First-Year Seminar Courses 2023-2024

You'll take a FYS within your first two semesters at Xavier. FYS is a rigorous, academic, 3-credit course. In the catalog, FYS is called CORE 100. Search under "Core Curriculum" to find these courses.

Fall 2023

Colonial Shadows

José María Mantero

In this course, we will study works of literature, art, and film to better understand how colonial ideologies are still present today in the Americas and how these relate to our own individual faith and our Jesuit institutional identity. The readings (short stories, poems, essays, and a series of scholarly articles) and works of art (paintings, etchings, graphic art and graffiti, for example) will come from traditional and non-traditional sources as we examine the parallels between literary and artistic expressions within a discrete historical context. We will also study films and include other digital media such as podcasts and video recordings that document and construct the historical perspective. The overall objective of the course is to examine the manner in which specific texts, works, media, and artistic objectives dialogue with a particular historical context and both reflect and transcend broader shifts in ideology and faith.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Bob Dylan

Graley Herren

This seminar will trace the artistic evolution of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. Along with careful analysis of his songs as written and performed, we will examine his work in various contexts: musical, literary, cultural, historical, political, and autobiographical.

Growing Pains

Kelly Austin

Welcome to college, that space between adolescence and full-blown adulting. That means the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood, without the experience. It's a time to explore who you want to be (identity) and what you want to do (vocation). Some psychologists call this developmental phase emerging adulthood. In this section of First-Year Seminar, we'll study theories of development, identity and belonging to see what makes this phase of life unique and interesting and challenging—and sometimes terrifying. After all, they're called "growing pains" for a reason. We'll examine literature that highlights adolescence and emerging adulthood and use those discussions to investigate your own journey on the path to adulthood.

The Human Need for Narrative

Anne McCarty

Story? Who needs it? For a phenomenon that seems to serve little practical purpose for human survival, narrative plays a significant and ongoing role in our lives. In this class, we’ll explore various facets and functions of story and consider the following questions. How do we shape and how are we shaped by narrative? How do we employ narrative as we attempt to understand, cope with, and modify our past, present, and future both as individuals and as a society? How do the stories we currently produce and consume contribute to or detract from the greater good?

Personal Writing, Public Good

Renea Frey

Personal expression takes many forms (diaries, letters, memoires, art, etc.), and while we might view this communication as focused on an individual's experience, personal expression can transmit knowledge, create empathy, and move an audience toward “shared wisdom.” In this course, we’ll explore expression that seeks to move the personal into the public to bring about change for the greater good and how these texts intersect with vocation.

Pursuit of Happiness

Rita Rozzi

​The United States Declaration of Independence states that one of our “unalienable Rights” is the “pursuit of Happiness.”  If we are guaranteed such an absolute freedom to obtain it, why aren’t we all happy? What does it even mean to be happy? Although we will work to define happiness and explore the latest research on this topic through reading and discussion, we will also be putting into practice what we discover. The hope is that by doing so, we will learn how to cultivate happiness in ourselves and in others.

Slow Food: We Are What We Eat

Kelly Blank

Slow Food is an international movement that began in Italy in 1986, emphasizing Good, Clean, and Fair food. In this First Year Seminar, we will discuss the history, philosophy, and influence of the Slow Food movement worldwide while examining the problems with the modern agricultural machine both in a local and in a global context. Topics of discussion will include the importance of local and seasonal produce, the inherent connections between plate and planet, the water footprint of food, labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), biodiversity, food deserts, and the ethics of meat production and consumption.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

The Lives of Black Women and Girls

ShaDawn Battle

Incredulous reactions to Meg Thee Stallion’s accusation that a Black man shot her are a part of an epistemic framework in which Black women and girls are perceived to be unworthy of protection, their bodies disposable, and their truths undermined or deemed inconsequential to a racist, patriarchal, misogynoiristic, homo / transphobic, and ableist U.S. regime. This course will employ a Black Feminist framework to make legible the interdependent forces that imperil the lives of Black women and girls, including Black trans women. To examine the material and ideological realities of Black women and girls in the U.S. such as, Sha’Carri Richardson, Breonna Taylor, Dajerria Becton, the enslaved Anarcha, and Laverne Cox, we will take up the following topics: Black Women and Girls in Sports; Black Women and Girls in the Medical Industrial Complex; and Black Women and Girls and the Policing Apparatus.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Immigration and Exile

Mich Nyawalo

​This course introduces students to the topic of migration and exile from a global perspective. Throughout the semester, students will engage the following questions: what are the permutations of exile, migration, and immigration policies across cultural and national contexts? What are the social, political, and economic conditions that lead to processes of migration and exile? How do experiences of exile and migration affect those who endure it (within one generation or across several generations)? How do the social dynamics of class, race, gender, and nationality inform experiences of exile and migration? How do people whose loved ones have left their homeland for foreign countries process their loss and transformed relationship with the departed? How are images and cultures of the homeland constructed, revised, and reinvented in the diaspora? What are the experiences of those who return to countries they had left behind for many years?
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Uprising: Slave Rebellions in the Atlantic World

Randy Browne

From the early 1500s through the end of the nineteenth century, millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved throughout the Americas. In this seminar we will explore enslaved people's armed resistance to slavery, during the Middle Passage and in American slave societies.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Marriage: Crisis & Renewal

Marita von Weissenberg

How do we know what marriage is? How, when, and why does marriage challenge or renew the greater good, and how can we even know? This course seeks to complicate our assumptions of marriage by exploring what marriage has been, is, and might yet become within the Western tradition. We will examine notions of marriage by examining ways history, law, psychology, and literature – to name a few – study marriage. 

Confederate Monuments

Frank Rzeczkowski

This seminar examines the current controversies over monuments to the Confederacy through an examination of the broader historical, social, cultural, and political contexts surrounding the issue. We will also explore the ideas and purposes behind memorialization in a broader sense (including on Xavier’s campus), and seek to understand the decision-making process behind memorialization and the messages memorials seek to convey.

Great (and not so great) Expectations

Lara Dorger

We live in our own heads most of the time, but we often evaluate our wants mostly in terms of the outcomes rather than what makes the foundations of our wants. Often our sense of success is arbitrary and personal and may depend mostly on preconceived beliefs. Rather than focusing on solely an end result, a more-sound approach would involve understanding our expectations going forward. This seminar has you carefully reading 12 short stories to use as a springboard to foster the practice of asking questions about topics relevant to you at this time: school, career, and relationships, among other subjects. Some of the questions you will have the chance to discuss are "Can I be a good friend if I stop listening to my friend's problems?" "How much work am I willing to do to get an A?" or the age-old question "What is love?" While answers may not be forthcoming for all questions, you will have the chance to create the habit of examining your expectations prior to evaluating your success or failure, a key component to analysis, through the media of short stories and writing.

The Art of Expression: Cultivating Creativity for Balance, Growth, and Community

Madeleine Mitchell

Anyone can be an artist, but many people don't see themselves as one. This seminar explores how creative expression is an integral part of being human and how it contributes to personal and intellectual growth, meaningful life work, and stronger communities. In this course, we will examine various roles of artistic expression in society: healer, teller of hard truths, voice of solidarity, and catalyst for social change. Students will study and research examples of art movements, engage with local artists, and create individual works of art.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Food on the Move: From Ship to Shore

Margaret Martin

In this FYS, we explore food on the move, from ancient Roman olive oil to South African wine, from wars "won on their stomachs" to high-tech military labs, from banana boats to modern shipping containers. Our plates are full--of history, technology, logistics, economics, politics, ethics, and more.

Manias and Bubbles

Tim Kruse

Market bubbles and manias are a common feature of financial market history. These bubbles vary in scope and consequence (ranging from tulips in 1634 Amsterdam and bunnies in 1872 Tokyo to dot.coms in the 1990s and the subprime real estate crisis in 2008). They also typically involve many colorful and complicated characters. This seminar will examine many of these episodes with a focus on the main events, participants, and consequences. We also will investigate whether current markets such as cryptocurrencies/NFTs and Chinese real estate may be showing bubbly characteristics.


Timothy Brownlee

How ought we to respond to experiences of devastation that threaten human forms of life? In this seminar, we will examine the threats that environmental destruction and interpersonal violence pose to the conditions for human life, and ask about the status of ethics in conditions of catastrophe. We will consider major works of historical and contemporary literature, philosophy, and history.

History of Xavier

C. Walker Gollar

This course explores the history of Xavier especially in relationship to recent campus
wide discussions about Xavier’s historical connections to slavery. Amidst national
debate about what to do with Confederate monuments, how to make sense of the brutal
killing of George Floyd, and what the recent events at the Capitol signify, etc., Xavier
has been wrestling with some heretofore untold aspects of the school’s past. Over the
past four years, Xavier has entertained some vibrant conversations. This course is an
invitation to join the discussion.

Conserving Nature

George Farnsworth

How should we view and manage endangered and threatened species and ecosystems? In this course we will explore what species we value and how we try to keep them from going extinct. We will examine these issues from a variety of perspectives including science, history, philosophy, and art.

Entrepreneurship: How to Outswim the Sharks in the Tank

Mike Halloran

This course dives into the questions of how and why entrepreneurship can serve the
greater good and the role of entrepreneurship in your professional career, no matter
what career that you decide to pursue. Learn how entrepreneurs deal with failure, find
their purpose, and their keys to success. Course includes 8-10 guest entrepreneur
speakers, thought-providing class discussions, learning about the exciting
entrepreneurial community in Cincinnati, and investigating the benefits and costs of
entrepreneurship for individuals and society as a whole.

Art of Introspection: Rosseau

John Ray

Is there such a thing as human nature and if so, how should it be described? What is humanity’s place in the whole (that is, the natural matrix or cosmos)? These two questions are at the heart of humanity’s introspection, our attempt to “know” ourselves and the world. To begin to answer, we cannot do better than to focus on a classic text by one the great contributors to the history of ideas. Students will learn the art of interpretation while they practice the art of introspection. Emphasis on student discussion and writing. The selected text for Fall 2023: Rousseau's Emile or On Education.

No Such Thing as a Stupid Question (in Business and Economics)

Jagan Jacob

In this seminar, we ask questions related to business organizations, economics, ethics, and (even) politics. We will read and discuss various case studies, participate in team debates, give group presentations, and write a term paper. Topics range from “should a tweet from a decade ago get you fired?” to “what are the misconceptions the US gets wrong about China and its economy?”

Sport at the Service of Humanity

Sr. Rose Ann Fleming

How can sport serve humanity? Selected readings show how sport brings humanity
together across global boundaries to celebrate human talent, regardless of religion,
race, culture, beliefs, gender and ability. Immersive experiences such as visits and
interviews with members of professional teams and NCAA Division I teams, indicate
how sport teaches men and women positive values of joy, respect, love, compassion,
enlightenment and balance. Dialoguing with sport experts, and attendance at local
sports games, enables the class participant to reflect, critique, and discuss, orally and in
writing, the principles and values that sport offers humanity, as well as how to address
the evils and scandals that can arise when the power of wealth and greed in sport
corrupt the sport environment.
This course addresses issues of diversity and inclusion throughout the semester.

Religion, Science, and Environment


Waleed El-Ansary

The rise of the environmental crisis has provoked urgent debate. What exactly is the problem? What are its underlying causes, roots, reasons? What went wrong? When, and how? What solutions will be best? This course explores a range of responses within relevant texts from religious traditions around the world and interdisciplinary scientific works.


Bicycling and Holistic Active Lifestyles

Jon Ruedisueli

A holistic active lifestyle is not just physical activity. It is an active mindfulness of the impacts our lives have on our individual bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings and the larger whole we inhabit. In this course we will begin to explore and implement this lifestyle, discovering the impacts on ourselves, our community, and our environment