COLA 1500 Classes

What are COLA Classes?

COLA 1500 courses are one-credit, graded seminars open to all new first-year students. Approximately 80% of the content will be as described below with 20% of the course devoted to group advising issues. The instructors of the following courses will be the advisor for the students in the class until such time that they declare a major. Click here to read some COLA testimonials.

The Souder Family COLA Classes

With extreme gratitude to the Souder Family for funding the following COLA classes.

2016 Awakening Creative Potential Gweneth West
2016 The Culture of College and the Structure of UVA Richard Handler
2015 Slavery, Jefferson and UVA Kirt von Daacke and Maurie McInnis
2015 The 21st Century Labor Market President Teresa Sullivan
2014   Discovering Jefferson's Academical Village      Kirt von Daacke and Maurie McInnis
2013 Hidden Histories of UVA Phyllis Leffler

Fall 2017 COLA Class Descriptions

Silk Road Travelers: Merchants, Monks and Covert Operatives | Shawn Lyons
Section 001 | 11151 | Monday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
While a general introduction to the history of the silk road, our seminar is mainly concerned with today’s travelers who are following in the foot-steps of Marco Polo. Why would a modern biking enthusiast or a food writer travel nearly 3,000 miles through China, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran? Who are the new international merchants eager to wheel-and-deal in the ancient bazaars of Bukhara, Samarkand and Kashgar? Is the silk road, upon which Buddhist and Christian monks once conducted their pilgrimages, still important to the contemporary world’s religions? Does the silk road remain a land of intrigue, in which imperial powers compete for influence and domination, not unlike Britain and Russia who throughout the nineteenth century each deployed numerous spies to Afghanistan in what Rudyard Kipling called the "Great Game." We will discuss excerpts from a variety of these modern travel narratives.

Does Religion Matter?: Spirituality and Religion in a Global Age | Shankar Nair
Section 002 | 11152 | Wednesday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
Despite widespread predictions only a few decades ago that religion would soon disappear from the face of the earth -- to be replaced by an era of science, technology, and rationality -- religion has endured across the globe with a vibrancy and fervor that has surprised all of the experts. While a multitude of voices in the public sphere decry "religion's attack on science" or "science's attack on religion," at the same time, we are witness to perhaps a historic high in public distrust of either institution to deliver on the promise of a resolution to contemporary ills. Indeed, as the recent popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump has demonstrated, the entire "system" itself is now the object of intense frustration and scrutiny. In the wake of this ever-increasing discomfort and dissatisfaction with "religion" and other public institutions, phrases such as "spiritual but not religious" have risen to prominence as a way to describe a path out of this contemporary anxiety and ennui. In this course, we will examine the "spiritual but not religious" phenomenon in its interconnections with such other phenomena as modern science, higher education, global capitalism, the law, and the media, reflecting along the way upon the realities and possibilities of spirituality and religion in our current global age.

Understanding the Early Nineteenth Century through George Washington as Historical Figure and Symbol | William M. Ferraro
Section 003 | 11153 | Monday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
The United States emerged as a nation on the global stage during the early nineteenth century while contending with social divisions, political antagonisms, technological advances, settlement shifts, economic upheavals, and identity uncertainties. To give coherence to the study of this period, this class will focus on George Washington as historical figure and symbol in the realms of memory and commemoration, political organization, anti-slavery protests, civil religion, and education. Besides contemporary books, primary sources considered in the class include eulogies, newspaper accounts, subscription lists, periodical literature, images, and ephemera. The goal is a more tangible and nuanced understanding of complexities during decades that appear rather plain or simple at first glance. Learning how to develop contexts, evaluate evidence, and craft arguments or analyses, both orally and in writing, are principal concerns over the course of this class. Such skills will enhance all aspects of your academic experience and transfer into the working world.

Big History | Matt Davis
Section 004 | 11154 | Monday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
Most history courses cover a few hundred years. This COLA course will cover 13.7 billion years. It will cover the history of the universe from the "Big Bang' to the present. Our goal will be to understand, in a very basic way, what science can tell us about the origins of the universe, the birth of stars, the formation of our solar system, the history of planet earth, the evolution of life on earth, and the rise of human beings; and what history and other social sciences can tell us about a few crucial events in the history of humanity, e.g., the development of agriculture, the invention of writing systems, and the "industrial revolution." The course will serve as an introduction to "big history," but it will also serve as an introduction to the College of Arts and Sciences and its curricular riches. While studying the early history of the universe, we will learn a tiny bit of what is taught in physics, astronomy, and chemistry classes at UVA; while learning about the history of the earth and evolution, we will encounter some big ideas from geology and biology; and, in our study of human history, we will look at key concepts from history, anthropology, archaeology, religion, and environmental studies. The professor is not an expert on all of these subjects—probably nobody is—but he is fascinated by the topic and eager to learn more. Students who are intrigued and would like to learn more about "big history" as it will be treated in this course are encouraged to watch David Christian’s Ted talk, "The History of World in 18 Minutes," available online.

Are We Alone in the Universe? | Edward Murphy
Section 005 | 11155 | Tuesday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
Our galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. If only a tiny fraction of those stars have intelligent life, there could be millions of intelligent civilizations in the galaxy. Given that our galaxy is 13 billion years old, some of these civilizations should have been able to fully colonize the galaxy long ago. And yet, we have no evidence that they are visiting, or have ever visited, Earth. In fact, we have no evidence of any extraterrestrial life. All the evidence points to the fact that we are the first, and possibly the only, intelligent civilization in the galaxy. In this course, we will address the Fermi paradox, the belief that intelligent life is common, that they should have colonized our solar system long ago, and yet we see no evidence that they exist. This topic is multidisciplinary and will include topics from astronomy, biology (evolution of intelligence), chemistry (origin of life), engineering (spaceflight and the difficulty of traveling between the stars), and sociology (do technological civilizations destroy themselves).

Central Virginia Revealed | Emil Frlez
Section 006 | 11156 | Tuesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
In this seminar we will approach the central Virginia area—UVa Grounds, Charlottesville, Albemarle and surrounding counties in multi-dimensional way. Moving past the recreational aspect of the land, we will talk about the area history, human habitation, culture, demographics, geology, weather, transportation and economy. These facets will be illustrated by specific locations, structures, events, personalities (local and national) and institutions that have shaped and define the central Virginia on the regional level and beyond. At the end of the class you will be well acquainted with books, multi-media and online resources as well as organizations that you can join to expand your knowledge. We will finish by designing together a field trip to one of the localities discussed in the class.

Myths of Adolescence & Literary Imagination | Lisa Spaar
Section 007 | 11157 | Thursday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Human development across cultures and time inevitably involves some version or experience of adolescence, a liminal and archetypal territory between childhood and adulthood characterized by exploration, growth, intense feeling, conflict, becoming, power play, transgression, anxiety, and pain. No wonder, then, that writers have been drawn to this difficult, complex period, plundering its emotional dynamics and mythologizing its extremities in novels, short fiction, poems, and plays. In this course, we will survey cultural notions of adolescence, and explore versions of it in a variety of literary texts and genres. The crucial question will not be "What is adolescence?" but rather, "How has adolescence been perceived, remembered, imagined?" As we attempt to articulate the significance of such fictionalized accountings of adolescence, we may hope to confront ways in which the young embody our most profound vulnerabilities and possibilities. As we explore this period in a handful of literary texts, we will examine our own crucible of becoming, particularly as it relates to the adventure and journey of the University experience.

Edgar Allan Poe | Greg Hays
Section 008 | 11158 | Monday | 04:00PM - 05:15PM
This course will focus on Poe’s major tales, with additional readings from his poetry and journalism. We will consider his role as the inventor of the detective story and as a pioneer of horror and science fiction, as well as his relationship to larger cultural issues (e.g., race in America; the Enlightenment and its dark side). We’ll also look at problems in Poe’s biography (centering on his brief career at UVA), and at Poe in film.

God and Nature in America | Heather Warren
Section 009 | 11159 | Tuesday | 04:00PM - 05:15PM
This course examines how Americans have viewed the relation between God, nature, and themselves since the founding of the United States. We will examine what selected outdoorsmen and women considered to be “divine,” “holy,” or “sacred” and why they believed the way they did, among them John Muir and Annie Dillard. Our class will involve some outdoors time, a few short, two-page papers, discussion, and guests from such offices as Career Services, the Writing Center, and the Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

What Makes Us Tick? | Sandra Seidel
Section 010 | 11164 | Tuesday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
The cardiovascular system works to transport life-sustaining blood to and from the individual cells that compose the human body. Basic principles of transport will be emphasized as we explore the structure and function of blood, blood vessels and the heart. Students will write and speak about illness and disease that affects each component of the cardiovascular system. Advising topics, including career counseling resources, will also be discussed.

Ethics and the Environment | Corin Fox
Section 012 | 12414 | Thursday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
Do we have a duty to learn about and protect our natural environment? What is the role of environmental conservation in living a good life? Does protecting our environment require changes in our everyday practices and diets? In this class we will investigate ethical questions about the environment, including questions about the nature and scope of conservation efforts, our duties to other animals, and ethical demands on our lifestyles. Students will engage with philosophical readings on these topics, and create individualized environment narratives to document their reliance on and relationships with their environment.

Photography and Meaning | Keith Driver
Section 015 | 12928 | Monday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM

From security cameras to smartphones, from Instagram to IDs, photography and its rhetoric seem impossible to escape. But what and how do photographs mean? How do they differ from other forms of representation? To what extent does the near omnipresence of photography influence how we choose to live? Are we more prone to seek out photogenic experiences? Do we enjoy experiences less if they resist photographic documentation? In this class we’ll wrestle with these questions in a few ways: we’ll read and discuss some important essays on photography; we’ll try our hand at “reading” some photographs; and, informed by our reading and discussions, we’ll attempt to document our own experiences of UVA and Charlottesville by taking pictures and writing about them.

Why Haven't We Cured Cancer? | David Kittlesen
Section 016 | 12972 | Tuesday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
It has been nearly four decades since President Nixon declared a "war on cancer", yet as everyone of us knows, the war is far from over. Is it "winnable"? What, if any, battles have we won? Which are we still fighting? What have we learned over the past four decades about the enemy? By focusing on the basic biology of cancer and cancer treatments (both routine and experimental), students will gain a much greater understanding of the complexity of this collection of diseases, as well as insight into answers to these questions. Neither a background nor a desire to major in biology is required – just an interest in this topic. Our usual class format will involve a group discussion of assigned readings. Active participation by every student is expected each week! We will also spend part of each class discussing a broad range of advising issues. This course has been designed to offer students a fairly in-depth understanding of cancer, to provide them with a greatly enhanced advising experience, and to promote critical thinking skills.

Justice, Love and Knowledge-The Dialogues of Plato | Karl Shuve
Section 017 | 12973 | Thursday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was not only a profound thinker, but also a talented writer who composed dialogues to explore philosophical problems. The aim of this course is to help students develop critical thinking and communication skills as well as to introduce them to key ideas and issues in the Western intellectual tradition, which they can explore in more depth by taking courses in disciplines such as Classics, English, Philosophy, Politics and Religious Studies. To achieve this, we will undertake close readings of selections from some of Plato's most influential dialogues, including the Republic, Phaedo, Symposium and Meno. We will pay attention to both content (e.g., reflections on justice, love, virtue, knowledge and thesoul) and literary form.

Hidden Histories of UVA | Kirt Von Daacke
Section 018 | 13822 | Monday | 9:30AM - 10:45AM
The University of Virginia has a nearly two hundred year history - today, it is not the same school it was in 1825 when the first students arrived. In this seminar, we will do some historical sleuthing into that past. This course represents an exciting opportunity to uncover fascinating details about life at the University during its formative years. We will discuss Jefferson's architectural designs, the role of slavery, and the relationship between faculty, students, and the community. We will make numerous visits to buildings and sites across the University and also delve into the library's rich archival holdings as we explore the people, personalities, places, and events in and around Grounds before 1870.

Knights and Ladies in Stories of the Middle Ages | William McDonald
Section 019 | 12974 | Thursday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
Intended for students with little or no background in medieval literature in general, and tales of knights and ladies at the court of King Arthur, in particular, this class aims to expose readers to literary traditions and rhetorical conventions of the Middle Ages, while sharpening analytical and writing skills. The stories, all presented in English, are an exercise in comparative literature: Latin, French, and German. We rely heavily on online resources.

Big History | Matt Davis
Section 020 | 13295 | Monday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Most history courses cover a few hundred years. This COLA course will cover 13.7 billion years. It will cover the history of the universe from the “Big Bang” to the present. Our goal will be to understand, in a very basic way, what science can tell us about the origins of the universe, the birth of stars, the formation of our solar system, the history of planet earth, the evolution of life on earth, and the rise of human beings; and what history and other social sciences can tell us about a few crucial events in the history of humanity, e.g., the development of agriculture, the invention of writing systems, and the “industrial revolution.” The course will serve as an introduction to “big history,” but it will also serve as an introduction to the College of Arts and Sciences and its curricular riches. While studying the early history of the universe, we will learn a tiny bit of what is taught in physics, astronomy, and chemistry classes at UVA; while learning about the history of the earth and evolution, we will encounter some big ideas from geology and biology; and, in our study of human history, we will look at key concepts from history, anthropology, archaeology, religion, and environmental studies. The professor is not an expert on all of these subjects—robably nobody is—but he is fascinated by the topic and eager to learn more. Students who are intrigued and would like to learn more about “big history” as it will be treated in this course are encouraged to watch David Christian's TED talk, "The History of World in 18 Minutes," available online.

Mindfulness: Awareness and Habit | Sandra Seidel
Section 024 | 15465 | Thursday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
Mindfulness practices have been demonstrated to help increase attention, reduce stress and develop self-awareness. Through formal and informal practices that bring curiosity to thoughts, feelings and emotions, students will develop the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Mindful meditation, movement, walking and eating will be explored. Daily habits of mind and action will be cultivated that impact attitudes to foster academic success and personal happiness.

Does Education Work? | Herbert Tucker
Section 025 | 13296 | Tuesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Guided readings from a few classics about education (including one Hard Great Book, The Education of Henry Adams) will furnish perspective on our main issues: How does learning occur? What, if anything, does teaching have to do with it? How do the acquisition of skills (knowing how) and the acquisition of content (knowing that) bear on each other? What are we doing when we study, anyway? What resources exist on and near Grounds—library, auditorium, performance venue—to help 21st-century students help themselves to an education?

Varieties of Religious Experience | Matthew Hedstrom
Section 026 | 13297 | Tuesday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
What is religion? What is spirituality? How do they relate to well-being, or to being a good person? What can science teach us about these human phenomena—and what are the limits of science in this regard? We’ll explore these big questions through a semester-long reading of William James’s great work The Varieties of Religious Experience (1903). James was one of the foremost thinkers of American history, a founder of the modern disciplines of psychology and religious studies, and of the pragmatist approach to philosophy. We’ll relate his thought and trace his influence to our own lives and moment, a moment when more than a third of young adults declare themselves "spiritual but not religious."

Learning From Data | Jeff Holt
Section 027 | 13036 | Tuesday | 2:00PM - 3:15PM
Data are everywhere. It is incredibly cheap to collect and store large amounts of data. More and more devices are collecting data, including cell phones, web sites, customer loyalty cards, CCTV, and much more. As data continue to accumulate, so does the interest in extracting knowledge from data. This COLA will focus on a single data set made up of information about applicants for admission to an undergraduate program at a large university. (This data set is heavily modified to preserve confidentiality, but has elements typical of admission data.) We will explore different ways to learn about the applicant pool, using the program R as our computational tool. No prior knowledge of statistics or R is required.

Things | Jenny Geddes
Section 028 | 13361 | Thursday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
This course will look at the objects we love—things, possessions, prizes, collectibles, curios, icons, idols—and the ways we acquire them, make them, think about them, imagine them, value them, and ascribe meaning to them. Children often have a blanket or stuffed animal that provides comfort and security. Adults also have special objects—a favorite mug, a prized painting, an old photograph, a rare sports car, a green elf statue. What different kinds of relationships do we have with the objects around us? Why are some things considered disposable and others sacred? What role do our favorite objects play in our lives? To explore these questions, we will read a wide range of short texts to think about our relationship with the objects around us.

Being Here Now: The Rise of Boomer Spirituality in the 1960s and 70s | Erik Braun
Section 029 | 13038 | Wednesday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
This course will explore the development and growth of spirituality and mysticism within the so-called hippie culture of the 1960s and 70s. We will explore the nature of countercultural movements at this time, as well as the varied interests in expressivist spirituality, mind expansion, and self-realization. The goal will be to understand not only how alternative forms of religiosity took shape in those decades, but also how the experiences of spiritual pioneers then still affect ideas of self-cultivation now.

"Going Global" (Right Here on Grounds) | Janet Horne
Section 030 | 13039 | Thursday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
Although you may just have arrived in central Virginia, the next four years will also be about discovering the world and your place in it. It is largely a matter of how you choose to see things, engage with people, and how you think about yourself and your surroundings. In this seminar, we will discuss the buzz about “the global” and what it might mean for you as you plan your undergraduate education. Is the world getting flatter? Is English enough? We will explore how you can find the rich weave of the global world fabric embedded within your life right here in Charlottesville.

Transformative Storytelling: Sharing Stories of Social Justice | Theresa Davis
Section 031 | 13826 | Monday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
What are some of the most thought-provoking and powerful stories you’ve ever heard or read? When was the last time a story moved you to go out and make a difference in the world such as challenging the strongholds of injustice? This course explores the act of storytelling as it relates to issues of Social Justice and the role of storytellers as agents of change. The course incorporates a variety of intercultural communication styles and mediums of artistic expression, including creative writing, theatre, movement, music and digital media. All students will have the opportunity to craft and present stories for public performance. "I’m really interested in social justice, and if an artist has a certain power of being heard and voicing something important, it’s right to do it. It could still be done in such a way that it’s not aggressive or overly didactic. I’m trying to find that form."  ―Shirin Neshat

Whiteness: A Racial Category | Jalane Schmidt
Section 032 | 13307 | Tuesday | 06:00PM - 07:15PM
Race, it is often said, is a "biological fiction, but a social fact." This class examines the formation of an important, but "unmarked category" of peoples: those designated as white. Whiteness has often served as an unstable marker of racial and ethnic identity formation, and has been alternately reinforced or blurred over time and space to exclude or include different groups. We will examine the history of this racial category by studying how various European immigrant groups to the U.S. navigated the status initially assigned to them, until they came to be classified as 'white.'

Buried Cities and Lost Towns: Great Sites and the Romantic Element in Archaeology | Phil Trella
Section 034 | 13828 | Tuesday | 05:00PM - 06:15PM
Fueled by popular media, images of desolate ruins, elaborate tombs, and lost civilizations adorn our perceptions of the past, and those who have studied it. In this course we will examine the validity of these perceptions by exploring "great sites" from around the world, examining as we go both the romantic elements and lore surrounding their purpose and ends, as well as the most recent interpretations advanced through scientific discovery. We will touch upon places and peoples such as ancient Egypt, Stonehenge, the Ancient Maya, and Easter Island, and will focus on the central question of what it is about such places that inspires us to connect with them through both myth, and the search for scientific fact.

Literature of London | Sarah Cole
Section 036 | 13353 | Wednesday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
Why has London been the setting of so many memorable stories, from Sherlock Holmes to Harry Potter and beyond? In British literature and films, London has appeared as a site of quaint nostalgia and gothic threat, of urban adventure and modern social alienation. This course will examine short literary works by major British authors, as well as films, historical documents, and pieces of journalism that seek to capture the life of this historic yet ever-changing city. Probable authors and filmmakers include Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Samuel Selvon, David Lean, Stephen Frears, and Hanif Kureishi. Through the lens of their stories, we will examine key issues in London’s history during the past two centuries: urban expansion, technological innovation, social inequality, the changing role of women, the bombing of London in World War II, and the growth of immigration and multiculturalism after the end of the British Empire.

Global Islam | Ahmed Al-Rahim
Section 037 | 13355 | Thursday | 06:00PM - 07:15PM
This course traces the religious development of Islam from the 7th to 13th centuries C.E. Students are introduced to the (1) the biography of Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, and to the history of his successors, the caliphs, and of the major Islamic dynasties; (2) the themes of the Koran, Islam’s scripture, and their relationship to the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Gospels; (3) the Hadith, or sayings attributed to Muhammad, and the development of Islamic law; (4) the history of Islamic theology and philosophy; (5) Muslim sectarian history, the Sunnis and Shias, and Islamic mysticism; and (6) the daily life and rituals of Muslims and their relationship with the “People of the Book” (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians).

Globalization and Higher Education (Yours) | Dudley Doane
Section 038 | 13356 | Wednesday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
The mobility of scholars and competition of universities for resources is not new. Scholars traveled long distances to study at Takshashila (South Asia) as early as the 5th century BCE; in his search for talented instructors, Jefferson looked to Europe. But globalization in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has yielded unprecedented levels of mobility and an intense competition for resources and status. Leaders from the public and private sectors regularly pronounce that higher education is not just a means to gain middle-class security but rather a requirement for survival in the global economy and that a “global education” is critical. What does this mean for you? We will consider the globalization of higher education, examine definitions of “global education” and consider global education at UVa. As we do this, we will also address advising, selection of courses and a major, academic and student life resources and navigating life at the University. Each week we will address advising-related concerns, and we will also meet one-on-one prior to spring semester course registration.

Microaggressions:  Why are “they” so sensitive? | Beverly Adams
Section 039 | 13357 | Tuesday | 02:00PM - 3:15PM
The term, microaggression, refers to verbal or nonverbal language that is seemingly well-meaning and well-intended but is perceived by the recipient as offensive.  For example, when some groups of people hear the following, they become upset and insulted.  
You are so articulate.
Those stripes really make you look thin.
You are a very pretty girl, even though you wear that head-wrap.  
Your hair looks so pretty and straight—not like those other kids who have kinky hair.  
I am so glad that I have an Asian lab partner for Chemistry—now I know that I’m going to get an A.,
The degree to which the recipient may show annoyance or irritation to the speaker may be very low, and thus the individual who makes the comment(s) may be unaware that they were perceived negatively.  By and large (and from the perspective of the class), the speaker’s intention is to be complimentary when uttering such remarks.  However, unconscious friction between/among individuals or groups may be created, and this tension is seldom addressed.  According to Sue (2007, 2010), liberal whites (and sometimes nonwhites) use microaggressions as a way to show their concern and commitment for racial, cultural, and sexual egalitarianism, and are genuinely surprised when told that these kinds of comments may create a wider divide.  In the class, we will examine and discuss these kinds of (real world) statements and behaviors with regard to linguistic ambiguity. Goals for this class include:
1)    a better understanding of cultural, ethnic, and gender sensitivities relative to language products and processing
2)    a better understanding of the academic advising structure and resource systems, unique to the University of Virginia

Study Abroad in the 19th Century: The Allure of Paris | Gladys Saunders
Section 040 | 13358 | Tuesday | 05:00PM - 06:15PM
In this class we will explore together David McCullough's latest work, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris from 1830-1900. The book contains a wealth of interesting information about Americans of diverse backgrounds who sailed to Paris to work hard, learn the skills and expertise of the French and then return to America to make their professional lives better.

U.S. Politics and Religion in 2017 | Nichole Flores
Section 042 | 13360 | Tuesday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
What role does religion play in US political life in 2017? Framing our conversations with commentary and teachings from diverse religious traditions, seminar participants will discuss rhetoric, teaching, and practice as they relate to the United States political context. In addition to a retrospective on the 2016 elections, seminar conversations will respond directly to issues and debates emerging from that event. Class activities include discussion, exchanging articles on religion and politics via social media, and developing rhetorical skills through preparation and delivery of speeches. Beyond the immediate concerns of contemporary political discourse, seminar participants will address the enduring intellectual and political difficulties of engaging diverse religious beliefs and practices in a pluralistic democratic context.

The Art of Raising a Puppy | Lynn Sanders
Section 043 | 13364 | Monday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
This COLA will give us an opportunity to think about our lives by reading and talking about our best friends, dogs. Our title is borrowed from one of the books authored by the Monks of New Skete in New York state, who raise and train dogs. The monks write: "A puppy’s life clearly displays what characterizes the whole of life: the mystery of development ... animals (particularly our dogs) ... root us in life." Focusing on the genus Canis also gives us a way to rove across the academic disciplines. We will look at literature, bioethics, psychology, medicine, politics and more to examine the links between our dogs and ourselves. Our advising seminar will examine how the resources around us at the university, including academic resources, can help us build the life we want to lead, here at school during your first term, during college, and even beyond.

History of Olympic Proportions | Bonnie Hagerman
Section 047 | 13384 | Tuesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
This class will use the Olympic Games to examine issues important not only in the history of American sport but in society as a whole.  We will discuss the role of women in the Olympic Games, the Olympics as the site of civil rights activism, and the fight to control performance enhancing drugs. We will also examine how religion, ability, and sexual orientation have figured into the Olympic experience and how the media frames our view of the Olympic experience.

Griots in West African Societies: History, Music, and Orature | Kandioura Drame
Section 050 | 13418 | Wednesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
This course proposes an exploration of West African societies through the study of griots. What does the word "griot" mean? What do griots do? Are griots members of a corporation? How did they become recognized as the keepers of the historical memory of their communities? What is the role of music in the cultural identities of griots? Why are griots tied closely to the art of oral performance? Why are they called Masters of the Word, of storytelling or Orature in many West African communities? We will explore these and other questions relative to the places and functions of the griots in the past and present, in Africa and abroad, in music and in words.

Rigorous Forgiving: David Brooks, the New York Times, and the Call for a New "Moral Ecology" | Bo Odom
Section 051 | 13437 | Monday | 04:00PM - 05:15PM
In an age where our civic fabric is knit with an insatiable appetite for scandal, and at a time when society is held captive by competition, success, and self-indulgence, the vast majority of "mainstream media" seemingly provides nothing more than continual affirmation of these base narcissistic tendencies. Yet paradoxically, the New York Times has for nearly a decade featured a particular set of countercultural commentary from one of the nation’s leading op-ed columnists David Brooks. In his weekly commentary (and bestselling books), Brooks regularly implies that our culture is in need of transformative reconciliation and restoration. Brooks's titles such as The Act of Rigorous Forgiving, The Structure of Gratitude, and When Beauty Strikes regularly grace the op-ed page of one of the nation’s leading newsprints and suggest that today’s journalism must consider a broader ethical and moral imperative.
But is there an appetite for this type of journalism in modern society? To what end does Brooks hope for his audience, and for what purpose might the New York Times employ such a divergent voice in contemporary media today? In this course we will consider some of Brooks’s more countercultural opinions and discuss not only form but content. We will also take time to consider particular influences in Brooks’ life, including the writings of Hannah Arendt, Martin Luther King, Jr., and L. Gregory Jones.

Dilemmas of Conscience and Politics | Michael Smith
Section 054 | 13617 | Wednesday | 12:30PM - 01:45PM
Through the reading of works of literature, this seminar examines difficult issues of moral choice faced by young people. Throughout history, from the ancient Thebes of Antigone to modern South Africa, people coming of age confront ethical and political dilemmas that raise the most basic questions of what it means to be a moral human being. Authors will include selections from Sophocles, Albert Camus (The Plague), Nadine Gordimer (Burger’s Daughter), Heinrich Böll (The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum), David Leavitt (While England Sleeps).

Awakening Creative Potential | Gweneth West
Section 056 | 13835 | Tuesday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
This class explores the power of creative expression to open the mind, uncover new possibilities, and develop innovative solutions to the challenges of the future. Learn to step “outside the box” to create opportunities for growth and fulfillment!

Finding Your Inner Compass | Anda Webb
Section 060 | 13921 | Wednesday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
College is a transitional period, one of learning and discovery. Incoming College students face overwhelming questions: Who do I want to be, and how am I motivated and inspired in life? What do I want to study and what should be my major? What do I want to do with the rest of my life (a question you shouldn’t feel the need to answer now!)? This course is one of self-exploration. We will examine the power of habits and how they drive our decision-making. We also will spend some time identifying our personal values and how those values factor into our decision-making. Through readings, journaling and writing exercises, classroom discussion, meditation practices, and other tools of discovery, students will examine the following questions:
How can I make the most of my college experience?
Who am I, what are my values, and how do they impact me?
How do I want to live my life, and what is my own definition of success?
What are my habits, and how are those habits driving (and sometimes, limiting) my decisions?
Rather than "discovering my passion," which is a limiting question, how do craft a fulfilling life that I know will change over time?

Food and Culture | Lisa Shutt
Section 061 | 13946 | Friday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Food is much more than a biological need for human beings. People are meaning-makers, inseparable from the cultural frameworks in which they find themselves enmeshed. What we eat, the way we eat, and whether or not we prepare or provide food for others is every bit as much symbolic as it is rooted in biological survival. We create self identity, claim ethnic and national affiliation and affirm our maleness and femaleness with the foods we purchase, prepare, select or order from a menu. This course will help students to investigate the way the foods people eat—or don’t eat—hold meaning for people within multiple cultural contexts. We will explore perspectives on food from a selection of disciplines represented in the College of Arts and Sciences, touching on the differences between the methodologies, research topics and histories of different disciplines. Finally, this course will also enter the practical arena, focusing on a number of topics related to advising and opportunities available to students in the College. These topics include advice on selecting and declaring a major, exploring the library system, critical thinking and writing, understanding undergraduate research opportunities, seeking out scholarships and grants, understanding the range of study abroad opportunities, and more.

Farming and the Good Life | Willis Jenkins
Section 065 | 14291 | Tuesday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
Does good farming illustrate the shape of a good life? A long tradition of agrarian thought thinks about citizenship, democracy, beauty, and virtue through portraits of the independent farmer. Considering the current renewal of interests in agriculture—especially in "alternative" and "sustainable" forms—this course reads classic agrarian writing along with feminist and postcolonial criticism.

How to Read a Play | Marianne Kubik
Section 068 | 14294 | Wednesday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
If a play is an artistic work performed for a live audience, how do we read a playscript for the source material it is? Like an orchestral score, a script is only the recipe, waiting for a creative team to combine its ingredients into a living, sensory experience. While traditional scripts clearly outline guides for production, guides by innovative storytellers might be buried, even elusive, on the page. We’ll compare some of these recent award-winning scripts to identify the textural complexities in language, action, rhythm and musicality for clues to understanding the playwright’s intentions, and we’ll set up our own creative teams to bring parts of these scripts to life. This course isn’t just for theatre geeks; it’s for anyone interested in discovering how a play can be appreciated as literature but is more deeply experienced collectively in performance.

The Culture of College and the Structure of UVA | Richard Handler
Section 069 | 14295 | Monday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
The College of Arts and Sciences is one school among 12 at the University of Virginia. This seminar examines the structure of a large research university and then focuses on the culture of undergraduate student life, with attention to today's students' curricular choices and career goals in relation to their changing understanding of the "American dream." We will survey the options that interdisciplinary study, across College programs and departments and across the University's schools, makes possible for students, and some of the possibilities and perils these options present. We will also examine extra-curricular student life and its relationship to academic work and career goals.

The Resilient Leader | Timothy Davis
Section 070 | 14296 | Monday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
This class will examine leadership from a relational, psychological, and personal perspective. While we will review some of the scholarly literature on leadership styles and frameworks, this course will primarily be a personal-growth experience for emerging student leaders. The hoped-for outcomes for each student will be: 1) greater self-understanding of one’s approach to personal influence and leadership, and 2) greater understanding of how to develop resilience in subsequent years as one develops into a student leader at U.Va. (and beyond). Self-reflection is central to the class experience. Active participation and sharing out of one’s reactions to class assignments/experiences is expected.

The Good Friend | Cliff Maxwell
Section 074 | 14384 | Tuesday | 09:30AM - 10:45AM
In the context of college life and beyond, what does it mean to have and be a good friend? What is the nature of friendship, and how can it be integral to a successful and happy college experience? We will explore the qualities needed to be a good friend in Eastern and Western philosophical contexts, and how developing those qualities can lead to wisdom and compassion—skills that can assist us in our interactions with others, to all become “better” human beings.

The Nuremburg Trial  | Gabriel Finder
Section 075 | 14385 | Thursday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
The Nuremberg Trial, held in 1945-1946, is considered by many to be the most important trial of the twentieth century. Before an international tribunal of American, British, French, and Soviet judges and prosecutors stood twenty-two major Nazi war criminals accused of committing the worst atrocities in history. Many people regard the Nuremberg Trial as the first Holocaust-related trial. But the role of the Holocaust in the trial is a matter of contention. Moreover, the Nuremberg Trial introduced several innovations to international criminal law, the most important of which was crimes against humanity. But whether crimes against humanity were central to the prosecution’s case and the verdict is also in dispute. In this course we will explore these and other questions using testimony from the trial, supplemented by scholarly literature about the trial. In addition to textual sources, we’ll watch the classic film Judgment at Nuremberg for insight into the impact of the trial. Apart from being an introduction to the Nuremberg Trial, the goal of the course is to encourage students to critically evaluate the political motivations that led to it as well as the prosecution’s theory of the case, the defense strategy, the testimony of both prosecution and defense witnesses, and the verdict.

Reading and Meditation | John Lyons
Section 076 | 14386 | Thursday | 9:30AM - 10:45AM
Throughout history and in many cultures people have observed moments of quietness during which they have directed their thoughts away from the urgency of everyday life. Some writers and artists have given us a glimpse of this practice in poems, essays, paintings, photography, films, and music. This course, while considering many representations of meditation, will concentrate on the relations among meditation, reading, and writing. We will discuss the relationship of reading and writing to time, place, and the development of independence and interiority. As students in the College, you have four years of unusual freedom to read, think, observe, and write. The texts we read in this course will give you examples of how others have used moments for thoughtful contemplation. The course will culminate with an essay on one of the representations of meditation that we encounter during the semester.

Climbing as Meditation | Anastasia Dakouri-Hild
Section 080 | 14615 | Tuesday | 02:00PM - 03:15PM
Presence of mind and the ability to handle stress in every day life can be found in unexpected places. Climbing is an excellent means to cultivate mindfulness and alleviate stress, engaging the body in the flow of the mind and vice versa. In this class we will explore the meditative potential of this activity using the low-height bouldering wall at UVa, as well as discussion of readings (from the Stoics to climbing gurus) and mindfulness exercises. Climbing is not required, but recommended.

Performing UVA | Elizabeth Ozment
Section 083 | 14618 | Tuesday | 03:30PM - 04:45PM
What does it mean "to perform," "to present," "to stage"? This seminar will examine UVa from a performance perspective. When considering a wide range of practices and environments, we will discover that practically anything can be studied as performance.

Intelligence Analysis | Jeb Livingood
Section 085 | 14652 | Wednesday | 11:00AM - 12:15PM
This course briefly examines some of the U.S. intelligence community’s greatest failures—such as failing to adequately warn of the attacks on 9/11 and incorrectly assessing Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction program—as well as some of its successes, like locating Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Students will examine some of the common analytical biases and blind spots that have led to national intelligence failures, as well as learn some of the structured analytical techniques that help reduce bias. While this course cannot promise to train its students for the next “Mission Impossible,” it might help them understand how their thinking can become impaired—and be improved upon—no matter what major they eventually choose.

Arts and Community | Deborah McGrady
Section 089 | 15468 | Thursday | 3:00PM - 4:15PM
Too often we think of the creative act as a private affair. Yet, artistic creation also has the power to create community. Shared culture and sharing culture have long been foundational to cultivating a sense of belonging, an appreciation for difference, and a means of bridging social divides. This class will explore the role of the Arts in the US from the governmental to local level. We will debate the role of government in the arts as well as the politics of multiculturalism, the purpose of public art, the university's role in promoting cultural activities, and the conceit that art can heal neighborhoods and bridge cultural divides. Our discussions will be informed by exploration of the presence of the Arts at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville. Students will be introduced to the vibrant artistic scene of their new community and will be made aware of the many avenues for supporting the arts in their own backyard.