First-Year Seminar (FP0006)

Explore a focused topic you are interested in by reading selected texts, writing papers, and participating in classroom discussions. First-Year Seminar (FP 0006) is a dynamic, three-credit course for first-year students that fulfills the Seminar in Composition requirement.

Spring Term 2194

Class Number Day(s) Time Theme
22981 T 6-8:30 p.m. AI, Androids, and Us
25409 M,W 1-2:15 p.m. Seeing Animals
25411 M,W 2:30-3:45 p.m. The Urban Idea

AI, Andriods, and Us
Class Number 22981
6-8:30 p.m.

Students will write personal essays, not research papers, dependent for context upon assigned readings and in-class screenings of films and videos. We’ll be asking questions about how science fiction represents artificial intelligence, what we call androids or humanoid robots, and the interactions between them and us. What sorts of myths relate to our topic, both familiar and strange, contemporary, past, or future? We will read essays and articles and watch videos that delve into some current ideas and theories of artificial intelligence. But the primary focus of the course will be on fictional examples from films, short stories, and television. The course is intended for students with an interest in science fiction who would like to use this interest to write interesting essays about how they understand and relate to the topic.

Seeing Animals
Class Number 25409
Mondays and Wednesdays
1-2:15 p.m.

In this First-Year Seminar, we will read and write about our relationship to animals and some of the controversies that arise when we truly begin to question their treatment and place in our culture. What is the value of animal lives? How do we decide which animals are more valuable than others? And who gets to decide? Along with the traditional assignments of the first-year composition course, we will include some fieldwork: a trip to the zoo, to a vegan restaurant (or other restaurant), and to the Cathedral of Learning for dog therapy--all made possible and funded by the Office of First-Year Programs. 

The Urban Idea
Class Number 25411
Mondays and Wednesdays
2:30-3:45 p.m.

This is a discussion-based course, designed specifically for first-year students, that poses a series of provocative questions which investigate the nature of urban places, including questions regarding race/class/culture, history and politics, planning and architecture, sustainability and environment, etc. Those questions will be asked through a sequence of reading/writing assignments and supplemented with regular experiential explorations of the city of Pittsburgh. We will consider the urban idea in its past, present, and future incarnations. Through individual and group research that combines the use of digital technology and physical interaction with our urban environment, we will develop and explore our interests and curiosities about cities. The result should be an opportunity to connect our academic community to the diverse communities around us and leave us understanding the city and our place within it in potentially novel and enlightening ways.