Freshman Seminars

The Seminar for Freshmen offers new students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the college experience by exploring an exciting, provocative, or timely topic in-depth.

Much more than a traditional introductory lecture, seminars are designed to stimulate your intellect and engage you with the world. Our most seasoned faculty will challenge you to think critically and creatively. Your seminar might even take you beyond the classroom--to attend a professional theatre production, tour an historic Boston site, or visit a local radio station, for example.

Seminars are small (19 students or fewer), so you’ll get to know your professor and classmates well. Your seminar professor also serves as your academic mentor--a person who guides and supports you throughout your freshman year and beyond.

You may choose from a wide variety of seminar options. You can explore a topic you’ve always been curious about or jump right into a major that interests you. When you receive notification to register for classes, you will receive access to a list of specific Seminar for Freshmen courses offered in your first semester.

Mission and Goals

Mission

The Seminar for Freshmen program began in 2005 and represents a cornerstone of the enhanced curriculum of the College of Arts & Sciences. The program provides incoming first-year students with a 4-credit course taught by an expert faculty member in the manner of an upper-class seminar. Each course is limited to 19 students in order to encourage a high level of student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction. The mission of the Seminar for Freshmen program is to introduce first-year students to the intellectual rigors of college-level work; to assist students as they transition from high school to the university; and to prepare students for continued academic success. Seminars are writing-intensive and designed to foster critical thinking skills. They reflect a liberal arts approach to education and encourage students to participate in cultural and intellectual activities and events outside of the classroom, both at Suffolk University and in the greater Boston community.

Seminar for Freshmen Goals

  • Seminars will encourage cultural and intellectual activities, events outside the classroom, and/or guest speakers.
  • Through mentoring activities and class instruction, faculty will familiarize students with Suffolk University and the network of resources available to promote intellectual and personal success, such as:
    • Center for Learning & Academic Success
    • Mildred F. Sawyer Library
    • Blackboard
    • Ford Hall Forum
    • MySuffolk
    • Counseling, Health, & Wellness Center
  • Seminars will expect students to participate actively in class discussion and/or formal presentations.
  • Seminar students will learn how to analyze course texts.
  • Seminar students will demonstrate critical thinking skills at the synthesis level in their written work.
  • Students will have the opportunity to expand their interests, establish interdisciplinary connections, and work on their academic and practical skills in a variety of contexts, both in and outside of the classroom. 

How to Register

New students will be invited to register for their first semester, including their Seminar for Freshmen, shortly before Orientation. 

Seminar for Freshmen Courses 

Seminar for Freshmen: 1 course, 4 credits 

Students with 15+ transfer credits of college or university work are exempt.

Please note that not all courses are offered each semester. Students should contact their advisor to learn about current course offerings.

Choose one Seminar for Freshmen course from those listed below.

Freshman Seminar List

Two of the most daunting challenges the world faces (or will face) is how to provide for both its growing energy needs and potable drinking water. Regular news events include climate change, droughts, flooding, and petroleum struggles. Human nature often requires a severe crisis before it responds. This course will investigate the historical science driving the use of energy since the Industrial Revolution to convert energy resources into work, including the steam engine, the electric motor, and the internal combustion engine. It will also consider alternative energy options to fossil fuels, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and ocean power. Along the way we will consider the evidence for Global Warming and Climate Change. We will look into human nature, simple life styles, conspiracy theories, and the influence of those in power to shape human opinion. We will also consider how our water supply is provided and where it goes after being used. What options do developing countries or drought racked areas have to remedy their water needs? Although the course pursues a scientific understanding of these issues, the mathematics used will be gentle, and a larger emphasis will be placed on the intuitive appreciation of these concerns. 

Rain or shine, the great 18th century Enlightenment philosophers would meet at the famous cafes of Paris to discuss their ideas, and to observe and criticize society. From these informal debates emerged ideas that are at the core of our modern understanding of the nature of society, marginality, human nature, civil rights, the essence of creativity and genius. Come join us in the quest to understand, define, observe, and analyze the key ideas and concepts of these great thinkers, such as Rousseau, Diderot, and Voltaire, still so relevant in our time. We will read key works of these creative thinkers and philosophers. We will enrich our experience and understanding through the use of film, theatre performances, museum visits, as well as the occasional cafe debate. 

Using the current Boston theatre season as its syllabus, this writing- and analysis-intensive course will explore several plays in production at some of Boston's many professional theatres. We will study the script of four to five plays before attending performances of those works. Students will gain insights on the world of theatre through backstage tours and conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights, and critics. Students must be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for student-rate tickets will be assessed.

The theatre has always been a metaphor for life. In modern times life has become theatre. This seminar will confront the idea of real life and the eroding boundary between performers and audience. Students will study the roots of the contemporary obsession with stars and stardom, a mania that began in the 18th century and flourished in the 19th century. We will look at performance studies, performers memoirs, plays, and films that dramatize this dilemma. 

Popular beliefs about crime are often inspired by the media and by specific criminological theories. These theories about and media images of crime will be examined in detail, including the hits and misses. 

This course will focus on classic works of ancient and modern literature that examine the human condition from a tragic perspective. We will concentrate on close readings from the following texts: Homer's Iliad, Sophocles' Antigone, The Bhagavad-Gita, Shakespeare's Othello, Chekhov's short stories, and Joyce's Dubliners. 

Please check back for content. 

This course is about the basketball hoop dream played out at the high school and college levels. We will study a wide variety of materials--novels, films, websites, reference works--to understand both the construction, and destruction, of the hoop dream in such diverse places as New York city, Seattle, rural Indiana, suburban Georgia, and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Issues of race and culture will serve as guiding themes as we develop critical theory explaining why the hoop dream has persisted, and adapted, over time, to fit the needs of its believers and supporters. 

How is it that "comics," a genre often viewed as entertainment for children and adolescents, has become one of the most exciting forms of narrative and visual art? To answer this question, this seminar will examine a range of graphic novels, from those that celebrate their origins in superhero comics, such as Alan Moore's Watchmen, to those that treat subjects not usually considered proper to the comics genre, such as Art Spiegelman's Maus, about the Holocaust, and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, about the complexities of sexual identity. As we read these works, we will look at how the combination of words and still images makes the graphic novel a unique storytelling form, as well as how artists and writers push the envelope to create new styles and challenge our expectations. In addition to class discussions and writing assignments, we will take a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts and create a collaborative group graphic novel step-by-step over the course of the semester (all abilities welcome). 

Is there a relationship between accumulated political power and mass media representations? Is news content impacted by existing political power relations? It is the object of this course to critically analyze the role of the mass media within the framework of existing political power relations in the United States. In particular, the course will focus on the role the mass media plays in promoting and reinforcing dominant political practices and ideologies. The course will begin by exploring various theories of the press, notably its function in a democratic society, as well as the concepts of power and propaganda. We will continue with a series of case studies, complemented by secondary sources that highlight how media representations affect the contemporary distribution of political power in the US. Topics of discussion will include the current US war on terrorism, the ongoing health care debate, the public disavowal of big government", and the concept of a liberal media. 

This literature seminar will study and compare the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Flannery O'Connor, and Annie Proulx. Beginning with Poe as the father of the short story genre in America and exploring his critical theory of the grotesque and arabesque", the class will examine the emergence of the gothic literary idiom as a classic American genre. Critical essays on the gothic aesthetic will be analyzed and film adaptations and documentaries will be viewed. 

With a focus on select ethnic groups from Asia, Asia in America studies the history and current status of Asian Americans in Boston and other parts of the country. We will examine the major reasons why these immigrants chose to leave their home country as well as their expectations and experiences here in America. We will also discuss the issues Asian immigrants have faced in this adopted home, as well as the connections and conflicts among different ethnic groups or even within the same ethnic group due to political and socio-economic reasons. The course will include some level of community engagement, through a Chinatown tour and service, which may enable us to have a direct encounter with the Asian American population and reflect on what is being discussed in class. Through this course, we hope to gain a better understanding of the racial and cultural history of the country and arrive at a deep appreciation of the dynamics of cultural interactions in the 21st century. The course fulfills the SCGP requirement. 

Why did they change the ending of the book? The novel is so much better! We will explore the concept and industry of film adaptation. Students will read novels and watch respective film adaptations to explore how the written word is adapted to the screen; both fiction and non-fiction works will be considered. Also, field trips to past film locations in Boston will be taken to explore why specific settings were chosen for respective situations. Additionally, students will create their own written adaptations of source materials, putting into practice the concepts studied in class. 

In this project and team-based course, students study a sustainability problem at Suffolk University and spend the semester developing proposals to address the problem. At the end of the course students will present their proposals to Suffolk University's sustainability committee, and will exhibit their websites and visual aids in the Donahue lobby to educate the Suffolk community about sustainability. If their proposals are well-researched and well-communicated, students can see their ideas actualized while they are still undergraduates. 

What accounts for the power of music to move us so profoundly? This course explores how our brains and music evolved together: What music can teach us about the brain, what the brain can teach us about music, and what both can teach us about ourselves. 

The EU is a powerful political, economic and cultural block that is meant to play a major role, together with the USA and China, in the creation of a new post-crisis world order. The seminar is intended to cover, at a basic but reachable level, the history, the politics, the culture and the functions of the EU in the beginning of the twentieth century. An extraordinary experiment of sociopolitical engineering, comparable to that of the United States of America, the EU has been changing the life of an increasing number of Europeans for over 50 years. No American student could afford to ignore the inner structure as well as the particular peculiarities of such inclusive supranational organization in today's world. Issues as institutional functioning, problems derived from individual state sovereignty, economic coordination to face common challenges, cultural integration, future enlargement, etc. are all indispensable to understand the way in which Europe is changing. But also much more day-to-day issues, such as travel mobility, education exchange programs, citizen's participation, supranational networks of people in the arts or in business, unified labor market, gender participation, human rights, consumer's protection, etc. are all in the process of developing a more robust and functional European citizenship. 

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the buildings, monuments, sites, and signs around Boston from the point of view of Visual and Culture Studies. In addition to providing a compelling introduction to the history, major landmarks, and culture of the city, the seminar is specifically intended to improve students' visual literacy: that is, their awareness of their visual environment and their ability to critically analyze the rhetoric of the spaces, buildings, and images with which they are surrounded. 

This course will explore historical, ethical and political issues concerned with matters of peace and war. We will examine a variety of different texts: religious, historical, philosophical and literary, but the main emphasis will be philosophical justifications for war and philosophical visions of just peace, with an eye to contemporary questions in the War on Terror. To the extent that we use non-philosophical texts, this will be in the service of focusing the imagination on the philosophical issues and applying theoretical frameworks to historical events. 

This class will examine some of the many controversies surrounding the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, two conflicts that have been profoundly polarizing for the American people. There are widely divergent perspectives regarding the fundamental questions surrounding each war. Were the reasons for American involvement just? To what extent were the methods used by the United States military during each war just? To what extent did the media play an appropriate role before, during, and after each war? Did opposition to these wars serve primarily to benefit the enemies of the United States or did it constitute a form of patriotism and love of country? This interdisciplinary course will address these and other complex questions by examining the histories, literature, and films (both documentaries and dramatic) that have been produced in response to these wars. 

The course will explore the physical geography, history, and image in literature, film, and pop culture of Suffolk University's Beacon Hill neighborhood. The purpose and objective of the course is to provide students with a deep knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Beacon Hill through examination of written and visual sources, and feet-on and eyes-on experience of the public parts of the Hill. 

This course will examine four major problems in the early American republic: forming a government; bridging vast distances on the American continent; slavery; international relations. We will explore the various proposed solutions to these problems. Some of the solutions worked well, others were more disastrous than the initial problem. We will read primary documents pertaining to these issues, and try to imagine how men and women considering the problems might have responded to them. What solutions could be proposed? What solutions would work? What were the political, economic, or social difficulties generated by the problem and by the proposed solutions? In considering the problems, we will also learn how to use the various archives close at hand: the Sawyer Library, the Boston Public Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Massachusetts State Archives. Students will also post their findings on a class blog, and present their work to one another in class. 

What do we live for? Which beliefs, values, and experiences sustain meaningful, fulfilling existence? Are we authors of our destinies or powerless pawns in an unfathomable cosmic game? Does death render all our efforts superfluous? This award-winning course offers a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary exploration of these questions through philosophical and religious texts, art, fiction, autobiography, and psychological studies. The course opens with the Old Testament's book of Ecclesiastes, followed by three units:  1) A Life Worth Living: Humanity's Ideals focuses on the ancient and modern visions of human flourishing; 2) Threats to Meaning: Humanity's Discontents, discusses the disillusionments leading to the loss of meaning; and 3) Recovery of Meaning: Crises and Hopes, explores the post-crisis possibilities of self-discovery and growth. Please visit http://meaningoflife.cherkasova.org/.

Since the beginning of time, women have been doing battle to themselves, while men have gone to battle against others. Whether it is through converting to Christ, yielding to captors in order to survive, or carrying a baby, this course introduces students to the many ways in which, whatever battles they face, women are warriors; they survive. Utilizing an array of captivity, conversion, and confession narratives by women, and pairing them across the centuries, students will make connections and draw conclusions between early-and mid-19th-century-American and contemporary women. Students will connect, for example, the trials of the 17th-century Puritan captive, Mary Rowlandson, and contemporary hostage, Elizabeth Smart, to explore how women (no matter how different they seem) draw upon unique inner resources to survive. 

How is it that the knowledge, intelligence, wisdom and values of the Greeks and Romans still educate and edify the world by providing venues towards leading fulfilling and dignified lives? The guiding principles of their respective civilizations rested upon eight pillars: - Humanism: It was recognized that humans have the potential to master their world and live life to the fullest. -The Pursuit of Excellence: To imagine the highest good and strive to attain it. - Self Knowledge: It is imperative to know oneself before seeking to know the world. - Rationalism: Always question, reason and discern truth from falsehood and never consider any matter superficially. - Restless Curiosity: Often the resolution of one issue leads to the revelations of others mysteries and pursuits which compels further investigation. The wise individual makes this a lifelong endeavor. -Love of Freedom: As long as one brings no harm to others, one must be free to live and discover as much as possible. - Individualism: All are unique and, therefore, must recognize individual strengths and identity. -The Practice of Moderation: The prudence of avoiding extremes in personal and social conduct. In this course, students will read two (brief) texts on the Greek and Roman contributions to the world and then will proceed with specific readings which illuminate the eight principles above for achieving the good life. 

This section of the Seminar for Freshmen will consider the forms, venues, and impacts of narrative nonfiction in contemporary culture. From the exploding popularity of personal essays in the digital age to the living, evolving essays we create on social media, we are constantly narrating and archiving our lives, shaping their content for specific audiences. In doing so, we shape what our experiences mean and represent. In order to analyze the power of narrative nonfiction, we will look at a variety of multimodal texts: essays, podcasts, Instagram and Twitter feeds, stand-up comedy, and storytelling slams, as well historical texts such as the essays of Michel de Montaigne and historical artifacts at the National Archives in Boston. We will also write our own narrative nonfiction and adapt our first-person stories for listening and viewing audiences, such as the MassMouth story slam and podcasts like This American Life. Additionally, we will practice narrative nonfiction for professional audiences, using storytelling as a way to showcase personal strengths to employers, internship coordinators, and the like. 

Native Americans are often described as walking in two worlds, as they attempt to navigate the process of maintaining their tribal identity and heritage while living in mainstream America. In recent years there has been a shift towards tradition and heritage, and a rejection of Western values and norms in both the US and Canada. In this course we will look at how Native people live in the US and Canada today, and examine the extent to which they are either trying to walk in two worlds or perhaps rejecting the two worlds model. To help us answer this question, we will read about reservation life, the Idle No More Movement, Indigenous History, and current events. We will also watch videos and explore indigenous culture. 

Explores the eleven countries and 600 million people of Southeast Asia starting with foundations- geography and environment- and then looking at the human imprint, in the form of the history, religions, and cultures of the region. An examination of contemporary issues related to demography, politics, and (especially) economics. 

This course explores the evolution of dogs from wolves and the ways in which dogs have adapted to their niche in human society. The ecology, behavior, genetics, and adaptations of dogs will be explored in relation to both their wolf ancestry and artificial selection by humans. The course includes 2 mandatory field trips to a wolf sanctuary and an animal shelter. 

This course reviews the principal features of global and national security as it is currently practiced by tracing the evolution of theories, policies and circumstances whereby current international security is developed. Students will evaluate the nature and origins of war, arms proliferation, military instability, terrorism, genocide, health threats and natural resources depletion. 

Explores themes of adventure, self-discovery, exile, and culture shock in classic and contemporary travel writing (including fiction, poetry, and non-fiction) as well as film. Students will experiment with creative writing of their own, develop theories of cosmopolitan world citizenship, travel through the city of Boston on field trips, and team up to learn about different countries in Suffolk's global network of study abroad programs. 

This course is design to provide students with an overview of the social settings and cultural meanings of religion in the contemporary world. Topics that will be covered in reading and discussions include the rise of religious fundamentalism, religion and violence, women's and men's religious experiences, new religions, and portrayals of religion in popular films. In addition to the readings, students will observe and experience religious expressions and activities through fieldwork assignments. The emphasis on films and fieldwork reflects my belief that religion is made up of lived experiences of actual individuals and communities. In order to understand religion in contemporary society we will make every effort to see (in person or in film) a wide range of religious activities. The films we will see include some of the following: Leap of Faith, Devil's Playground, Kadosh, Women of Hezballah, Singing Stream, A Still Small Voice. 

This course explores relationships between reproductive health and rights both nationally and internationally. Many of our topics fit into two broad areas: conflicts over the control of childbearing (sterilization abuse, birth control, and abortion) and conflicts over who deserves to be a mother, especially when the mothers in question face social stigma and lack political power. Other topics include safe birth and maternal mortality, breastfeeding, infertility and reproductive technology. We also examine the politics of women's sexual and reproductive autonomy, including the policies that shape women's choices to prevent, achieve, abort, or carry to term a pregnancy. Throughout, we are guided by the following questions: Why is reproduction an important site through which to understand society? How do statuses such as race, class, gender, sexuality and ability influence people's reproductive possibilities? What is the role of the state in shaping these experiences? How have communities supported or resisted efforts at reproductive control? Why is reproductive justice central to these answers? 

A systematic exploration of thinking of and about America, from the founding of the republic to American issues and traditions of thought that reflect upon the founding principles and the unfolding American experiment. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will be studied with an eye to their philosophical content and sources. The course will also examine works of philosophers and other thinkers who address conflicts over the meaning of founding principles in the course of the nation's history, from the struggle over slavery to America's contemporary role in the world. Because this course intends to apply theoretical understanding to real life, students will be expected to read contemporary journalism on a regular basis and assess the controversies of today in the light of the nation's philosophical and historical currents. 

This course is about public health law, which is the study of the legal powers and duties of the various systems of government in the United States (federal, state, and local) in collaboration with their partners (e.g., health care, business, the community, the media, and academe), to ensure the conditions for people to be healthy (to identify, prevent, and ameliorate risks to health in the population), and of the limitations on the power of these systems of government to constrain for the common good the autonomy, privacy, liberty, proprietary, and other legally protected interests of individuals. The prime objective of public health law is to pursue the highest possible level of physical and mental health in the population, consistent with the values of social justice. The course will focus especially on public health law in the area of epidemic disease. Case studies will be made of the Great Influenza of 1918 and the origins and spread of the Ebola virus, culminating in an examination of outbreaks of Ebola in the United States. 

This seminar provides an introduction to Visual Studies, a relatively new interdisciplinary field that examines how images communicate and the roles that they play in society. Students will apply the concepts and techniques of Visual Studies to analyze sites and signs around Boston, such as advertisements, street signs, fashions, newspaper photographs, buildings, and public spaces. Class projects will increase students' awareness of their visual environment and their ability to critically analyze the visual rhetoric that surrounds us and is often used to manipulate us. 

This class will teach students about the key role that sporting events can play in building a city, building its brand and the politics surrounding the process of these things occurring. Topics may include: urban development in general and the transformation of the industrial to the post-industrial Boston; the way in which cities use events like the Olympics to build their place brands; the way an effort like the Olympics can be used to encourage large scale public investment in longer term infrastructure projects that otherwise might not be justifiable; and the way government works with interest and community groups to try to shape public policy. 

This course examines sixteen case examples providing a clear and compelling introduction to one of the most important topics in the relation between public policy and law. This course addresses: the history of the insanity defense; the effects of different standards for determining insanity; the arguments for its retention; abolition, and revision; media and other responses to it; and the controversies around pre and post conviction commitment. The case examples illustrates a variety of outcomes and include individuals who were found not guilty by reason of insanity; found guilty even though mentally ill; and not charged because of mental illness. 

Conversation about the weather is considered to be the universal icebreaker. Yesterday's sweltering heat, the storm predicted for this weekend, even long-term climate shifts find their way in our daily conversation. Today, however, such casual conversations have an edge to them, because we are realizing that humans play a role in determining the climate shift. In fact, understanding the human fingerprint in the Arctic tundra melting, or a devastating hurricane, has gone well-beyond small talk to become one of the most important challenges our society faces today, and on that is wedded to geopolitics. To meaningfully participate in any dialogue that addresses this challenge people have to be aware of certain key ideas of Physics and Planetary Science. The aim of this course is to provide you with some of the essential facts and pieces of science underlying such questions. This course will enable you to grasp many of the issues that dominate today's political discourse and to develop an informed opinion (your, not our!) for which you can rationally argue. 

The Walking Dead tells viewers that life in the zombie apocalypse requires people to fight the dead, fear the living. Sociologists want to know why we should fear the living. How do individuals come together and try to recreate society for themselves: either to build community or fight other groups? What role do morals and values have in a society? How does all of this determine life, death, and the struggles people must face? Questions like these will give our class a new view of The Walking Dead and can help us to learn more about the society that we live in where so far the dead have remained in the ground. 

This writing and script analysis intensive course will explore plays across a range periods and styles. The scripts of five plays will be studied and we will attend performances of two of those works at professional theatres in Boston. Other activities will range from a backstage tour to conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights and critics, in order to lift the script off the page and provide a living experience of theatre. Requires students to be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for tickets at student rates will be assessed. 

It is hard to believe that only 60 years ago, our only close-up view of a planetary body was that of Earth. We are truly living in the Golden Age of Space Exploration, when a new mission every few years brings us spectacular images from either a neighbor in the solar system or galaxies at the edge of the universe. This course will describe the dozen space missions that changed our view of the universe, ranging from our solar system to the most distant galaxies. 

While newspaper headlines focus on the multiple problems Europe is facing today, the evolving adaptation of European nation states and the integration process receive less attention. Brexit and economic crises seem to be synonymous of Europe today, but facts such as the European Union accepting five new members in the coming five years or Europe being the most advance environmental actor or the main international provider of official aid are often ignored by public opinion. This Seminar for Freshman examines the dynamic evolution of the integration process in Europe in the context of globalization. Three sections articulate the main debates and tensions in the interplay between national and supranational institutions and policies. The first part analyzes how eight European countries have forged their national preferences to delineate their level of immersion in the integration process; it later proceeds with the examination of the main historical events in the history of the integration process. The second part explores the functioning of the EU institutions in order to grasp the essence of the complex policy-making in the Europe of 28 members. The third and final section presents the analysis of the main areas of the EU policy making such as agriculture, monetary and economic issues, among others, and observes the main developments in the area of EU external relations. 

Check back soon for content. 

This course focuses on French-language films - with subtitles! - that address pressing social issues of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as hunger, female genital mutilation, immigration, racism, economic inequality, genocide, gender, sexuality, colonialism and post-colonialism. 

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This course will focus on the concept of authenticity in American culture, from its origins in the early 19th century to the present. When the advertising gurus of Coca-Cola branded it as The Real Thing," they were exploiting something powerful: the idea of something real, stripped of any falsity or illusion. Humans have always desired to know the world and others as they really are," but this desire is particularly strong in the modern world: witness the eagerness to discover one's true self," cut through the B.S., obtain the genuine article, and live authentically. In this course we will interrogate this pursuit of the Real Thing. In various ways, the texts we study both embrace authenticity as an ideal and also question its goodness, usefulness, or even its very possibility. We will thus confront a number of interrelated questions: Where does this desire for authenticity come from? What counts as authenticity," in life and in art? Is authenticity really a virtue to live by? How does it shape artistic and literary expression? Is there even such a thing as the real you This course will be divided into three units. In the first unit, Counterfeiters and Self-Made Men," we will study how a commitment to authenticity arises in antebellum American literature and culture during a time of rapid national expansion and invention. Readings will include texts by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and P.T. Barnum. In the second unit, Authenticity and Contamination, "we will consider two major ways in which authenticity becomes idealized around the turn of the 20th century: as artistic ideal set against fears of mass cultural production, and as a cultural ideal set against fears of racial and cultural mixing. Readings will include texts by Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, and William Carlos Williams. In Unit Three, Buying and Selling Authenticity," we will examine how authenticity becomes commodified.

Most of the world's religious traditions have as a part of their doctrines some notion of immortality, rendered both in scriptures as well as iconographically. What precisely is entailed by immortality and why does it constitute such a significant element of so many religious traditions? What can we learn about immortality by investigating various conceptions of the afterlife? Is immortality truly a desirable thing? These questions among others will be examined from the perspectives of philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and biology. Besides being cross-disciplinary, the course will be multi-media in nature. In addition to reading philosophical and religious texts concerning the nature of immortality, students will study various accounts of immortality and the afterlife, examine how the afterlife has been dealt with in (visual) art, literature, and film, and investigate current research into life prolongation (biomedical gerontology). 

The thematic focus of this seminar will be friendship. Friendship is one of the most important of human relationships; one that every student in this seminar has already participated in for many years. It shapes who we are and helps determine who we may become. And while it is a universal phenomenon, it has been practiced quite differently at various times and places in human history. And while we all have an intimate, personal and practical knowledge of friendship through our own experiences, sometimes things that are so close and so obvious to us can be hard to see. Over the course of the semester we will inquire into friendship from many different angles, trying to gain both a broader and a deeper understanding than our own individual experience allows. We will look at friendship first through the lens of philosophy, particularly through the foundational text of Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics. We will look at other views of friendship from the ancient world, starting in the past to help us see that friendship has not always been thought of the way we think of it now. After this initial foundation is laid, we will examine other writers and thinkers and take up additional topics like friendship in different cultures, friendship and gender, friendship in and through the arts and include an examination of friendship through the lenses of many different academic disciplines to see how other systematic thinkers conceive of friendship. All along we will be comparing and contrasting with our own personal experiences and considering what modern technology, such as social networking sites, has done to influence friendship, in the way we practice it and the way we conceive it. It is the aim of this class that students not just study different academic points of view, but that that they take up the questions and challenges that these thinkers present to them and fully engage with them on a meaningful personal level. 

Hyphenated-Americans of Latino origin come from many places and backgrounds. Often perceived as a divide, an either/or that separates and distinguishes one ethnic group from another, the hyphen can also be viewed as a link that connects, integrates and facilitates the formation of new cultural spaces. Through films and written narratives by and about USA Latino(a)(x)-Americans, students will examine how individuals who live on the threshold between two languages and cultures embrace the challenge of preserving their own identity and moving beyond stereotypes. Each of the Latino/a/x authors that we will read in this course will describe his/her own experiences living in the USA. By examining their views through our own filtered lens, we shall try to answer questions like the following: 1. What role does language have in our definition/understanding of cultural identity? 2. How do individuals move beyond the hyphen and stop seeing themselves as hybrids? 3. How can an individual who does not belong to a marginalized group (i.e. one considered less powerful and secondary) understand and empathize with those who do? 4. How does globalization affect the dichotomies that arise in bi-cultural and multi-cultural communities? 

One hundred and sixty-nine years have passed since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. It is only fitting to analyze the profound changes that the gain/loss of these territories caused for the citizens of both sides of the border. This course will explore the literature, culture, and history of the United States-Mexican Border and the most pressing problems pertaining to the region. Emphasis will be on contemporary border theater and film. The works of Salcedo, Galindo, Lopez and others will be studied as well as contemporary films and documentaries such as Alambrista, Senorita Extraviada, The Gatekeeper, Sin Nombre, Wetback: the Undocumented Documentary, Victoria para Chino, Which Way Home, and much more. There are no prerequisites for this course. Though the course in conducted in English, parallel readings in Spanish will be made available to those who wish to read and/or compare the original texts. 

Honors Seminars List

Two of the most daunting challenges the world faces (or will face) is how to provide for both its growing energy needs and potable drinking water. Regular news events include climate change, droughts, flooding, and petroleum struggles. Human nature often requires a severe crisis before it responds. This course will investigate the historical science driving the use of energy since the Industrial Revolution to convert energy resources into work, including the steam engine, the electric motor, and the internal combustion engine. It will also consider alternative energy options to fossil fuels, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and ocean power. Along the way we will consider the evidence for Global Warming and Climate Change. We will look into human nature, simple life styles, conspiracy theories, and the influence of those in power to shape human opinion. We will also consider how our water supply is provided and where it goes after being used. What options do developing countries or drought racked areas have to remedy their water needs? Although the course pursues a scientific understanding of these issues, the mathematics used will be gentle, and a larger emphasis will be placed on the intuitive appreciation of these concerns. 

Rain or shine, the great 18th century Enlightenment philosophers would meet at the famous cafes of Paris to discuss their ideas, and to observe and criticize society. From these informal debates emerged ideas that are at the core of our modern understanding of the nature of society, marginality, human nature, civil rights, the essence of creativity and genius. Come join us in the quest to understand, define, observe, and analyze the key ideas and concepts of these great thinkers, such as Rousseau, Diderot, and Voltaire, still so relevant in our time. We will read key works of these creative thinkers and philosophers. We will enrich our experience and understanding through the use of film, theatre performances, museum visits, as well as the occasional cafe debate. 

Using the current Boston theatre season as its syllabus, this writing- and analysis-intensive course will explore several plays in production at some of Boston's many professional theatres. We will study the script of four to five plays before attending performances of those works. Students will gain insights on the world of theatre through backstage tours and conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights, and critics. Students must be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for student-rate tickets will be assessed. 

This course is about the basketball hoop dream played out at the high school and college levels. We will study a wide variety of materials - novels, films, websites, reference works - to understand both the construction, and destruction, of the hoop dream in such diverse places as New York City, Seattle, rural Indiana, suburban Georgia, and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Issues of race and culture will serve as guiding themes as we develop critical theory explaining why the hoop dream has persisted, and adapted, over time, to fit the needs of its believers and supporters. 

How is it that comics", a genre often viewed as entertainment for children and adolescents, has become one of the most exciting forms of narrative and visual art? To answer this question, this seminar will examine a range of graphic novels, from those that celebrate their origins in superhero comics, such as Alan Moore's Watchmen, to those that treat subjects not usually considered proper to the comics genre, such as Art Spiegelman's Maus, about the Holocaust, and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, about the complexities of sexual identity. As we read these works, we will look at how the combination of words and still images makes the graphic novel a unique storytelling form, as well as how artists and writers push the envelope to create new styles and challenge our expectations. In addition to class discussions and writing assignments, we will take a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts and create a collaborative group graphic novel step-by-step over the course of the semester (all abilities welcome). 

In this project and team-based course, students study a sustainability problem at Suffolk University and spend the semester developing proposals to address the problem. At the end of the course students will present their proposals to Suffolk University's sustainability committee, and will exhibit their websites and visual aids in the Donahue lobby to educate the Suffolk community about sustainability. If their proposals are well-researched and well-communicated, students can see their ideas actualized while they are still undergraduates. 

What do we live for? Which beliefs, values, and experiences sustain meaningful, fulfilling existence? Are we authors of our destinies or powerless pawns in an unfathomable cosmic game? Does death render all our efforts superfluous? This award-winning course offers a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary exploration of these questions through philosophical and religious texts, art, fiction, autobiography, and psychological studies. The course opens with the Old Testament's book of Ecclesiastes, followed by three units: 1) A Life Worth Living: Humanity's Ideals focuses on the ancient and modern visions of human flourishing; 2) Threats to Meaning: Humanity's Discontents, discusses the disillusionments leading to the loss of meaning; and 3) Recovery of Meaning: Crises and Hopes, explores the post-crisis possibilities of self-discovery and growth. Please visit http://meaningoflife.cherkasova.org/. 

Since the beginning of time, women have been doing battle to themselves, while men have gone to battle against others. Whether it is through converting to Christ, yielding to captors in order to survive, or carrying a baby, this course introduces students to the many ways in which, whatever battles they face, women are warriors; they survive. Utilizing an array of captivity, conversion, and confession narratives by women, and pairing them across the centuries, students will make connections and draw conclusions between early-and mid-19th-century-American and contemporary women. Students will connect, for example, the trials of the 17th-century Puritan captive, Mary Rowlandson, and contemporary hostage, Elizabeth Smart, to explore how women (no matter how different they seem) draw upon unique inner resources to survive. 

This course explores the evolution of dogs from wolves and the ways in which dogs have adapted to their niche in human society. The ecology, behavior, genetics, and adaptations of dogs will be explored in relation to both their wolf ancestry and artificial selection by humans. The course includes 2 mandatory field trips to a wolf sanctuary and an animal shelter. 

Explores themes of adventure, self-discovery, exile, and culture shock in classic and contemporary travel writing (including fiction, poetry, and non-fiction) as well as film. Students will experiment with creative writing of their own, develop theories of cosmopolitan world citizenship, travel through the city of Boston on field trips, and team up to learn about different countries in Suffolk's global network of study abroad programs. 

A systematic exploration of thinking of and about America, from the founding of the republic to American issues and traditions of thought that reflect upon the founding principles and the unfolding American experiment. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will be studied with an eye to their philosophical content and sources. The course will also examine works of philosophers and other thinkers who address conflicts over the meaning of founding principles in the course of the nation's history, from the struggle over slavery to America's contemporary role in the world. Because this course intends to apply theoretical understanding to real life, students will be expected to read contemporary journalism on a regular basis and assess the controversies of today in the light of the nation's philosophical and historical currents. 

This writing and script analysis intensive course will explore plays across a range periods and styles. The scripts of five plays will be studied and we will attend performances of two of those works at professional theatres in Boston. Other activities will range from a backstage tour to conversations with theatre professionals such as producers, directors, actors, designers, playwrights and critics, in order to lift the script off the page and provide a living experience of theatre. Requires students to be available for evening (usually Wednesday) performances. A fee for tickets at student rates will be assessed.