GPS Courses

In GPS you will take 9-credits of courses over your first year, all of which fulfill your general education requirements. So every course counts towards your degree! These are the course offerings for 2018-2019.

First Year Seminars

If selected for GPS you will get to choose one of these options for a First Year Seminar class. This course will fulfill your First Year Seminar General Education requirement.

Intro to Creative Writing: Process, Craft, & Experimentation (English Comp 198) – Instructor: Tara DaPra
What does it take to become a writer? A good one? This class will introduce you to the craft of creative writing, from character to metaphor to structure. We’ll explore three major genres of creative writing—poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction—but rather than looking at each genre distinctly, we’ll study craft elements important to all. Through close observation of master writers and conducting “writing experiments,” you’ll work to ground the emotion of writing into detail and images, learn to build compelling characters and tension, and develop your voice and subject as a writer. A typical week will include any combination of writing prompts, group discussion, mini-lecture, workshop, and class reading. This class is for anyone who loves to read or wants to write—whether or not you think you’re any good.

The Sixties (Pu En Af 198) – Instructor: Ray Hutchison
There are certain periods of American History that draw our attention: the Civil War, the Roaring Twenties, World War II… and the 1960s.  We all know something about the 1960s – the music (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones), the events (the Vietnam War, the moon landing), and even the politics (the assassination of President Kennedy).  But how did these things fit together?  The 1960s stand out from other decades because of the intersection of international, political, and social forces that came together in this period: the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the Anti-War Movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy (both in the summer of 1968), Haight-Ashbury and the Hippie scene. Your course material includes a wide range of sources (movies, novels, popular music) and disciplines (history, political science, sociology) and more.  It’s not all drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll, but there is a lot of that as well!
Politics in Sports (Pol Sci 198) – Instructor: Katia Levintova
This course will examine sports-related issues that illustrate important political concepts and current debates, including nation-building through sports, international relations and conflicts, citizenship and patriotism, civil rights and civil liberties, equity, race and ethnicity relations, gender, role of media, economic development, and education, in the US and around the world. Part of this interactive and discussion-heavy course is the Olympic Simulation that will put students in the shoes of candidate countries vying to host 2028 Summer Olympics! You will never look at sports as mere entertainment after taking this class.
Power of the People: The Civil Rights Movement (Hum Stud 198) – Instructor: Vince Lowery
When people talk about the Civil Rights Movement, they typically mention Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "dream," and African Americans marching and sitting in for their rights. But this course will take you deeper into the history of the Civil Rights Movement. You'll learn more about the people and events you might already be familiar with, but you'll also learn about people like Ella Baker, who worked for three decades to empower African Americans to fight for their rights in their own communities. We'll also revisit the victories and the defeats of the movement to better understand the road left to travel.
Spanish Conversation and Composition (Spanish 198) – Instructor: Cristina Ortiz
This First year Seminar is a review of Spanish grammar concepts learned during the high school years (previous four years) as well as a development of conversational skills in Spanish while introducing students to new and exciting cultural topics related to the Spanish speaking world. Note: this course will fulfill the Spanish 225 requirement.
Conversations About Home: Exploring Community, Geography, & Identity (Eng Comp 198) – Instructor: Jenny Ronsman
What does where you come from say about who you are? Is “home” a physical or mental concept, or something else altogether? Are we happier when we live in isolation or when we live in communities? What happens to our identity when our homes are challenged or destroyed? Why would anyone choose to live in a tiny house? Throughout the semester, students will explore these types of questions relating to how our identity is in many ways shaped by where, when, and if we feel “at home.” Discussion will be based on a variety of readings to see what scholars, journalists, and everyday people have had to say about this subject, and class time will also include viewing of several award-winning and thoughtful documentaries that give insight into the various ways human beings find and create homes for themselves. The course will also include opportunities to understand the different intersections of geography and identity in the students' own lives through dynamic conversation and written dialogue in a variety of genres, including personal response, academic research, visual rhetoric, and possibly creative writing.   
Personal Health & Wellness (Hum Biol 198) – Instructor: Laura Rowell
This First Year Seminar provides an introduction to basic nutrition and key wellness topics that are important for a person’s everyday life. We will cover the role of nutrition in promoting health and wellness for maintaining a healthy life. The course will also enable students to deal more effectively with the health and wellness problems faced during the college experience, and subsequently throughout life. These issues may include stress, nutrition, mental health and illness, aging, personal fitness and care, chronic and communicable disease, drug and alcohol use, and dealing with death, and other selected topics. 

The Vikings (Hum Stud 198) – Instructor: Heidi Sherman
A course on the myth of the Vikings in the medieval and modern era. Why do we think of the Vikings as bloodthirsty marauders? Medieval monks maligned them in their chronicles. Soviet propagandists pictured Hitler wearing a horned helmet in newsreels. You name it; the Vikings have been used to further political and cultural agendas. Popular culture also loves the Vikings: comic books, Hollywood films, Norwegian black metal, professional sports teams. This course will explore the myths and the realities of these fascinating people.

Green Justice (Pu En Af 198) – Instructor: Elizabeth Wheat
Over recent decades, the merging of civil rights and environmental concerns has generated the Environmental Justice Movement. Led primarily by people of color, women, and blue-collar sectors of society (often times individuals from all three social groups), the Environmental Justice Movement now marks a worldwide grassroots effort for social justice. The movement’s momentum and growth has expanded from relatively new, both politically and academically, to more lasting and even global implications. This course represents an effort to critically engage the Environmental Justice Movement by studying its histories, the terms and concepts evolving from the movement, the philosophical implications of the movement, and the struggles of people shaping the movement. Topics to be covered include the following: Flint lead contamination, pesticide exposure in Latino/a communities, Cancer Alley (Louisiana), mining on tribal lands, Hurricane Katrina, urban environmental harms, and contamination in states such as Alabama and Tennessee.

Comedy Central Civics (Pu En Af 198) - Instructor: Aaron Weinschenk
Young people regularly express low levels of interest in public affairs and politics, do not feel a strong sense of civic obligation, and are not well informed about important issues and events. Interestingly, surveys of young people indicate that comedy news shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are popular outlets for information about current issues and events, government, elections, and policy. In this seminar, we will use comedy news shows to learn about and better understand contemporary events, including upcoming elections, and issues. Throughout the course, we will also think about new ways of getting young people excited about, interested in, and involved in civic life.

Big Bangs, Black Holes, & Time Travel (Hum Stud 198) – Instructor: Alexander Bozzo
This course is a philosophical exploration of themes related to the universe and our place in it. Drawing on Interstellar and other movies for our inspiration, we will discuss such issues as the nature of science, the nature of time, our ethical obligations to future generations, the relationship of computers to consciousness, and the significance and meaning of life in the face of a vast cosmos.

GPS Stakeholder Courses

In GPS you will take two linked courses, one in fall and one in spring, that will help you to learn how to become a true stakeholder in your education and your community. These two courses, together, will fulfill a Social Science general education requirement. Both courses will be taught by the same Faculty Mentor as your First Year Seminar and supported by the same Peer Mentor. So you will develop close mentoring relationships with both over the year.

Fall Course - 21st Century Citizen: Becoming a Stakeholder in Your Education and Community (Comm Sci 145) (2 credits)

In this course students will develop their capacities to become true stakeholders in their education and in their communities. We will explore the diverse contexts impacting learning and engaged citizenship, examine relevant social problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, and identify a problem to address via a large-scale service project in our spring GPS class. Along the way, students will build leadership and communication skills, self- awareness, and the habits of mind required to get the most from your college experience.

Spring Course – GPS Capstone Seminar (Comm Sci 146) (1 credit)

This course will serve as a capstone to the GPS program first year experience, and will challenge students to apply the knowledge and skills they’ve gained thus far in GPS to address a real-world problem. Students will develop and implement a service learning project with their class over the course of the semester, and will continue the work to build knowledge and skills critical to personal and career success.

GPS Intro Courses

In the fall semester, you will get to choose from two of our most popular Intro-level General Education courses. These courses are also some of the most challenging you’re likely to take in your first year. So GPS provides students with free weekly study sessions for the courses, led by upper-level undergraduates who excel in the major. During the sessions students work on activities that allow you to review vocabulary, get practice applying concepts, and learn skills for how to read and effectively study the course content. And they work! Over 80% of the students who attend at least 8 of these weekly sessions earn A’s or B’s in the class, compared to only 40% of students who don’t attend the sessions.

You will choose either…

Intro to Human Biology (Human Bio 102):

This course examines the basic concepts, principles, and processes in human biology. We explore the origin of life, evolution, cells, biochemical processes, physiological systems, genetics and metabolism. This course fulfills the Biological Sciences general education requirement.


Is Morality for Sale? (Philos 105):

What is justice, or morality? Do they amount only to what people think they are, without any basis in the world? Or are they in some way grounded in the world, outside and independent of how we think about things or sometimes treat one another? Is a moral life worthwhile? Is it better to be just than unjust? Why, exactly? Our aim in this semester is to explore these issues as they relate to real-world ethical dilemmas and our own lives. This course fulfills a Humanities general education requirement.