UMBC logo

First Year Seminars
Spring 2010

Spring 2010 Courses
  Turning to One Another: Beliefs and Behaviors
  Banned Books: An American Contradiction 
  Vienna 1900
  Latin America and the United States in the World Today

Click to read what students say about this course

Spring 2010

Turning to One Another: Beliefs and Behaviors (back to top)
FYS 101 (AH)
Meets Arts and Humanities General Foundation Requirement (AH)

Diane Lee
Dean of Undergraduate Education
Associate Professor of Education
Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park

Jill Randles
Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
M.Ed., Lynchburg College
C.A.S., Loyola College

We are witnessing renewed interest in matters related to truth, community, connectedness, and spirituality. Concomitant with headlines about war, ENRON, cloning, the Tsunami, and steroid use in sports is a vibrant dialogue about social responsibility, moral reasoning, ethical action, and the sources of beauty, creativity, and passion that give life purpose and meaning.

As we enter the twenty-first century, we will need people who can lead with head and heart, who can combine the life of the mind with work for the greater good, and who exhibit the skills, knowledge, imagination, and spirit to create an equitable, sustainable, whole, and hopeful world. This calls for a curriculum that explores the scientific, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of thought and behavior. This course is oriented toward that exploration of questions that are both personal and global in their orientation. For example: What is my faith in the future? What do I believe about others? What is the relationship I want with the earth? When and where do I experience sacred? There will be opportunities for conversation to occur around topics such as these; literally a "turning to one another" in order to expand and inform our understanding of how our beliefs and behaviors have the power to transform.

Students will enter this exploration by: 1) examining writings related to beliefs and behaviors; 2) discovering different ways spirituality is represented in music, literature, poetry, across cultures, throughout history, and in patterns of involvement such as environmental stewardship, feeding the hungry, building shelters for the homeless, etc.; and 3) reflecting on class discussions and readings in guided journals.

Diane Lee is Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education.  Although in a primarily administrative position at this time, she is best known as “a teacher of teachers.”  She was selected by her colleagues to receive the Presidential Teaching Professor Award for 1997-2000. When she is not working you will most likely find her reading a good book, visiting a local craft’s fair, gardening, or playing with her grandchildren.

Jill Randles is the Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. She is a student advocate at heart and has worked closely with UMBC students as an academic advisor. She is the recipient of the 2002 President's Commission for Women Achievement Award acknowledging her work in the areas of diversity and equity. When not on the job, she spends time with family and friends, runs, rides horses, judges horse shows, and is an avid reader.


Banned Books: An American Contradiction (back to top)
FYS 102L (SS)
Meets Social Science General Education Requirement (SS)

Pattee Fletcher
Associate Professor
Ph. D. Syracuse University

This course explores the paradox of living in a society which constitutionally protects freedom of speech and of the press, yet assumes a “right” to ban written words which are not acceptable to individuals and/or groups in an effort to conform to their political, social, sexual, or religious beliefs. The use of censorship to silence important or controversial ideas and truths is not unique to the United States. It has existed since humanity could put “pen to paper,” continuing unabated through the centuries. The focus of this course is to examine the banning of books in the U.S., historically and today. What is it about words that is so frightening, repugnant, or threatening? And how does it happen that, in spite of a government built on freedom of speech and press, we are willing and sometimes able to suppress written words which we judge to be harmful? We will analyze the books and the paradox which constitute banned books.

VIENNA 1900 (back to top)
FYS 106B (SS & C)
Meets the Social Science and Culture General Education Requirement (SS & C)

Alan Rosenthal
Associate Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages and Linguistics
Ph.D., Rutgers University

The title of the course is the term often used to describe the period of remarkable intellectual life and artistic creativity spanning roughly forty years—from 1880 to 1920.  In this time, Vienna was the cultural capital of the western world.  We will study this period and the people who made it famous.  We will consider how Vienna flourished in its golden age, and we will identify the seeds of its gradual decline and eventual disintegration, which took place from 1920 to 1938.  Finally, we will consider possible lessons to be drawn for our place and time.

Latin America and the United States in the World Today (back to top)
Pending complete of GEP Committee Review

Dr. Jack Sinnigan
Professor of Spanish and Intercultural Communication
Chair of the UMBC Mexico Committee

At the  recent Summit of the Americas, President Hugo Chávez presented President Barack Obama  a copy of the popular Open Veins of Latin America.  At the same summit, President Obama pledged that the United  States would not intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations.  Open Veins is the one book anyone interested in the history of the hemisphere needs to read.  If President Obama keeps his pledge,  an end to U.S. intervention will provide the basis for a new historic period in the hemisphere.  The focus of this course will be on Latin America and the Latin America - United States relations today. The interdiciplinary content will include historical analysis, political commentary, journalistic texts, literature, films and visual art.

Dr. Jack Sinnigan is a professor of Spanish and Intercultural Communication and the chair of the UMBC Mexico Committee, he has extensive experience studying Latin America and travelling in the continent. Throughout his career he has been passionately following events, reading, studying paintings, viewing films, doing research, writing, and teaching courses on the area.  Professor Sinnigen’s teaching and research are based on these principles: all cultural analysis is necessarily intercultural since some comparison is always involved; culture, economics, and politics interact and those interactions are a focus of study; all topics are to be analyzed as moments in a world-historical-process.  During January 2010 he expects to travel to Mexico and Cuba.  Professor Sinnigen is the author of four books and some fifty articles on Latin American and Spanish cultures and on intercultural relations.