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!

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

Banned Books

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: Travis Proffitt

Becoming a Life-Long Learner

This course is for students who are interested in how people learn and adapt to the ever-changing demands of our society. Students will reflect on their own learning style, and explore how to appeal to the style of others. Instructor: Education Department Faculty

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: 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

Knowing Places, Knowing Ourselves

In a 2015 lecture at the Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation Summit, Jamie Casap, Chief Education Evangelist at Google, Inc., shared his personal trajectory to success. He emphasized the role Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, played in his early life, especially where people’s views of him were concerned. In this course we will explore the intersection of identity and place, considering the ways places influence how we see ourselves and how others see us. Key discussion questions will include: How does place shape us as individuals and as members of a community? What makes us feel connected to or disconnected from a place? How is the perception of a place similar to or different from how it is experienced? Why does our investment in a place change over time? Instructor: Dr. Nicole Drewitz-Crockett

Move It or Lose It

Do we stop playing because we grow old, or do we grow old because we stop playing? How do movement and activity define us? Movement is tied to our physical and mental growth, development, and health outcomes, as well as our social sructures and culture. How can play help us manage stress and be more creative? This course will explore how we understand and examine movement throughout our lives and its integral role in our health, happiness, and humanity. Instructor: Beth Funkhouser


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

Navigating Morals in the Age of Technology

How much of yourself is online? In this course, we’ll explore a range of issues that emerge when you interact with technology, such as online reputation, virtue signaling, using humor as a Turing text, and sex robots. Instructor: Dr. Eric Grossman

Outbreak: Pandemics and Epidemics

Our world is made vulnerable by misinformation in social media, anti-virus activists, and the modern equivalent of snake-oil marketing. From the Black Death epidemic of the mid-1300s, to the Spanish flu of 1918, to modern epidemics and pandemics such as the Zika virus and the COVID-19 coronavirus, we will study outbreaks of disease through history, and we will examine the issues in our society—including racism—that surface during such outbreaks.  Instructor: Dr. Jake Bova

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

Reel to Real: The Portrayal of Stereotypes in TV and Film

This course will examine the portrayal of stereotypes in society, focusing on 1) race, ethnicity, and culture, 2) sexual orientation and gender identity, and 3) physical ability and mental illness, within TV shows, movies, and documentaries in the 21st century. Instructor: Samantha Amos

Sport, Physical Culture, Physical Literacy, and Identity

For many youth in the United States, enculturation into sport begins at an early age. The sport culture is ingrained in both public schools and communities. How does sport and other diverse activities involving physical movement impact learning? This course will examine sport, physical culture, physical literacy, and identity to oneself and others. Instructor: Dr. Rebecca Buchanan

You Say You Want a Revolution

Why do people revolt? What roles do governments play in fomenting or squashing rebellion? Do revolutions have to be violent? What even counts as a “revolution”? This course will explore factors involved in creating and crushing wide-ranging forms of contention, such as the Easter Rising, the Civil Rights Movement, the Arab Spring, and the growing potential for climate-based unrest. Students will analyze primary documents, create the trappings of a revolution, and experience collective action problems first-hand through simulations, and in the process, they will draw connections among economics, gender studies, community organizing, art, psychology, and political science. Instructor: Dr. Sarah Fisher

Unheard and Unknown: The Peopling of American Memory

This is a course about American collective memory and about collective memory in Southwest Virginia, particularly about the memory of the enslavement of African American women, children, and men to build the national and regional economy.  We will consider how and why some groups, individuals, experiences, and moments 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

Zen and the Art of …

Zen. Zen and motorcycle maintenance, and social media, and martial arts, and “the dude”; saltwater zen, horse zen, and hardcore zen. What is Zen? Why for hte last century have ordinary people throughout America looked to zen for different questions and different answers about our short time on this earth? Instructor: Dr. Scott Boltwood