Syllabus @ UMW • Fall 2009

FSEM 100E1/2  • 1201 Williams St. (WMST) B5/28 • TR 9:30-10:45


WMST 25 & Mercer 305

Course Objectives:

See the document outlining the “General Education Curriculum as Approved by the Faculty, November 7, 2007.”  What are the objectives of A First Year Seminar?

See the description in the first year academic planning guide.  What are the objectives of THIS course as outlined by the instructors when this course was proposed to the faculty?


The final grade for the course will be computed from the following:

25% — In-Class Participation

20% — Pre/Post Discussion Comments

20% — Leading Sessions with a partner

20% — Talk (Your own TED Talk)

15% — Final reflective paper


Readings and TED talks will be determined by student discussion leaders.  They will be posted to the shared TED2009 blog at umwblogs ( one week prior to the themed class period.  Readings must be available digitally and either posted or linked at the themed page.  TED talks should be embedded in the class blog.

In-Class Participation:

You are expected to be an active participant in this seminar.  This means: attending class regularly, being an active listener and cooperative learner when present, as well as being prepared for class by listening to/watching the TED talks and doing the readings assigned by discussion leaders, and participating in and contributing to class discussions both in-class and online.  Your class participation grade will be based on (1) the frequency and quality of your contribution to the class, (2) the degree to which you make use of the videos, readings and other materials in sharing your insights with the rest of us (3), the energy, enthusiasm and involvement you bring to our meetings and the material of the course, and (4) the degree to which you function as a “civilized” member of our social learning community.

Written Discussion Comments:

You will be writing pre- and post-class comments on the class blog.  Pre-class comments are comments designed to drive the discussion, raise a question, let the rest of the group know where you are coming from.  Post-class comments are comments designed to be reflective on the classroom experience as well as a way to continue the discussion after the class.  On each of the themed days you are expected to write and post a pre-class comment by 7:00 am on the assigned day.  You have 24 hours to post a post-class comment.  Comments may be as long as you wish, but should be at least 4-6 sentences.

Discussion Leader (Weeks 5-11):

During weeks 5-11, each student will work in teams to lead class discussion on two different days.  Your assignment includes identifying the TED talks which speak to the theme of the day (3 talks, averaging roughly one hour) as well as one or more short readings.  Discussion leaders are expected to: a) Embed links to the TED video on the class blog and the selected reading one week prior to the scheduled class session; b) Facilitate class discussion in any of a variety of techniques (in order to prepare for the final reflective paper, each discussion should consider the connections between the theme/talks and higher education, the liberal arts experience, and one’s own learning process). 

TED/FRED Talks (Weeks 12-15):

During the last weeks of the class you are required to give your own TED talk.  You have 10 minutes for your talk and ten minutes for post-presentation discussion with the class.  In the spirit of TED, we will be tight with the clock.

Final Reflective Paper:

You will complete a final reflective paper (typed, 3-5 pages, double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman, one-inch margins) which reflects on your own TED talk as well as that of your classmates.  This paper will be due on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 by 11:00 am.  In particular, your reflective paper should consider the connections between this course and higher education, the liberal arts experience, and one’s own learning process. Part of the assignment is about explicitly relating the topic to the liberal arts and to your own education, its purpose, and its methodology.

Tentative Schedule for

THEMED WEEKS – Student-Led Discussion

Week 5

September 24, 2009 – Consumption and consumers

Week 6

September 29, 2009 – Sports, competition, and success

October 1, 2009 – Sing me a song: Music

Week 7

October 6, 2009 – Technology and human interaction

October 8, 2009 – Impairments and limitations?

Week 8

October 13, 2009 – FALL BREAK – No Class

October 15, 2009 – Hunger, food, and what’s for dinner

Week 9

October 20, 2009 – The coming apocalypse: The decline and fall

October 22, 2009 – Hope for revival: Salvation at the edge of the precipice

Week 10

October 27, 2009 – We don’t need no education

October 29, 2009 – Math and data matter

Week 11

November 3, 2009 – Creativity and laughter

November 5, 2009 – The non-human


Week 12

November 10, 2009 – Fred Talks

November 12, 2009 – Fred Talks

Week 13

November 17, 2009 – Fred Talks

November 19, 2009 – Fred Talks

Week 14

November 24, 2009 – Fred Talks

November 26, 2009 – THANKSGIVING – No Class

Week 15

December 1, 2009 – Fred Talks

December 3, 2009 – Fred Talks

December 4, 2009 – Fred Talks – 4:00pm till finished (food will be served).

Final Reflective Paper Due: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 – 11:00 am

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