First-Year Program Learning Community Courses 2021

HI280: The Holocaust in Film, Theater, Video and the Arts (Dr. Lori Weintrob)
TH103: Script Analysis (Prof. Theresa McCarthy)
RFT: Weintrob/McCarthy


In this Learning Community, we examine theatre works, film and other artistic documents that explore oppression and injustice. We connect theater and history to better understand the motivations of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, genocide, and slavery, as well as the impulses that drive the bystander and those who resisted. Telling stories can be a powerful tool for promoting courage and empathy in the face of discrimination and hate. Our students in the process of reflection using testimony of a diversity of eyewitnesses, as well as in writing, researching and community engagement. We will look at the leadership strategies of men and women who fought back against the odds to promote human rights. The resilience of survivors of atrocities, including Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who we may meet, inspires us to be vigilant and challenge anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of prejudice today.

PS291 Special Topics: Applied Social Psychology (Dr. Amy Eshleman)
MU 209 Jazz and Blues (Prof. Jose Diaz)
RFT: Eshleman/Diaz


This Learning Community introduces students to the history and cultural contexts of jazz and blues music, using behavioral research in social psychology to understand identity, relationships, and prejudice and their intersectionality. The Reflective Tutorial focuses on developing skills in writing, critical thinking, and oral communication; examining research evidence through critical reading; and exploring offerings of jazz and blues in New York City. Trips and volunteer opportunities at performances throughout the city serve to enrich the experience and develop deeper understanding of the performers who are examined.

AN206: People and the Environment (Dr. Joshua Mullenite)
MI200: Microbiology (Dr. Katherine Moccia)
RFT: Mullenite/Moccia


This learning community will explore connections between people and the environments in which they live. Students will learn how political, economic, and social systems affect people’s relationships to the natural world, how people are responding to environmental change in cities around the world, and will learn basic scientific ideas and methods which inform these responses. Specific attention will be given to how people utilize microorganisms to lead sustainability efforts. Students will also meet with practitioners from local governmental and non-governmental organizations dealing with urban ecological issues in New York City and will gain firsthand experience working with sustainability initiatives in Staten Island. This learning community is ideal for students interested in pursuing careers in biology, health sciences, or any environmental fields.

HI275: Bringing the Past to the Public: History in Museums (Dr. Brett Palfreyman)
AH118: Introduction to Art History: The Ancient World from a Global Perspective (Dr. Sarah Scott)
RFT: Palfreyman/Scott


Two of the fundamental components that define us as humans are our drive to create works of art and to record our own histories. In this Learning Community we will explore how and why humans create works of art and architecture, and how and why these things become an archive of human history. We will look specifically at collections of ancient objects and historical artifacts from collections here in New York City. Through field trips to local museums, historical monuments, and archaeological archives we will learn about the disciplines of history and art history and how they function as tools for the creation of the narrative of humanity. It will be our goal to understand how we as humans, through objects that we create, write our own history, in essence crafting a memory for future generations.

EN291: Digital Humanities (Dr. Emily Barth)
MU246: Music in Film (Dr. David Schulenberg)
RFT Staff/Schulenberg


We don’t always pay attention to everything we experience in movies or on digital platforms. In this learning community, students will deepen their sensitivity to the storytelling practices of film and digital environments. Students will consider how digital tools and methods shed light on perennial humanistic questions about culture, society, and artistic production. They will also discover how music shapes the drama and message of diverse types of movies. In the Reflective Tutorial, students develop skills in aural and written discussion supported by research, as they make real or virtual visits to concerts, plays, and other performances.

AN101: Introduction to Anthropology (Dr. Celeste Gagnon)
BI213: Cells, Genes and Evolution (Dr. Heather Cook)
RFT: Gagnon/Cook


The “scientific method” as taught in most introductory science classes and “scientific information” as reported by the public media are overly simplistic and do not accurately reflect how science is actually done. To better understand how scientists do what they do and how science is different (or not so different) from other ways of learning about the world, students in this Learning Community will take introductory courses in a natural science (biology) and a social science (anthropology). The third component of the LC, the reflective tutorial, will give students a space to discuss different approaches to science, engage the scientific literature, and practice doing science through lab and classroom activities. In particular, these activities will focus on the evolution, spread and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SP291-FY: Border Lives: The American Illusion in the XXI Century (Dr. Margarita Sanchez)
PH103: Contemporary Moral Problems (Dr. Sarah Donovan)
RFT: Sanchez/Donovan


Learning about the experiences of migrants and different ethical belief systems encourage us to understand other people and discover a human being within ourselves that we didn’t know. The art of understanding requires, among other things, tools to help us understand other cultures, a sensitivity to different belief systems, critical thinking, and an ability to reflect on ourselves in relation to others. In this LC, students will cultivate the art of understanding through a course (taught in English) in Latin American culture and Literature, a course in philosophy, and a writing intensive Reflective Tutorial that includes a community based project. Student coursework will include the study of migration of Spanish speaking populations, literature, and culture, and philosophical ethical theory in relation to moral problems. The Reflective Tutorial will include readings that encourage interdisciplinary reflection on the themes of the LC, and completion of a community based project that contextualizes the classroom learning in a real world experience. There is no language requirement for this LC.

ML 316: International Filmmakers (taught in English) (Dr. Katica Urbanc)
AH213: From Impressionism to Surrealism (Dr. Laura Morowitz)
RFT: Urbanc/Morowitz


In this LC we look at forms of expression in European art and film in the modern period. Students will have the opportunity to study major artistic movements from the Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century in France, Germany, Russia, and Italy and explore the works of contemporary film directors from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. In our RFT we examine the work and lives of important artists and writers in exile from their native countries, including poetry, novels, memoirs, and paintings. In all three courses, students will discover how language, culture, artistic works, social life, and political events are inter-related. Throughout the semester, students will also be exposed first-hand to the ideas and works discussed in class by visiting several museums in New York City and attending Wagner’s International Film Festival.

HI291: Cultural History of Early Modern Europe (Dr. Alison Smith)
MU291: Musical Expression throughout Modern History (Thomas Juneau)
RFT: Smith/Juneau


This Learning Community will focus on the historical roots and far-reaching cultural influences of two great musicians, Ludwig van Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein. Beethoven, despite dealing with incredible hardships including deafness and depression, captured the imaginations of millions through his music. The history and music courses will explore the forces that led to Beethoven’s musical achievements in the context of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Age of Revolutions. In the RFT we will study Beethoven’s music in America and focus on the achievements of Bernstein, the charismatic, international impresario whose impact on the musical world of New York–classical, jazz, rock, and theater–was profound. This course will feature experiential trips to Manhattan and other parts of the region. Students will experience concert performances and visits to cultural institutions which have felt the influence of these cultural icons. Learning to examine music, theater and film will be an integral part of this LC.

HI 248: African American History from 1614 to the Civil War (Dr. Rita Reynolds)
MDS 110: Educating for Democracy (Dr. Vannessa Smith-Washington)
RFT: Reynolds/Smith-Washington


This learning community will explore historical events and the ways in which institutional and community organizations can work together to address specific needs related to amongst other things race, class, education, and community. Focusing on history and how it has impacted change, students will consider new ways to think, communicate, and make a difference in the world. The role of intercultural connections and culturally responsive practices will be discussed. In addition, students will have the opportunity to connect theory to practice by closely collaborating with local schools and community organizations on the development of action plans to address specific educational needs.

MI212: Molecular Microbiology (Dr. Chris Corbo)
CH111: General Chemistry (Dr. Arun Sharma)
RFT:  Corbo/Sharma


Alexander Fleming’s original research article describing penicillin in 1929 discussed the potential for resistant pathogens. Today, resistant bacteria pose a major threat to world health. To date, we have limited antibiotic drugs that will be able to treat such infections and thousands of people die each year from these infections. Lysins, or enzymes isolated from viruses which infect bacteria, are being investigated for use as antimicrobial agents. Lysins do this by breaking open bacterial cells, but not human cells. These molecules are attractive because bacterial resistance is almost non-existent to these lysins. Students in our RFT will learn about these molecules and, using techniques in computational chemistry, analyze the lysin molecules. Writing assignments will focus on data analysis and scientific writing. Students will get to visit a university research laboratory focusing on lysin research.

EN109: World Literature (Dr. Steven Thomas)
GOV251: International Politics (Dr. Shaohua Hu)
RFT: Thomas/Hu


This learning community introduces students to international politics and creative responses to global issues. The international politics class will examine the major schools of thought and basic methods in international studies. Students will learn about international conflicts, the global economy, and the evolution of the modern international system. In the world literature class, we will read literature and watch movies from around the world that inspire different ways of thinking about specific political decisions as well as about the overall international system. Both classes ask how the history of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle in Asia, Africa, Europe, and America have shaped our modern world. As the poet John Donne famously wrote, “no man is an island”; the history of human society is one of global interactions, multifaceted conflicts, and distant connections that impact our lives.

PH 202: Medical Ethics (Dr. John Danisi)
BI 209: Human Anatomy and Physiology (Prof. Linda Raths)
RFT: Danisi/Raths


This Learning Community will bring our knowledge of biology and ethics to bear upon some of the central human life issues in modern medicine.  Issues discussed include:  Is a patient in a persistent vegetative state considered to be a person?  Is there a place for consciousness within a biological/evolutionary account of human beings?  Are the practices of abortion and euthanasia morally permissible?  Do animals have rights?  What is the nature of the relationship between healthcare professionals and their patients?  Are there limits in the use of robotic technology in medicine?

GOV103-FY: Urban Politics (Dr. Clifford Frasier)
SO103-FY: American Society and Its Social Problems (Dr. John Esser)
RFT: Unger/Esser


This LC explores the historical development of urban politics within a broader American social context characterized by race, gender, class, religious, and ethnic distinctions.  It emphasizes the political and economic development of American cities and the intersection of public and private interests in urban policy-making, with a special focus on New York City.

MDS103: Business and Society (Dr. Richard LaRocca)
AA291: Arts in the 21st Century (Dr. Penny Brandt)
RFT: LaRocca/Brandt


This Learning Community (LC) will give students an overview of general business topics and provide an introduction of management of arts organizations. The LC will look at managers and organizations, finance, marketing, profile of the arts and general business management, and fundamentals of leadership and group dynamics. The LC will also examine the importance of ethics and financial literacy and the financial challenges businesses and people are facing not only in the U.S. but in our globalized world as well. Students will be involved in a semester-long business simulation that introduces them to running a business. It is designed to help students learn about the challenges and rewards of making good decisions in a small, service-based business and create an interactive virtual company.

SA101: Coaching Effectiveness (Nicole Gaudenzi)
PS111: Child Psychology (Dr. Carolyn Taverner)
RFT: Gaudenzi/Taverner


This learning community will explore an in-depth study of the frameworks supporting effective coaching behaviors as they apply to children. Students will develop knowledge in skill development, evaluation, communication strategies, and successful coaching philosophies as it relates to the development of children. In addition, we will analyze effective coaching behaviors on and off campus. Specifically, students and professors will work with community non-profit organizations to better understand various aspects of coaching, psychology, and child development.  This learning community is ideal for students who are passionate about sports and psychology, and, are considering careers in the fields of sport administration, psychology, child development, coaching.

SO215: Race & Ethnic Relations (Dr. Bernadette Ludwig)
PS212: Psychopathology (Dr. Jessica England)
RFT: Ludwig/England


This learning community encourages students to explore (the importance of) diversity within our outer and inner worlds. Students will learn more about diverse communities in the US, systemic (racial) oppression and discrimination, identity formation, and how identities shape experiences in daily life and in the realm of mental health. Students will gain a better understanding of the multicultural and societal contexts of human experiences and develop a critical lens in exploring the impacts of such contexts in order to advance social justice. Students will engage in different experiential learning opportunities including going on field trips to different neighborhoods in New York City and museums, volunteering with West African refugees and immigrants and local high school students, and finally participating in Wagner’s Food Recovery Network efforts.   This learning community is ideal for students who are passionate about social justice and inclusion and are considering careers in the fields of public policy, sociology, social work, psychology, health services, education, community development, and/or advocacy.

TH103: Script Analysis (Dr. Felicia Ruff)
AR291: Introduction to Studio Art (Dr. Jennifer Toth)
RFT: Ruff/Toth


LC18 links studio art with the art of theatre. While being introduced to visual literacy and critical analysis, students will discover ways art and theatre break out of traditional spaces and spill onto the street. We will examine what it means for art and performance to be housed in a gallery, museum, theatre on or off-Broadway versus what is found on the street–from tags on street signs to buskers in the subway. LC18 utilizes field trips to learn about and experience art and theatre in NYC. We will explore large-scale outdoor sculptures at Storm King, Yayoi Kasuma at the New York Botanical Garden, Noguchi/Martha Graham, and the murals found on the streets of Bushwick, among other outdoor venues. Plays will include reading, viewing, and occasional in-class performances of works like Reza’s Art, Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, and This is Modern Art about graffiti artists who tag the famed Chicago Art Institute. We will also explore the visual elements of theatre, including: set decoration, set design, costuming, and stage pictures. From Banksy to Sondheim, we will encounter art and theatre in unexpected places.

 

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