First-Year Program Learning Community Courses 2020

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.


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.

EN 226: American Cultures and Literatures(Dr. Alison Arant)
MU 246: Music in Film (Dr. David Schulenberg)
RFT Arant/Schulenberg

We don’t always pay attention to everything we hear in a movie or read in a story or a poem. In this learning community, students learn to deepen their sensitivity to the written word and to music through study of literature and film. Students read texts by American authors from Walt Whitman to Edwidge Danticat, considering how literary works raise issues of social action, politics, and cultural difference. They view films from the beginning of cinema to the present, including Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane and Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, discovering 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. 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.

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

Celebrating the 250th birthday of the master of music, Ludwig van Beethoven, this Reflective Tutorial will focus on an exploration of the life and far-reaching influences of the great composer. Despite dealing with incredible hardships including deafness and depression, he overcame his impediments to become one of the most important figures in the history of modern civilization. We will examine ways in which Beethoven captured the imaginations of millions of people both in America and beyond through his tragedies and triumphs. This course will feature field trips to Manhattan for experiencing both concert performances and trips to museums and art galleries to study the impact of romanticism in our society. While learning to listen to music is an expected part of this course, prior experience in music is not required.

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.


MA119: Finite Math (Dr. Florin Pop)
MI200: Microbiology (Dr. Kathleen Bobbitt)
RFT:  Pop/Bobbitt

When we hear “microbes” we think “diseases” and when we hear ” mathematics ” we think “numbers ” How do these impact our  world? Finite mathematics is a collection of topics currently used in the working world, that provides valuable experience with organizing information and then analyzing it. Real world problems limited to discrete data or information.  Finite means having limits or boundaries. Microbiology is the branch of science that deals with microorganisms. Microorganisms are those organisms that are too small to see with the naked eye and include bacteria, fungi and viruses. Infinite means limitless or  endless in space, extent, size; impossible to measure or calculate; this is a good description of microorganisms. Students will observe how mathematics and microbiology are intertwined in everyday human life. They will develop a better understanding of the influences that mathematics and  microbiology have on one another and our society. For the experiential component, students will form a math and science club for local elementary and middle school students. Through this Learning community, students will have a better understanding of the impact that these two subjects have on society.

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?

GOV205-FY: Urban Politics (Dr. Abraham Unger)
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. 

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)
AN206 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)
AR103: Color and Design (Dr. Jennifer Toth)
RFT: Ruff/Toth

This LC links Color and Design with Script Analysis. In Color and Design students learn the basics of visual literacy while thinking about the theme of theater in art, while in Script Analysis we read plays that are about art making and art makers.  Our Reflective Tutorial includes discussions and writing about topics, such as:

  • how theatre artists have imagined the world unfolding from a painting (Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George);

  • the lives and personas of artists (Goya in The Sleep of Reason);

  • how artists have looked at performers as subjects (Calder’s Circus and Hopper’s theaters);

  • how art becomes performance (Reza’s Art) and performance art (Matthew Barney and Marina Abramovic)

  • and the visual elements of theatre from set decorating, to set design, to costuming, to stage pictures.


Antium Font. Textbooks available on Reserve