FYP Faculty and Courses

The professors teaching FYP courses represent an interdisciplinary collection of leading Sewanee faculty. Each professor brings his/her unique perspective on what it means to be of a place, from a place, and how to find your place. Students will be able to take part in panel discussions with each of these faculty members, and also choose a more specific section for more immersive study.   The sections have both different degrees of physical activity, described, and designations associated with the general education requirements.  This year's courses have three of the general education designations-- G5E: Scientific Observing, Experimenting, and Modeling;  G4:  Exploring Past and Present; G1:  Reading Closely via Analysis and Interpretation.   

 

Robert Bachman: Creating Place  (G5E)

This course considers both how natural chemical processes shape our surroundings and how place is created by the intentional manipulation of matter to create objects of everyday use as well as of symbolic, cultural, or artistic importance. While developing an understanding of place-making broadly, the course focuses on both nature's creation of place and the role of art and cultural materials in defining place. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the local and regional context of place formation, engage in the practice of place-making, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Capstone projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration.    This course will engage in a variety of outdoors experiences--moderate hikes, caving, visits to locations of material generation.

 

Deborah McGrath:  The Ecology of Place  (G5E)

This course explores how the natural environment has influenced human interactions, past and present, and how these interactions have shaped ecosystems on the Cumberland Plateau as well as the economy, culture, and health of communities in this region. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the region, engage in the practice of place-making, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Readings present various lenses on the ecology of place.  Capstone projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration on Sewanee’s Domain. Students in this course will engage in reflective writing and a variety of outdoors experiences--moderate hikes, canoeing and caving.

 

Eric Keen:  Walking in Place  (G1)

Walking was the original means of exploring one’s place and finding one’s place in it. In this course, students use their own two feet to explore the ironic power of journey to build a sense of belonging and attachment to a place. Class readings, journal work, and discussions are based on the canon of literature on walking and wilderness, drawing upon authors such as John Muir, Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey, Colin Fletcher, and Mary Oliver.  All meetings of this section require extensive walking off-trail and in all weather conditions, as well as regular solitary visits to an outdoor place of contemplation. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the region, engage in the practice of place-making, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Capstone projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration.

 

Russell Fielding:  First-Year Seminar: Land and Life  (G5E)

Place is defined in many ways, perhaps most of all by geography. The physical features of a place—its geology, hydrology, and biota—influence the social and cultural activities of human life superimposed on the landscape. This course examines geographical features on Sewanee's Domain and further afield to see what lessons they can teach us about the earth and about ourselves. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the region, engage in the practice of reading a landscape, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Independent projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration.   The immersion portion of this section will involve a variety of longer hikes, caving, and other adventurous outdoor exploration.

 

John Willis  A Landscape for Memory  (G4)

This course pursues a deeper understanding of the ways human action and the natural environment have shaped and been shaped by one another. Students explore the area's background, current status, and ongoing possibilities, from the deep time of geology to the era of human history and prospects for future development. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the region, engage in the practice of place-making, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Capstone projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration. Plan to enjoy a variety of hikes, caving, and excursions to important spots on and beyond the Domain.

 

Daniel Carter:  Community Narratives of the South Cumberland Plateau  (G4)

This course introduces students to people, places, and events that helped shape the history, culture, and environment of the South Cumberland Plateau. Students explore multiple cultural, historical, and political narratives that tell the story of the region. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of historical and current land-use in shaping local environmental attitudes and perceptions. Field trips and plenary lectures allow students to explore the region, engage in the practice of place-making, and synthesize knowledge across disciplines. Capstone projects provide opportunities for in-depth exploration.

 

Amy Patterson:  The Local Place and the Forces of Globalization  (G4)

This course explores forces of globalization to understand the complexities of local place. It examines how this place is influenced by trade, migration, health issues, environmental pressures, human rights, and the global rise of populism. Field trips to international businesses, groups addressing global health, and human rights organizations will illustrate how the geographic and political borders of place are relatively porous and the identities of people within those places are shaped by local and global forces. Journals, student-led discussions, and a capstone project provide the opportunity to link readings on globalization and place to observations and investigations about the local community.  Plan to engage in 1 or 2 hikes or walks around campus; these will not be strenuous.

 

Matt Irvin:  Medieval Sewanee  (G1)

An exploration of Sewanee’s medieval roots, as well as its “medieval” present, from the way it builds its buildings to the way in manages its forests and its noble “domain.” Students will experience various forms of medieval culture, including Old English riddles, Gothic cathedrals and French romances, and explore the way that Sewanee continues the millennium-long tradition of university education. Students will examine texts in our archives, works of art in local museums, and even Sewanee’s pre-modern history on its domain.