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First-Year experience Milton Lecture in the Schine.

The First-Year Experience, exclusively for Arts and Sciences students, includes the following:

  • First-Year Forum, a small-group, seminar-like class, to help new students discover all that The College, SU, and the surrounding communities have to offer;
  • The Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture, a shared culminating experience for all First-Year Forum students; and
  • First-Year Seminars, (CAS 100 courses) an interdisciplinary program in which students learn academic writing skills through innovative, thematic courses.

First Year Forum

Music, culture, community engagement, sharing experiences, and tips on adjusting to academic life—these are but a few of the activities included in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences’ First-Year Forum.  First-Year Forum, a small-group, seminar-like class, helps new students discover all that The College, SU, and the surrounding communities have to offer. 
Forum groups are comprised of approximately 16 students and are led by faculty and staff members, who are well acquainted with aspects of college life that are important to students. Groups meet weekly and are uniquely focused, depending on the interests and background of the forum leader. Discussions revolve around current issues, personal growth and goal setting, becoming an active member of an academic community, and exploring the liberal arts. Forum groups attend several activities together over the six-to eight-week program

The Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture

A shared, culminating experience for all First-Year Forum students is the annual Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture.  Established in 1997 by a gift to The College from class of 1951 alumni Jack and Laura Milton, the lecture series brings a speaker of national stature to campus each fall to address new students. Milton Lecture topics provide a common intellectual theme for discussion in Forum seminars. The annual themes are of particular importance to students and scholars of the liberal arts.

The Milton Lecture, funded by the Laura Hanhausen Milton Freshman Lecture Endowment, is held during the Fall semester each year.
Past Milton lecturers have included Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (2001), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin (1998), anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer (2007), and such internationally renowned scientists as Steven Pinker (2010), Jane Goodall (2006), and the late Stephen J. Gould (1997)

Past Milton Lectures

2015: "The Value of a Liberal Arts Education"
William Deresiewicz
award-winning essayist and critic

2014:  "Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion-Year History of the Human Body"
Neil Shubin
Nationally renowned paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science writer

2013: “Big Data: How We Live, Work, Think and Feel”
Viktor Mayer-Schonberger
Professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute

2012: "Energy, Environment, and Your Future"
Richard B. Alley
Climate change scientist and a pioneer in the study of the world's great ice sheets in Antarctica, Greenland, and Alaska

2011: “Public Monuments and the Obligations of Collective Memory: Vietnam, the Civil War, and the Holocaust”
Michele Moody-Adams
Scholar of ethical theory, the history of ethics, political philosophy, the philosophy of law, and the history of philosophy

2010: “The Stuff of Thought”
Steven Pinker
Renowned psychologist named one of TIME magazine’s most influential scientists and thinkers in the world in 2004

2009: “Re (I,II,III)”
Shen Wei Dance Arts presented a set of three dances based on choreographer Shen Wei’s experiences exploring Tibet, Cambodia, and the Chinese Silk Road

2008: “The Making and Unmaking of a Boy Soldier”
Ishmael Beah
Author, former “boy soldier” in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, and a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee

2007: “Global Health Equity”
Paul Farmer
Physician and medical anthropologist dedicated to treating some of the world’s poorest populations and in the process helping to raise the standard of health care in underdeveloped areas of the world

2006: “Reason for Hope”
Jane Goodall
Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzees in Tanzania in June 1960, under the mentorship of famed anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey

2005: “Stories and Dreams”
Isabel Allende
Author of The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Paula, and My Invented Country, Allende is known for her many novels, children’s books, and memoirs

2004: “America Behind the Color Line”
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Author of Black in Latin America (New York University Press, 2011) and Faces of America (New York University Press, 2010), and Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Criticism in the African Diaspora (Basic Books, 2010)

2003: “Great Beginnings”
David McCullough
Author and historian, McCullough is twice winner of the National Book Award and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize

2002: “From the Big Bank to Life on Earth and Beyond”
Lawrence M. Krauss
Internationally renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist with more than 300 published scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing

2001: “Beowulf”
Toni Morrison
Nobel Laureate and author who has been awarded a number of literary distinctions, among them the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom

2000: “Confronting Fanaticism:  Building Moral Unity in a Diverse Society”
Elie Wiesel
Nobel Laureate and author of nearly 30 books including La Nuit, a memoir of his experiences in the German concentration camps

1999: “Diversity and American Democracy”
Cornel West
Author, scholar, and a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual, best known for his classic Race Matters, Democracy Matters

1998: “The Private Lives of Public Figures”
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Pulitzer-Prize winning author and presidential historian, who won the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

1997: “What Evolution Can Teach Us about Human Nature”
Stephen Gould
Paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and a former professor of geology at Harvard University and curator of the university's Museum of Comparative Zoology

CAS 100 First Year Seminar Courses

First Year Seminars is an exciting interdisciplinary program offered by The College of Arts and Sciences, which teaches critical thinking and writing through innovative courses on discipline-specific themes. Each course is led by a highly qualified Faculty Fellow in the Humanities, and is designed to teach academic writing through a thematic framework that comes from a particular academic discipline. Students enrolling in CAS 100 may choose from a diverse array of topics and enrollment is limited to 22 students per course, which allows instructors to provide ample feedback in a discussion-based classroom experience. 

New students and transfer students needing to fulfill first-semester writing requirements of the Liberal Arts Core are invited to register for First Year Seminars (CAS 100) in the Fall semester, while students who have already completed the first writing skills requirement may take First Year Seminars (CAS 100) in the Spring semester to fulfill Writing Intensive or Critical Reflections requirements and/or Humanities or Social Science Divisional requirement, as determined by the course content. 

Each seminar has six objectives:

  1. To improve writing and critical thinking while focusing on the subject area of the instructor’s academic expertise;
  2. To provide a series of writing assignments, including sequential assignments and assignments based on rewriting; 
  3. To introduce students to methods of developing original argument, analysis, research and other forms of academic and public writing;
  4. To devote attention to the meaning and importance of academic integrity; 
  5. To teach a style of academic referencing that is specific to the course discipline; and 
  6. To examine criteria for determining appropriate and inappropriate sources. 

In addition to meeting all of the stated objectives of the First Year Seminars, CAS 100 courses aim to model critical thinking, integrate the reading and writing processes, and cut across boundaries of discipline and genre. We teach writing as an essential component of reading and critical thinking while introducing students to exciting and differing fields of research and artistic practice.

CAS 100 COURSES Fall 2016

Fairy Tales Uncloaked

Most of us are familiar with fairy tales through the works of the Brothers Grimm and their widescreen adaptations by Walt Disney. But these stories span a wide range of time and space, and they are not always soft and friendly. This course will introduce students not only to the fairy tales that came before they were mass marketed, but also those tales which were retold in resistance to cultural pressures. Fairy tales are a site for exploring questions of justice, community, and gender. They offer warnings against sexual danger and social impropriety as often as they provide ideals and social values. We will read and watch fairy tales old and new in concert with folkloristic scholarship and feminist theory, exploring their subversive potential and considering their impact on those who consume them.

Food and Bodies

We obsess over food, particularly about the relationship between our diets and our bodies. This obsession is not new, and it has changed dramatically over time. This course focuses on the historical and contemporary relationships between food and bodies, drawing on both scientific and cultural ideas about eating. It also examines the ways that companies have deployed ideas about diets and bodies to influence what people eat.

Imagining Technology in the Past, Present, and Future

While new technologies are exciting, imagining the next technology is perhaps even more exciting. Sometimes our imaginations of the future are grounded in the possible, but people have often extended their imaginations to what they wish—or fear—the future will be. Looking at sources from the past and the present, this course looks at how past predictions about new technologies have compared to historical reality. It then turns to the present and looks at what we can learn about the future of technology from studying contemporary predictions of the future.

Languages of Place

Places are deeply specific, complex, and resonant for us, in terms of memory, emotion, and association: our senses of self, of home, of belonging are all to some degree rooted in place(s). Writer David Malouf asserts a reciprocal relation between places and subjects, arguing that “real work of culture” lies in “making accessible the richness of the world we are in, of bringing density to ordinary, day-to-day living in a place.” Taking the philosophy of place and geographers such as Yi-Fu Tuan as a starting point, this course will consider specific places and their expression in the arts. Our questions will be our guides: what, after all, is place? And how is place made present via language or any art? How do we understand ourselves in relationship to place, and by what means does art carry us along for the ride?

Lyric Adventures & Poetic Forms

What is poetry? Poet and scholar Myung Mi Kim has said that “Poetry is simply how you participate in language, and we all do that.” While poets may feel, see and hear poetry everywhere, those who do not consider themselves to be poets may wonder what makes something a poem or even why poems matter. Building on Kim’s framework of inclusivity, this course will introduce students to the impressive and exciting range of experimental techniques and forms that make up the field of contemporary poetry. We will read works by a diverse range of writers, all of which will broaden our definition of what poetry is and how we can engage with it. We will treat writing as an essential component of thinking and engage a combination of creative and critical writing practices.

The Medieval World in Popular Culture

From The Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, we are surrounded by images and fabrications of medieval life. In this class, we explore what is peculiarly modern about these uses of the medieval world, and how our own culture and identity is reflected in these fictionalized images, whether they are overt or hidden. Vikings, wizards, and dragons are easy to identify as “medieval”—but what about Captain America? Why is “medieval” a shorthand for brutal violence? This course will survey the popular culture that borrows from the medieval world alongside the medieval sources from which it came. In so doing, we will ask: what is accurate or inaccurate about these medievalisms? Should we care about their historical accuracy? What do they say about our own priorities?

Poetry of Struggle: Writers on Social Justice

Who controls what we get to imagine? Do words have an effect on the world? Writers have always given their audiences intimate contact with the complexities of human experience. Where politics and media tend to be controlled by market powers, the world of literary art lies predominantly outside of what can be bought or sold. In this course, we will explore how the poetic imagination can extend our understanding of what is possible, bear witness to social and environmental suffering, and counter the apathy, amnesia or cynicism of our age. We will read a range of contemporary poets whose work addresses social issues such as racism, sexism, environmental catastrophe and imperialism. These works will invite us to think critically about subjective experience in the context of an unequal social world. We will treat writing as an essential component of thinking and engage a combination of creative and critical writing practices.

Reading the Graphic Novel

Part popular culture, part literary and artistic medium, graphic novels (or comic books) have long been objects of allure. Only relatively recently have graphic novels moved from childhood and cult fascinations to wide appeal, winning literary prizes and media interest, as well as mainstream publishing contracts. Beyond the pure pleasure of the image-dense narrative, how do we “read” these hybrid texts? What are their aesthetics, methods of production and consumption, and role in our culture? We will address these issues through reading and discussing contemporary examples of the graphic novel.


CAS 100 Instructors

Kellen Backer

Kellen Backer 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

Kaitlin Heller

Kaitlin Heller 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

Jesse Nissim

Jesse Nissim 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

Marthe Reed

Marthe Reed 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities-