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University Seminar Descriptions


Division of Student Success focuses on your successful transition into the Maryville community. Maryville has a comprehensive and integrated approach to assisting you in your academic, financial, and personal transition to Maryville. One of the many exciting opportunities for you as a first-year student is the University Seminar course which all first-year students enroll in during their first semester.

Maryville’s University Seminar is more than a required course – it provides a distinctive opportunity to work closely with your peers and instructor on an important topic of mutual interest. All seminars focus on three goals: critical thinking, community, and communication. In each seminar, students and faculty explore a topic of common interest while meeting the goals through writing, oral presentations, research, critical reading of texts, and conversations. Each seminar is limited to 18 students to create a true “seminar” in which faculty can engage you and every student in the exploration of ideas.

University Seminar Sections for Fall 2017


30 for 30
(START Registration Page Title: 30 for 30)
“What if I told you that my first semester at Maryville was more than I ever could have expected?” Have you ever wondered how the college experience is viewed by each student on campus? Based off of ESPN’s popular and award winning documentary series 30 for 30, this course is designed to chronicle the first semester experience of every student in the course. Students will create a film based upon their own personal experience at Maryville University, documenting friendships, campus activities, and more, to show that we come from different places and have unique experiences in one shared community.

After the Zombie Apocalypse
(START Registration Page Title: Zombie Apocalypse)
This course will use the thought experiment of the premise that the popular “zombie apocalypse” has taken place. Within that construct, students will examine their ideas about survival, ethics, quality of life, communication, core beliefs, and social mores. Parallels and discussions will be drawn to other times of crashed society constructs in history as a way of exploring human responses. The course will be structured around a weekly critical thinking problem to be researched, discussed, and solved in small groups. Students will be assessed on both presentations and written assignments. Challenges will be designed to both mentally, emotionally, and physically challenge the students’ perceptions of their culture and their own internal ideas. When the zombie apocalypse happens, who are the walking dead?

Animals in the Humanities: Literature, History, and Film
(START Registration Page Title: Animals in the Humanities)
Do animals think? Do they have emotions? Do they deserve our respect? Our protection? Do some animals deserve more than others? Are humans animals? Throughout history, humans have traditionally determined what it means to be “human” by distinguishing what it is that separates us from the “animal.” Examining literature, film, and critical scholarship, this class will explore how humans have portrayed non-humans over the centuries. Class work may include animal-centric creative writing, film, and multimedia, using in-class observation of live animals, observational sessions at the St. Louis Zoo, on-campus “nature writes,” and other immersive activities for inspiration.

Anything Your Team Can Do, Mine Can Do Better: Rivalries in Sports
(START Registration Page Title: Rivalries in Sports)
What is the greatest rivalry in sports? Can you defend your answer with statistics, historical facts, and even your own fandom? This course will examine the evolution of sports and the rivalries that exist. How do fans become their own community and create their own culture? Why do some athletic teams have a fan base after years of losing; however, other teams cannot get a fan base unless they are winning? And how can sports, rivalries, and competition help students to understand their own self and development?

Capes, Cowls, and Comics: Dissecting the Superhero
(START Registration Page Title: Dissecting the Superhero)
Superheroes have come a long way from Superman’s humble beginnings in the 1930’s. Since then, we’ve seen countless characters come to life through the pages. Today, superheroes dominate box offices, innovate in TV shows, and tell fantastic stories in comic books. But what do superheroes and their popularity say about us and our culture? How do we relate to Spiderman’s origin story and secret identity? Do we side more with Batman’s version of morality or the Punisher’s? How can superheroes help us to understand who we are, especially as college students?

Creative Problem Solving
(START Registration Page Title: Creative Problem Solving)
Have you ever thought about the process by which your cell phone, laptop, alarm clock, backpack, and dorm room came to look and feel the way they are? Many college students contemplate the idea that they’ve spent their entire lives surrounded by the work of designers. And while you might not be a designer we are all clients for designers. In this seminar, we will explore the meaning of design and the design process that enables us to identify and explore complex problems and generate creative solutions that support human behavior. As one of our course films, Objectified, puts it, “What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?”

Crossroads of Yourself
(START Registration Page Title: On the Road Again)
Throughout life, we take a journey in finding our true selves in relationships, family, peers, work, class, and the day to day. Even as we travel through life with learning about our social identities, we also need time to refuel. Throughout this course, we will take you on a road trip to examine your and your classmates’ identities and how they impact the adventure we call life. So as we buckle up with our safety belts to create a safe and inclusive trip for all, we will help you become the drivers of your own experiences.

Designing and Defining Success
(START Registration Page Title: Designing Success)
Do you want to get to know yourself better? Do you want to figure out your major or what your dream job might be? Do you want to increase your confidence? Do you want to develop happy habits? Do you want to set yourself up to be successful while at Maryville and beyond? If so, this course is for you.

Don’t Be Dumb With Your Money
(START Registration Page Title: Your Money)
A fun, practical course on how to make smart decisions with your money and avoid stupid ones. Students will learn why people do dumb things with their personal finances and how to recognize common mistakes, but also how we think of money can help us to understand our decisions and ourselves. If you don’t want to live in your parents’ basement forever and be more attractive to potential love interests, this course will set you on the path toward financial independence.

From Hunger Games to Hip Hop: Influences on Decision Making
(START Registration Page Title: Influence on Decision Making)
How do you make decisions? Gut instinct, advice from Mom and Dad, or a list of pros and cons? Do social media, movies, television, music, celebrities, books, online resources, and current events impact your decisions? How do you make good decisions with the pressure of all these influences? If you don’t know now, you will after taking this course! Critical thinking, communication skills, psychological self-awareness, and group dynamics will be explored in the context of decision making, conflict analysis and resolution, and leadership. Illustrative materials include feature films, the 2015 Maryville Reads book, current research and journal articles, and guest speakers from the St. Louis area representing media, political, and community viewpoints. Students will find iPad apps to enhance their learning, while in-class exercises and small group presentations will be prepared via this technology, too.

Generation X vs. Millennials: Game on!
(START Registration Page Title: Game On)
Generation X vs. Millennials is a fun interactive course that will prepare students for college and managing the expectations of Generation X. First year students (Millennials) need assistance with their transition and adjustment to college life. This class will explore the fundamental necessities to being successful in college. Through class discussion, hands-on activities, and college exploration we will tackle the stressors of college life such as time-management, study skills, test-taking, student engagement, career development, and diversity. Students will participate in activities that are designed to prepare them for collegiate rigor and managing expectations of faculty, internship supervisors, and potential employers (Generation X). The goal of this course is to keep students engaged and have fun while providing vital information for college success!

Google Me! Technology and Our Lives
(START Registration Page Title: Google Me)
We are inundated and influenced daily with technology. What most don’t realize, however, is that this influence on culture and society is not new, only more prevalent with the rise of the digital age. In an attempt to better understand and participate in today’s technological dependent society, we will examine technology from its very beginning to its current state to answer what role, if any, technology should play in our lives. In the end, we will be able to answer what is arguably the most significant question of our time. How do we use technology to become outstanding global citizens?

Science Fiction: Creating Stories for a Better World
(START Registration Page Title: Imagined Worlds)
In what direction is our world heading? What are the challenges facing humanity? What types of social injustice upset you? How can each of us contribute to making this world a better place? In this seminar, we will explore questions such as these through the lens of science fiction stories. Science fiction is more than spaceships and robots. It asks who we are in the universe, it explores alternative forms of life, and it helps us reflect critically on our own viewpoints and opinions. We will read a variety of classic and contemporary SF short stories which develop visions of a future world (sometimes scary, sometimes hopeful), and deal with issues confronting our current world. Apart from reading and discussing these stories, we will also do our own creative writing: we will draft, develop, and share our stories of the future.

Life Lessons & Movies
(START Registration Page Title: Life Lessons)
Movies have a way of teaching important life lessons through an entertaining medium. They provide a space to think and discuss important issues, allow you to question yourself, and they might even inspire you. Through movies, this class will consider life and the choices you make; how what you say matters; ways to listen to your heart, believe in yourself, keep the faith, and taking action. The course will culminate with students creating documentaries around one of the topics studied through movies.

Looking at Health through a Kaleidoscope
(START Registration Page Title: Looking at Healthcare)
How does culture and diversity impact today’s health care? This course will expose you to St. Louis’s unique culture and the diversity of the city while exploring the history of healthcare. These experiences will provide familiarity with the social and cultural issues and challenges facing us today. The class will include a variety of experiences for learning by observing some of St. Louis landmarks and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods.

Modern Connections: Defining Your Relationships
(START Registration Page Title: Modern Connections)
What defines a relationship in today’s society? Do you know yourself well enough within your current relationships? As you enter college, you will form many new relationships – both romantic and platonic – which may transform your future. Assessment tools within psychology and communication, such as StrengthsQuest and The Five Love Languages, will be used to become more aware of yourself to maximize existing and new relationships. We will also explore the impact of technology, social media, and social justice on relationships as we use in-class activities, group discussions, and reflection assignments to better understand the connections we have with friends, family, partners, and elders.

Musical Connections
(START Registration Page Title: Musical Connections)
Share your musical interests with others and gain greater insight into the music you enjoy. As a class, we will develop new skills in listening as we embark on a journey to understand the hidden meanings and techniques behind music composition, lyrics, and historical context. No prior musical knowledge necessary.

Pay It Forward: Giving 100%, 100% of the Time
(START Registration Page Title: Pay It Forward)
As a college student, you have the power to create your own identity that can leave a lasting impact on those around you. Who will you be? What will you become? Have you ever stopped to think, “Could I be doing more for myself? my community? my world?” This course is designed to challenge you to consider how you contribute to the community and world around you. Have you ever tried to ‘Pay It Forward’? Through this course, you will explore what internal and external influences impact your decisions to get involved. You will be challenged to think about what you will do to insure you make the most of your time and college experience.

Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
(START Registration Page Title: Picture’s Worth)
We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” In an era of multimedia, social media and technology, images enhance or even replace words, eliciting powerful emotions across cultures. How do images you see every day impact your perception of community, culture and communication? In this course we will explore the power of imagery through multimedia, examining images in art, media, advertising, politics, business, social media, religion and travel. Students will identify powerful images in the Maryville and St. Louis community through a campus scavenger hunt and field trip to the St. Louis Art & History Museums. Through films such as The Monuments Men, readings including Green Eggs & Ham and Humans of New York, a guest speaker from Apple and a team project, this course will explore the power of images in a modern age of technology and how they influence everyday life.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: Using Gender to Analyze Leadership
(START Registration Page Title: Analyze Leadership)
What does it mean to be a man or a woman in the world today? From the moment you were born, media and society have told you what it means to be male or female. This class will assist you in finding your inner strengths and leadership abilities at Maryville and beyond by analyzing gender roles and the history of gender in America. Students will use course readings, written analysis, interviews with successful female leaders and male feminists, movies, and more to learn how their role in the professional world, in the family, in the media, and at Maryville is shaped by perceptions of gender. By the end of this course, you will have the knowledge and skills to figure out who you are and who you want to become.

Poverty Game
(START Registration Page Title: Poverty Game)
What it would be like to lose everything? Imagine giving up all of your worldly possessions and declare yourself impoverished. Even if you can go back to your current life at any given time, wouldn’t it be interesting to learn how those not as fortunate as you live and walk in their shoes? This course will help you to gain familiarity with social issues, addressing classic viewpoints on poverty, how poverty is measured, underlying causes of poverty, and characteristics of impoverished people and poverty polices. This course will also explore and afford students the opportunity to understand how the concept of poverty affects their chosen discipline or major. Overall, this course will present the pieces of the poverty puzzle and you will have to make the right moves.

Pursuit of Happiness
(START Registration Page Title: Pursuit of Happiness)
Ever wonder what the secret to happiness is? What if there is no secret? In this course we will analyze positive psychology, what positive psychologists have learned about the good life, how it can be encouraged in your own lives, and some potential complications.   Topics include happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, goal setting, love, achievement, creativity, mindfulness, spirituality and humor. This class is an opportunity to re-evaluate your values, beliefs and assumptions, focusing on the aspects of a fulfilling and flourishing life.

Push to Open: An Examination of How Under-Represented Groups Access Our World
(START Registration Page Title: Access Our World)
From the architecture of buildings, to the expense of technology, to the attitudes of decision-makers, what constructs shape how people with disabilities access services, sites, and resources? This course will examine the policies, physical attributes, and societal institutions that shape the inclusiveness of our world through guided dialogue on course texts, media, and community-based learning opportunities. By assessing the physical and social accessibility of Maryville, St. Louis, and beyond, students will gain basic, academic insight into the barriers and opportunities faced by individuals with disabilities. By the end of this course, students should gain a better understanding of the accessibility of the world around them, the different experiences of individuals within their community, and their ability as college students and Maryville Saints to affect change within society.

Satire, Sarcasm, and Snark: Comedy as Social Discussion
(START Registration Page Title: Satire, Sarcasm, and Snark)
Satire and humor has always played an important role in society and politics. From Jonathan Swift to Stephen Colbert, artists have often turned to comedy and irony as a way of commenting on serious, “real-world” issues. Underneath the laughter and snark, there is always a deeper undercurrent of informative debate and discussion that is worth investigating. This course focuses on the power that satire has in illustrating important issues through a comedic lens. By analyzing such works of contemporary satire as The Daily Show, South Park, or The Onion, we will examine the role that this genre plays in not only making us laugh, but also informing us about the current social and political issues affecting the world around us.

Secret Worlds
(START Registration Page Title: Secret Worlds)
A child or teen, different from his or her peers, discovers a hidden world that he or she must enter and, later, save. From Neverland to Narnia, Oz to Hogwarts, we can’t seem to get enough. But why? And how have so many people made these stories their own? This class will ask and answer questions about the works, popular culture, and ourselves. What are the bases for these stories’ massive appeal? What does their success say about their readers and fans? And how may they pertain especially to you, as first-year college students?

Social ME-dia: StumbleUpon What Makes You Pinteresting
(START Registration Page Title: Social ME-dia)
Social media is a huge part of everyday life in 2017. With so many platforms of self-disclosure and self-expression, how have you become the “you” represented, both online and in person? This course will use principles of social and cultural psychology in conjunction with various social media platforms (i.e. FB, Twitter, Linkedin, IG, StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Tumblr) to explore the character of the self, identity, roles, socialization, identity change, emotion and social interaction. The transition to college is often shocking, knowing more about ourselves and others can make it easier to acclimate to new situations.

Take Care! Exploring the World of Healing Practices
(START Registration Page Title: Exploring Healing Practices)
How can we learn to be more caring towards ourselves and towards others? Cultivating the skills of spiritual care involves an intentional commitment to mindfulness, compassion, empathy, communication, engagement, presence, and a reflective and contemplative mind. Come and learn about strategies to overcome strife and establish a calmer and healthier you. The transformation from your experience in this class will enrich your life as a Maryville student and your humanity and compassion for others in the broader world.

There Is Only One You: Be That!
(START Registration Page Title: Only One You)
As you start your journey at Maryville University, you have the power to chart your path and create your own identity. This is a powerful time in your personal development. Have you stopped to think who will you be in the next three, four or even five years? What will you stand for? What will be your purpose? This course is designed to empower you to explore your values and beliefs that pay a significant role in your personal and professional development. Furthermore, you will consider how relationships impact you as a person.   You will explore what internal and external influences impact your decisions. Finally, you will be challenged to think about what you will do to ensure you make the most of your time and college experience.

They’re Your Benjamins: How Will You Spend Them?
(START Registration Page Title: Your Benjamins)
College is expensive, and every decision you make from the moment you step foot on campus as a First-Year student will have an impact on your bottom line. This course will explore what it takes to be financially successful as a college student in 2016. You will learn about personal finance, budgeting, and debt-management. You will be provided with a multitude of tips, tools, and strategies that will help put you on a sound financial (and academic) path. Specific emphasis will be placed on student-loan debt and how it will affect you, particularly after college. The best defense in the game of student-loan debt is an aggressive offense, and this course is your playbook! How well will you play the game?

What Do You Stand For?
(START Registration Page Title: What You Stand For)
Students will take an exciting journey on their path toward developing a stronger, open, and diverse mindset of understanding social justice and how their thoughts guide them through life decisions. An engaging teaching environment will build a community and provide students with a variety of time-line activities. The goal is to lead incoming Maryville Freshman to become high-end critical thinkers with a Maryville Alumni heart.

World Travel: A Multicultural View
(START Registration Page Title: World Travel)
Where do you want to travel? This course aims to stimulate fresh perspectives and critical thinking on local and world issues in a safe, friendly and inviting atmosphere. You will have the opportunity to share your domestic and international travels and learn about new and exciting places that you will want to add to your bucket list! As we travel virtually, we will learn more about ourselves and the world around us through an international lens.

Your Digital Footprint: The Future of Technology and You
(START Registration Page Title: Future of Technology)
Hashtag what? What do you stand for? Does the world know? If you use any form of social media, they should! Living in a digital world provides you with the opportunity to communicate with people all over the world and show them who we are socially, culturally, and politically and that can work for or against you! You’ll build your digital footprint by forming opinions about current events and discussing the impact of your responses in a digital world using social media. iPads and new technologies, such as virtual reality, will also be used and discussed in this course.