The First-Year Foundations (FYF) Program is designed to lay an academically grounded foundation for all programs of study at Wilkes, provide bonding experiences with peers and faculty, inspire a sense of connection to the University and its many support systems, and integrate new students into the Wilkes University community. Therefore, all students entering Wilkes with fewer than 24 academic course credits will take a First-Year Foundations (FYF 101) course during the first semester at Wilkes.


The program offers a variety of special topics courses, and FYF faculty members are encouraged to explore topics and themes that are of special interest to them.  All sections of FYF, regardless of topic, are academically rigorous and share a set of Programmatic Student Learning Outcomes. The development of writing skills, essential reading and writing skills, critical thinking, and information literacy are embedded in the exercises and activities of each FYF course and are addressed and assessed at both the programmatic and section levels.


Courses in the FYF Program are open to all students and are not connected to any specific degree program. Each section topic is aligned with one of the themes shown below and the topics offered give students the opportunity to explore a general topic of special personal interest that is not connected to their major. 


In Orientation Station, you will be asked to identify your FYF theme preference.  Please review the following FYF course descriptions so that you will able to rank the courses in order of preference when you are completing your "TO DO" list.


Course descriptions:       

How Hollywood Sees Washington:  Understanding American Government Through Film
Dr.  Tom Baldino
The movie industry has used the US government as a subject in its films for over 90 years, but the tone of its treatment of government has not been consistent nor positive.   The course will view films from two different points in time on each of the three branches of government as well as other major elements in our political system, e.g. the media, lobbyists, and use the films as a means of not only understanding how our government operates but also how the public’s opinion of government changed as reflected in the films.  
Constructed Pastimes
Dr. Anthony Kapolka
Class Meets MW 3-4 PM; H 7-9:30 PM (Activity period)
In this class games and other pastimes provide the vehicle for developing critical and creative thinking; finding, evaluating and communicating information; understanding people and fostering a sense of community at Wilkes.  We will ask questions such as:
What mathematics lies behind card counting systems?
Did western chess originate in China or India?
Do video games promote aggressive behavior?  Sexism?
Is role playing a useful experiential learning tool or a recruiting ground for the devil?
How do judges rank performance activities like ballroom dancing?
What are the philosophical differences between simulating and representing reality?
During the semester you'll be individually responsible for the design, playtest, and manufacture of a game.  The entire class will develop a set of simple miniature skirmish rules, construct model terrain, and run an open tournament at a national war gaming convention!
In addition to traditional lecture, the class meets on Thursday evenings for an activity period when students present game rules, playtest games and experiment and evaluate different playing strategies.
Global Warming
Dr. Matt Finkenbinder
The primary objective of the course is to evaluate the facts and myths concerning the recent increase in Earth’s global temperature and human activities (fossil fuel combustion and deforestation).  As such, the course offers an interdisciplinary discussion of both natural and human-induced global environmental and climate change at various scales. Topics to be covered include weather, climate variability, basic oceanography, glaciers, and Earth system cycles.  The course will examine the debate surrounding modern climate variability and the activities of humans in a broader context through critical analysis of a variety of media.  Students will read select research topics and critically evaluate the representation of the topics from sources including peer-reviewed journal articles, scientific reports, newspapers, social media, and blogs.  The course will require the application of critical thinking processes to course content and will develop both written and oral communication skills with an emphasis on persuasive communication in an academic context
Urban Plunge: An Introduction to Service, Citizenship and Community Change-
Ms. Megan Boone Valkenburg
 This is a Community Based Learning course. Community Based Learning is a method of teaching, learning and reflecting that integrates community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and encourage lifelong civic engagement.  It is a form of experiential learning – learning by doing. Students will be required to do work outside the classroom setting in the greater Wilkes-Barre area.
Reflection is an integral component of Service-Learning experiences.  It is a critical thinking technique where you evaluate what has transpired rather than simply recording it.
The students in this course will be introduced to various nonprofit leaders in our Urban Neighborhood. The class will meet the nonprofit leaders in the agency setting- this could include walking several blocks, tracing the path of our most at-risk neighbors to observe the support services utilized on a daily basis, or meeting with religious leaders in a house of worship. Based on the information presented by the non-profit leaders, the class will choose to complete a service component that builds upon the assets of the agency and works to solve an issue in our neighborhood. In order to know how to create a salient service projects, students in this course are encouraged to participate in an Urban Plunge Service experience during Fall Break. During this experience students will go through the process of volunteering, identify the components of a good project, and reflect on the experience in a group setting. 
Engineering Design
Dr. Ed Bednarz
Dr. William Greiner
Strongly recommended for engineering majors
Engineers are inventors who create something new and change the world.  In this course you will learn about this exciting and challenging career.  The course will cover the evolution of engineering as a profession as well as where it is going in the future (robotics, 3D printing, etc…) We will be doing hands on projects such as building an earthquake proof tower and having an egg drop competition.  Innovation is within your reach.
History and Culture of Daily Life: Food, Clothing, and Everyday Experiences
Dr. Akira Shimizu
This course is concerned with the ways in which people assert their national, ethnic, religious regional, and local identities through their quotidian, daily experiences. Broadly conceiving “daily life” as a category of academic inquiry, students will examine this subject through a variety of issues especially through the lens of food and food ways. A number of historical evidence shows that food has been employed as a powerful vehicle to assert one’s identity in encountering others, and people use it consciously or subconsciously in today’s globalizing societies. In order to examine this, students will be guided to develop interdisciplinary approaches first through the readings contemporary scholarship in history, philosophy, and anthropology, and then by analyzing films and novels as well as conducting an ethnographic observation.
Be The Change
Dr. Marcia Balester
This course presents an opportunity for students to participate in a service learning project with local veterans and their spouses from World War 2, Korea, the Cold War, Persian Gulf Wars, and beyond.  Nowhere else do individuals have the opportunities that present themselves to Americans.  Our democracy is the result of the sacrifice of many generations of Americans who have come before us.  With that in mind, students will participate in a service learning activity and record and transcribe an oral history from individuals who served in the military, and those who have supported them, in an effort to recognize their sacrifice and gain an appreciation for living in our democracy.

Utopias and Dystopias
Dr. Helen Davis
If you were to imagine an ideal society, what would it include? If you were to imagine the opposite of that ideal, what would you lose? Utopias, or ideal societies, have been envisioned by many writers who dream of a more egalitarian world free from the problems and inequities that plague our real world. Dystopias, on the other hand, often embody the worst aspects of culture or fears of declining culture. Both utopias and dystopias invite readers to see the society in which they live more clearly and to imagine how to solve social problems. In this course, we will read several utopian and dystopian short stories, novels, and films, and we will contemplate the function of utopian and dystopian thought from political, philosophical, psychological, and literary lenses. This interdisciplinary approach will introduce you to college-level critical thought and inquiry. The class will culminate in a creative writing project. We will also spend a little time each week introducing campus resources and exploring best practices of successful students. Writers may include Orwell, Bradbury, Moore, LeGuinn, Atwood, Huxley, and Collins. 


Recognizing and Responding to Emergencies and Personal Well Being
Ms. Susan Vosik Pekala
This course is designed to prepare the student to recognize when an emergency exists and to prepare the student to make appropriate decisions regarding administration of first aid care and appropriate decision-making.  Mental barriers that prevent one from acting along with not knowing individual limitations can often be formed by past experiences, beliefs and practices.  Identifying these may help in modifying one’s decisions and how to act when help is needed.  In conjunction with knowing how to react to an emergency situation, this course will emphasize the importance of a safe and healthy lifestyle and what can be done to maintain that healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle changes we make now can prevent future injury and illness.  Some of the topics that will be covered are: How can you safely help someone who may be experiencing a medical emergency?  What would you do in an emergency situation and how can you work as a team in certain situations?  How can you help yourself and others to make safe and healthy lifestyle choices?  What resources are available on campus for students to utilize in pursuing healthy lifestyles?  The course is based on experiential education that not only will be facilitated by the instructor, but also by the students as well. 
Going Global
Dr. Gina Zanolini Morrison
This section is designed for those who are interested in global cultures and/or traveling abroad at some point in the future. The course will examine the literature, benefits, and opportunities related to studying abroad and pursuing international careers. Students will research specific global destinations, including the social/cultural norms and political systems, and will develop a plan for their own study abroad and/or travel experience. Special attention will be given to global citizenship.
American Culture & Values
Dr. Gina Zanolini Morrison
This section, specifically designed for international students, will examine literature related to the culture and values of the United States of America. Students will research specific American customs, holidays, systems, social/cultural norms, and diverse populations, with the goal of promoting reflection, discussion, analysis, and comparison with each student’s native culture. Cultural identity development will be used as a framework for the integration of new knowledge in a manner that allows each student to blend the best of both worlds during this educational experience.
World Politics in the 21st Century
Dr. Andreea Maierean
 The class will introduce students to the basic notions and skills that will enable them to take an active interest in global affairs. We will examine important issues in world politics today such as security concerns, development, trade, demographic trends and environmental problems. These topics are designed to encourage students to develop their own interpretations for, and to demonstrate their understanding of, the facts and concepts presented in class. "World Politics in the 21st Century" will emphasize the impact of international politics on students' own lives and interests, so we will encourage discussions and debates related to current issues or recent events.
The Power of Story
Ms. Vicki Mayk
Human beings are born to be storytellers. Stories are how we think. They are what connect us and help us make sense of life. This course examines the science behind story, the importance of story in human communication, and the use of story as a tool in many fields, including medicine, psychology, literature, marketing and advertising, communications, film, history and politics. A second focus of the class will be to help students with the transition to college life, including doing college level work and adapting to life as a college student.


Exploring Mars Through Lego Mindstorm Robotics
Dr. Debbie French
Recommended for engineering or education majors
This FYF course will provide an introduction to programming with the LEGO Robotics system.  Students will construct and program LEGO Mindstorms to complete the six Mars Missions.  In addition, students will learn about past and future Mars missions, issues and constraints with sending manned and unmanned missions to Mars.  Related science content such as Martian geology, atmospheric composition will be covered.  Connections to engineering and STEM education careers will be made.  Students considering Engineering, science, or science education majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in this course. 


Intelligence Applied: In the Classroom and Beyond
Ms. Katy Betnar
Mr. Len Lojewski
Racheal Talpash
Mr. Tom Thomas
**Students are assigned to this section and may not elect in or out of it**
All human progress, individually and collectively, has been the result of our ability to learn, i.e., to acquire knowledge and develop the skills necessary to utilize and apply that knowledge to solve problems. In this course, we will review some of what we know about our capacity to learn and the role it plays in determining success or failure in our learning environments. Particular attention will be directed to the "formal' learning that takes place in a university environment. We will also explore the relationship between learning and intelligence. To achieve this we will review the research for a definition of intelligence and compare the views of the experts with those of non-experts. We will work as individuals and in small groups, to complete exercises and solve problems that will isolate and develop various aspects of your critical thinking.
Learning Through Leadership
Dr. Mark Allen
Ms. Elizabeth Swantek
Living Learning Community- see requirements in Living Learning Community Section
 Honors students are assigned to this section
**Students are assigned to this section and may not elect in or out of it**
This course is designed to offer students a general understanding of several leadership theories and relate that understanding to the individual student’s leadership skills. The course will be delivered using: a leadership theories text; several current, relevant, case study articles; and an interactive, discussion format.  Students will complete an online leadership skills assessment to gain personal understanding relative to their learning.  Field experiences and a research project will serve as stimuli to discussions related to leadership and social change.
Communicating Across Cultures
Living Learning Community- See requirements in Living Learning Community Section
Dr. Evene Estwick
Communicating across cultures is designed to provide students with an understanding of self-identity development through cultural experiences.  The class will explore the views and cultures of others to gain a better appreciation for diversity, thus creating a more inclusive campus environment. Class readings and discussions will be supplemented by self-reflective journaling, interactive activities, case studies, debates and group projects – all in an attempt to further develop students’ self-awareness in preparation for success in a global society.
Learning Without Walls
Living Learning Community- See requirements in Living Learning Community section
Dr. Marlene Troy
Ms. Susan Vosik Pekala
Learning without Walls will focus on both environmental sustainability topics and service learning.   Students will work on projects related to their field of study / interests that will help the local community.    For more information e-mail
Leadership, Not Just one word
Living Learning Community- See requirements in Living Learning Community area
Ms. Sharon Castano
This course is designed to offer students a general understanding of several leadership theories and relate that understanding to the individual student’s leadership skills. The course will be delivered using: a leadership theories text; current, relevant, case study articles; and an interactive, discussion format.  Students will complete an online leadership skills test to gain personal understanding relative to their learning.  Field experiences and a reflection project will serve as stimuli to discussions related to leadership and social change.  
Program Mission: To provide rigorous learning experiences that challenge first-year students to develop the strategies essential for a successful transition into the Wilkes campus community.
Programmatic Student Learning Outcomes: Students will develop and demonstrate self-knowledge, intellectual curiosity, openness to diversity, and a capacity for lifelong learning and civic responsibility.