Home > Freshman Core Seminar Course Descriptions
  • Freshman Core Seminar

    Course Descriptions

     

    Common Core Seminar Description:
    CORE/HON 179 CORE: What is Human Nature?  

    3 credits
    This is the first of three interdisciplinary courses that, together with the fourth-year capstone course in the major, comprise ODU‘s core seminars. All sections of this seminar will address the question, 'What is Human Nature?' through the study of humans as embodied, social, spiritual, emotional, rational beings. While each section listed below will approach that question from a unique perspective, all sections share common learning outcomes and a common text or texts. CORE 179 stresses the importance of a liberal arts education and seeking knowledge while helping students develop and refine the skills needed to succeed in college. Students are encouraged to take this course the fall semester of their first year. This course is reserved for first-time freshmen only and transfer students with 17 or fewer transfer semester credits. Pre- or co-requisite: ENG 101 or ENG 110.

     
    Section-Specific Descriptions:
    HON 179J CORE: The Great Debate
    3 credits
    By studying and discussing some outstanding works of Philosophy, Literature, Theology, and the natural sciences, we will enter the ongoing conversation about what defines our common nature as humans. Questions that we will discuss include: Can we survive after our bodies die? Can we be truly happy without belonging to society? Do we have non-physical souls? What is the relationship between emotions and reason? Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program.

    HON 179R CORE: Stroke of Genius  

    3 credits
    Genius is a profoundly human phenomenon, offering insights into our greatest achievements from the past as well as our potential for the future. In this section, honors students will explore what constitutes the idea of genius and its implications for a variety of disciplines, including art, literature, music, and philosophy. An emphasis on interdisciplinary critical thinking will guide us as we search for the pinnacles of human aspiration. Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program.

    HON 179X CORE: Human Nature and Sexual Ethics 

    3 credits
    We will study how theories of human nature and related to some questions about sexual ethics. Issues discussed may include pre-marital sex, sex reassignment surgeries, and techniques for producing human beings apart from sexual intercourse (e.g., in vitro fertilization and cloning.) Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program.

    CORE 179A CORE: Baptism by Fire  

    3 credits
    This course will focus on decisions made by humans when faced by extraordinary stresses, such as religious or political coercion, war, or how the individual chooses to simply survive or struggles to live a life that is more than ordinary. Students will share and discuss reactions to the material presented, thus developing a deeper understanding of the choices made by these people and how we consequently see them as lesser or greater humans.


    CORE 179B CORE: Borders and Transitions  

    3 credits
    Aware of ever evolving socio-political, scientific, global, and personal environments and as inhabitants of 'border areas,' this course will look at how we interpret, live and cross such 'borders' as going from High School to College or one‘s culture to another. The course will explore how individuals manage borders between themselves and another, God, or between an individual‘s inner faith and its outward manifestation. The course includes insights from sociology, psychology, theology, education; among others.

     
    CORE 179C CORE: Gods, Beasts, or In-Between?  

    3 credits
    Some thinkers have argued that human beings are midway between gods and beasts. This course examines the contributions of several disciplines by examining literary, philosophical, and theological approaches to the issue of what it means to be human. The course will emphasize a close reading of many established texts from these disciplines that consider the range of options from gods to beasts.

     
    CORE 179D CORE: Honor and Shame  

    3 credits
    What do we mean by 'Honor,' and why has it disappeared in our culture? Why are people in some cultures motivated by a desire for 'Honor' and by avoiding 'Shame?' The seminar will approach these questions by a review of documents from a variety of literary genres that have inspired our Western culture and other cultures. The seminar will consider the reasons why this motivation has largely died out in the West and the influence of Christianity upon its demise and/or transformation.


    CORE 179E CORE: Human, the Wise? 

    3 credits
    It is commonly believed that what distinguishes humans from other animals is their intellectual capacity. But people often do incredibly stupid things at the same time animals have demonstrated amazing intelligence. Drawing on insights from psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and computer science, we address both the amazing capacity of the human mind and the potential for less intelligent thought and action as we contemplate what it means to be human.


    CORE 179F CORE: Know Thyself  

    3 credits
    Knowing the self requires a personal life-long journey. In this course we will look at how a number of great thinkers, from ancient to modern times, writing in a number of different genres, all with different world views, have come to know themselves. In turn, students will consider how one goes about following the aphorism, 'Know thyself,' inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.


    CORE 179G CORE: Gender Matters  

    3 credits
    This course provides an introduction to contemporary gender issues and will focus upon how gender impacts our perspectives, experiences, and personal/professional relationships across the lifespan. Students will begin to explore how gender organizes everything from our sense of personal identity to our daily face-to-face interactions, how it is embedded in institutions such as the family, the labor market, religious institutions, and the state. In this class students will learn how pervasive gender is in the way we organize life and how this impacts (or does not) our notion of what it means to be human.


    CORE 179H CORE: Are you Connected?  

    3 credits
    This course provides students with an experiential journey of self-discovery with the overarching goal of recognition that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Referencing a variety of disciplines including medicine, psychology, art, religion, science, philosophy. Students will move from a broad contemplation of what it means to be human to the development of their own personal identity.


    CORE 179I CORE: Methods of Inquiry  

    3 credits
    Inquiry is a human trait. This section of CORE 179 will explore analytic, scientific, and spiritual methods of human inquiry. By examining how humans ask and answer questions through different means students will gain insight into human nature as well as insights about themselves as individuals.


    CORE 179J CORE: The Great Debate  

    3 credits
    By studying and discussing some outstanding works of Philosophy, Literature, Theology, and the natural sciences, we will enter the ongoing conversation about what defines our common nature as humans. Questions that we will discuss include: Can we survive after our bodies die? Can we be truly happy without belonging to society? Do we have non-physical souls? What is the relationship between emotions and reason?


    CORE 179K CORE: Virtues and Vices  

    3 credits
    Human beings are social beings who live within cultures. All cultures include values, standards for what is seen as good and what is seen as evil. Are there any values common to all cultures in all times and all places? Do values vary according to time and place? What is the significance of value differences among subcultures and contracultures? What are the major values taught by the major religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam?


    CORE 179L CORE: Heroes, Sages, and Madmen  

    3 credits
    This seminar examines the dimensions of the self by exploring the human desire to be remembered. The course will approach the question of the seminar through a consideration of humanity‘s literary, artistic and material achievements: from early epic to modern biography, from the building of temples and pyramids to the construction of modern architectural wonders. Attention will also be paid to the writing of history as a reflection of identity.


    CORE 179N CORE: Machine vs. Human!  

    3 credits
    Are we machines—cyborgs, perhaps? Are we analog beings stuck in a digital world? Do the advancements in technology make us more human? This seminar will explore the concept of being a physical, social, spiritual, emotional, and rational being in light of advancements in the technologies of computing, intelligence, and medicine.


    CORE 179P CORE: Windows and Mirrors  

    3 credits
    It has been said that 'the last frontier of man is to understand himself.' If this is true, then it is easier for man to travel outward to the moon than inward to the self. In this course, students will study autobiography as a model of exploration into 'inner space.' Examining autobiographies across cultures, disciplines, and times will serve as a window into the humanity of others and a mirror for reflection of the self.


    CORE 179Q CORE: Spirit Need  

    3 credits
    Are we skimming the surface of life? Are we mindful that nourishing the spirit enables us to live life more deliberately? This on-going personal spiritual well-being fosters awareness that choices define a person far more than abilities. What defines you? Students will read and view various sources, reflecting upon how life in the spirit is connected to more humane and ethical relationships. Is this not what becoming fully human is all about?

     

    CORE 179T CORE: Our Human Nature in Sport  

    3 credits
    This seminar considers how our human nature has influenced sport experiences across history and cultures. The psychological, social, spiritual, cultural, and physical aspects of humanity as portrayed in sport will provide the context for analysis of the question 'What does it mean to be human?' Students will be guided through the process of seeking knowledge and acquiring skills needed to succeed while exploring how sport experiences represent our commonality of human mind, body, and spirit.


    CORE 179U CORE: Applied Storytelling  

    3 credits
    The stories we tell—and what we take from them—reflect what is important to us. Story becomes the framework for how we experience and define our world. When a group listens to a story, a common, shared experience transforms listeners into community members building identity and cooperation. Humans are the only species that tells stories. In addressing the question, 'What is human nature?' one place we can turn to answer the question is narrative. We tell stories to question, reflect, compare, and contrast our identity and relationship with others and the world. This seminar examines written and oral stories, old and new, as they serve to help us contemplate our place in the world. Drawing from examples such as parables to nationally-known StoryCorps narratives, we examine how stories are used and how we might apply them to our lives. Students will also create their own stories for performance.


    CORE 179V CORE: Exploring Human Action  

    3 credits
    Often when we are asked to explain what makes humans unique we list qualities that are not unique, but qualities at which humans simply excel. Non-humans have been shown to form families, demonstrate intelligence, problem solve, and even create forms of language. In this course we will look to various forms of human action to explore what, if anything is uniquely human. Over the period of the semester we will draw on readings from sociobiologists, sociologists, philosophers, political scientists, theologians, and journalists to examine and assess human action and behavior. Over the period of the semester we will attempt to explore a diverse array of questions related to human action and behavior. These include, but are not limited to: why humans have war; whether or not there is a true self; what is intelligence; why do we consider some things beautiful; what is human language; what is criminal; why do we appreciate certain forms of music over others and; what does it mean to interact symbolically?


    CORE 179W CORE: From Greece to Gotham  

    3 credits
    This course provides an historical overview of how different cultures have viewed the question what it means to be human and how that concept has evolved. Beginning with the foundations of the Western cultural tradition in Greece, the course will then take students on a journey through time that concludes in the present day. Stops of this journey will include the Roman Empire, the founding of the Christian faith, Medieval Spain, the Caribbean, Colonial America, and even the city of Gotham.


    CORE 179X CORE: Human Nature and Sexual Ethics  

    3 credits
    We will study how theories of human nature are related to some questions about sexual ethics. Issues discussed may include pre-marital sex, sex reassignment surgeries, and techniques for producing human beings apart from sexual intercourse (e.g., in vitro fertilization and cloning).

    CORE 179Y: CORE: The Humanity of Childhood
    3 credits
    Do we as humans value children? The experiences of childhood lie on a continuum between two extremes. On one end of the continuum, children experience days filled with play and new discoveries and have nights that provide rest and security. These children have dedicated, loving caregivers who nurture them and meet their needs. On the other end, children experience the exact opposite. These children have no nurturing adults to guide them or take care of their basic needs. Finally, there are millions of children who fall in between the two extremes of the continuum. All children experience and begin to develop their understandings of what it means to be human. In addressing the question, "What does it mean to be human?" this seminar will examine our own experiences in childhood and look at experiences of children in today's society as well as the historical view of childhood from different theoretical frameworks; frameworks such as sociology, psychology, theology, philosophy (ethical),history, the law, and others.