The First-Year Seminar: Self

Your first-year experience in the “Self” seminar, which we at E&H call CORE 100, will help you develop a foundation for critical thinking and learning at the college level as you begin to take responsibility for your own education. This will be your first experience in the E&H liberal arts core curriculum, and you will have an opportunity to explore your own identity, learn how to find reliable information as a student and a citizen, and gain skills that will help you be successful in college and beyond.

Please read the course descriptions below to determine which topics for the “Self” seminar interest you most. We will do our best to place you in one of your top four choices!

Banned Books: Controversy and Censorship

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” In this course, we will read three novels which have, at different times and for different reasons, been deemed so inappropriate, controversial, or taboo that public schools and libraries have pulled them from the shelves. Why were these books banned and how have these books shaped society? Who gets to decide what is appropriate? We will explore concepts of censorship, culture, identity, power, and social change through our readings, writing assignments, and class discussions. Bring your love for reading and your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. Required texts: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Instructor: Professor Travis Proffitt

Hip Hop: Compassion and The Art of Listening

Hip-hop is the perfect modern avenue to so many expressions of identity: poetry, rhythm, and activism, just to name a few. By studying the work of Kendrick Lamar, J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, and more, this course will focus on the relationship between ourselves and hip-hop’s unique ability to build empathy, community, and collaboration…no matter our many different life experiences as a listener. How can we better understand what we love and what we’re afraid of? This course is the soundtrack to that journey.

Instructor: Professor Bradley Hartsell


This course is designated for all students accepted into the Honors Program.

Instructor: Professor Matthew Kelly

How Long to Sing This Song?: Culture & Community

In this course, we will dig into the complex concept of culture and examine what it has to do with things such as power, place, politics, identity, and faith, among others. We will utilize particular forms of cultural expression as we seek to understand how shared practices, representations, languages, and customs shape how we understand reality and ourselves. Our study will be framed by a series of significant questions that will prompt us to consider our own story and our own place in the world as human beings.  

Instructor: Dr. Scott Sikes

Life Is Strange: Taking Ownership of Your Personal Journey

Have you ever thought about the impact that your individual, day-to-day actions have on the course of life itself? This phenomenon is called “the butterfly effect”. Through the award-winning video game and Square Enix title, “Life is Strange”, we will explore the importance of taking ownership of our own personal journeys and the impact it has on ourselves and our communities. What if you could redo a few minutes, an hour, or even an entire day? Would the end result be any different?

Instructor: Professor Sydni Leonard

Painted Faces: Love, Death, and Identity in Chinese Drama

For centuries the Chinese stage resounded with raucous tales of heroism, romance, and murder. These tales were often adapted from popular narrative accounts, local traditions, or historical events, and were performed by traveling troupes in venues ranging from the poorest tea houses to the estates of the wealthy. Some plays, such as the bloody Orphan of Zhaowould be translated into Western languages as early as the first decades of the 18th century, inspiring European writers such as Voltaire. Others, like the Story of the Western Wingand The Peony Pavilionbecame popular romances and represented the power of passion to transcend class and even death itself. In this course, we will explore several of these classic plays as both texts as well as performative traditions. We will learn both about staging these plays (venues, costuming, role types, musical performance, etc.) as well as about their composition and development. In addition, we will explore the social issues highlighted in these famous works such as gender, family, class, and social expectations. What can we—thousands of miles and centuries apart—take away from these classic tales of love, revenge, and the miraculous?

Instructor: Dr. Lucas Wolf

Peace, War, and Christianity

Christianity begins as a religious movement with a nonviolent figure at its center, but over time Christians have used violence to silence the other, impose beliefs, and wage war in the name of faith. However, Christians have also used nonviolent ideals to create powerful social change. The class will explore the complicated dialect and historical evolution of peace and war within the larger Christian tradition.

Instructor: Rev. David Jackson

A Starbucks Society

What began as a single coffee house in downtown Seattle has grown into a global phenomenon that has changed the way the world views and consumes coffee. This course will bring an in-depth analysis to what’s behind the now everyday phrase: “Meet me at Starbucks.” We will approach the topic from a variety of perspectives, such as the powerful business strategies used to build a global empire; the socioeconomic and environmental impact of the company and its products; health factors and other issues related to coffeehouse fare; and the use of space and visual stimulation to produce an atmosphere for relaxing, socializing, and retailing.

Instructor: Dr. Tracy Lauder

Useful Stories and Useful Questions for Useful Lives

This course is a shared conversation and a thoughtful journey through some of our time and place’s most pressing questions and ideas. These same questions have the potential to shape the persons we become, how we think of ourselves, and the work we take up for the common good.

Instructor: Dr. Tal Stanley

We Don’t Need Another Hero

The Hero’s Journey has long been a foundation of the stories we tell ourselves, especially in the Western world. The Hero’s Journey has not always held up well, however, especially in the way it treats anyone who isn’t the “typical” hero. This course will first look at how contemporary novels, film, and television have historically dealt with the Hero’s Journey and will then turn our attention to works that question, reframe, or completely upend the assumptions inherent within that framework. The course will include a closer look at the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes, as well as films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Matrix, and Edge of Tomorrow. Novels will include Circe and Parable of the Sower.

Instructor: Dr. Jenn Krause

“Welcome to The Internet”: Social Media and its Unwritten Identities

“Can I interest you in everything all of the time?” So much of our communication is nonverbal, but video-sharing apps like TikTok and others have taken that reality to a new level. Have videos, sounds, memes, and other unwritten forms of communication affected the way we relate to each other, the way we relate to the world, and even the way we conceptualize ourselves? We’ll do a lot of viewing, reading, and creating media in this class as we examine who we are and how we present ourselves in the internet world. 

Instructor: Professor Mary Ellis Rice

What is College? Interrogating an Institution

Going beyond the basics of “What are we doing here?” and ‘Why college?’, this course will then examine the idea of college in three specific ways: Personally: through self-reflection and personal narrative, what do we bring to and gain from college as an experience and an institution? Culturally: through film and media, what do we learn about the ‘college experience’? Practically: examining history, economics, and job markets, why is a college degree considered to be valuable?

Instructor: Professor Ruth Castillo