producing powerful images of both “foreign” enemies and the Greeks and Romans, while also probing a range of other concepts like gender, class, and even the meaning of victory itself. MPF: IIB, H; CAS: B--Literature.  (Fall 2015)

MAC F104: LGBTQ People and the Press (3):  Examines the complex relationship between the news media and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities, including censorship, coverage, representation, fairness, and employment. In addition, publications by and for LGBTQ communities, including newspapers and magazines, and their influence and economic viability will be explored, as will the role of the news media in key events and issues, such as the McCarthy hearings, the Stonewall uprising, the assassination of Harvey Milk, HIV/AIDS, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and marriage equality.  As part of their daily work in this course, students will keep a queer media journal and will complete a research paper on a related topic of their choosing. MPF: IIB & CUL; CAS: B--Other.  (Fall 2015)  

PHL F110: Cultural Differences: Worlds Apart? (3):  Using philosophical theories about human experience, the world, our minds, and our knowledge of the world, the class will critically explore the idea that people with fundamentally different beliefs may live in different worlds, and will examine implications of this idea for concepts of truth and objectivity. This idea and its implications will be used to discuss cultural conflicts and strategies for conflict resolution. MPF: IIB & Cul; CAS: B.  (Fall 2015)

SPA F117: Communication Across Cultures (3): Investigates the human biological inclination to communicate, inherent barriers to communication, challenges we face in local and global intercultural communication, personal narratives regarding immigration and second language acquisition, and the changing ethical landscape. Topics will stem from current studies in language development, second language learning, cultural anthropology, and sociolinguistics.  It is the aim of the instructor to create a learning environment that encourages a respectful and comfortable reciprocal exchange for first-year students. MPF: IIIB; CAS: C.  (Spring 2015)

WGS F104: Identity and Food in Oxford, OH (3):
 “Describe your favorite dinner. Tell me about the foods you eat. Why do you eat the foods you do?” These prompts will guide your writing of autoethnographies as we explore relations among social identities and food consumption in Oxford. By examining writings of “sistah vegans,” women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, women socialized in the 1960s to “feed their families,” champions of food security for those living in poverty, and a resident of Oxford who dreams of opening a Community Café, we will apply ecosystems theory frameworks to understanding how foodways are constructed, and how behaviors relate to social identities. MPF: IIC; CAS: TBA.  (Spring 2015).

WST F112: Rites of Passage: The Journey to College and Liminality (3):  Focuses on placing students’ personal experiences of coming to college within a larger methodological, theoretical framework. A variety of literary forms, from fairy tales to autobiography to anthropological essays, expose students to ideas about not only turning points and rites of passage but also about the various kinds of written artistic expressions about significant transitions in a person’s life.  Students are asked to come to some under­standing of various conceptions of rites of passage and to reflect upon their own life experi­ence of being “in transition.” The course also features a multi-step, semester-long, creative writing process. MPF: IIB & Cul; CAS: B.  (Fall 2015)