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 2013-2014

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 2014)

CLS F110: Nostalgia: Past, Present, and Future (3): Addresses a theme present in the cultural output of many nations. In our era of globalization and uniformity, what does it mean for a person to be exiled from his/her native country? Is the feeling of nostalgia universal for all the exiles of all nations and what is it really? Is it a mental condition akin in some cases to illness; is it a self-inflicted state of unhappiness; or is it a creative force constructed by some authors, artists, and filmmakers as a source for their inspiration? Is it an act of escapism? Can one experience nostalgia while still living in his/her native country? How are psychological effects of exile and nostalgia expressed in literature and film throughout the world? Is nostalgia a thing of the past or is there a new version of nostalgia in the modern world? These are the questions that this course aims to answer. MPF: IIB & Cul. CAS B. (Fall 2013) 

COM 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 - TBA. (Fall 2013)

EDT F103: Read Every Day, Change Your World (3): Current educational standards emphasize the need for reading for information.  But reading for pleasure—aesthetic reading—has many educational and professional advantages as well as academic ones. In this course, students will learn about aesthetic reading; intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation to foster literacy; the effects of self-selected reading on test outcomes and career achievement; and how reading connects readers with ideas, concepts, and cultures that widen their perspectives. MPF: IIB. (Fall 2013)

ENG F103: Language and Multicultural American Identity (3): Explores ways various groups use language to express their American identity, while simultaneously preserving elements of their ethnic identity. We will examine issues and challenges related to everyday language use and, since pop culture often reveals issues that exist within a community, we will examine areas of ethnic pop culture, such as stand-up comedy. Groups in contact frequently share cultures and ideas, so we will also examine contributions that various groups have made to language use in America. MPF: IIB. CAS B. (Spring 2014)

FSW F104: Rolling in the Deep: Navigating Sexual Health and Wellness (3): Explores the spectrum of young adult sexuality by reading insightful essays from 18-25yr olds across North America, learning facts about and identifying credible resources for numerous Human Sexuality subjects/issues and engaging in critical thinking in order to (re)evaluate our personal perspectives.  Notes how “larger culture” affects a young adults’ sexual viewpoint and choice-based behaviors in “smaller cultures,” such as a modern university campus.  The overall goal is to inspire reflection, while advancing your knowledge in order to empower your vision for and understanding of sexual health and wellness. MPF: IIC. (Fall 2013)

GEO F104: Developing Leadership Skills (3): Focuses on developing an understanding of the qualities of leadership that build institutions in a world of rapid change.  All individuals can contribute more effectively to their work and community, regardless of the role they play, by learning how to initiate, organize, produce, and present.  They can also contribute more effectively by understanding the role of culture in shaping an organization, and learning how to motivate others to achieve common goals.  This seminar is aimed at encouraging first year students to advance their leadership skills through examples and reflections on what it takes to be an effective leader. MPF: IIC. CAS C. (Fall 2013) 

GLG F108: Geology & Geopolitics: Silk Road (3): Examines changes in cultural, historical, and natural landscapes along the Silk Road and explores how these have affected the rise and demise of civilizations and world cultural heritage. Focuses on the ancient Silk Road nations in today’s global economy, transfer of information technology, and geopolitical development in the Middle East and Near East. MPF: IIIB, IVB, Cul. CAS D. (Fall 2013) 

MBI F107:
Infectious diseases have plagued humankind throughout history, but only in the last 50-75 years have scientists elucidated the mechanisms microbial pathogens use in the process of causing disease. An appreciation of these mechanisms is important when microbiologists, physicians, and policy makers design strategies for the treatment and control of infectious diseases, especially today as we face the medical, economic and social problems raised by the AIDS pandemic and the threatened avian influenza pandemic. MPF: IVA. CAS D. 

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 2013)

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 2014)

SPN F103: Spanish Cinema and National Identity (3): Provides an introduction to Spanish cinema through the study of its film production and film theory. The fact that Spain was the country with the largest number of movie goers in the first half of the 20th century is the starting point of a socio-historical review of Spanish film production. MPF: IIB & CUL. CAS B. (Fall 2013)

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 2013)