This is the final of five weekly articles that serve as guides to incoming students as they weigh their First Year Seminar and Living Learning Community selections. Incoming students interested in any of these courses can indicate their choice using this form by May 30.*

Are you interested in learning more about the city and region you will call home for the next four years? This article explores three First Year Seminars in which you'll survey your surroundings - Elmira College, the City of Elmira, and the Southern Tier region - and see how these communities both shape you and are shaped by you.

Exploring Elmira Communities

Have you ever examined the communities and rituals that you are an integral part of? In this course, Dr. Doc Billingsley, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, investigates what it means to join a new community. In particular, what does it mean to join the Elmira College community? Students will borrow ethnographic methods from anthropology to examine the rituals we use to build communities and the role college plays in personal growth and career preparation. By taking a different view to look at the community we are a part of, we can learn some things about ourselves. At the same time, students will discuss strategies for making the most of their college experience and learn how to face some of the inevitable challenges of life head-on.

"As the first person in my family to attend college, it took me several semesters to figure out the meaning of some of the things going on around me," said Billingsley. "Now I have an opportunity to help my students decode some of the hidden curriculum of higher education and make the most of their time in college."

Hiking with a Geologist

In this course, Dr. Trevor Browning, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, will take students outside to see how humans and earth science shape our environment. As a student, you'll observe first-hand how geology subtly molds Earth's water and climate, influencing the distribution of plants and animals.

"This class is about how and why we care about nature, taught out in nature," said Browning. "Despite being locked inside most of the time, we need to be outdoors. While walking around the beautiful Southern Tier, students will explore firsthand the connection between the spiritual (why we enjoy nature) and the mechanical (how nature works). By the end of the course, students will blend science and human interest in nature to discover unique solutions to environmental and social problems."

Imaginary Cities

Autumn Watts, Lecturer in Academic Writing, will guide students on a quest to better understand the nature of cities and how cities influence and are influenced by the people who live in them. Students will explore the City of Elmira and use tools like perception maps, creative writing, and photo essays to interpret their discoveries. They will then delve into films and short stories about utopian and dystopian cities, and study efforts to design intentional communities. Students will team up to design their own "perfect city" using different media to present their ideas and sell the city to prospective residents.

"In this course, we look at the many different ways our identities and relationships shape the spaces we live in, but also how such spaces shape us," said Watts. "Say, for example, how the physical design of a public plaza can get people talking, connecting, and enjoying the environment and each other - or actively silence, endanger, or exclude others. Some of these ways are obvious, others very subtle. So in this class, we'll learn how to look, listen, and pay attention to the environments we live in, how they position us, how we position ourselves - and how we might change those spaces to make a better society."

*Incoming students should have access to the form. If you encounter an issue, please reach out to the Admissions Office.

Share This Page