First-Year Seminar

First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a course designed specifically for Barton College first-year students. You may select your class from the descriptions below. You might choose one that relates to your potential major, one that sounds interesting, or one that focuses on college success.

All the FYS classes are designed to help you be a successful college student and, therefore, have some similar content. For example, all classes will work in areas such as study skills, time management, career research, and choice of a major. We will all useStrange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake as our summer reader. Your first FYS assignment is to read the book before classes begin in August. The summer reader will be available for purchase in the Barton College bookstore during orientation sessions in June and August.

You will meet your FYS faculty member and academic advisor (these may be the same individual) when you attend orientation.

Course Descriptions

DENNIS - Tweets, Tags, & Notes: Exploring Social Media

Elizabeth DennisDr. Elizabeth Dennis
Associate Professor of English

How can we learn from what we do, see, and read today on the Internet? How do spaces like social networking sites, blogs, and other electronic media create new ways for people to organize? If we apply these questions to themes from our summer reader Strange as This Weather has Been, we would find several advocacy groups gathering via the internet to say something about mountain top removal. What influence, if any, can these online groups have on the world around us?

As college students who are more-than-likely avid users of social media sites, it’s important to discuss and understand the implications of how we use these online spaces. In this FYS class, we will explore the basic tenets of rhetoric and use those principles to analyze online spaces and other electronic media. We will discuss and work with different online environments in order to become familiar with their potential uses and drawbacks to education, to society, and to the workplace. Each student will produce written assignments, participate in class projects, and contribute to open discussions.

I am a professor, a wife, and a mom. I have been teaching in the School of Humanities at Barton since August 2007. I teach composition, developmental writing, technical writing, and various other writing based courses. In addition to teaching writing courses, I am also the Director of the First-Year Seminar Program and have the pleasure of teaching First-Year Seminar as well. I truly enjoy meeting and working with new freshmen each year. Additionally, I recently finished my Ph.D in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication at East Carolina University. My main area of research is in writing studies and pedagogy. Finally in August 2009, I became a new mom; and in my spare time, I enjoy running, cooking, gardening, and relaxing with my husband, our son, and our dog.

FEGLEY - From the Mountains to the Sea: Human Impacts on the Environment

Dr. Jill Fegley
Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Biology

The physical and chemical changes of human activities are being felt in natural ecosystems on land and at sea, on farms and ranches, and in cities and suburbs. All around the world, society is battling the present versus the future: short-term economic gain or long-term environmental sustainability. Using the summer reader, Strange as This Weather has Been, as a starting point, we will examine environmental issues that impact our region and how society perceives these issues.

Every environmental issue affects certain groups of people more than others. Using case studies, this course will explore such topics as: strip mining, fracking, off-shore oil extraction, coal ash pollution, shore development, invasive species, beach nourishment, the logging of long leaf pine, land use planning, and the loss of biodiversity. We will discuss these environmental issues through various social, cultural, economic and environmental lenses to further understand the complexity of the issues at hand. Students will read articles on the topics, write short position papers, and participate in discussions and debates.

I am currently the Associate Provost of Academic Affairs at Barton College. Although I enjoy my administrative duties, I have missed being in the classroom, and I am excited to be teaching in the First-Year Seminar. I was actually trained as a marine ecologist and received my doctoral degree from the University of Maine in Ecology and Environmental Science. My research interests focus on how humans impact the near-shore ecosystem. I have studied land use development patterns, the effects of beach nourishment on meiofauna, the impacts of seaweed harvesting and mussel dragging on the near-shore ecosystem, and the implications of management decisions on the lobster, sea urchin, and shrimp fisheries. My husband, Steve, is also a marine ecologist, and we enjoy exploring various natural habitats on our time off. I have two grown children, Bryan and Erin, a beagle, and two Maine coon cats.

GARDNER - Is There a Jekyll and Hyde in All of Us?

Ashley Gardner
Visiting Instructor of Psychology

Following our reading of Strange As This Weather Has Been during the summer, this course will explore the duality of mankind’s behavior towards others and the amazing capacity to endure throughout many situations.  We will look at the main characters’, such as Bant and Lace as well as the community’s, experience with both power and powerlessness.  We will discuss topics including, but not limited to, what are we capable of doing to other people? Does altruism truly exist? Can people do heinous acts without feeling guilty? Also, can people really change for the better?  Taking a social psychological approach, we will discuss the possibilities of individuals behaving in ways that go against and/or go beyond what they ever imagined possible.

I have been a proud member of the Barton faculty since the fall of 2008. The Department of Psychology is what I currently call “home.” I teach several different psychology courses including, but not limited to, Introductory Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Psychology of Aging. I received my master’s degree from East Carolina University; and I now live in Nashville with my husband, David; our one child, Parker; my dog, Snickers; and my two cats, Norman and Twitch. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family. I love teaching, and I especially love teaching psychology. I look forward to meeting all of you!

HORNICK - Decisions: The Choice is Yours

Carolyn HornickCarolyn Hornick
Lecturer of Education

Think about how many decisions you make every day. Some are good, some are bad. And some matter more than others. But together, they chart the course of your life.  In this class we’ll explore the process for making decisions to positively impact your life’s goals.

In our summer reader, Strange as the Weather has Been, the characters must make critical decisions that alter their life’s journey. In some cases they are affected by decisions from sources greater than themselves. Together we’ll look at the insights we can discover from the characters and the decisions they make.

I have been at Barton for more than 10 years and teach in the School of Education with a focus on Deaf Education. I teach American Sign Language classes as well as several other education classes at Barton.  I live in the neighborhood and am a sign language interpreter in the community.

I have a passion for life and believe that each day is a gift. I strive to embrace joy as a way of life. I find pleasure through mountain biking and yoga, through reading and my book clubs, through my family, friends and students.

I invite you to come on this journey with me. It will be the best decision you make.

KOLUNIE - Obtaining Natural Resources: Killing the Earth

Jane KolunieJane Kolunie
Professor of Biology

Big corporations, state and local governments spend millions of dollars annually to obtain, refine, purify, package, and use the natural resources available on our earth. Coal, gas, oil wood, and even fresh water are in constant demand. But what are the consequences of the human race digging, drilling, ripping, and tearing at the earth? What about the disruption of the plant life? The killing of not only trees but all of the underlying important layers of the forest that provide the delicate balance to keep the cycle of life going. How concerned are we about the killing and displacement of bugs, birds, mammals, and larger animals that may be on the verge of extinction? Are we indeed killing the earth?

I have been a Professor of Biology at Barton College for 25 years. I have spent 24 of those years teaching First Year Seminar because I love working with new students. I get excited teaching people about college and finding their true passion for learning and for their chosen career path. My true passion lies in working with animals. I am an animal behaviorist and have studied rats and baboons. I am a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator for the state of North Carolina. I raise baby bunnies, squirrel, opossums and song birds. My heart lies though with my husband Michael and our two non-wild animals: our Maltese, Bentley, and our cat, Lexi.

O'NEILL - Creating a Visual Narrative through Art Making

Maureen O'Neill

Maureen O’Neill
Director of Exhibitions and Educational Programming
Visiting Assistant Professor

Visual art can be a vehicle for personal expression that transcends the need for a verbal exchange. In this class, the rich visual world that is presented in Ann Pancake’s, Strange As This Weather Has Been, will serve as inspiration for expression through hands on art-making projects. No prior art experience is necessary, just a willingness to create, to learn and explore, and to find personal expression in a visual language.

I am the director of exhibitions and educational programing for the Barton Art Galleries and teach painting and drawing. I have been a professional painter for over twenty years and believe in the power of visual expression.

RUSSELL - The Essential 55 - Rules for Life

Jennifer RussellDr. Jennifer Russell
Associate Professor of Education

Ron Clark, a teacher since 1995, and originally from North Carolina has taught in some of the most difficult schools in the country.  He has recently opened a school in Atlanta where he inspires at risk youth to do their best everyday.  His New York Times best seller – The Essential 55 – an Award Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child shares “rules for life.”  During the semester we will look at these “essential 55” to see which of these “rules” would have been helpful to the characters in Ann Pancake’s Strange As This Weather Has Been.   This book tells a story of a coal mining family – a couple and their four children – living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life.  The characters take on different roles in this fight and each have their own struggles and concerns.  We will look closely at the role of education, along with Clark’s Essential 55, and how education, or lack of effects communities and societies.

Jennifer Russell has been a member of the Barton faculty since the fall of 2010.  She teaches in the School of Education where she teachers various methods and foundations courses.  Prior to coming to Barton she worked at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.  She also taught elementary school for 12 years, much of her time was spend in the Chicago Public Schools.  She relocated from from Chicago to Clayton where she lives with her two sons, Will (14) and Ryan (11); husband Kirk; two Springer Spaniels, Maggie and Libby, and Trevor our horse.  Dr. Russell enjoys painting, photography and riding their horse in her free time.

RUWE - The Faces of Hunger

Carol RuweCarol Ruwe
Associate Professor of Nursing
Director of General Education

Do you know how it feels to be hungry? Truly hungry? Can you imagine the desperation of not knowing when you will eat again? As a nutritionist, I am particularly concerned about the problems of hunger and poverty and the effects on children and families. I recently returned from a travel experience in the Dominican Republic with nursing students, and I saw families living in primitive conditions with a severely limited food supply. Hunger exists throughout the world and it is important to recognize that hunger exists in America. In this course, we will examine issues related to hunger and poverty and the effect of hunger on children and families. We will begin the conversation through selected readings and your own research on hunger. From there, we will consider the impact of hunger on our own communities. We will ask questions about hunger and search for answers. Why does hunger exist? Who is responsible? What can we do?

Food has always intrigued me. I have always viewed food as more than a means of subsistence or a path to health. Food intricately connects with who we are. It defines our heritage and knits families and cultures together. For nine years, as a public health nutritionist, I saw hunger, malnutrition, and poverty on a daily basis. From public health nutrition, I shifted my career focus to education and began my tenure at Barton College where I teach introductory and clinical nutrition and various other food and health-related courses. My special interests are food and culture, which I combine with my love of travel. Perhaps you will consider joining me for an international travel course to explore how food, culture, and health connect. The Dominican Republic is one of my favorite destinations, and students who travel with me find it to be a life-changing experience. When I am not traveling or reading, I enjoy my passion for flowers, as many days at the beach as I can manage, and special time with my family.

STEWART - Social Media’s View of World Event’s

Richard StewartRichard Stewart
Assistant Professor of Communications

Explore the rapidly changing world of interactive media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and how these social media are changing how you understand the world in which you live. Students will discover how legacy media (newspapers, television, radio) are using new media to reach those who rarely use legacy media. Current events based on use of social media will be closely examined.

I have grown up in the legacy media, that being newspapers, radio, and television. But, as a person whose life has been dedicated to telling people what he thinks they need to know, I have found that I have had to conform to the way non-legacy viewers/readers (you) want to know things. As an instructor at Barton for the past 10 years, I have learned that you are unlikely to read a printed newspaper, preferring to go online to get information. I had better put it on a website or on Facebook if I want you to know it. A graduate of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), I grew up in Wilson and have published newspapers in Kenly since 1981. A life-long journalist, newspaper editor, and publisher, I stay busy teaching journalism at Barton and keeping my newspapers on the cutting edge of how information is delivered to an ever-changing population.

TICE - Leadership: An Ecological Perspective

Jared R. Tice
Dean of Students

This year’s summer reader, Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake, focuses on a family living in West Virginia and the impact coal mining is having on their community and the disruption and imbalance this causes on the environment and eco-system.

This course will explore a new form of leadership based on ecological principles focusing on team balance, interdependence, adaptability, and open systems. We will adopt John C. Maxwell’s 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader to help serve as a guide as we emphasize four areas of the college experience to balance: leadership, involvement, volunteerism, and education. Lastly, this course will discover the importance of student involvement, service learning, and leadership skills through co-curricular activities, practical discussions, projects, self-exploration, self-impression, and personal experiences.

As the Dean of Students, I have the privilege of working with students directly as they move through their college career outside the classroom. Next year will be my fifth at Barton College, and it will be my third-year teaching and advising First-Year students.   My passion for working with college students was born out of my undergraduate experiences at a small, liberal arts college similar to Barton, which led me to pursue an education and a career in student affairs.

I reside next to campus with the College’s unofficial mascot – Winston, the friendly bulldog. When I am not working, I enjoy good food and films and visiting family and friends in my native West Virginia where this year’s summer reader is set.

WALSTON - Learning to Tell Our Stories

Angie WalstonAngie Walston
Assistant Dean for Student Success

[Special section for students with 27+ hours of college credit]

Everyone has a story. Like Lace See and her family in Strange as This Weather Has Been, your story is built from your roots, past experiences, and values. You also have a future story to tell, and your Barton College chapter is just beginning. In this 8-week course designed for first-year students entering with 27 or more college credits, you will learn to tell your own story. We will explore big questions – What beliefs guide your life? How do you define happiness? What makes you “you”? What do you want to gain from your experiences? – while also learning practical ways to successfully make the transition to Barton. You will learn more about yourself and consider how your personality, interests, values, and skills play a role in your decisions about life and careers.

My Barton College story started 10 years ago when I began working in the Office of Student Success. In my current position as Assistant Dean, I lead the office in the coordination of academic advising, academic support services, and career services. I love working with college students and watching you learn more about yourself and discover new possibilities. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two daughters, reading, and renovating our 60-year-old house.