First-Year Seminars


An exciting program of innovative seminars that reflect instructor’s intellectual interests. These once-in-a-lifetime courses promote intellectual exchange, critical thinking, and community.


First-Year Seminar Rocket

Every year CETL offers 200 seminars (see schedule/register) that challenge students like you to examine ideas of substance and consequence. You’ll sharpen your critical reasoning skills and engage with fellow students as intellectual colleagues. Limited to 19 students per seminar, it is the best way to work closely with instructors as they explore with you ideas and topics close to their hearts.


You must have 45-units or less; however, during Pass Two, instructors can elect to admit students who have up to Senior standing.

Past topics include:

  • Bees, Art, and Survival by Donna Billick and Diane Ullman
  • Contemporary American Buddhism by Sylvia Sensiper
  • Creative Responses to Climate Change by Stephen Wheeler
  • Mapping the Harlem Renaissance: Prose, Poetry, and the Digital Humanities by Phillip Barron
  • Psychology of Drummers by Brad Henderson
  • So You Think You Can Write? by Amy Clarke
  • The History of Motion Films by Gerhard Bauer
  • The Rise and Limits of Documentary Film by Jaimey Fisher
  • Township Music in South Africa by Brian Higgins
  • Zombies! by Sean McDonnell

Schedule & Registration

Credit is only given for one seminar per quarter. NOTE: The seminars do not count towards your General Education or major requirements.

Explore the Seminar Schedules below to find the seminar(s) you are interested in. Copy the 5-digit CRN then register for the seminar as you would any other course via SISWEB.

Seminar Schedule: Winter 2014

1-Unit Seminars (Letter Grade)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
65188001-001Japanese Culture: Nature and Visual ArtsHaruko SakakibaraT  11:00-11:50amOlson 18ANone0 (WL=3)
65189001-002Applications of Evolutionary Biology to Human HealthThomas ScottT  11:00-11:50amOlson 109None0 (WL=3)
65191001-004Rocket PropulsionMohamed HafezT  2:10-3:00pmBainer 2130None0 (WL=7)
65192001-005Poetry By HeartJohn BoeR  1:10-2:00pmVoorhies 396None0 (WL=3)

2-Unit Seminars (Letter Grade)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
65213002-001Talk Like a Man: Gender, Sexuality and LanguageEric RussellTR  11:00-11:50amWellman 111None0 (WL=6)
65214002-002Healthcare Policy, Economics and LawRobert DerletF  10:00-11:50amWellman 123None0 (WL=5)
65215002-003Cultural and Historical Influences on Japanese Garden DesignJames JonesR  2:10-4:00pmRoom TBANone0 (WL=2)
65216002-004Color in the Winter LandscapeJim HardingTR 12:10-1:00pmEnHort 148None0 (WL=6)
65219002-007Applications of Waves--From Music to Imaging AtomsShirley ChiangW  12:10-2:00pmPhysic 416None0
65220002-008Why Can't We All Just Be Friends?: A Systematic Way of Looking at People from Other CulturesNorma Lopez-BurtonT  1:10-3:00pmOlson 144None0 (WL=3)
65221002-009Is Anyone Listening? Arab Narrative from Before, During and After the Arab SpringNoha RadwanTR 11:00-11:50amWellman 201None0
65222002-010Chaos, Complexity and ChristianityCarlos PuenteM  5:10-7:00pmPLESC 2005None0 (WL=1)
65223002-011Black Cultural and Interpersonal DevelopmentCarl JorgensenF  10:30am-12:30pmHart 2215None3
65224002-012Mad About Mad MenKatie ArosteguyW  5:10-7:00pmOlson 144None0 (WL=3)
65225002-013From Self Awareness to Inner Growth for True Success In and After CollegeAndreas ToupadakisT  7:10-9:00pmWellman 5None0 (WL=12)
65226002-014From the Outside, Looking In--Three Films of Paul Thomas AndersonRachel EdelsonT  12:10-2:00pmSocSci 70None0 (WL=2)
65227002-015Convening Power of the PresidentKenneth VerosubW  1:10-3:00pmEphSci 1119None0
65228002-016Ethics and EmbryologyLouise LanoueM  10:00-11:50amMeyer 3108None0

1-Unit Seminars (Pass/No Pass)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
65249003-001Searching for Shakespeare's Soul: Codes, Conspiracy, and CatholicismWendy TerryW  9:00-9:50amOlson 144None1 (WL=1)
65250003-002RadiationAndrew VaughanW  9:00-9:50amOlson 263None0
65251003-003Humor in Life and MedicineThomas NordahlR  2:10-3:00pmWellman 111None0 (WL=13)
65252003-004Nitrogen: History of an ElementAlan BennettR  4:10-5:00pmPlant Reproductive Biology Conference RoomNone1
65253003-005Fantastic Literature as Satire: Lucian of SamosataValentina PopescuW  3:10-4:00pmWellman 5None0 (WL=1)
65254003-006Obesity and Weight Loss: Sorting Through Myths and FactsJon Ramsey and Melissa BrowneF  12:10-1:00pmOlson 144None0 (WL=4)
65255003-007Handling Faults in Systems Around Us (With Emphasis on Electronic Systems)Hussain Al-AsaadR  2:10-3:00pmWellman 201None2
65256003-008Alcohol, Alcoholism and its ConsequencesNirmal MannW  2:10-4:00pmRoom TBANone1
65257003-009Vitamins in Health and DiseaseNirmal MannW  2:10-4:00pmRoom TBANone4
65258003-010Smart, Sustainable, and Safe StructuresKenneth LohT  9:00-9:50amGhausi 1007Freshmen & Sophomores Only7
65259003-011Athletic Injuries: Myths, Facts & Unanswered QuestionsLisa VarnumDay/Time TBARoom TBANone(WL=5)
65260003-012Plagues: Past, Present and FutureRobert GrahnM  5:10-6:00pmCenter for Companion Animal Health, Rm. 203None0 (WL=1)
65261003-013Introduction to Baroque Performance PracticeDavid GrangerT  3:10-4:00pmRoom TBANone7
65262003-014Ethics, Morality, and "Breaking Bad"Amy Block JoyR  2:10-3:00pmWellman 203None0 (WL=7)
65263003-015Team Building for Business and SportsBarbara JahnT  11:00-11:50amAggie Stadium Team RoomNone0

2-Unit Seminars (Pass/No Pass)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
65270004-001Salt, Sugar, Fat: The Role of the Food Industry in the Obesity EpidemicDiana CassadyT  3:10-5:00pmKerr 293None0 (WL=2)
65271004-002Contemporary American Buddhism: How Meditation Became a Part of the MainstreamLi Zhang & Sylvia SensiperT  7:10-9:00pmHart 1120None0 (WL=1)
65272004-003The Science of Well-BeingLi Zhang & Sylvia SensiperT  4:10-6:00pmRoom TBANone0 (WL=6)
65274004-005Writing and Performing Stand-Up ComedyKarma WaltonenR  4:10-6:00pmWellman 111None0 (WL=6)
65275004-006Water and the 21st Century: The Age of ScarcityJohn TheobaldM  12:10-2:00pmWellman 111None0
65276004-007ZombiesSean McDonnellT  12:10-1:00pmOlson 263None0 (WL=2)
65277004-008Half the Sky: Gender Equity, Society and YouMariah MeekW  1:10-3:00pmWellman 203None0
65278004-009Engaging with Scientific LiteratureMarc Facciotti and Erin BeckerF  9:00-10:50amOlson 144None0 (WL=1)
65279004-010Slings and Arrows: Theatre Through the Stage DoorJohn IacovelliMW  4:10-5:30pmWright 101None5
65280004-011Doing Mathematics--With a Computer At Your SideKurt KreithW  6:10-8:30pmOlson 1None0 (WL=1)
65281004-012World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-DiscoveryAndreas ToupadakisR  6:10-8:00pmWellman 111None0 (WL=4)
65284004-015Introduction to Wind and Hydropower EngineeringNesrin Sarigul-KlijnF  10:00-11:50amBainer 1062None2
65285004-016Instant-Runoff Voting and Other Electoral InnovationsSteven SosnickT  2:10-4:00pmRoom TBANone7
Seminar Schedule: Spring 2014
CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
25047001-001Nutrition, Health and the EnvironmentRobert HackmanR  4:10-5:00 p.m.Meyer 3135Freshmen & Sophomores OnlyClosed
25048001-002What Makes Airplanes Fly?Mohamed HafezT  2:10-3:00 p.m.Bainer 1122No RestrictionsClosed
25049001-003Japanese Culture: Nature and Visual ArtsHaruko SakakibaraT  11:00-11:50 a.m.Olson 18ANo RestrictionsClosed
25050001-004Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for women Worldwide Book clubPiri Ackerman-BargerF  12:10-1:00 p.m.Olson 263No RestrictionsClosed
25051001-005Sustainable Practices for the Built Environment: Material DesignJohn BolanderM  3:10-4:00 p.m.Ghausi 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25052001-006Conservation of Endangered Species: Perspectives and ApproachesDan ParfittR  11:00-11:50 a.m.Wellman 5No RestrictionsClosed

2-Unit Seminars (Letter Grade)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
25073002-002SymmetryNelson MaxW  2:10-4:00 p.m.Olson 263No RestrictionsClosed
25075002-004Water ReuseMasoud KayhanianT  12:10-2:00 p.m.Ghausi 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25076002-005Renewable Sources of EnergyMasoud KayhanianR  12:10-2:00 p.m.Ghausi 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25077002-006Chaos, Complexity and ChristianityCarlos PuenteT  5:10-7:00 p.m.PLESC 2005No RestrictionsClosed
25078002-007Convening Power of the PresidentKenneth VerosubR  1:10-3:00 p.m.EphSci 1119Freshmen OnlyClosed
25079002-008Chemicals in the Environment: Sources, Uses, Impacts and AlternativesPeter GreenMF  12:10-1:00 p.m.Ghausi 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25080002-009Culture Clash! A Systematic Way of Looking at Ourselves and the Rest of the WorldNorma Lopez-BurtonM  11:00-1:00 p.m.Olson 263No RestrictionsClosed
25081002-010The History of the Motion PicturesGerhard BauerW  5:10-7:00 p.m.Wellman 3No RestrictionsClosed
25083002-012Making Shakespeare ModernLisa KlotzT  11:00-1:00 p.m.Olson 109No RestrictionsClosed
25084002-013Ion Channels in Action: Molecular Basis of Cellular ExcitabilityTsung-Yu ChenF  12:10-2:00 p.m.Wellman 201No RestrictionsClosed
25085002-014Contemporary Irish LiteratureJames Mc ElroyT  10:00-11:50 a.m.Voorhies 308No RestrictionsClosed
25086002-015From the Big Bang to LifeM. Eric GershwinM  3:10-5:00 p.m.GenBio 3206No RestrictionsClosed
25087002-016Light Writing: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the PhotographKaren EmbryR  12:10-2:00 p.m.Voorhies 308No RestrictionsClosed
25088002-017Team ChemistryKaren YoderT  5:10-7:00 p.m.Wellman 201No RestrictionsClosed
25089002-018Priorities of the New Scientific CognoscentiKen KaplanTR  10:00-10:50 a.m.Wellman 201No RestrictionsClosed
25091002-020How to Look at Modern ArtCatherine AndersonT  4:40-6:00 p.m.Everson 148No RestrictionsClosed
25092002-021Black Cultural and Intellectual DevelopmentCarl JorgensenF  10:30-12:30 p.m.Hart 2215No RestrictionsClosed
25094002-023From Mandala to Manga: Japanese Visual Arts in ContextCarolyn WheelerF  12:10-2:00 p.m.Wellman 111No RestrictionsClosed
25095002-024Paradigms of the Real in the Land of And/BothRachel EdelsonT  12:10-2:00 p.m.Wellman 5No RestrictionsClosed

1-Unit Seminars (Pass/No Pass)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
25110003-001Intro to Biblical HebrewGalia FrancoW  12:10-1:00 p.m.Wellman 203No RestrictionsClosed
25111003-002Druids: Religion, Wisdom and ViolenceWendy TerryW  10:00-10:50 a.m.Wellman 201No RestrictionsClosed
25112003-003How to Conduct a SurveyChristiana DrakeM  3:10-4:00 p.m.Olson 144No RestrictionsClosed
25113003-004Modern Marvel: Bridges Around the WorldDawn ChengM  2:10-3:00 p.m.Academic Surge 2212Freshmen & Sophomores OnlyClosed
25114003-005Against EqualityJoshua CloverW  2:10-3:00 p.m.Voorhies 156Freshmen & Sophomores OnlyClosed
25115003-006Athletic Injuries: Myths, Facts & Unanswered QuestionsLisa VarnumT 9:00-9:50 a.m.Olson 151No RestrictionsClosed
25116003-007Topics in Youth SportsPeter MotekaitisT  10:00-10:50 a.m.Hickey 153ANo RestrictionsClosed
25117003-008Stem Cell BiologyYuyou DuanT  3:10-4:00 p.m.Wellman 5No RestrictionsClosed
25118003-009Mental Health: A Biopsychosocial ViewAndreea SeritanF 4:10-5:00 p.m.Olson 263No RestrictionsClosed
25120003-011The Psychology of Drummers: Rock, Jazz & BluesBrad HendersonR  7:10-8:00 p.m.Olson 109No RestrictionsClosed
25121003-012Parties and Elections in Comparative PerspectiveJames AdamsT  1:10-2:00 p.m.Olson 263No RestrictionsClosed
25122003-013Handling Faults in Systems Around Us (With Emphasis on Electronic Systems)Hussain Al-AsaadR  2:10-3:00 p.m.Wellman 233No RestrictionsClosed
25123003-014Political Rhetoric and the Daily Show with John StewartRachel SimonW  11:00- 11:50 a.m.Wellman 111No RestrictionsClosed
25124003-015Young Adult FictionHsuan HsuM  2:40-3:30 p.m.Hoagland 113No RestrictionsClosed

2-Unit Seminars (Pass/No Pass)

CRN#CourseTitleInstructorTimeRoomRestrictions# of Seats
25139004-001Visual Note-TakingElizabeth BoultsF  10:00-11:50 a.m.Hunt 142No RestrictionsMax. No PTAs
25140004-002Owning the Podium: Developing Strategies to Reduce Anxiety & Increase Confidence in Public SpeakersKen AndersenF  12:10-2:00 p.m.Wellman 203No RestrictionsClosed
25141004-003Contemporary American Buddhism: How Meditation Became a Part of the MainstreamLi Zhang and Sylvia SensiperT  3:10-5:00 p.m.Kerr 293No RestrictionsClosed
25142004-004The Science of Well-BeingLi Zhang and Sylvia SensiperT  12:10-2:00 p.m.Hart 1106No RestrictionsClosed
25143004-005Bebop Jazz: From Charlie Parker to John ColtraneBruce JaffeeW 9:00-10:50 a.m.Hutch 357No RestrictionsClosed
25144004-006Music and the MoviesJohn FetzerW  1:10-3:00 p.m.Surge III 1352No RestrictionsClosed
25145004-007Introduction to CryptologyKurt KreithW 6:10-8:30 p.m.Olson 1No RestrictionsClosed
25146004-008ZombiesSean McDonnellT  12:10-1:00 p.m.Wellman 123No RestrictionsClosed
25148004-010Save the BeesNeal WilliamsT  2:10-4:00 p.m.Briggs 366No RestrictionsClosed
25149004-011Sports Topics and Trends in American SocietyLou BronzanM 2:10-4:00 p.m.Giedt 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25150004-012Oil and SocietyJames SanchiricoW  4:10-6:00 p.m.Wickson 1017No RestrictionsClosed
25151004-013The Philosophy of Martial Art of Tai Chi ChuanYajun GravesTR  2:10-3:00 p.m.Olson 167No RestrictionsClosed
25152004-014Cognitive Psychology and Hollywood MagicEve IshamW  3:10-5:00 p.m.267 Cousteau PlaceNo RestrictionsClosed
25153004-015From Self Awareness to Inner Growth for True Success In and After CollegeAndreas ToupadakisT  7:10-9:00 p.m.Hoagld 108No RestrictionsClosed
25154004-016World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-DiscoveryAndreas ToupadakisR  6:10-8:00 p.m.Giedt 1007No RestrictionsClosed
25155004-017Hands-On Molecular Biology LaboratoryChristoph LossinM  1:10-4:00 p.m.In SacramentoNo RestrictionsClosed
25156004-018Women Hold Up Half the SkyEdward Caswell-ChenW  1:10-3:00 p.m.Hutch 156No RestrictionsClosed
25157004-019The Simpsons: Satire and PostmodernismKarma WaltonenR  12:10-2:00 p.m.Olson 109No RestrictionsClosed
25158004-020Stinky Cheese and Roasted Coffee: Understanding What Makes Food Taste the Way it DoesSusan EbelerT  3:10-5:00 p.m.RMI Sensory TheaterNo RestrictionsClosed
25159004-021The View From Above—Sending a Balloon to the StratosphereTed HullarW  2:10-4:00 p.m.Wellman 3No RestrictionsClosed
25160004-022Writing Electronic Communications That Get Results: A Key to Academic SuccessRebekka AndersenW  10:00-11:50 a.m.Voorhies 396Freshmen & Sophomores OnlyClosed


How many credits are classes worth and how will I be graded?

Seminars are worth one unit (meet 1 hour per week) or two units (meet 2 hours per week). Grading is either traditional letter or pass/no pass, depending on the course.

Can I register if I am not a freshman or have more than 45-units?

Yes. During second pass freshman with more than 45-units and sophomores may be added at the discretion of the instructor if any of the 19 seats available in the seminar remain unfilled.

I’m a transfer student, technically a first-year, can I register during Pass One?

No. Only students with fewer than 45-units classify as first-year. However, you can apply for eligibility under Pass Two.

Do first-year seminars count against my General Education units?

No. These seminars do not meet GE requirements.

I really want to take a seminar but it is listed as full. Can I get added?

No. Classes are limited to 19 students. There are no exceptions to the rule. 

I am trying to add the course. I’m getting an error that it is a “Duplicate”. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need to wait to use the PTA number?

If you are on the wait list you must drop the class before using the PTA number. If the drop deadline has already passed, you will need to wait a few days until the add deadline has passed and the wait lists are gone.

How many first-year seminars can I take in a quarter?

There is no maximum. However, credit will only be given for one.

Are there first-year seminars during the summer?

No. Not at this time.