First Year Seminar: FYS 103

The First Year Seminar (FYS) at Lasell College is a theme-based inquiry course that provides the foundational experience of a Lasell education for students. Through studying an academic topic, students develop and apply core intellectual skills and receive an introduction to the core knowledge perspectives (see below). At the same time, students connect to the experiences and people that make up the Lasell College community. Course outcomes are accomplished through engaging activities including reading, writing, class discussions, presentations, team projects, field trips, service learning, and exploration of campus resources. Past course titles have included: Challenging Hollywood: Thinking Critically about Movies, Exploring Activism-Changing Our World, Let Us Rock, Pets: Our Perfect Companion, The Meaning of Dress, The “Reality” of Relationships, The Witch in History and Pop Culture, Women and Sports, and Zombies, Vampires and Revolutionaries.

Core Knowledge Perspectives:

  • To interpret and analyze the complex interrelationships and inequities in human societies in a global and historical context (Global & Historical Perspective)
  • To analyze modes of creative self-expression with an aesthetic perspective (Aesthetics & Creativity)
  • To apply the process of scientific inquiry to comprehend the natural world and to solve problems (Scientific Inquiry & Problem Solving)
  • To evaluate and understand how individual differences in mental processes and behaviors relate to beliefs, values, and interactions (Individuals and Society)

Core Intellectual Skills:

  • To read and respond in an informed and discerning way to written texts of different genres
  • To write clear, well-organized, persuasive prose
  • To use listening and speaking skills to express ideas and information clearly and confidently in a variety of settings
  • To apply quantitative reasoning to solve problems effectively
  • To use appropriate technological tools to solve problems efficiently
  • To collect, analyze, and synthesize appropriate data and sources effectively, ethically, and legally
  • To work effectively in collaborative settings

Early on the first day of Laser Link Orientation in June, new students are asked to select a few possible FYS options from a list of list of course descriptions. These selections are narrowed down to one choice by the time they reach course registration on the second day. Below is a sampling of course descriptions from the wide array of FYS offerings last year.

We will consider recent books and films with female action heroes and what these may tell us about how powerful women are viewed in American culture at the moment. The films we will analyze may include Snow White and the Huntsman, Brave, and Hunger Games along with fiction and nonfiction featuring women acting to take care of themselves and others. Do the heroines in these works represent a new model of females taking charge and using power in new ways? Or are they female versions of traditional male action (and violence)? The film critic A.O. Scott states that “it would be silly to proclaim, on the basis of a handful of movies, that some kind of grand role reversal has taken place that cultural power has shifted toward women.” Through our reading, viewing, writing, and talking together, we will consider whether this idea is really so silly.

Do you have a passion for film? Do you enjoy films that challenge conventions…films that are labeled rebellious because they disrupt the status quo or are considered different because of their content, context, or style? This first year seminar will serve as an introduction to Lasell and the college experience while focusing on the theme of innovative movies---classic and contemporary films which challenge society and film industry standards. Students will watch, analyze, and think critically about popular, artistic, and influential American movies from the 1960s and 1970s such as The Graduate, Easy Rider, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, representations of African-American characters during segregation and the respective “LA Rebellion” and “New Black Cinema” movements, and contemporary productions like Drive. Students will then be introduced to selected samples of films produced in African, European, and Latin American countries which challenge the style and standards of Hollywood. Ultimately we will explore how movies are more than just a billion dollar entertainment industry by focusing on how they function in several different contexts, inside and outside Hollywood, and you will have the opportunity to make a short digital video about your first year experience at Lasell.

What does it mean to be a creative person? What motivates and inspires you? Will embracing our own creativity lead to a richer more meaningful experience? This course will help answer the questions above and guide you toward a deeper understanding of what sparks your imagination. Through art projects, selected readings, weekly writing, class discussion and guest lecturers, as well as presentations, this seminar will encourage you to explore your interests and challenge your beliefs as you seek to awaken and empower your creative self. No prior art experience required. This class is for you. An open mind, a willingness to take risks and to share your process along the way, is all you need to succeed.

What do you hear in your music? Do you hear your own experience or is it the voice of the street? Once the words and music are out, how does it change us and change the world? Projects will include musical exploration, researching hip-hop as an agent of change and studying its transformative effect on society and on ourselves through discussion and writing.