First-Year Seminar

All students in the College of Arts and Sciences take a First-Year Seminar during the first semester developed around a particular topic. You register for the course that is of most interest to you. The purpose of the seminar is to help you improve your writing and presentation skills, while you learn to work in small groups and adjust to the expectations of college. At the end of the semester, you and your team present a final project to faculty, staff, students, and alumni, at the annual First-Year Seminar Symposium.


Fall 2023 First-Year Seminar Topics

The following First-Year Seminar courses (FYS 100P) are scheduled for the Fall 2023 semester.

Susan Cardillo
TR 2:10-3:25 (CRN 42450)

This course is designed to help you begin to tell your story. Through the use of digital media, you will learn how to tell the story of your college experience and future career aspirations. You will create projects including a website that will house your ideas and tell this story online and via social media. You will learn how to stand up and tell your story with confidence. This will prepare you for any field as social skills are at the top of any employer's list. You will learn how to use media to your advantage and balance it in your life for your health and well-being. You will develop a better understanding of the skills you will need to get the job you want when you are ready to graduate. This course is a perfect beginning to your college experience where you will develop these skills throughout your time at Hartford, culminating with CRD 200 Career Readiness and Development, to be taken in your junior or senior year that will help prepare you for life after college.  

Jack Banks

MW 2:103:25 p.m. (CRN 44415)

U.S. teenagers spend an average of over seven hours each day using media for entertainment, and tweens devote almost five hours a day, according to a report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization.  This doesn’t include time devoted to using screens like smartphones and computers for school and homework. 

This large amount of time spent paying attention to media for entertainment raises important questions about the role of media in the lives of young people like you. What kind of values and ideas are presented in media? What underlying ideas do media convey about sex, relationships, success, wealth, social responsibility, freedom, individualism, crime, and poverty?  Do media present cues about what people should look like and how they should act?  How are various groups in society are portrayed in media such as different economic classes, racial and ethnic minorities, genders and sexual orientations? 

We will explore these questions from several directions, examining media production, media content, and viewer interpretation. We will read and critique scholarly articles about these topics, screening documentaries about images and portrayals in popular culture, and critically examining excerpts of these media.  


Nicholas Ealy
2 sections:
MW 11:20-12:35 (CRN 42453)
MW 3:35 – 4:50 (CRN 42452)

What exactly is love and how have artists and writers explored and defined it? Why is it still a popular topic in movies, songs and novels? Can new love stories ever say something “unique” about this human experience? In this course, we will explore these questions by looking at a variety of literature, songs, television shows and films, all the while seeking to understand why love continues to hold a prominent place in cultural production. We will also give special emphasis to creative writing, academic writing and the work it takes to "think through" topics worthy of analysis and discussion.

Erin Striff
MW 9:55-11:10 (CRN 42454)

Want to make a connection or leave a mark?  Tell a story. In this class you will learn storytelling secrets from film and fiction that will help you tell stories in a variety of situations and genres. You will also have the opportunity to collect a piece of oral history from someone whose life is meaningful to you.  This is a great class for those who want to improve their speaking skills, learn to build narrative, develop creativity and listen to others’ stories

Maria Frank
TR 12:45-2:00 (CRN 42455)

In this course the diversity of creeds and faiths would be addressed as an academic and an experiential subject through readings, group exchanges, community activities, and guest participation, all aimed at promoting reciprocal knowledge and respect among the various faiths. Seven subjects prominent in all faiths (such as holy celebrations, exemplary figures, practices of atonement or purification, and others) will be covered during the semester, and to each we will devote two weeks of reading, dialog, reflection, and writing.

This course also will rely consistently on the collaboration and contributions of students of various religious communities on our own campus. More specifically, there will be a weekly INFORMAL presentation/input from representatives of each of our campus ministries (Hillel, CCM, PCM, and the Student Muslim Association).

Sarah Miner
TR 9:55-11:10 (CRN 42457)

In a highly digital world, establishing your personal brand online can play a large part in how you promote yourself and how you are perceived. 

What is a personal brand? How do you develop it? Why is it important? This seminar will explore these questions, and more, as we dive head first into exploring who you are and how to translate your skills, interests, and experiences into a personal brand. By the end of this course, you will have crafted your personal brand that supports your professional and career goals.

Dakota Nanton
TR 9:55-11:10 (CRN 42460)

This course will serve as an introduction to major movements in 20th Century art. Looking at major movements such as Pop Art, Surrealism, Cubism and Post-Modernism students will engage with questions such as 'why do we make art?', 'are memes art?', 'what makes good art?' and more. Each student will engage in creative and artistic projects throughout the semester as a way to expand their own creative expression and familiarity with the artists and filmmakers who forever changed the way we see the world.

Branko Kovacic 
MW 2:10-3:25 (CRN 42456)

Google has achieved consecrated status within the popular culture in the United States and many other countries. Google amplifies a belief that everything that is important is on the Web, and that all that is important to human beings can be achieved through information and communication networks. Google has become “the online Church of Google” that provides stability when everything seems to be in turmoil. And many of us have deep faith in Google. Why is it so? How did we live before Google? Were we better off? One way to answer these questions is to situate Google within a network of the four most powerful IT and communication companies in the world – Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Another way to answer these questions is to situate Google within a networked culture revolving around spreadable media. We need to examine Google’s cultural impact by focusing on the tensions between the economic/commercial and the social/noncommercial logics of media content production and exchange.

Deepa Fadnis
TR 2:10-3:25 (CRN 43145)

Hashtag activism builds public support for the rights of the oppressed and the underrepresented through social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Digital social movements such as #ArabSpring, #MeToo, and #Blacklivesmatter, for example, have allowed victims of human rights violations to disseminate their own accounts of their circumstances. In this course, we will read about digital movements around the world and discuss how hashtag activism has accelerated social change. Students will also explore issues related to the exploitation of social media networks by counterpublics to spread misinformation and regressive, sexist, white supremacist narratives.

Adam Chiara 
TR 11:20-12:35 (CRN 44388)

Social media has transformed communication, society, and our daily lives. While many of these changes are enriching, it has also caused repercussions. We will explore how this new media altered the world and what may still come from it. We will cover how it has affected brands, politics, sports, news, entertainment, personal communication, and other topics. By the end of the course, you will have a greater appreciation of how powerful and dangerous social media can be and learn the ways you are a part of its evolution.
Lauren Cook  
MW 2:10-3:25 (CRN 43377)

In this seminar, students will produce a video series about the first-year experience at the University of Hartford. Topics for the series will be wide-ranging, diverse, and selected by the students in the course. Show content will involve interviewing subjects and framing discussions. As students develop their own media content, they will analyze a range of media coverage of current events and think critically about the media sources they follow. No previous media experience is needed. Students will learn basic video editing skills and the class will work together in teams to produce content. The final product will be broadcast online and submitted as a series to the STN2 campus TV station. 

Ayelet Brinn
TR 9:55-11:10 (CRN 42461)

This course will explore how people build community with those who are far away and how definitions and technologies of community have changed over time. When students leave for college their freshman year, they have various tools at their disposal to stay connected with friends or family at home, including smart phones, social media, email, and many other platforms. But there is a longer history of people using various forms of technology to build or maintain connections with those who are far away. Exploring the history of various media, including newspaper advice columns, chat rooms, and letter-writing networks, this course will encourage students to think critically about the role communities play in their lives and how they define communities for themselves. 

Amy Schoenecker
TR 3:35-4:50 (CRN 42459)

This course will use the television series, Parts Unknown, by famed food critic and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, to explore conflict across the globe. Conflict is broadly construed in this course to include racial, ethnic, and religious conflicts; traditional war; guerilla war; and governmental abuse and corruption. Episodes may include racial conflicts/unrest in South Africa, Detroit, and the Mississippi Delta, religious conflict in Jerusalem, Punjab, India, and Senegal, and traditional war in Vietnam. We will tackle one new city or country per week.

Mala Matacin
MW 3:35-4:50 (CRN 44040)

We will examine the ways in which beauty and body image are socially constructed and learned.  We will pay particular attention to patriarchy as a force that shapes these constructions and feminist theories that help us deconstruct them. We will also examine the consequences on individuals (e.g., competition between females) and our larger communities (e.g., violence).  The course is designed to support close reading, class discussion, experiential activities, and a collaborative class project.

Bob Leve
TR 3:35-4:50 (CRN 42458)

How do we know what we know? How do we understand our emotions? This course will provide an introduction to Complexity Science using information from the Santa Fe Institute, including an introduction to the computer program, Net logo. We will apply the models of complexity to understanding human cognition and emotion. We will also work on crucial college skills, including critical reading, writing, oral communication, and collaboration.

2022 First-Year Seminar Symposium

Students enroll in the seminar that they find the most interesting.

The symposium is attended by alumni, faculty, staff, and students from the College of Arts and Sciences.

The presentations are judged by alumni and faculty.

FYS students improve their writing and presentation skills, while learning how to work in small groups.