Summer FYS:

If you’d like to get a jump on your FYS – check out these options for the Summer term!

Understanding Parent-Child Relationships (CRN 1481)

FYS 107

Instructor: Margaret Manoogian

Relationships with parents are always changing and not always easy. Using a developmental and multidisciplinary approach, this course focuses on the relationships between parents and children as both age over time. Particular attention will be given to the multiple and changing social contexts of parent-child relationships beginning when children are first born. Students will gain first-hand knowledge through lifespan interviews and will learn about their own family relationships as they relate to the concepts learned in class.

Me, Myself and I (CRN 1482)

FYS 107

Instructor: Tracy Powell

This course examines the perplexing question of what constitutes the self from a philosophical, psychological, existential, and biological lens. Consideration will progress from a broad theoretical understanding of self to an individually focused look at one’s own self-identity. Deeper self-understanding should lead to better decision-making and overall well-being in life here at WOU and beyond.

Fall FYS:

Available topics for Fall FYS options are listed. To find out more about scheduled times and available sections, consult the Scheduler Tool or the Real Time Course Schedule!

Adulting Class (CRN 11231)

FYS 207

Instructor: Gabbi Boyle

The course will focus on the skills of “Adulting” including: financial literacy, budget, basic economics, and so much more! It will prepare students to make informed financial, political, and personal decisions and develop key skills to be used in everyday life.  

American Identity Through Pop Culture: Bridging Generational Divides (CRN 11435)

FYS 107

Instructor: Melissa Cannon

This course examines various similarities and differences across generations in how individuals consume culture, interact with dominant artifacts and icons, and express themselves as a result. It will explore how popular culture has shaped the boundaries of our normative understanding of issues like race, gender, sexuality, and power in the U.S., and ultimately how it has helped shape identity across generations.

Americas National Parks and Monuments: Reflecting on Our Impact (CRN 11431)

FYS 207

Instructor: Grant Smith

America’s National Parks and Monuments preserve some of the most iconic landscapes on Earth.  The historical reasons of why these places have been set aside will be explored and we will investigate what makes some of them geologically significant.  In addition, challenges to their preservation both now and in the future will be discussed.

Dinosaurs! Science, Art and the Public Understanding of Science (CRN 111223)

FYS 107

Instructors: Amy Harwell and Gareth Hopkins

Did you know that there is a dinosaur singing outside your window? By the end of this course you will know why we know that! This course will introduce fundamental scientific principles and explore how science and the arts interact to shape the public understanding of science using this iconic group of animals. We will use dinosaurs as a case study of evolution, and explore how our understanding or mis-understanding of these animals through time has shaped our perceptions of these legendary creatures.

Exploring the Solar System (CRN 11430)

FYS 207

Instructor: Jeremiah Oxford

We live in exciting times to learn about the Solar System. In this seminar, we will see how our understanding of the Solar System has evolved over the centuries and how a revolution in astronomy led to the birth of modern science. We will explore the surface geology of planets and moons and learn what physical processes have shaped these unique worlds, while examining the latest information acquired on solar system bodies and assess the significance of these recent discoveries.

Family Matters: Exploring Diverse Family Experience (CRN 11434)

FYS 107

Instructor: Verna Ourada

This class focuses on diversity of family structures with regard to race, social class, gender, work, and other social institutions.  The course will look at family structures noting how social issues impact these structures.

Fast zombies vs. slow zombies: The Biology of Fear (CRN 11214)

FYS 107

Instructor: Erin Baumgartner

Explore the biology of fear. Find out what happens in your body during a good fright and explore the evolutionary advantages of fear in humans. Dig into the biological roots of classic frighteners like werewolves, vampires and the walking dead to learn how myths arise from real phenomena. Join with your fellow students to tackle some of your biggest fears about the college experience. Because while creepy clowns are always to be avoided, class projects, office hours and Hamersly Library are nothing to be afraid of.

Faster, Bigger, Tougher: Making your Brain Work For You (CRN 11673)

FYS 207

Instructor: Brent King

Research in psychology has given us insight into how human attention, memory, problem solving, and decision-making functions.  This course will explore ways to use what we know about the brain and cognition to our advantage in our academic careers.  Learn shortcuts to memorization, critical thinking, and study techniques that utilize the way your brain already works.

Getting Woke to Being Broke (CRN 11215, 11224)

FYS 207

Instructor: TBA

In this class, we will research and practice what it means to be first-generation or low-income in the current U.S. educational system. Individual values and goal setting will be explored and will be central themes in the work produced. This course is cost-remitted for students in the Student Enrichment Program (SEP), and meets the SEP course requirements. Non-SEP students may register after SOAR events end.

How Can I Help? What We Know about What Works in Charity and Humanitarianism. (CRN 11103)

FYS 107

Instructor: Katherine Miller

Many of us aspire to make a positive difference in the world, but it can be hard to know how. This course looks at what current research in a variety of fields can tell us, and explores a variety of perspectives on what it means to do good in the world.

Illuminating the Code of Dance (CRN 11280)

FYS 207

Instructors: Breeann Flesch and Darryl Thomas

This course will explore the parallels between dance and coding and will culminate in creating and an iPuppet dance using basic tools from dance choreography, illuminated puppet pieces, and basic coding skills.  No previous dance or coding experience is needed.

Illustrating Social Issues (CRN 11281)

FYS 207

Instructor: Sue Monahan

We live in a big, complex world.  This course nurtures curiosity and critical thinking as we unpack and understand some of this complexity.  We will (1) read a variety of genres to explore selected social issues, (2) illuminate social patterns using data, and (3) integrate ”illustrations” from different disciplines to better understand perplexing social issues. (Offered at WOU-Salem).

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Cultivating Media Numerical Literacy (CRN: 11102)

FYS 207

Instructors: Maren Anderson and Patrick Aldrich

How do we make meaning of information when little or no context is offered or there are entities that are purposefully obfuscating the truth by misstating data or presenting them in a misleading way? This course will focus on how data and statistics are used in the media and modern culture and how to view data through a critical lens to understand what the information means and whether it is being presented in a truthful manner.

Logic, Language, and Alice (CRN 11237)

FYS 107

Instructor: Ryan Hickerson

A lesser-known fact is that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written by an Oxford logician.  It is filled with logical fallacies and whimsically named creatures.  In this seminar we will study some logic through examination of some seriously silly arguments, but we will also investigate a serious philosophical question about whether names can have meaning, by reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, alongside Plato and John Stuart Mill.

Money Management: Make Your Money Work For You (CRN 11250)

FYS 207

Instructor: Bojan Ilievski

The goal of this class is to help students to become financially responsible, conscientious members of society. This course will give students the tools and resources needed to make wise financial decisions.  Students will analyze their personal financial decisions, evaluate the costs and benefits of their decisions, recognize their rights and responsibilities as consumers, and apply the knowledge learned to financial situations encountered later in life. Ultimately, they will learn how to put their money to work.

Moving in the Movies (CRN 11289)

FYS 107

Instructor: Corrie Cowart

We will examine a selection of American movie musicals analyzing how the story and the dance within the film excavate “the temper of the age.” Movie musicals reflect back to us shifting American values and cultural trends in relation to race, gender, economics, class, history and religion. While grappling with this seemingly light-hearted genre we will have the opportunity to analytically examine a distinctly American genre at different points in American history.

Oregon History Detectives (CRN 11104)

FYS 107

Instructors: Kenneth Carano and Kim Jensen

Oregon History Detectives will introduce students to the tools they need to discover and analyze the lives of diverse Oregonians in our history and teach others about their experiences to build a richer understanding of our past.

Play: It’s Not Just for Kids (11733)

FYS 107

Instructor: TBA

This first year seminar will explore the role of lifetime play from global to local through multiple lenses – historical, cultural, political, sociological, relational, psychological, and physiological. These perspectives will be framed using Social Ecological Theory and Play Theory.

Signs & Symbols: History, Communication and Design (11645)

FYS 107

Instructor: Jen Bracy

A part lecture/part studio class investigating signs and symbols: their history & how they have evolved, how they communicate, their role in society, and how to conceive & create them. Many discussions and activities will revolve around signs/symbols observed in everyday life as well as how they connect to students’ chosen disciplines, majors, and interests.

Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here: How Underrepresented College Students will Inherit the Earth
(CRN 111212, 111213)

FYS 107

Instructor: TBA

In this class, we will research and write about what it means to be first-generation or low- income in the current U.S. educational system. This course is cost-remitted for students in the Student Enrichment Program (SEP), and meets the SEP course requirements. Non-SEP students may register after SOAR events end.

Stories About Your Ancestors (CRN 11288)

FYS 107

Instructor: Damien Koshnick

We all want to know where we came from and who came before us. This is why genealogy-based programs and services are more popular than ever. This course focuses on supporting your own process of research and discovery for finding the resources necessary to tell engaging and meaningful stories about your family and ancestors.

The Opiate Crisis: Medical and Societal Effects of Opiate Use and Addiction (CRN 11210)

FYS 207

Instructor: Patty Flatt

This course provides and interdisciplinary approach to help students understand the physical and psychological nature of opiate addiction, the health implications and treatment options, as well as the larger societal and economic impacts of this disease.

Travelers of Latin America: Learning History through Voyagers’ Accounts (CRN 11052)

FYS 107

Instructor: Ricardo Pelegrin-Taboada

This course unveils the different approaches and interpretations that foreigners visiting Latin American territories have made of significant historical events taking place in the region since colonial until modern times. Differences of gender, race, religion and purpose among these travelers will show to the students the diversity and mobility that has existed in Latin America since colonial times.

Trend lines versus Headlines (CRN 11032)

FYS 207

Instructor: Sriram Khé

Has the world become better or worse?  How do we know?  How far have we come, and where might we be headed?  By objectively looking at the trend lines, often by contrasting them against the screaming and misleading news headlines, we will investigate the state of the world and, thereby, think about how to make the world a better place for future generations.

Worse than the Great Depression? An Impending Global Economic Crisis?

FYS 207

Instructor: TBA
This course will undertake a brief historical study of the Great Depression, with a primary focus on economic and political conditions in the United States in the late-1920s and early-1930s.  It will then make a comparison with current economic macroeconomic situation in the United States, along with the political climate.

Winning at the Numbers Game (CRN 11274)

FYS 207

Instructor: TBA

Math is all around us in different forms (finance, game shows, media, board games, advertisements, politics) and those who understand it have an advantage.  In this course, we will critically analyze how people in power take advantage of those unwilling to “do the math.” Learn to question, challenge, and win against a society trying to convince you that you are bad at math.

What Music Says About Us (CRN 11290)

FYS 107

Instructor: James Reddan

The intersections between music, perception, society, and the human condition run deep. Students will examine the intersections of music, society and perception as part of the human condition throughout history to present day to assess how this intersection continues to affect their own life, culture, and society.

WOU Earth Corps: A Beginner’s Guide to Environmental Stewardship (CRN 11432)

FYS 207

Instructor: Steve Taylor

This course engages service-based learning with a focus on environmental restoration of water, land and soil.  Students apply basic principles of Earth Science and Permaculture design to hands-on environmental restoration projects in the community.

Your App is Racist (CRN 11225)

FYS 207

Instructor: Breeann Flesch

An algorithm is a precise sequence of instructions for processes that can be executed by a computer. Algorithms are a part of everyday life, influencing where we live, what we eat, what job we have and who we marry.  They use data to inform decisions, which seems to promise the results will be objective and fair. However, algorithms are created and used by fallible humans and can introduce or exacerbate bias in our systems.  This seminar focuses on the interaction between algorithms and culture: How are algorithms affecting culture? How is culture affecting algorithms?


What kinds of things do First Year Seminar Students do?

For an example, check out the Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Dining Options developed by some FYS students in the Fall 2019 Learning Community: Can Your Food Choices Help save the World?


General Education


503-838-8348 | or e-mail:  | Location: AC 129