The First-Year Program

Enduring Questions and Urgent Questions

Hiram prides itself on easing the transition from high school to college and begins this journey with Summer Orientation. Students and their families are invited to campus during the summer, where students will get together with one another, meet with staff and current students, and advise with a faculty member who will assist them in choosing and registering for their fall classes. New students will then arrive about a week before classes begin for “Institute,” where they will discuss a common reading as an introduction to college discourse, participate in social events, and gradually adjust to living away from home. In addition, during Institute week, each student has another opportunity to discuss with their advisor their academic interests and college graduation requirements, with the ability to adjust class schedules.

During their first twelve week session, students will take three courses, one of which is the Enduring Questions Seminar FYEN 10101 FIRST-YEAR ENDURING QUESTIONS.  Each Enduring Questions Seminar consists of a small group of First-Year students, an upper-class course assistant, and a professor. This group, formed during the Institute, serves as the first step in the transition to college life. The Enduring Questions Seminar is an integral part of Hiram’s general education curriculum and is a requirement for graduation. Failure to complete this course with a passing grade will result in an incomplete graduation status and will require the successful completion of two additional Seminar courses at Hiram College or some other appropriate writing equivalency approved by the Associate Dean of the College. Students with appropriate transfer credits will complete  INTD 19901 INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS in place of an Enduring Questions Seminar, while students in College Credit Plus or Center for Adult Studies will complete WRIT 15100 COMPOSITION IN THE LIB ARTS I in place of the Enduring Questions Seminar.

Course Descriptions

First-Year - Enduring Questions Seminar:

FYEN 10101:  FIRST-YEAR ENDURING QUESTIONS:  4 Hour(s)  

First Year Enduring Questions Seminar ~ The Enduring Questions Seminar is designed to provide an exposure to college-level intellectual inquiry through critical reading, in-depth discussion, oral presentations, and informal and formal writing. Each course is centered on a fundamental enduring question, theme, or topic such as “What is Justice?” or “What is a Life Well-Lived?” Through the careful and considerate examination of the course topic, students will develop their ability to write well; to think critically; to communicate clearly; to read, interpret, and engage with relevant texts; and to identify, evaluate, and use research appropriately. As a part of their Enduring Questions Seminar, students will also participate in the Common Questions Hour, a common intellectual experience with all first-year students. Grounded in the common reading and the ethics theme, the Common Questions Hour will consist of lectures, discussions, reflections, and group activities engaging everything from the curricular, the co-curricular, and the practical. Furthermore, presenters and discussions will introduce the five Cs of Hiram Connect: Curriculum, Career, Calling, Character and Community. Students in all sections will be required to complete and be prepared to discuss thoughtfully all course readings, to give at least one oral presentation, to maintain and develop an ePortfolio, to reflect on their learning regularly, and to write at least three projects or essays—culminating in a signature assignment—totaling at least 5,000 words of formal, revised written work. This course aligns with the Ohio Transfer Module (OTM) requirements for English Composition: First Writing Course (TME 001).

SELECT EXAMPLES OF ENDURING QUESTIONS SEMINARS FYEN 10101 OFFERED

Is Government Necessary?

Is it possible for human communities to function effectively without an official government?  This question has been explored by political philosophers for thousands of years, and in our current era, when anarchist tendencies are becoming ever more prevalent, it is more relevant than ever to consider the nature and potential of anarchist social arrangements.  In this course, therefore, we will explore the ideas of major anarchist theorists and the methods of famous anarchist experiments.  We will also spend quite a lot of time examining how anarchist principles are underpinning many of the social, economic, technological and cultural trends of the present day.

 What is an Authentic Identity?

America has often been called the land of self-making, in that the American dream presupposes, as James Truslow Adams argues, “each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of what they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” If Americans are supposed to be recognized by “what they are,” however, they also seem to be limited by factors including race, class, gender, sexual identity, and religion. What happens when Americans try to recreate themselves?  Is there such a thing as an authentic identity? Through a reading of autobiography, fiction, and film, we will examine the depiction of “authentic” and “inauthentic” identities in American popular culture, and look at how American identities are formed and discarded, hidden and shed.

Freak, Gimpy Crazy, Crip: Who is normal?

Who is normal? Is there such a thing, and how has the concept of “normalcy” marginalized those who seem atypical and unexpected? “Freak,” “Gimp,” “Crazy,” “Crip,” are terms of disparagement that mark the stigmatized and contribute to ableism or disability prejudice. Yet, some have reclaimed these words as reflections of group pride, disability identity and the broader culture of “queer”. To stimulate critical thinking about ourselves in relation to others and society, this course untangles the complexities involved in what it means to be human, healthy and valued. We will focus on the enduring question of who is normal to examine the social determinants of disability, and the dynamics of life for people who deviate from the norm. Classic and contemporary readings will explore the social psychology of stigma, the politics of difference and progress toward social change in addition to current controversies in genetic testing and transhumanism.

How do we fight injustice?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.” How can we most effectively struggle against injustice and work for positive change? To answer this, students in the class will explore various movements for social justice in the American past, beginning with the movement to abolish slavery. The class will consider what strategies and tactics brought success and why. Each student will research a chosen social change movement to discern and evaluate what motivated the activists, what strategies they used, and whether and how they achieved their goals. Students will consider how in their own lives they wish to fight injustice. 

What is Profit?

 This course will explore the concept of company profit and how it relates to the business owners, company employees and society at large.   We will discuss what profit is and if businesses need to make a profit.   If businesses do in fact need to be profitable, then is there an ethical or moral level of what profit should be?  Additional topics include assessing the impact of the top management salaries, stockholder’s expectations and how profitable companies help and/or harm the economy and the environment and the ethical implications of these impacts.

What is a Relationship?

Humans are social creatures. We have an innate need to connect with others, and we do so through by exchanging verbal and nonverbal messages. Relationships – whether familial, romantic, platonic, or professional – are a fundamental part of the human experience, and communication is the collaborative and relational force we use to construct our social realities. These ties often have a profound and lasting impact on how we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. Accordingly, the purpose of this course is to explore the meanings of different types of relationships by drawing on relevant communication theories, perspectives, principles, and concepts and related research in sociology and psychology. Examples of topics that will be examined include: the processes and effects surrounding relationship development, maintenance, and dissolution; how culture and other group identity characteristics can influence relationships; and how new communication technologies affect the way relationships are defined and carried out.

WRLA 10101:  WRITING IN THE LIBERAL ARTS:  4 Hour(s)  

WRITING IN THE LIBERAL ARTS (WRLA) ~ Writing in the Liberal Arts [WRLA] provides an exposure to college-level intellectual inquiry through an engagement with interesting and important ideas. Each course is centered on some idea, theme, or topic fundamental to understanding and living. Through the careful and considerate examination of the course topic, the student will learn the following: • Ideas have complexity and generality • Ideas are connected to one another, and depend on and illuminate one another: knowledge is interdisciplinary in nature • Much goes into understanding something well: students need to develop the capacity of critical inquiry • Histories and traditions of systematic inquiry can guide (and obscure) insight and understanding • Reflective learning integrates these ideas into various spheres of students’ own lives—coursework, career, calling, character, and community Students will be required to complete and be prepared to discuss thoughtfully all course readings, to give at least one oral presentation, and to write at least three essays—with at least one including research--totaling approximately 15-20 pages of formal and revised written work.

URGENT QUESTIONS SEMINAR AND INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS SEMINAR

Following their Enduring Questions Seminar FYEN 10101 FIRST-YEAR ENDURING QUESTIONS, most first-year students will enroll during the 12-week spring semester in an Urgent Questions Seminar FYUR 10201 FIRST-YEAR URGENT QUESTIONS. Students who start Hiram having already received credit for an Enduring Questions Seminar will alternatively take the Interdisciplinary Foundations Seminar INTD 19901 INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS in their first term.

The Urgent Questions Seminar will focus on broad questions that speak to the problems of our contemporary world.  These more topical and timely courses might include topics such as: Climate Change, Addiction, Artificial Intelligence, Racial Justice, etc.  These seminars seek to improve the students’ college-level writing and analytical abilities by emphasizing research across disciplines. In addition, students will present their research in a more formal setting (multi-course audience or a class-wide poster session). These courses are an integral part of Hiram’s general education curriculum and a requirement for graduation. Failure to complete an Urgent Questions Seminar (FYUR 10201) or an Interdisciplinary Foundations Seminar (INTD 19901) with a passing grade will result in an incomplete graduation status and will require the successful completion of another Urgent Questions Seminar FYUR 10201 FIRST-YEAR URGENT QUESTIONS OR Interdisciplinary Foundations course INTD 19901 INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS at Hiram College or some other appropriate writing equivalency approved by the Associate Dean of the College.

Course Description

FYUR 10201:  FIRST-YEAR URGENT QUESTIONS:  4 Hour(s)  

FIRST YEAR URGENT QUESTION SEMINAR ~ The Urgent Questions Seminar will focus on broad questions that speak to the problems of our contemporary world. These more topical and timely courses might include topics such as: Climate Change, Addiction, Artificial Intelligence, Racial Justice, etc. These seminars seek to improve the students’ college-level writing and analytical abilities by emphasizing research across disciplines. In addition, students will present their research in a more formal setting (multi-course audience or a class-wide poster session). These courses are an integral part of Hiram’s general education curriculum and a requirement for graduation.

INTD 19901:  INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS:  1,4 Hour(s)  

INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS ~ A seminar-based course designed to introduce transfer students to interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving. The content of the course will vary per section, but in every case, students will be asked to consider an urgent challenge of the times through different disciplinary perspectives. Students will be asked to consider relevant literature on a topic, to analyze and propose solutions in written and oral discourse, and to develop research skills that permit them to investigate important questions and hypotheses. Reflective learning integrates these ideas into various spheres of students’ own lives—coursework, career, calling, character, and community.

Prerequisite: (FRCL 10101 or FYEN 10101 or WRLA 10101)

URGENT QUESTIONS SEMINAR (FYUR 10201) 4 hour(s) and INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS SEMINAR (INTD 19901) 4 hour(s)

These are seminar-based courses designed to introduce students to interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving. The content of the course will vary per section, but in every case, students will be asked to consider an urgent question of the times through different disciplinary perspectives. Students will be asked to consider relevant literature on a topic, to analyze and propose solutions in written and oral discourse, and to develop research skills that permit them to investigate important questions and hypotheses. Reflective learning integrates these ideas into various spheres of students’ own lives—coursework, career, calling, character, and community.

Section Description:

Each section will consider its own Urgent Question, though instructors are encouraged to work together to share content and focus. In any case, each section will consider an Urgent Question from at least two defined disciplinary perspectives. Section descriptions should define an Urgent Question such as “The Environment: How do we address climate change?” or “Inequality: How do we address the effects of economic inequality in Ohio?” Questions should consider both the broad conceptual and philosophical issue as well as a specific, actionable problem tied to that issue. The section description should also provide a broad outline of the signature assignment to address an urgent challenge that students will complete in the course. 

SELECT EXAMPLES OF URGENT QUESTIONS SEMINARS (FYUR 10201) AND INTERDISCIPLINARY FOUNDATIONS SECTIONS (INTD 19901) OFFERED:

Sport and Literature

Through the study of non-fiction and autobiography, this course seeks to expand our cultural understanding of the importance of Sports. The Highlight and the Celebrity Profile, which are the primary sources of sports information, minimizes the complex social dynamics between different sports, athletes, and fans. At an immediate level we see sport as entertainment or an actual pastime that is a pleasant diversion from our regular routines. However, we will also use ethics to look at the darker side of Sports as well. The violent nature of some physical sport has been an important element of what sports that we consider as ‘mere’ entertainment. We will discuss biography, race, class, and gender in relation to our fondness for violent and non-violent entertainment. I have chosen works that emphasize the traditional aspects inherent in Sport such as determination, toughness, and winning and losing. We will also look at the way that the literature of sport portrays its human contestants off the field. Sport reaffirms our status as humans that are part of a social group, but sport also is a means of achieving a kind of immortality. Thus, what is the connection between sport and the fact that the Greek Gods and Goddesses lived on Mount Olympus?

Madness in the Media

It has been argued that portrayals of mental illness in the media shape public attitudes, knowledge and beliefs about what it means to live with a mental disorder. We will explore this question by examining the ways in which mental illness is depicted in the media and how this compares to personal narratives of mental illness. We will also discuss how media portrayals have changed over time and whether media has been used effectively to reduce negative perceptions of mental illness.  

Tuskegee and Baltimore: A Thousand Perspectives

In 1932, Taliaferro Clark proposed a six to nine month study of untreated syphilis in African-American males. In 1951, George Gey requested a tissue sample from a colleague in order to develop a human tissue cell line. Clark’s proposal would become the infamous Tuskegee experiments and would lead to the establishment of the U.S. Office of Human Research Protection. Gey’s request would develop HeLa cells and most of the medical advances of the last fifty years. The goal of this class is to examine these cases, and others, to determine how these small experiments spiraled into such controversial programs and understand the mindset of the individuals involved.

The Human Body in Art

“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed?" Michaelangelo "The human body is first and foremost a mirror to the soul and its greatest beauty comes from that." Auguste Rodin: "We live in them, feed them, bathe, adorn, perfume, entertain and otherwise glorify or defile them". But what do we really think about these manifestations in which the heart and (perhaps) soul of our very being resides? Our bodies? Artists, such as the two quoted above, have explored and presented their responses to human bodies since 20,000 BCE, when the first known images were made? for example, the Famous Venus of Willendorf. This course will examine historical perspectives on the Human Body as translated into art objects. Such notions as ideal size, shape, color, proportion, and presentation, ownership, allure, and revulsion are all at one time or another attached to interpretations of the body in art. We will also explore other ways to look at and understand the body through a variety of textual sources.