The First Year Seminar in the New Marist Core

The First Year Seminar
in the New Marist Core
Launched in Fall 2013, the Marist Core develops 21stcentury skills, encourages experiential learning,
& connects knowledge to ethics & values
The Core of Our Community
What Is the FYS?
Above all, the First Year Seminar is a skills course. In
keeping with the College’s Mission Statement, the
First Year Seminar helps students develop crucial
21st-century skills from the very outset of their college careers. Writing and research skills are fostered
with guidance from faculty and library staff. The FYS
also formally trains students in public presentation,
an essential component of academic coursework
and life beyond college. The problem-posing nature
of FYS courses encourage the ethical reflection and
critical thinking essential to citizenship in local and
global communities.
“The FYS helps students develop transferable skills—mainly, how to analyze problems and propose solutions— that lend their strengths to a variety of different careers. These skills will never be obsolete.”
—Professor James Snyder, School of Liberal Arts
Skill Instruction Through Focused Topics
The FYS course fosters first-rate writing, speaking, critical thinking, and information
literacy by engaging students in specific, problem-posing course topics, such as:
Genocide & Human Rights
Cash or Credit
Baseball & American Society
The Global Drug Trade
Imagining Wilderness
Videogames & Values
Revolutionary Science
Critical Perspectives in Advertising
Learn more about skill development in the new Marist Core at
21st-Century Skills
Skill Development Beyond the First Year Seminar
Skill instruction takes place at many stages in a Marist student’s academic career.
 Writing for College and Philosophical Perspectives courses strengthen first-year
students’ writing, information literacy, and critical thinking.
 “Intensive” skills courses require students to develop their skills in writing,
technological competency, and public presentation beyond the freshman year.
 Students’ choice of an interdisciplinary “Pathway” in such subjects as American
Studies, Public Health, or Catholic Studies provides an integrative approach to
 The senior-year Capping course frames students’ skills in the context of their chosen profession and major.
Spotlight on Skills:
“Not That 70s Show “
Professor Robyn Rosen, School of Liberal Arts
While some might regard the 1970s
simply as the “Me Decade,” Professor
Robyn Rosen’s FYS used the time period
as a framework for students’ development of their skills as writers, researchers, and public speakers. The course was
a challenging one, according to Brittany
Foulds ’17: “Professor Rosen taught us
how to be better ‘predatory readers’ and
we did a lot of work analyzing primary
and secondary documents. The class expanded my passion for politics and women’s rights, which we often covered.”
Public presentation proved especially
crucial to the class. Professor Rosen
notes, “I was glad students had to give
presentations because the whole class
got to learn about things we just couldn’t
fit elsewhere into the semester—from
the Black Panthers to Bruce Springsteen,
the first Earth Day, and so many more.”
The Marist Core 3
The Core of Our Community
Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom
FYS courses at Marist connect students’ efforts in the classroom with hands-on
learning. Whether delving into archival sources, visiting an area nonprofit, or trying
out a sculptor’s chisel, students are challenged to immerse themselves in new environments. For example, in the Freshman Florence Experience FYS led by Professor
Richard Lewis, students gained a better sense of Michelangelo’s achievements by
taking a weekend trip to Rome to see the artist’s masterpieces in that city.
Spotlight on Experiential Learning:
“Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa”
Professor Anne Bertrand-Dewsnap, School of Communication and the Arts
Professor Anne Bertrand-Dewsnap’s FYS explored
the complex content of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s
“Ecstasy of St. Teresa.” A highlight of the course
was a visit by Professor Ed Smith, who showed students basic stone-cutting techniques and invited
them to try their hand at the art. Professor Bertrand-Dewsnap connected Bernini’s studio practices to modern-day life: “Students were astonished
when they realized that the basic concepts of running a business that we use today were already
well-established in the 17th century.” The course
had a memorable impact on Anthony Sarra ’17,
whose interest in international business was
sparked by the FYS: “The highlights of the history
explored in the course definitely broadened my
outlook on what I see myself accomplishing in the
Learn more about experiential learning in the new Marist Core at
Experiential Learning
The FYS serves as an ideal venue for
introducing students to the Hudson River
Valley’s rich resources. The “Environmental
Activism in the Hudson Valley” included a
trip to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project to
get a first-hand look at the role local and
sustainable agriculture plays in the region.
Students in the “Disability in Literature &
Film” FYS traveled to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Museum & Library to explore its approach to the physical challenges faced by
the President.
Spotlight on Experiential Learning:
Professor Jay Bainbridge, School of Management
In the course of teaching his FYS, Professor Jay
Bainbridge was struck by students’ eagerness
to understand the problem of homelessness:
“Students wrestled with notions of community
and responsibility in a way that I think we hope
they would while at Marist.” He reinforced
their efforts by taking the class to Hillcrest
House, a facility providing emergency and transitional housing in the Hudson Valley. Students
also had a chance to interact with an expert in
the field. Having read Kim Hopper’s book Reckoning with Homelessness (Cornell, 2003), students participated in a Q & A session with the
researcher when he visited their class.
“One of the paper topics was
researching a shelter or relief
program located near our individual homes. The research
required for this paper showed
me that homelessness is a surprisingly prominent issue where
I’m from. I had not known this
was the case, but now I know
that there are many programs,
at which I plan on volunteering
during the summer.”
—Paige Yates ’17
The Marist Core 5
The Core of Our Community
Values Reflection and Action
In keeping with the Marist Brothers’ legacy, the
FYS and other components of the Core encourage
character development, ethical inquiry, and active
citizenship on the part of students. From ancient
Roman poetry to 21st-century public policy, FYS
course material helps students understand the
impact of individual decisions on the well-being of
the broader community.
“My students and I really explored our assumptions and views about
the world. I have no doubt that my students taught me just as much
as I hoped to have taught them!”
—Professor Tia Gaynor, School of Management
Spotlight on Values: “Social Justice and The Wire”
Professor Tia Gaynor, School of Management
Educating undergraduates about the causes
and effects of urban poverty is no easy task.
Professor Tia Gaynor, however, developed an
innovative way to address this challenge. Using
the acclaimed HBO show The Wire as a touchstone, Professor Gaynor engaged her students
in analysis of social justice, urban policy, and
sustainability. Students even had a chance to
engage in dialogue about these issues in a
Skype Q & A with former Baltimore mayor Kurt
Learn more about human values in the new Marist Core at
Ethics & Values
Spotlight on Values: “The Lost Poet of Modernity”
Professor James Snyder, School of Liberal Arts
What happens when 21st-century freshmen explore the ideas of an ancient Roman poet? In Professor James Snyder’s
FYS, which explored Lucretius’s On the
Nature of Things, students probed the
foundations of modern science and philosophy as well as the controversies generated by Lucretius’s ideas in the 16th
and 17th centuries. Many students also
learned something new about them-
selves. Dylan Reggio ’17 considered his
interest in the course “a pleasant surprise” and ultimately decided to add a
second major in Philosophy to his existing Business major. For her part, Bernadette Hogan ’17 gained a fresh sense
of the importance of dynamic exchange
with her professor and peers: “I have
never before been so challenged to tap
into originality.”
A Community Conversation About
Science, Medicine, and Ethics
The Common Reading component of the FYS facilitates
campus-wide discussions of ethical questions and
historical events. On October 9, approximately 900 students and other members of the Marist community
gathered for the inaugural First Year Seminar Lecture.
The event drew upon the 2013-2014 Common Reading, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta
Lacks, which explores the harvesting of Henrietta
Lacks’s cancer cells when she fell ill in 1951. Mrs.
Lacks’s descendants, David Lacks and Victoria Baptiste,
provided insights into their family’s history and their
ongoing efforts to facilitate open and fair communication among all those involved in medical research.
The Marist Core 7
The Core of Our Community
Marist is dedicated to helping students develop the intellect,
character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, & productive
lives in the global community of the 21st century.
Learn more about the First Year Seminar and the
Marist Core at
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, NY
Photo credits: Photos on pages 6, 7, and 8 by
Victor Van Carpels and reproduced with the
permission of Marist Magazine. Cover photo
courtesy of Julianne Homola. Page 4 photos
courtesy of Lois Walsh. Brochure content and
design: Moira Fitzgibbons
Or contact:
Professor Kevin Gaugler
Director of the First Year Seminar
[email protected]
Professor Moira Fitzgibbons
Director of the Marist Core
[email protected]