First Year Seminars

Student ImageThe First Year Seminar allows you to become a member of your new community in a dynamic environment and to experience intellectual life at the university level. Taught by professors with a passion for the subject and a passion for teaching, these courses are designed to encourage exploration of new ideas, examine a range of academic topics, challenge you to set high goals for your academic career, and promote a lifelong love of learning. First Year Seminars count as a core Liberal Studies requirement for all degree programs.  

Honor’s Credit

Many seminars can be offered for Honor’s credit with an individual contract.  Please talk to your advisor and instructor if you want to pursue this option.

First-Year Seminars: Fall 2015


ACCT 195 Intro to Fraud Examination
Students will be guided through the maze of occupational fraud and abuse, learning the nature of the many fraudulent schemes, and how they can be prevented and/or detected.  They will learn the basic concepts of investigation and theories of criminology. 

BIOL 192 – Plant Diversity
80901 BIOL 192 01
80904 BIOL 192 30 - LAB
Would you like to learn more about how plants grow, flower, and fruit so that you can grow your own plants successfully?  Have you ever wished you could identify the plants around you and know their nutritive, medicinal and other values? Have you ever wondered where the plants that are used to produce coffee, tea, beer, wine, aspirin, codeine, marijuana, and chocolate grow naturally, as well as how they are harvested and processed into the foods, drinks, and drugs that have changed human history forever?  If so, Plant Diversity is the first-year seminar for you!  Students in Plant Diversity rarely sit still: students are often outside, in the lab, or producing their own plant products.  This course can be challenging because a lot of information is covered in one semester; however, for those students with an interest in plants or the natural world, the knowledge and experience gained is worth the effort.


Business LAW 195 – Contemporary Legal Issues: Law for Life                                    
81306 LAW 195 01                                                                                                      
The law is everywhere –on TV and in movies, in politics and current events, and in the fine print on everything from credit card receipts to websites. Every day the law impacts our individual lives and guides our conduct and decision making in our roles at school, in business, and in the community. In Law 195, emphasis is placed on exploring the legal issues of today, from understanding the right to privacy in a social media world to understanding how private legal organizations and alternative dispute resolution methods are supplanting more traditional legal systems to meet the needs of the global economy. Hands on activities will provide insights as to the development of legal systems and institutions, the application of  law to real-world situations and debate and discussion of contemporary legal issues.


COMM 190 - A User’s Guide to the Mass Media                                                           
80495 COMM 190 01
80690 COMM 190 02
An increasing number of media streams vie for your attention every day. But the messages may not always be as simple as they seem. Learn to read between the lines and recognize the nuance and subtext of all media.  Take a look behind the curtain to see how diverse motives, agendas and practices affect the media you consume. And see how that same media responds and reacts to pressures and trends from you, the consumer.  Media and culture are bound together in an elaborate dance. This course will help you understand that dance and make you a smarter consumer of media.


CIS 195 Information Society at Work
81248 CIS 195 01
Driven by the technology that is making the news this semester, students will explore the changes information technology has made in their lives and community, and learn how computer culture affects their work, study, family, and play though a hands-on technology approach. Using presentations on current IT topics, students are highly encouraged to debate and discuss the ethical problems of technology advancement. We will also discuss some aspects of business and what part CIS plays in business, as well as what defines the College of Business and how it fits into the university. Discussion topics will include: Why do we call it the information age?; Advancements in the auto industry; How has IT changed the music industry?; Robotics and what part they are playing in our lives; The digital divide; Wireless Technologies; Social Networking; Cloud Computing; Distance Education; The Power of Information; GPS; RFID; and Google. Students will take a hands-on approach with various technologies including: Webpage Development - Learn how to upload and save files to the server; Use Google docs to upload and work on files in teams; Use some of the current technologies that are available for free - which will help students throughout the rest of their college career.


CS 191 How Does Software Work?
81484 CS 191 01
How can the ``red-eye'' due to the flash of a camera be removed from a photograph? How are images combined or blurred? How can you cause a sound to play backward or splice two sounds together? You will learn to write computer programs that do all of these and much more. The course will culminate in your presenting a piece of digital media (image or sound) that you will have created by writing a computer program. Here are links to galleries of images and sounds  that students have made using the approach we are going to use in this course.   The ability to write software is a powerful tool that can be used for good or bad. Consequently, we will also reflect on the implications of software on society. For example, what restrictions on privacy are needed for safety from malicious software? Is initiating cyberwarfare ever justifiable? Are software patents encouraging innovation or not?


EDCI 191 –  Teachers, Schools, and Society
82060 EDCI 191 01
82063 EDCI 191 02
82064 EDCI 191 03
This course offers an interdisciplinary examination of the ways in which public policy debates about schooling reflect ideological differences in American society.  During our time together this semester, we will look at what “society” means and its influence on schools and education.  This will include the importance of evaluating the choices we’ve made so far in our lives, especially with regards to our own judgments.   Through this experience, we will practice thinking critically, through reading, writing and discussion, and consider options for the possibility of teaching as a career.


ENGR 190 - Technology Systems: How Things Work                                       
82307 ENGR 190 01
ENGR 190 is an introductory engineering course for non-engineering majors.  This course provides an in-depth view of the engineering and technology that we rely on every day in every aspect of our modern life. Whether it is the digital SLR camera that takes breathtaking pictures of the Great Smoky Mountains in autumn, the Hubble Telescope offering views of the deepest portions of the universe, using Twitter, Skype, or smart phones to connecting you instantaneously to your family and friends anywhere in the world, the hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) that help you find your way when  lost on a deep mountain trail, or the pacemaker that save people’s lives, these innovative engineering advancements have become an integral part of our culture. Together, we will investigate where these technologies came from, how they work, and where they might take us in the future.   The course will also incorporate four hands-on projects ranging from making images from Hubble Telescope data of the deep universe to building and testing a medieval Trebuchet.  Advanced mathematics will not be required for this course.  The challenging modern topics will be presented conceptually and only basic math (some trigonometry and simple algebra) will be needed to complete the projects.  The focus will be on conceptual understanding, proportional reasoning, estimating, and graphical interpretation.  Verbal and written communication of scientific ideas will be emphasized throughout the course.


ENGR 199 – Introduction to Engineering Practice and Principles                    
82310 ENGR 199 01
82313 ENGR 199 02
82325 ENGR 199 03
82329 ENGR 199 30 – LAB
82332 ENGR 199 70 – LAB
82335 ENGR 199 71 – LAB
82341 ENGR 199 01
82344 ENGR 199 30 – LAB
Introduction to the engineering disciplines, curriculum, personal and professional development, teamwork, project planning, communication skills, and conceptual design engineering. This is a required class for all students considering majors in engineering or engineering technology.


ENGL 190 – First Year Seminar in Literature
81582 ENGL 190 01
This Class will be a survey of poetry, fiction, and non fiction works from North Carolina, from the mountains to the sea with particular emphasis on cultural and historical themes of the region.  We will also discuss music, photography, film, and popular culture relating to North Carolina.  Students will complete two written assignments plus a final essay exam.  Students will complete discussion list postings for each class.
81606 ENGL 190 70
This course will examine reading and writing about literature, with an emphasis on human experience and values. As an introduction to some facets of “English” as a discipline, this seminar will explore different ways that “home,” “family,” and “a sense of belonging,” are presented in short stories, poetry, essays, and film. For example, we will read Barbara Kingsolver’s 2001 collection of personal essays, Small Wonder, as well as Sir Thomas Moore’s 1516 fictional “novel,” Utopia. Short stories and poems by American and international authors, and films such as A River Runs Through It, The Joy Luck Club, and City of Joy will provide other views and perspectives in addition to an introduction to different literary genres. Further, the class will engage in experiential and service learning projects, such as doing a “Family Heritage” interview and oral presentation, learning about the history of Sylva and Cullowhee, and helping build homes with “Habitat for Humanity.” Students will do a variety of writing assignments, from literary and film interpretation to personal as well as researched essays.

ENG 191 – Creative Writing
81821 ENG 191 70
This course will examine reading and writing about literature, with an emphasis on human experience and values.


ENGL 191 – First-year Seminar in Creative Writing - HON 
81580 ENGL 191 01
*Limited enrollment for Honors Students.
This First-Year seminar offers students a behind the scenes look at publishing, including how to work with professional photographers and designers.  Students will conduct interviews, write and edit brief articles, and arrange photo shoots, as they serve as the staff of Imagine magazine, an award-winning publication of The Honor's College.  The articles students write in this course will be concise and focused - a valuable skill to acquire for any college student.  Students do not have to have any journalism experience to take this course, but they should be able to write clearly. This course will help improve one's writing and editing skills, including the ability to conduct primary research in the form of interviews. At the end of the school year, students will see their names and work in print in Imagine.

This course is open only to Honor's Students.  


ENT 195 – Social Entrepreneurship: Innovative Solutions 
80851 ENT 195 01
80854 ENT 195 02
This course will introduce students to the concept of social entrepreneurship as a mechanism for individuals to develop innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Whether is using football (soccer) to keep children around the world out of gangs, saving old growth forests by printing Harry Potter on recycled paper or saving or creating a new type of bank to address poverty in India, social entrepreneurs use their drive and passion to combat problems governments and industry have failed to solve (  This course is designed to help students explore their ability to create social change by developing an organization that is self-sustaining, delivering value and doing good. In this course, students will learn by doing. They will develop an initial, simplified plan for a new venture to address a significant social issue


ENVH 190 - From Black Death to Bioterrorism
80035 ENVH 190 01
80036 ENVH 190 02

This course uses current events to examine basic public and environmental health concepts as they apply to the average U.S. citizen; critical evaluation of various public health components such as environmental disease agents, radiation, chemical exposures, biological hazards (including potential bioterrorism agents), noise, air, water, and soil pollutants, and food safety; and, an assessment of the various ways that the public can be protected.


FIN 195-30 - You and Your Money
81797 FIN 195 01
81281 FIN 195 01
Do you want to learn how to manage your money?  Then this is the course for you.  With good money management skills you will be able to budget your money each month, reduce expenses, set financial goals and control your debt.  You will learn the good and bad of credit cards and how to establish a strong credit score.  This course will also introduce you to topics about insurance, investing and making large purchases such as a car or house.  Having a sound grasp of money management will make your college experience much more enjoyable as well as help you in the years beyond college when you will be faced with many important financial decisions. 


JPN 190 -  Japanese Pop Culture                                                                     
81083 JPN 190 01
The class will introduce some aspects of Japanese popular culture through following topics; Martial arts, Cuisine and Welcome to Japanese 190, one of WCU’s First -Year Seminars. The topic of this course is Japanese Pop Culture, which has been tremendously affecting youth culture in the U.S. Since this is an introductory survey course, no previous knowledge of Japan or Japanese Pop Culture is needed. What is needed, however, is curiosity, a willingness to read with a KEEN eye for details, and an eagerness to share your opinion with others in class. Our objective is to grasp and make sense of the complicated picture of “Japanese Pop Culture in the U.S.” We also want to explore the many sub-genres of Japanese Pop Culture by covering all possible aspects of Japanese Society (The culture of Family, School, Work, Technology, Religion, etc).


MKT 195 – Facebook Generation: Marketing
81153 MKT 195 01    
81178 MKT 195 02   
81183 MKT 195 03    
81184 MKT 195 04   
Do you really want to be a Facebook "friend" with Wal-Mart?  Would you actually read updates from Coca-Cola in your Twitter feed?  Few would argue that social networks have generated a tidal wave of change in the way people communicate and get information.  As a result, companies are often left bewildered, anxious and just plain frustrated as they deal with new approaches toward marketing, advertising and consumer behavior.  Oddly enough, insight into handling these changes is starting to emerge from an unexpected place -- ancient history -- and a possible link between the age-old process of "friending" in tribal societies and its budding equivalent in latest and greatest cutting edge communication networks.  This course will explore this exciting idea of linkages between human communications in past and present, bringing together ideas and activities from several camps of thought, including media theory, anthropology, communication studies and marketing.  Through this multi-colored lens, this seminar intends to shed light on why we typically avoid spam on our Facebook Wall, but at the same time are willing to embrace online relationships with some brands and companies.


MATH 192 – Fractals: Geometry of Nature
80618 MATH 192 01
Investigate basic mathematical principles behind fractals with connections to literature, art, science, and the general world.


MUS 190 - Women in Popular Music                                                                                       
80875 MUS 190 01                                                                                       
By the end of this course you will be able to distinguish between different styles and genres of music sung, played, and produced by women, including blues, Tine Pan Alley, girl group, folk, rock, and punk.  You will also be able to identify and discuss some common themes that characterize women's experiences in the world of popular music and develop your own ideas on relationships between gender and popular music.


ND 190 - Personal Nutrition                                                                             
80062 ND 190 01
How do I avoid the freshman 15?  What are the healthiest foods to eat on campus?  Should I still be taking vitamins?  Explore the answers to these questions and more, design your own personal eating plan (chocolate cream pie included) and discover how the foods you eat influence your appearance, energy level, health, and longevity. 


PSC 190 – Everything You Should Have Learned About the World by Now, But Haven't                 
80715 PSC 190 01
80716 PSC 190 02
80717 PSC 190 03
This course will be an interactive, engaging, and insightful exploration of all the stuff you really need to know about other countries to be a successful adult living in a globalized and interconnected world. Over the course of the semester, we will examine political geography, world cultures, political and economic systems, world religions, and special topics including terrorism, poverty, human rights, and foreign policy. Students will develop global and cultural competency, and be able to answer fundamental questions such as: Where exactly are all the countries on the map? What are some differences between Iran and Iraq? What is everyday life like for people who live in Africa? What is the difference between Shiite and Sunni Islam? What is the connection between 9/11 and the 2003 Iraq War? What are the chances we will fight a war with China? And many more.


PSY 190 – Outdoor Adventure
82204 PSY 190 01
Extreme sport athletes amaze us with every big wave surfed, rock wall climbed, or waterfall paddled. Careful study has shown that these athletes aren't crazed or suicidal.  They may actually be a model for optimal performance in any activity.  That which allows a BASE jumper to enjoy leaping from a bridge might also help a heart surgeon or a financial advisor. This LLC will connect Residential programming with the Psychological study of extreme sport and with co-curricular programs designed by Base Camp Cullowhee. You will be expected to participate in several outdoor trips off campus during weekends.


Many seminars can be offered for Honor’s credit with an individual contract.  Please talk to your advisor and instructor if you want to pursue this option. 

These first-year seminars are limited to students who choose to enroll in the associated Learning Community.  A Learning Community is a set of linked courses that place students with similar interests together in two or three courses. Instructors collaborate to define the connections and intersections of paired courses. For more details on LC cohorts and schedules you may visit this page.



Copyright by Western Carolina University      •      Cullowhee, NC 28723      •      828.227.7211      •      Contact WCU
Maintained by the Office of Web Services      •      Directions      •      Campus Map      •      Emergency Information      •      Text-Only

Office of Web Services