First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars at Hardin-Simmons University, required of each first-year student in the Fall semester, introduce students to the Christian liberal arts education considered the hallmark of HSU: a classroom where faith and learning intersect, where students practice creating questions and investigating answers, where academic and social connections are made (many of which will last throughout college, if not a lifetime), and where students strengthen their understanding of themselves and their relationships to others.

While the topics may sound light, the content packs a punch, so be prepared for heavy reading and writing as well as group work as a part of this course. We call this class FYSM: Gateway because faculty designed the course as an academic gateway into HSU’s Foundational Curriculum Journey, our general education experience centered on three fundamental questions: Who am I? Who are You (God)? What about my Neighbor?

Contact Dr. Laura Pogue, Dean of General Education with any questions:, phone 325-670-1366

Other essential components of HSU’s FYSM: Gateway are Clifton StrengthsFinder, exploring HSU History, taking part in campus-wide Community Coffee Hour, and creating an entire college course plan. Students are free to choose the topic/section of their FYSMs, but those in Living Learning Communities, including Honors, should pay special attention to the section assigned to their LLC, and everyone should pay attention to potential major-required course scheduling conflicts.

Faculty carefully designed this course, and each instructor must apply and be approved by a committee of peers before being allowed to teach each Fall. Also, each course has an individual Library faculty member assigned as a point of contact for students in their research, and each course has a Year-Round Mentor who not only attends each class meeting but helps connect and support students both in and out of the classroom and continues this role through the Spring semester.

Your FYSM will also be your Stampede Week Group, and you can expect to hear from your instructor even before you arrive on campus. You can review all of our FYSM sections here for this Fall.

FALL 2018 FYSM 1300 Gateway Courses

MWF 9:00-9:50

Mr. Wade Ashby

Self-driving cars? Robots as teachers? Technology is radically reshaping the workplace, classroom, relationships, & how we generally live. Stephen Hawking predicts, “The development of full artificial intelligence [AI] could spell the end of the human race. Yet Alan Perlis states, “A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.” So do we study AI to learn more about ourselves & our Creator, or do we try to run the other way? Join Wade Ashby as you enter HSU’s academic gateway in an FYSM investigating real-world AI applications & their potential impact on our world.

B: T/TH 10:30-11:45
XT/TH 11:55-1:10

Mrs. Lindsay Boynton

You are here for a reason, & this FYSM Gateway course will help you discover what it is! Since college is a time of exploration, this course features experiential learning, hands-on activity, & self-assessment. Through these methods, you will uncover your strengths & interests & align them with potential careers.

MWF 11:00-11:50

Dr. Jennifer Hennigan & Dr. Steven Rosscoe

Can Thor’s hammer really fly? How could we stop a real- life zombie? Would we live in a world like “Waterworld” if the polar ice melted? Our best science fiction & action stories are based in scientific principles. This FYSM Gateway course provides an exploration of how science, scientists, & scientific ethics are portrayed in movies, television, & print media through the lens of two of our favorite scientists. *Students in the Pre-Health LLC: enroll in this section!

MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Rich Traylor

As a significant shaper of culture, Disney reaches the lives of millions, so Disney studies is serious business. Come consider the life, work, & legacy of Walt Disney & how they connect to your life, work, & legacy—even in college! Join Dr. Rich Traylor, respected History professor, in a semester-long conversation that will prompt some deep thinking, Disney-style.

T/TH 10:30-11:45

Dr. Melissa Madeson

Framing learning through media & real world examples from sports & athletes, Dr. Melissa Madeson helps students investigate skills leading to success in college & beyond. Tackle critical thinking, time management, study techniques, & social skills in the world of athletes around the world & apply those to your own life!

MWF 9:00-9:50

Karin Brown and Mr. Ryan Hunter

Why do people commit crimes? What explains the ways we respond to crimes? Come join HSU Criminal Justice professors Brown & Hunter as they introduce us to these questions & more pertaining to crime & those who commit crimes. They’ll help us begin to uncover what our responses to these complex issues reveal to us about who we are as individuals, as communities, as Texans, and as Americans.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Corrie Reed

A happy practitioner of geocaching around the world, Dr. Reed is excited to pursue this outdoor, GPS-enabled scavenger hunt with you! You’ll experience geocaching as a tool for enhancing both physical & mental abilities & work in groups as well as in the community. All participants need a GPS-enabled smartphone or device & a premium subscription to Geocaching. Students in the Health & Wellness LLC: enroll in this section!

MW 1:00-2:15

Dr. Susan Pigott

Calling all Potterheads! Read from all seven Harry Potter books, choose your house, & enter the Hogwarts world of learning as you explore the struggle between good & evil, biblical themes & allusions, social issues, the hero journey, self-sacrifice, & other relevant issues. Wands optional.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Tiffany Fink

“Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?” Smash Broadway musical Hamilton brings truth to life on stage, revealing both the flaws & strengths of great American figures. Join American Historian Dr. Tiffany Fink “in the room where it happened” to explore the intersection of historical narrative & creative genius through the lens of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit. Hamilton: the first-year seminar with a hip-hop soundtrack. If you are young, scrappy, and hungry, enroll in Dr. Fink’s FYSM!

T/TH 10:30-11:45

Mrs. Susetta Rockett

Choosing a liberal arts university to further your education opens the door to many exciting opportunities in the world of Fine Arts! Concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, guest artists, & guest lecturers fill the world of HSU & are the highlights of this FYSM Gateway. Join musician Suzie Rockett on an artistic journey toward a lifelong understanding & appreciation for the Arts.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Mrs. Holly Edwards

How does knowing God influence the way you know yourself & the way you relate to your neighbor? Come walk through a discovery in knowing God through spiritual formation opportunities & spiritual disciplines, knowing yourself through self-awareness discoveries & personality testing, as well as learning who your neighbor is & how to connect deeply with them. Students in the Spiritual Formation LLC: enroll in this section!

MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Laura Pogue

Explore your strengths & dig into your first semester of university life through the words of C.S. Lewis. Whether pursuing his education or educating others, serving in war or coping with the aftermath, denying the spiritual or coming to recognize it, Lewis gives us a fascinating lens on his world and ours. Members of the C.S. Lewis Society will be challenged & encouraged in this FYSM Gateway course as they examine HSU, friendship, education, conflict, calling, & more.

 MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Coleman Patterson

Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, & Kung Fu Panda are American pop-culture symbols.  Martial arts programs for children & adults are now staples in our society for exercise, discipline, & well-being.  Today’s culture embraces self-defense & martial arts fitness programs as well as martial arts competition in the Olympics, tournaments, & MMA industries.  Students in this FYSM Gateway section will examine the prevalence of martial arts in American culture, learn the histories & particulars of various martial arts styles, & develop actual traditional skills with in-class training.

MWF  9:00-9:50

Mrs. Mary Burke

Dig deep into the reserves of your university! Explore the lives of HSU icons Simmons, Sandefer, Richardson, & more while discovering the rich traditions & history of our 125-year old institution. Learn what campus life was like in war-time and moments of world crisis. Examine the values and priorities of those who walked these 40 acres before us. HSU Special Collections Manager Mary Burke will give access to primary documents & HSU archives as a part of this remarkable class.

T/TH 10:30-11:45

Dr. Bryan Yorton

What understanding of reality lies behind the magic of Middle-earth? Where did it all come from? What was Tolkien thinking as he imagined a world of elves, hobbits, wizards, dwarves, dragons, & monsters where good & evil battle for supremacy? What is the Philosophy of this world? By what rules does it operate? How might it intersect with your own? Come explore the world of Tolkien, & see what wisdom we can gain about ourselves and our world.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Mr. Daniel Allen

In this FYSM Gateway course, investigate why sports is frequently more than just playing a game. Dr. Daniel Allen, political scientist, will help you & your fellow first-year students begin the next stage of your scholarly lives by looking at the places where political issues and identities emerge in competitive athletics.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Ms. Megan Baldree

Who are you as a leader? What experiences have shaped your leadership journey? Walk with HSU’s Associate Dean of Students, Megan Baldree, in this section of FYSM Gateway this semester identifying and cultivating our leadership skills, understanding what it means to lead in difficult times, and studying exemplary practices for leadership. In developing our own philosophy of leadership at the gateway of the HSU experience, we will learn about our personalities, our strengths, and the motivators that drive us. Students in the Leadership LLC: enroll in this section!

MWF 9:00-9:50

Ms. Alyssa Rasco and Mr. John Hunt

The world depends on women.  Be a part of this FYSM Gateway course & explore God’s empowering vision for women & the profound impact their full participation can have in every community. All students are invited to join us as we consider how women are made in God’s image & uniquely equipped to fulfill an important role during the 21st century.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Mr. John Neese

Love ‘em or yell at ‘em, athletes significantly impact culture around the planet. Join HSU Athletic Director John Neese in this FYSM Gateway course to study Transactional vs. Transformational leadership through the examples of athletes & their influences on teams, companies, & society. Foundational texts for this course include Stephen Covey’s Principle Centered Leadership & Tony Dungey’s Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life.

T 5:30-8:15 p.m.

Dr. Jana Wesson-Martin

We all love a good story! Narratives weave together our lives. Come consider the history, value, & power of storytelling with English prof Dr. Jana Wesson-Martin. What is your story? How does your story answer God’s calling? What do others’ stories teach us about faith, and what can we learn from others’ stories? In searching for the answers to these questions, you may just find some exciting & beautiful chapters yet to be written in your life.

MWF 9:00-9:50

Mrs. Haley Carlson

Ever wonder what you want to do with your life? This FYSM Gateway course will lead you on a journey to discover your strengths, explore all the majors offered at HSU, & make connections for your future & career. Join Haley Carlson, HSU Student Success Specialist, as you learn more about yourself & come one step closer to choosing the right major for you at HSU! *Designed for students in the Exploring Majors LLC!

MWF 9:00-9:50

Dr. Larry Fink

Your camera phone – or digital camera – and a bit of curiosity are all you’ll need to join Dr. Larry Fink for an exploration of the physiology, psychology, & spirituality of the gifts of seeing & creativity. You’ll be introduced to several styles of art photography & how to more fully appreciate them, & you’ll learn to use basic tools of composition as you create & share your own artistic images inspired by masters of the medium. Jump into college by learning how to look at the world & yourself in new ways!

MW 1:00-2:15

Dr. Joe McCormick and Mr. John McCormick

How do you encounter the challenges of college?  What do you do when it seems like the end of the world?  As the zombie apocalypse looms, be prepared!  Join the McCormick brothers in studying the physical, psychological, & social challenges you will experience in your new environment.  Along your journey, you may even pick up some survival skills… just in case.

MW 1-2:15

Dr. Tom Copeland

Honors students! You need to sign up for HONR 1301- Honors Colloquium, a course devoted to tackling the hard questions: How do I know what I know? How should Christians respond to authority? What is my responsibility for poverty? Does suffering have meaning?  Why does God allow evil in the world? Every week, we’ll read, talk, & write about these & other questions that may not have clear answers, but are essential topics for well-educated, deep-thinking people.  Along the way, you’ll get to know yourself & your classmates very well.  It may be the most intellectual fun you’ve ever had!  See you in Colloquium!