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First Year Seminar

All first year students in the School of Liberal Arts, both freshmen and transfers, take a writing-intensive seminar class.

As a first year liberal arts student, you will take two first year seminars, one in the fall and one in the spring. These seminars are small, writing-intensive classes that give you the opportunity to work closely with faculty, actively discuss issues and texts in depth, and improve your critical thinking and writing skills.

To gain a diverse set of experiences and skills, you will be required to choose courses from two of the three following groups:

  • Group 1: Art or Music 151; English 151; Liberal Learning 151
  • Group 2: History 152; Philosophy 152; Religious Studies 152
  • Group 3: Political Science 153; Psychology 153; Sociology 153 

The following seminars will be offered during Spring semester 2023:

  • ART 151: Roots ART: First Year Seminar (FYS)

    Dr. Marilyn Cvitanic

    TF 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm

    In this course, students will explore factors influencing the creation and interpretation of art and architecture in the Western World. The course timeline covers the twelfth through the twentieth century, with an overview of Ancient Greece at the beginning of the semester. Relationships between form, content, and historical context will be emphasized so that students develop the skills to analyze as well as appreciate art and architecture that figure prominently in the are historical pantheon. The course will also examine factors influencing the perception and relevance of these works from their creation to present day. Economic, philosophical, and aesthetic influences, as well as artists' working conditions and biographical factors, will be discussed as they pertain to artists' intent and creative process.

  • ENGL 151: Roots Literature -1st Year Seminar - Salem to Sabrina: Witchy Women, Witchcraft and the Witch Hunt in Literature, Film and Modern Politics

    Dr. Maeve Adams

    MR: 1:30 pm – 3:45 pm

     The Salem Witch Trials constitute one of humankind's most horrific injustices, reflecting society's longstanding fear of powerful women. Literary and media representations of witches, from classic fairy tales to modern literature and television, offer varied interpretations of this archetype. This course studies these works alongside modern references to witches and "witch hunts" in modern legal and political discourse, examining their implications for women, people of color, and the queer/trans community today. Some of the works we study remind us that women having power-supernatural or otherwise-remains a strange and scary thought despite all the progress we believe we have made to build a more equal society. Some of these works offer more radical and optimistic accounts of what women, people of color, queer/trans folx, etc., can do when they take back power they have historically been denied. We will also study works of philosophy, legal theory, and journalism, learning to craft our own creative and analytical responses.

  • HIST 152-01: Roots History First Year Seminar: Empires and Nationalism

    Dr. Paul Droubie

    TF: 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm


    This course will examine the ways early modern and modern countries created and justified their empires. At the core of our exploration of history, we will be thinking about how and why things happened the way they did and how people understood what they did at the time. We'll look at the messiness of history that complicates the simple stories we're often told about the past. One particular focus will be how European ideals that justified imperialism also worked to undermine it, especially with the rise of various nationalism in the nineteenth century. The semester will end with the processes of decolonization after World War II and the end of these mostly European empires. You will also learn to do close reading of historical documents and how to analyze and write about them as historians do.

  • PHIL 152: Roots of Modern Age: Philosophy

    Dr. Heidi Furey

    TWF: 10:00 am– 10:50 am

     In this course, we use film and television as a starting point for philosophical discussion and material for philosophical analysis. You will be introduced not only to important classic and contemporary philosophical theories, but you will learn how to do philosophy. You will learn how to recognize philosophical issues as they arise in film, text, and life, how to extract an argument from a text or a film and critically evaluate it in a rigorous way, and how to clearly and effectively communicate philosophical ideas in writing.

  • PHIL 152: Roots of Modern Age: Philosophy: Materialism & Its Discontents

    Dr. Eoin O'Connell

    MR: 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm

    Many modern philosophers are "materialists." This course examines the nature of philosophical materialism, traces its roots to earlier traditions, and considers important attempts to oppose this trend. Topics include: What is the nature of reality? What is knowledge, and can it be gained? Is the mind the brain or a spiritual entity? Does God exist? Do we have free will? What am I? How should we treat others? Is morality relative or absolute? What is the foundation of political authority? What kind of society should we create?

  • POSC 153: Roots Government - The Media and American Politics

    Dr. Jonathan Keller

    TWF: 10:00 am – 10:50 am

    This course will provide students with analytical tools to understand the role of the media in American politics and the impact it has on policymaking, campaigning, and most importantly, recent elections. First, we will examine the structure of news media as a political and economic institution. This will include the historical evolution of media and how it is being transformed by the internet today. Next, we will explore the ways in which political actors, both inside and outside of government, try to shape the messages broadcast through media toward policy or electoral goals. During this part of the course we will pay particular attention to how various politicians, organizations, and campaigns try to influence, circumvent, or critique the media, and the status of the press in American politics. Finally, we will examine the effects that the media has on citizens, and the role the public is playing in political media in the internet era.


  • PSYC 153: Roots Psychology FYS - Not All Wounds are Visible: The Psychological Effects of War Trauma

    Dr. Nuwan Jayawickreme

    TF: 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

    The goal of a Roots: Psychology course is to provide you with an explanation and critical examination of the field of psychology, which concerns itself with the scientific study of the brain, mind and behavior. Students in this class will examine the logic and methods of psychological research and engage in analysis of contemporary social issues from the perspective of the discipline of psychology. Our specific course theme is war trauma, a phenomenon that has received greater attention in the aftermath of American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. We will examine the many reactions to trauma - which include resilience, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) & posttraumatic growth - as well as psychological theories and empirical research that attempts to make sense of these reactions. The course uses psychology research articles, memoirs (David Morris' The Evil Hours), journalistic non-fiction (David Finkel's Thank You for Your Service), films (Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence), and magazine articles.

  • SOC 153: Roots Sociology - Ethics of the Criminal Justice System

    Dr. Madeleine Novich

    MR: 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

    The vision of the Ethics of the Criminal Justice core course is to connect students with contemporary criminal justice issues from a social justice perspective. The students are encouraged to question historically held beliefs based on ethical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations. This includes an in-depth analysis on how criminal definitions are formed, the impact powerholders' discretion has on citizens, and the current state of crime, law enforcement, and corrections in contemporary American society. Using timely and empirically abase texts and multimedia from a range of sources, students learn academic, peer-reviewed style writing, quantitative and qualitative based critical readings, and acquire proficiency in digital platforms like Voyant, podcasting and Padlet. By using an interdisciplinary approach to understanding criminal justice problems, solutions, and unresolved issues, students are able to develop an ethical perspective central to the Lasallian Mission more broadly.