Chapman students studying on Bert Williams Mall in front of Memorial Hall

» First-year Foundations Courses

The First-year Foundations Course (FFC) is the foundational portion of the Chapman General Education program. All first-year students enroll in an FFC section during their first year at Chapman.  

The FFC course engages students in university-level critical inquiry and reflection. FFC courses focus on critical engagement, exploration and communication related to complex issues rather than on mastering a body of material. Students select a topic according to their academic and personal interests. All of the sections offer students intellectually enriching opportunities to explore ideas, values, and disciplinary knowledge and methods. Students will work independently and collaboratively to frame issues and questions that have engaged the intellectual interests of historians, philosophers, fine arts, and media critics, scientists, economists and political theorists over the centuries.

FFC is taught by a select group of faculty who are committed to supporting students in their transition to university-level inquiry. Field trips, guest speakers, collaborative research, multimedia projects and other forms of active learning are an important part of the course.

Approximately 50 sections in the Fall are offered on varying topics and students and encouraged to take advantage of Fall opportunities. Limited offerings of FFC are available during Interterm and Spring semesters for students unable to register in Fall. 

For meeting days, times and locations, please view the schedule through the Student Center on My Chapman. Detailed course descriptions are provided below.

Interterm 2017

+ - Earth's Sphere and the Changing Climate - Literature and Film

Hesham El-Askary, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Earth Systems Science and Remote Sensing

Hesham El-Askary, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Earth Systems Science and Remote Sensing
Email: Hesham El-Askary

FFC 100-04 (M, T, W, Th, 10 a.m.–12:45 p.m)
Earth's Spheres and Changing Climate

There is no point in denying climate change because we are living in a dynamic interactive system that is made up by a series of spheres: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, and the biosphere. Global warming, rising temperature and CO2 emissions have been the only focus of media, main stream people and politicians. What about the domino effect in our fragile Earth system? In this class we will discuss different aspects of these effects associated with the above-mentioned spheres of the Earth system, how they interact to shape the environment in which we live, and how they are affected by our changing climate. (3 credits.)

+ - From Bach to Rock

Robert Frelly,D.M.A.-Professor of Music

Bob Frelly, D.M.A. – Professor of Music
Email: Bob Frelly

FFC 100-03 (M, T, W, Th, 9 - 11:45 a.m.)
From Bach to Rock
Does music affect society, or are various evolving musical styles simply a continual expression of the subcultures that created them? Changes in social structure and hence in social needs have brought about changes in the function of music; these are the moving forces underlying the growth and development of music as an art throughout history. This course explores the place of music in society and its relation to the life of its time. (3 credits.)

+ - Social Justice on the Big Screen

Judy Kriger, M.F.A.-Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts

Judy Kriger, M.F.A. - Assistant Professor of Film and Media Arts
Email: Judy Kriger

FFC 100-02 (T, TH, 2 - 7:40 p.m.)
Social Justice on the Big Screen
How do political cartoons, graphic novels and animated documentaries inspire us to repair the world? Cartoons and animation aren't only for the entertainment industry; the power of the hand-drawn or computer generated line can encourage, motivate and awaken us to make a difference. In Social Justice on the Big Screen students will watch animated documentaries, explore graphic novels and make short creative presentations to the class. In addition to watching animated documentaries and reading graphic novels, student will shoot photographs, produce original graphics, and publish to the web. (3 credits.)

Spring 2017

+ - American Theatre in Contemporary Culture


Julie Artman, M.F.A., MLIS - Chair, Collections Management Division, the Leatherby Libraries, and Lecturer, Department of Theatre
Email: Julie Artman

FFC 100-05 (T, Th, 4–5:15 p.m.)
American Theatre in Contemporary Culture
In this course students will explore how theatre reflects challenges and triumphs in contemporary American culture. We will examine, discuss, and analyze pivotal events through reading selected plays that reveal America’s rich theatrical history and relevance today. Reviewing performances will provide students with direct observational opportunities, and students will engage in both analytic and creative projects, individually and collaboratively. (3 credits.)

+ - The Art and Science of Moneyball

Kenneth Murphy, Ph.D. - Associate Provost for Academic Administration, and Associate Professor of Operations Management

Ken Murphy, Ph.D. - Associate Provost for Academic Administration, and Associate Professor of Operations Management
Email: Ken Murphy

FFC 100-07 (T, Th, 2:30–3:45 p.m.)
The Art and Science of Moneyball
This course provides an introduction to the science and art of making predictions in sports.  The course considers forecasting problems across a variety of collegiate and professional sports settings at the individual, team and industry level.  Students will gain insight and basic skill in building valid models that lead to useful predictions.  Limitations of quantitative methods and the role of the human behavior in this context will also be considered. (3 credits.)

+ - Close Reading

Kent Lehnhof, Ph.D., - Associate Professor of English

Kent Lehnhof, Ph.D. - Associate Provost of English
Email: Kent Lehnhof

FFC 100-08 (T, Th, 2:30–3:45 p.m.)
Close Reading
My father is fond of saying that "the devil is in the details," which is his way of saying that little things often turn out to be terribly important. My dad's saying could well be the unofficial motto of this course, for it will focus, from start to finish, on the little things. Content-wise, we will consider a wide range of "texts"--from Renaissance stageplays to modern short stories to contemporary films. But our objective in each instance will be the same: to attend to and analyze the particulars of each presentation. By asking questions like "What difference does it make to use this word instead of that word?" and "What difference does it make to show this shot instead of that shot?" we will practice a kind of close reading that promises to make meaning of all those devilish details. (3 credits.)

+ - Faith in Popular Culture

Mildred Lewis, M.F.A.,-Assistant Professor of English

Mildred Lewis, M.F.A. - Assistant Professor of English
Email: Mildred Lewis

FFC 100-09 (M, W, 1–2:15 p.m.)
Faith in Popular Culture

How can pop culture help us to understand an increasingly pluralistic world? This course critically examines the representation of faith in pop culture, including narrative and documentary films, music videos, fashion, sports, graphic novels and the blogosphere. The course will integrate the work of critical and contemporary scholars, including Aristotle, Frederic Jameson, Theodor Adorno, Teresa de Lauretis and Franz Fanon. The class emphasizes critical thinking, digital literacy, and the integration of scholarly and creative work. (3 credits.)

+ - Lies You Learned in School

Jim Brown, Ph.D. - Professor of Education

Jim Brown, Ph.D. – Professor of Education
Email: Jim Brown

FFC 100-03 (M, W, 1–2:15 p.m.) 
Lies You Learned in School
What histories did you learn in school? Should history only be the story of the dominant culture, or should it include narratives that contradict the "American Celebrationist" perspective? This course provides a critical analysis of important social themes (e.g., identity, conformity, and bystander vs. upstander) linked to key histories (e.g., the Holocaust and other genocides, America in Vietnam). The course is based on the assumption that if citizens in a democracy are to value their rights and take responsibility for their actions, they must know not only the triumphs of history but also the failures and tragedies. As students study the historical development and the lessons of "difficult" histories, they learn to make the essential connections between history and the moral choices they confront in their own lives. (3 credits.)

+ - Literature and Film

Walter Tschacher, Ph.D. - Professor of Languages

Walter Tschacher, Ph.D. – Professor of Languages
Email: Walter Tschacher

FFC 100-06 (T, TH, 8:30 -9:45 a.m.)
Literature and Film

In this course students will critically examine films in relation to their source material (both English and in translation) and the social, historical, and cultural contexts of both. Possible texts/films include Death in Venice (Thomas Mann/Visconti) and Room with a View (E. M. Forster/J. Ivory). We will consider not only the adaptation of literary works but also the inverse process, called novelization (i.e., the film serves as the basis for literature; for instance, some James Bond and Star War films underwent novelization). The course will take up such questions as: How does the change in medium produce a new text/meaning? When comparing and contrasting literature and film, what are their relative strengths and weaknesses? How is literary and visual art affected by commerce, and vice-versa—how, for example, is "popular" art coded as more or less authentic than "high" art? (3 credits.)

+ - Reading and Rhetoric of Popular Culture

Gerri McNenny, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Education

Geraldine McNenny, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Education
Email: Geraldine McNenny

FFC 100-02 (T, 4-6:50 p.m.)
Reading and Rhetoric of Popular Culture

Popular culture, whether manifested in music, film, television, or the Internet, constitutes a carnival of persuasive appeals, continually sending out messages about how to be a part of the in-crowd, what counts as valuable, and how to conduct ourselves in our lives. How can we make sense of the onslaught of messages, arguments, and media overload we experience every day? In this course, we’ll explore the power of applying the many lenses of rhetorical analysis in understanding, unmasking, decoding, and disrupting the ideologies inherent in popular culture texts. (3 credits.)

+ - Skepticism 101, or How to Think Like a Scientist Without Being a Geek

Michael Shermer, Ph.D. - Adjunct Professor

Michael Shermer, Ph.D. – Adjunct Professor
Michael Shermer

FFC 100-01 (Th, 4–6:50 p.m.)
Skepticism 101, or How to Think Like a Scientist Without Being a Geek

The founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and the “Skeptic” monthly columnist for Scientific American will introduce you to the world of skepticism and science through some of the most controversial ideas of our time: science and pseudoscience, superstition and the paranormal, evolution and intelligent design creationism, climate denial and “political” science, anti-vaccination and alternative medicine, pseudo-history and Holocaust denial, UFOs and alien abductions, the afterlife and reincarnation, God and religion, and religious-based morality vs. science-based morality. You will learn how to think critically and skeptically without becoming a science geek, and learn to be open-minded enough to accept new ideas without being so open-minded that your brains fall out. The course includes numerous in-class demonstrations, videos, magic, illusions, and examples from pop culture along with rigorous scientific research. Be prepared to have your worldviews challenged. (3 credits.)

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