The First-Year Seminar: Self

Your first-year experience in the “Self” seminar 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!

Activism and the Arts: Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and the Vital Work of Social Change

Artists have always reflected and challenged the times they live in.  In this course, we will study the history of the connection between activism and the arts, and imagine how we might use our own potential as artists to challenge the issues facing the world around us. Instructor: Dr. Kelly Bremner

Cyber Virtue

How much of yourself is online? In this course, we’ll explore the full gamut of philosophical issues arising from our increasing occupation of digital space. Not for the faint of heart. Instructor: Dr. Eric Grossman

Energy and Sustainability

The United States uses 1500 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. Where does the energy come from? How do our energy choices influence the world? Students will investigate the generation and use of energy with hands-on experiences. Students will also contemplate the impact of future energy choices on sustainability. If you had twenty minutes to advise a future President of the United States about energy policy, what would you say? Instructor: Dr. Jim Duchamp

The Ethics of Human Enhancement: from Caffeine and Steroids to Bionic Arms and Designer Babies

Developments in science and technology have brought us many ways to make ourselves better, from plastic surgery to make us more attractive, to stimulants that make us more alert, to genetic engineering that may allow us to change future generations.  Some of these “enhancements” are ones we accept readily. Others make us squeamish. In this class we will explore the technology, social pressures and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement: What can we enhance?  Why might we sometimes want to do so?  And how do we determine what we should or should not do when it comes to human enhancement?  Instructor: Dr. Christine Fleet

Exploring Appalachian Civic Identity

This course will explore meanings and understandings of a place-based civic identity in the Appalachian region. We will read novels, stories, and poems, and experience a wide variety of visual and performing arts all born of the diverse people and places of Appalachia. Together, we will use these forms to think about and better understand the history and culture of the region and will spend considerable time discussing and writing about the ways they may be used to both formulate and confront questions of identity and citizenship. Instructor: Mr. Scott Sikes

Food and Place

Eating is an agricultural act, says the farmer-poet Wendell Berry of Kentucky.  Whenever we buy food, wherever we buy it, our choices determine what farmers can make a living at. The story of our food is an amazing one, and in this course, we explore many facets of it, particularly how Southern and Appalachian people have produced and prepared food.  Our college is located in one of the most diverse food regions in the country, and so we explore foodways and the work being done today to preserve history while respecting ecology.  We also ask some hard questions: Why does Virginia have one of the highest rates of obesity among five-year-olds? Why do we continue to see a decline in small farms? What efforts can we join in support of a healthy food system in this place?
Instructor: Dr. Edward Davis

Mind Control: How Words Shape Our Reality

You know the saying. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…” Well, actually, words have much more power than we realize. The language we use (and the way we use it) shapes the lens through which we experience life. It informs the music we listen to, the jokes we laugh at, the ideas we believe, and even the people we find credible or interesting. In this class, we will work to understand why words matter and why analyzing the way other people use language is critical to understanding how the world works. Together, we will read and watch texts that allow us to analyze how words shape our reality. Ultimately, students will apply our course discussions to their own majors and interests. Course topics will include: culture, communication, comedy, politics, social media, music, film, and others.
Instructor: Ms. Mary Ellis Rice

Music and our Humanness

Scientists speculate that the human species has used music in a number of ways since the beginning of time. In fact, archaeologists have discovered Paleolithic flutes dating back to 35,000 and even 43,000 years ago. Have you ever thought about how we use music in our day to day lives? Whether that be music to worship a deity, music as a tool for activism, music to form a sense of community, or even music to get over a breakup? In this course, students will delve into a relatively new and fascinating field of science called Music Cognition. It is an interdisciplinary field of research that studies music, psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics. This field seeks to answer questions such as: Is our musicality innate or learned? How is music used to enhance a particular experience? How is music used to communicate? Can music make people healthier? Studying these topics will certainly allow you to acknowledge and have a deeper respect for the power of music. Instructor: Mr. John Haggerty


What are myths? What distinguishes myths from other kinds of stories? What questions were myths designed to answer? Why do myths remain relevant today? In this course, we will explore these questions through a survey of a few myths taken from ancient Greece and Rome. We will take a look at the Greek story of how the world was created, the battles between heroes and gods at Troy, and the founding of Rome by descendants of Trojan exiles. 
Instructor: Dr. Jack Wells

Our Dystopian Future

Dystopian world-building has become an “it” topic within the last decade, especially within Young Adult literature and film. Books and their film adaptations, like The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, propose worlds in which our society has crumbled, affected by global war, disastrous climate change, or totalitarian governments. This trend toward cataclysm within YA, along with its main aesthetic foundations, is rooted in a wider social obsession with what the future might hold. This course will consider how our understanding of the future and our fears of what might be have changed over time, based on an analysis of some of the major trends in dystopian literature starting after WWII. Taking 1984 as our founding text, we will read works including Octavia Butlers’ The Parable of the Sower, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. We will also discuss films and television, including Snowpiercer, Children of Men, and Battlestar Galactica.  
Instructor:  Dr. Jenn Krause 

Racial Identity in Context

Kenneth B. Clark, the psychologist whose studies on racial identity helped shape America’s historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, analyzed the role of racial identity relative to the struggle for equality. Despite progress toward said equality, race continues to define United States culture and—in the view of many—prevents the development of the “just society” envisioned by Clark, Martin Luther King, and others. Through research, debate and other class interactions, students will explore specific questions relative to this ongoing debate—a debate intensified in the presidential election of 2008. 
Instructor: Dr. Jerry Jones

Resilience in the Age of Connectivity

The course addresses virtual connectivity as a dominant force in our lives, capable of good and evil.  The vulnerability caused by our connection to one another is explored through fiction, while we also look at the promise of the coming “internet of things” (smart speakers, smartphones, self-driving cars, etc.) to positively transform our lives.   Questions considered: How will you live to make peace with technology? How do you see technology changing the career field(s) in which you are interested, and how should you prepare yourself?  Readings include: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It by Susan Crawford, Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old by Jean Briggs. Instructor: Dr. Jamie Ferguson

Taking Charge of the Narrative of Me

Are our lives stories? If so, who gets to decide how those stories get told? In this course, you will explore how cultural influences shape our lives and our stories. You will examine diverse “narratives,” from fairy tales that get told differently in different cultures, to the ever-present advertisements that populate our world. You’ll search those sources for patterns and methods of influence. And then, by placing your own experiences into words, you will write—and take command of—the unique story that is you. Instructor: Mr. Jim Harrison

The Mind-Body Connection

We live in a day and age where we are constantly consumed with information. We find ourselves putting our attention outward most of the time, which leads to less focus, productivity, creativity, and learning. Science now proves that in actuality we need to be going inward to find an abundance of these things. How does the mind-body connection affect our stress levels, learning, and ability to create? In this course, students will learn the science behind learning, the effects of stress, and practicing mindfulness as a means to become successful and productive. Instructor: Ms. Megan Hamilton

Unheard and Unknown: The Peopling of American Memory

This is a course about American collective memory and about collective memory in Southwest Virginia, where Emory & Henry is located.  More particularly it is about the memory of the enslavement of African American women, children, and men to build the nation’s economy and that of Southwest Virginia.  We will consider how and why some groups, individuals, experiences, and moments are remembered and are a fixture of the American collective memory and others are not. Such inclusion and exclusion, the ways that some memories are constructed and stories built from them, whose stories become a part of the nation’s and the region’s collective or public memory and whose do not, have a profound effect on education, economics, politics, public policy, civic life, and how we understand who we are as individuals and as a people.  Which region’s collective experience are integrated into the national, the American, collective memory and which are not? Why? We will take on these questions and their implications for civic life by examining African American slavery and various efforts to integrate this horrific reality and all of the issues which have rippled from it, into Southwest Virginia and American collective memory. Instructor:  Dr. Talmage Stanley