First-Year Program Learning Community Courses 2019

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

This Learning Community examines the roots of discrimination, sectarian hatred and genocide. We connect theater and history to ponder the motivations of the perpetrator, the impulses that drive the bystander and the upstander. We honor the victims and survivors of atrocity, whose suffering and resilience inspires us to challenge prejudice, anti-Semitism and racism today. In Script Analysis we read and discuss texts that span the ancient to present time including the writings of Aristotle, Euripides, Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen, August Wilson, Tony Kushner, Anna Deavere Smith, Paula Vogel, Moises Kauffman and Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins. In History, we explore the cultural history of Nazi propaganda and resistance in films such as Triumph of the Will (1935), Bent (1979), Schindler’s List (1993), Defiance (2009) and Sometimes in April (2005), as well as in the graphic novel Maus. In our reflective tutorial, we consider the power of storytelling as a tool for empathy and courage. We engage students in the process of reflection, writing, researching, speaking and community engagement, including with a diversity of eyewitnesses.

PS244: Decisions and Persuasion (Dr. Amy Eshleman)
EC102: Microeconomics (Dr. Utteeyo Dasgupta)
RFT: Eshleman/Dasgupta

This Learning Community provides a foundation in microeconomics and social psychology, focusing on introducing rational choice theory and using behavioral research to understand practical problems and to suggest solutions. The Reflective Tutorial emphasizes using reasoning skills to develop arguments, to appeal to the passions of others, and to explore how one can propose evidence-based public policy by building numerical aptitude and proficiency. A Reacting to the Past role-playing game is used to provide a concrete structure for building skills in written communication, critical reading, and oral communication. Students explore exhibits at museums throughout the city to develop background understanding that is valuable for their character within the game.


GOV236: Politics in Literature and Film (Dr. Steven Snow)
TH103: Script Analysis (Prof. David McDonald)
RFT: Snow/McDonald

This Learning Community analyzes political themes in theater, literature, and film. We read works by Richard Price, John Steinbeck, Joseph Conrad, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. Films will vary but will include Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and Stacy Peralta’s “Crips and Bloods: Made in America.”  Plays from ancient Greece to today’s theater will be analyzed according to their structure, content, and sociopolitical context.  Playwrights include Aeschylus, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Anna Deavere Smith. A central learning goal of the LC is developing students’ rhetorical skills, i.e., speaking and writing effectively and persuasively.

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.

FM222: Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking (Dr. Philip Cartelli)
BI291: Global Change (Dr. Brian Palestis)
RFT: Cartelli/Palestis

Despite being widely accepted by scientists, climate change remains one of the most politically divisive and misunderstood issues in the United States. This learning community will focus on the science behind concepts such as global warming, pollution, and loss of biodiversity as well as the uses of film in documenting these processes and their effects. As part of developing the abilities to observe, understand, and effectively communicate environmental issues, students will learn how they are manifested in a variety of urban environments in New York City.

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. The reflective tutorial will culminate with an interactive examination of Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution and natural selection, which are central to both biology and anthropology, the nature of science and its relationship to modern life in an industrial society.

MDS109: Health and Society (Dr. Aleksandra Zagorin)
CH111: General Chemistry (Dr. Mohammad Alauddin)
RFT: Zagorin/Alauddin

This learning community is designed to address the needs of students who are interested in pursuing careers in healthcare, environmental management, public health, and policy issues. It bridges interdisciplinary areas of science and healthcare, and examines topics such as the determinants of health, the implications of law and policy decisions, and equity of access. Students are introduced to the emerging global environmental issues, chemical nature and toxicity of select pollutants in air, water, food and health effects, focusing on factors such as culture, gender, and poverty. Students will be working with local and regional research facilities, local population groups, and healthcare institutions to further explore the existing healthcare disparities, behaviors, and risks that affect population health.

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.

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?

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 ways in which institutional and community organizations can work together to address specific needs related to race, class, education, and community. Focusing on ways historical events can impact 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.


CH 111: General Chemistry I (Dr. Arun Sharma)
MI 200: Microbiology (Dr. Christopher Corbo)
RFT: Sharma/Corbo

When we hear “bacteria” we think “illness”; when we hear “chemicals” we think “poisons”; when we hear “environment” we think of the world around us. Can you name one thing which connects all three? Do you know that bacteria can positively affect human health as well as the health of our planet by remediating poisons and toxic waste? Humans, bacteria and the environment are constantly interacting with one another through chemical processes. The human attitude towards the environment has been shaping the lives of all species on our planet, but did you know there are microbes that can also end a human life within days? Chemical reactions are the weapons used in this “microscopic” battle between humans and bacteria.

In this Learning Community, the focus is on the triangular interaction of humans, microbes and the environment by viewing their basic chemical interactions. Students will observe how chemistry and microbiology are intertwined in everyday human life. They will develop a better understanding of the influences the three parties have on one another and on our planet. For the experiential component, students will facilitate a science club for local elementary schools and middle schools. Through this Learning Community, students will become better global citizens, obtaining a better understanding of the environment and the impact of its inhabitants.

HI 111: Global Encounters to 1600 (Dr. Alison Smith)
EN 109: World Literature (Dr. Anne Schotter)
RFT: Smith/Schotter

How did New York City become such a powerful magnet for financiers, immigrants and cultural elites?  The seeds of this global city were planted many centuries ago when Europeans and their neighbors began to explore both near and far.  This Learning Community will study travel narratives and other cultural encounters from the Crusades through the European “discovery” of the Americas, with readings by Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Columbus, and Shakespeare.  The Reflective Tutorial will focus on how the impulse to explore has continued to lead energetic, creative people to the shores of New York City. It will feature field trips to museums, immigrant neighborhoods, and Greenwich Village.

SO 103: American Society and Its Social Problems (Dr. John Esser)
GOV 104: Introduction to Political Theory (Dr. Patricia Moynagh)
RFT: Esser/Moynagh

This LC studies societies, their maintenance, their structures, and the political ideas that support and challenge them.  We consider both American and global perspectives.  We analyze racism, sexism, classism and other societal injustices.  We ask ourselves what ingredients might be necessary to achieve greater democratic relations.

AR 203:  Advertising Art 1: Graphic Design (Prof. Andrew Needle)
MDS 103: Business and Society (Dr. Richard LaRocca)
RFT: Needle/LaRocca

The digital age has revolutionized the way people are persuaded to buy goods and services and the way companies do business. This Learning Community examines Internet marketing and business decision-making. The class explores aspects such as why traditional advertising no longer works and the challenges companies are facing in our globalized world. We discuss promoting brands on-line, and how this is done by maximizing search engine optimization, defining, attracting, and retaining the target audience, and using social media (including blogs and podcasts) to inspire consumer loyalty. We also look at ethical dilemmas companies face and how ethical decisions are made in the digital age. Students develop a product or service, and create a website to promote it.

EN 109: World Literature (Dr. Ann Hurley)
FR 291: Contemporary French Cinema, Culture, and Thought: (Dr. Dane Stalcup)
RFT: Hurley/Stalcup

This Learning Community is designed for students who are curious, energetic, flexible and adventurous, and who perhaps plan a future of travel and experience in cultures other than our own.

Our focus will be on cultural studies as our primary mode of inquiry, and we will carry out our exploration by putting the world of non-western literature into dialogue with modern French culture, cinema, and thought.  From reading the literature of a foreign culture to learning how France defines itself through cultural expression, this communicative process regularly takes us beyond that which we presume to know best, ourselves.

Our textbook for the RFT will be the city of New York, which we will explore by visiting, closely observing, and writing about its museums, restaurants, music, street fairs, art galleries, and theater.  We will be seeking the fascinating and unfamiliar, so bring open minds, a taste for intellectual adventure, and a willingness to work at understanding the complex global world in which we live.


SO 215 Race & Ethnic Relations (Dr. Bernadette Ludwig)
AN106 Cultural Geography (Dr. Joshua Mullenite)
RFT: Ludwig/Mullenite

This learning community will explore social and spatial issues of diversity and community. More specifically, we will analyze the strengths and resources that some communities have while examining the obstacles they face. Off campus, students and professors will visit a variety of different (immigrant) neighborhoods in New York City as well as museums, monuments, and exhibits that focus on the city’s cultural and ethnoracial diversity.

In addition, we will analyze issues of environmental sustainability and food insecurity on and off campus. Concretely, students and professors will work with the Food Recovery Network chapter on campus and conduct community resource mapping to better understand various aspects of food insecurity.

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, social work, sociology, anthropology, community development and advocacy.

TH103: Script Analysis (Dr. Felicia Ruff)
AR200: Making and Seeing Art in NYC (Dr. Jennifer Toth)
RFT:  Ruff/Toth

This LC involves two separate arts-related courses “Script Analysis,” a class that involves extensive reading and discussion, along with “Making and Seeing Art in NYC,” which involves art-making based on exploration in NYC galleries, museums, and cultural sites.  Our connecting theme for the plays we read as well as the art we make and see will focus on witches–metaphoric and historic.  From reading plays like Medea, MacBeth, The Crucible, and The Children’s Hour to viewing happier visions of witches in pop art and culture–from Bewitched to Wicked–to seeing representations of Medieval folk art of witches on broomsticks, our learning community will explore various examples of artists, playwrights, cartoonists, filmmakers, woodcutters, etc. as they represent demonic women.  We will probe the historical context that associated women with witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, including King James the First’s Daemonologie, research aspects of the Salem witch trials, and discuss political “witch hunts” in the 20th century. Extensive travel to NYC will be part of all our courses.  While students will work creatively and make works of art, prior experience in theatre or art is not necessary.

SP111: Spanish for Life: Intermediate I (no prerequisite) (Dr. Margarita Sanchez)
PH103: Contemporary Moral Problems (Dr. Sarah Donovan)
RFT: Sanchez/Donovan

Learning another language and different ethical belief systems encourage you to understand other people and discover a human being within yourself that you didn’t know. You are different in a different language, and that experience is unique. The art of understanding requires, among other things, adequate communication skills in a language and culture, a sensitivity to different belief systems, critical thinking, and an ability to reflect on oneself in relation to others. In this LC, students will cultivate the art of understanding through courses in Spanish and Philosophy, and a writing intensive Reflective Tutorial that includes a community based project. Their coursework in Spanish and Philosophy will include the study of Spanish language, literature, and culture, and philosophical ethical theory in relation to moral problems. Their 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. This course is appropriate for students with two or more years of high school Spanish, and heritage speakers.

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.


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