First Year Seminar (FYS) - Fall 2023
Develop University-level skills while learning about fascinating and timely topics in multiple disciplines. For more information about First Year Seminar, please review the course listing below.
First Year Seminar is open to first-year students exclusively. Below is a list of the courses available in Fall 2023. You can also download the complete brochure here.
GE1855*01: Disabled Pasts, Presents, and Futures
Disabled Pasts, Presents, and Futures interrogates the longstanding fight for civil rights conducted by disabled activists. We will read works by disabled authors, artists, and activists to consider how disabled people saw themselves, honed a culture, and pushed against normative lifeways from the 1600s to the present day. Grounding our analysis in history, we'll consider the rise of the disability rights movement, the evolution of our current disability justice movement, and the future of disability activism.
Recommended Majors: History, Sociology, Education, English, Political Science, and Pre-Med Majors
Dates: Monday 11am -1:45pm
Faculty: Nicole Schroeder, PhD
GE 1855*02: Intersectionality and the Arts: Identity and Experience in Meaning-Making, Performance, and Movements for Justice
What does it mean to be different, and why does it matter? Intersectionality is a theory that helps us understand how people’s various identities–race, class, gender, dis/ability, etc.–interlock within larger social systems/structures, impact their experiences, and ultimately shape their understanding of the world. It has been utilized by activists seeking justice for those whose differences are often cast as deficits within education, healthcare, and other aspects of our society. At the same time, intersectionality has been criticized for suggesting that identities can fit into neat social categories. How can our intersectional movements for equity not leave behind those whose identities are unstable and unexplainable? Who can’t check one box or another? One way is to forefront the way in which, as Oscar Wilde poignantly stated, “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” As such, the focus for discussion and inquiry in this course will be works of art that incorporate music, film, visual art, and/or spoken word. Texts spanning a broad range of disciplines—critical legal studies, critical race theory, women’s and gender studies, African American studies, performance studies, queer theory, and dis/ability theory—will be utilized to help support our collective understanding of the art, the subject matters it (re)presents, and how we can address societal inequities in our communities.
Recommended Majors: Majors within the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts
Dates: Friday 9:30 am - 12:15 pm
Faculty: Tara Schwitzman-Gerst, EdD
GE 1855*03: Life Is Hard
To varying degrees, nearly all of us experience a host of challenges throughout our lives, from sickness and injury through injustice and failure to grief and loneliness. Even the most fortunate among us still often wrestle with the feeling that our entire human experience may be absurd, with the world seemingly indifferent to our plight. This course asks us to face these difficulties in life. Armed with Kieran Setiya’s book Life is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find a Way, we will explore scholarly and literary attempts to grapple with life’s hardest, most profound and personal problems.
Recommended Majors: Majors within the College of Liberal Arts, Particularly psychology, sociology, and English majors
Dates: T/Th 12:30 - 1:45 pm
Faculty: Sean Keegan-Landis
GE 1855*05: NJ Poetry, Protest, and Civic Engagement
This interdisciplinary course foregrounds dissent as integral to the American project and analyzes forms of protest and civic engagement in the U.S. past and present by centering the voices of NJ writers. We will read the poetry and prose of artists and activists local to New Jersey, among others, and explore how our course texts might be defined as “protest literatures.” We will examine regional examples and expressions of dissent from the past, and also analyze the myriad ways in which community engagement, dissent or protest is enacted in contemporary culture. Texts studied may include works by the following: Walt Whitman, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Alice Paul, Dorthea Lange, Allen Ginsberg, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Paula Neves. We will also be reading excerpts from Kean’s 2023-2024 Common Read text, The Future Is Disabled.
Recommended Majors: All majors, especially College of Liberal Arts majors
Dates: T/F 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
Faculty: Bridie Chapman, PhD
GE 1855*06: Study of Monsters
This course will analyze the cultural constructs that create monsters, especially beings that are so diverse that we are repelled yet fascinated. Each week a different monster will be analyzed within a selection of literature. A targeted lens where "human" and "monster" intersect will explore societal boundaries, and how the stark contrast of acquiescence and opposition coalesce to examine what it may be like to live as an-Other, anyone or anything created or forced to live outside limits of acceptance.
Each monster will also be analyzed as to how it represents a cultural, social, philosophical, ethical, historical, and scientific construct and boundary. The course will culminate in a student-chosen and focused presentation and writing assignment.
Recommended Majors: Open to all majors, especially recommended for College of Liberal Arts majors and Hennings College of Science, Mathematics and Technology
Dates: M/TH 2:00 to 3:15 pm
Faculty: Dena Arguelles
GE 1855*07: The Body Is Not an Apology
This course aims to unpack topics such as body shame, gender identity, sexuality and race politics, and many other contemporary topics through the lens of the body as an anchor to identity. We will move from the personal to the political by unpacking and unlearning shame-based ideas at work in our world and move toward learning to repackage them in radical self love.
Recommended Majors: Open to all majors, especially recommended for College of Liberal Arts majors, Particularly psychology, sociology
Dates: Thursday 4:30-7:15 pm
Faculty: Tamara Hart
GE 1855*08: Bioethics, Social Justice and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
This Interdisciplinary Seminar series is designed to introduce students to readings from a variety of genres and disciplines using the anchor text: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Ms. Lacks’ story raises questions about ethics, race, and genetics, encouraging students to think about the dark history of experimentation on disadvantaged communities, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over who owns and controls genetic material. Her cells enabled a scientific revolution and contributed to numerous incredible developments and lifesaving treatments. Through faculty guided readings and small group discussions, students will be encouraged to explore ideas, build an understanding of the topic and explore themes of social justice and bioethics. Freshmen will be introduced to deeper questions on what it means to do research ethically and morally. Using a debate model, the course would involve students in analysis and reflection on ethical and social justice issues in the field of medicine, giving them a platform to increase their critical reading and thinking skills.
Recommended Majors: Biology, Public Health (Major and Minors), Biomedicine, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Sociology majors and Philosophy Minors
Dates: Wednesday 12:30-3:15 pm
Faculty: Sharmistha Das-Iyer
**GE 1855*35: The Future Is Disabled: A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Perspective
GE*1000*35: Must be taken at the same time as this course.
This course will focus on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) from the provocative perspective of the Common Read text, The Future Is Disabled. The class will read the Common Read and discuss and expand on the various themes in the book. This course will foster interdisciplinary inquiry and analyze the themes in the book from psychological and sociological perspectives. Students will have an opportunity to review their personal experiences, as well as gain an understanding of their views on themes from the book. The course will explore various concepts related to students with disabilities and their connectivity with society. In addition, students will be introduced to and gain an understanding of new terminology and research methodologies, as well as gain experience with current research on DEI topics and literature reviews.
Recommended Majors: Open to all majors
Dates: T/TH 11:00 to 12:15 pm
Faculty: Kim Daniel-Robinson, PhD
**NOTE: This is a paired course. Students must take GE 1855*35 together with GE 1000*35. GE 1000*35 meets on Tuesday 2:00pm to 3:15pm. The Transition to Kean (T2K) GE 1000 course is an extension of the New Student Orientation experience. This course is designed to help new students adjust to academic and student life at Kean.