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The First-year Seminar Program offers courses across a wide range of disciplines and topics.
Enrollment is limited to a small number of first-year students, and the courses emphasize active, collaborative, and creative learning. Courses may fulfill specific distribution and/or major requirements.
Spring 2013 Courses
CS 118 FirstYear Seminar: Creative Computing
We are all consumers of technology, but it is more empowering to be designers and inventors. This seminar explores the computer as a creative medium for designing and building applications that students find useful and personally meaningful. Using the Python programming language, students will learn to create from scratch simple computer programs that involve graphics, user interfaces, data analysis and visualization, communication with web services, generation of web pages, and sharing with others via databases in the cloud. Fundamental computational thinking concepts and programming techniques will be introduced through hands‐on activities in class and used in assignments and student‐designed projects. Mandatory credit/noncredit. Students are required to attend an additional twohour laboratory section each week. CS 118 may serve as a substitute for CS 111 as a prerequisite for other CS courses by permission of the instructor, and may serve as a substitute for 111 for major and minor requirements by permission of the Department Chair.
Prerequisite: No prior programming background is expected. Distribution: MathematicalModeling.Doesnotfulfillthelaboratoryrequirement.
EDUC 110 First Year Seminar: Play, Literacy, and Democracy
Play and literacy are central to academic achievement, socialization, and citizenship. With mandated testing of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and proposals for national education standards, longstanding tensions between play and early literacy have intensified. We will examine the origins of and modern trade‐offs between play and literacy, paying attention to the influence of social class, race, and gender on the construction of changing societal norms for young children. What is driving panics about the disappearance of play? Has Kindergarten become the new First Grade? Are there conflicts in parents', teachers', and experts' expectations about what children should do in preschool and the early grades? What roles have play and early literacy played in how American children are taught and learn to participate in a democratic society? Includes some field observations. Mandatory credit/noncredit.
Distribution: SocialandBehavioralAnalysis FYSCourses2012_13FINAL ‐3‐FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR COURSES 2012-2013
ENG 103 FirstYear Seminar: Reading/Writing Short Fiction
A very popular contemporary form of the short story is the short short story (includes flash fiction and microfiction). Our work together will move back and forth between reading examples of this form of short short fiction from around the world and writing our own short short fiction. Reading in a writerly fashion means reading for craft: How does an author shape a scene? What can you do and not do with a first‐person narrator? What are the different expectations a reader has of realistic fiction as opposed to historical fiction or science fiction? Writing with a rich fund of this kind of craft knowledge will help us advance quickly as we draft and revise our own stories. Overview of current print and online opportunities for publishing short short fiction. Mandatory credit/noncredit.
JWST 111 First Year Seminar: Society in Motion: Israel on Film
In this seminar we will look into the evolution of Israeli society and its self‐understanding through representations on the screen. A wide‐ranging selection of films as well as discussions of a variety of readings, visual arts, and popular music will introduce students to the central issues in Israeli social and cultural history—immigration, the presence of the military in everyday life, center and periphery—and the complexities of the debate surrounding them. Students will get a chance to become familiar with a unique and thriving cinema, and gain insight into film as document and social commentary. Mandatory credit/noncredit.
MATH 201 FirstYear Seminar: Euler
This seminar surveys the work of Leonhard Euler (1707‐1783), one of the most influential and prolific mathematicians of all time. It is geared toward students who would like a broad overview of what advanced mathematics (beyond calculus) is about, and how it got that way. Topics are drawn from a wide range of areas in pure and applied mathematics, such as algebra, number theory, analysis, and geometry. Highlights include the Basel problem, complex exponentials, the calculus of variations, the Euler line, and the bridges of Königsberg. The seminar is discussion‐based: students retrace Euler's steps by making definitions, proposing conjectures, generating examples, and crafting and critiquing proofs, ever attentive to the balance between intuitive ingenuity and rigorous argument.
Prerequisite: 116, 120, or the equivalent. Distribution: MathematicalModeling
PHIL 109 FirstYear Seminar: Philosophy and Race
This seminar will explore various philosophical issues related to race. First, we shall explore the metaphysics of race. Drawing on work in biology, anthropology, the philosophy of science and theories of social construction, this section of the course is concerned with the sort of thing or category race is. Next, we will examine racist hate speech. Appealing to work in the philosophy of language, sociology and free speech law, we will explore connections between racist hate speech and various sorts of harms and discuss how, if at all, such connections affect the protected status of racist hate speech. Finally, we will consider racist jokes. Using work in the philosophy of language and political philosophy, we shall explore how they work, what they communicate and how they may be implicated in broader issues of social justice. Mandatory credit/noncredit.
REL 115 FirstYear Seminar: Radical Individualism and the Common Good
There is a deep contradiction at the heart of contemporary American culture. Some call it a crisis. On one hand, the United States is unquestionably committed to the values of radical individualism, marked especially by free‐market capitalism, consumerism, and libertarian politics. On the other hand, increasing competition and diversity require principles of the common good to sustain the cultural coherence, social media, and environmental stability necessary for civil society to function effectively. This seminar will investigate the conflict between these two sets of values through theoretical readings and the inspection of everyday life in twenty‐ first century America. The course asks whether there ought to be any constraints on individualism that can be justified by appeal to the common good, and if so, what those constraints should be. Mandatory credit/noncredit.
THST 106 FirstYear Seminar: From Memoir to the Stage
This course will introduce students to the art of developing personal narrative as a means to creating a viable piece of theatre. Through guided writing exercises and exposure to the works of Gail Caldwell, Nuala O’Faolain, Ishmael Beah and others, students will explore the intricacies of their own and their family histories. Based on the techniques that have produced numerous original plays here at Wellesley, the weekly exercises will be centered around various aspects of life such as race, gender, class, body image, and personal history. Students will hear and critique each other weekly while preparing for a final evening of “stories” to be offered to the public at the end of the semester. The class will also focus on the final composition of that evening, and the journey each student makes to bring it to fruition. Emphasis is on the development and refinement of the dramatic content while building confidence for even the least experienced student. Mandatory credit/noncredit.