Commencement May 19

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This is the third of five weekly articles explaining First Year Seminar to incoming students so they can rank their top four Term I FYS course choices by June 30.

This week’s Welcome Wednesday will outline three First Year Seminar course options students can choose from for Term I (Fall 2024). You’ll find these three courses interesting if you want to learn about creating communities and a society built on representation and social justice. In each course, you’ll learn about the actions you can take to effect change.

Be sure to select your FYS courses before the end of June by completing the course selection form on your admissions portal. Questions? Reach out to the Admissions Office at (607) 735-1724 or

Toward A More Just World

Welcome Wednesdays: Interacting in our World

If you want to help create a more just world but aren't sure how to go about it, you might enjoy learning from Joel Stoker, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies.

Educators, artists, religious leaders, and activists will speak to the class about how they successfully shifted power structures and empowered minorities and the underprivileged. Students will learn about historical policies that created discrimination, explore the narratives of those who moved the arc of justice forward, and participate in and collaborate with leaders from a local social justice organization.

"I'm excited to help students discover how people have changed the world in the past, but more importantly, how people are working to make the world a better place right now," said Stoker. "There are numerous organizations in our own backyard filled with volunteers who make enormous sacrifices to help others find enough to eat, discover a vocation, educate our youth, shelter those who need it, and provide opportunities for racial and social justice."

Imaginary Cities

Welcome Wednesdays: Interacting in our World

Autumn Watts, Lecturer in Academic Writing, will take students in her course on a quest to better understand the nature of cities and how cities influence and are influenced by the people who live in them. You will explore the City of Elmira and use tools like perception maps, creative writing, and photo essays to interpret your discoveries. You’ll then delve into films and short stories about utopian and dystopian cities, and study efforts to design intentional communities. Then, you’ll team up with classmates to design a "perfect city" using different media to present your 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."

Election Season

Welcome Wednesdays: Interacting in our World

Dr. Alexa Yesukevich, Instructor of Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies and Political Science Program Coordinator, will help you track 2024 election news as it unfolds in real-time. You'll explore how and why Americans vote the way they do, how shifts in media shape the race for the presidency, and what core philosophies drive our major political parties. A central focus of the course will be developing and practicing new skills to talk with your classmates and other peers about hot-button political issues – not through debate, in which the goal is to win, but through discussion driven by curiosity.

“More than 60 countries are holding elections this year; by the end of 2024, globally, more people will have voted than ever before,” shared Dr. Alexa Yesukevich. “Sometimes the political process can seem confusing or mystifying. But the whole point of democracy is that we each have a say in the direction our country takes. Discussing the US election together in real-time is a crucial way to engage with your world in this moment.”

Next week’s Welcome Wednesdays article will highlight three courses exploring how you can develop healthy habits for success: Hiking with a Geologist, S.O.A.R. (Student Orientation, Achievement, and Responsibility), and Bouncing Back - Why Perspective Matters.

Welcome Wednesday Articles:

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