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 & E&H liberal arts core curriculum. 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

Adventure in Place Identity & The Stories We Tell

Pascal Mercier once wrote, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place; we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” What Mercier has described is called “place identity.” Intentionality within the story we create for ourselves as individuals, especially through college, is incredibly important. We can choose to create a self-identified story of adventure, healing, and growth within the place we choose to spend our college career. This course will feature poems and stories on landscape and its connection to place identity. It will allow students an opportunity to express themselves and their journey through their own writing. Through these readings and writings, students can develop intentional methods connecting to the surrounding world, thus empowering students to embrace their place identity. Instructor: Ms. Alexandria Crowsen

Energy and Sustainability

The United States consumes about 17% of the world’s energy consumption. Where does the energy come from? How do our energy choices influence the planet? Students will investigate the generation and use of energy with a hands-on experience and contemplate future energy choices. What role does each of them play in creating a sustainable energy future? Instructor: Dr. James Duchamp

Exploring Appalachian Civic Identity (Honors)

This course will explore the 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: Dr. 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

“Fooled By Randomness”: Risk, Uncertainty, Identity, and Perception

N. Taleb once said, “be prepared for the fact that the next large surprise, technological or historical, will not resemble what you have in mind…learn to be abstract, and think in second-order effects rather than being anecdotal.” Careers and businesses of tomorrow will not resemble what we know today. The importance of how we think will be of vastly greater value than what we know. This course explores the problems of perception, anecdotal thinking, identity, and uncertainty. It focuses on the non-observable that disrupts our lives the most. Instructor: Dr. Emmett P. Tracy

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

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

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 history of coffee; 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

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

Useful Stories and Useful Questions for Useful Lives

This course is a shared conversation and a thoughtful journey through some of the most pressing questions and ideas of our time and place. 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. Talmage Stanley