Fall 2019 DSC-101

Come DISCOVER with us!!

The curriculum and co-curricular experiences at Marymount University are designed to support each member of the community in a life-long journey of discovery:  Discovery of self, of others, of the world around us, of other places and times, and of ideas.  Thus you, as an entering student, will take a Discover (DSC) 101 course.  These courses are designed to allow you to engage with the professor in inquiry into, and open-ended exploration of, a topic or concept of interest to the instructor who might otherwise not have the opportunity to investigate that question.  We want to promote not just the skills needed for you to find solutions to problems – but we also want to help you ask good questions and engage in debate in a community of other students all beginning their exciting Marymount adventure.

We're also very excited about the "peer mentor" aspect of our Discover program.  Each section has an experienced MU student who has been selected for their enthusiasm, approachability, understanding of Marymount and its systems, and commitment to supporting new students.  The peer mentors work with and complement the faculty in the teaching of the DSC classes and serve as a resource to you as you adjust to college life and the Marymount way.

We hope you find the array of topics for the DSC classes intriguing!  And we encourage you to let your advisor know which of the sections would be of most interest to you so that your advisor can then help build the rest of your schedule around your DSC experience.


Fall 2019 DSC-101 Course Descriptions


Unity in Our Diversity

Marymount's founders, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) are a congregation of sisters with a rich tradition of action for justice.  Around the world the RSHM advocate for the powerless, the marginalized, and the voiceless.  Through their work at the United Nations as well as in local communities, they tackle contemporary challenges such as human trafficking, securing rights for immigrant families and stewardship of the earth.  This section of Discover will look at advocacy RSHM-style, focusing on how the RSHM serve in their communities.  We will discuss the importance of recognizing interdependence, in addition to examining strategies for unifying diverse groups of people toward common goals and some of the global partnerships working to empower women and children.  As a new member of this Marymount community, you will explore how you can make a difference.

Instructor: Dr. Janine DeWitt



The Bully, Bullied, and Bystander

In this course, we will examine bullying and the relationship between the bully, bullied, and bystander and ask the following questions:  Is bullying learned?  Is it commonplace in our culture?  Is it just part of growing up?  Does it cause harm?  We will focus on what bullying is and isn't, statistics, the impact the bully, bullied, and bystander have on one another, the cycle of violence they produce, and the myths that help continue this cycle.  Also, we will explore how the home, school, and community influence each role and investigate how they can potentially break the cycle of violence and create communities where all children flourish.

Through participation in a variety of inquiry-based activities, with the support of a peer mentor, instructor and classmates, students will show growth in academic and personal development and level of community engagement, to ease the transition from high school to college. 

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Spafford   


Global Competence: Preparing for Life and Work in the 21st Century

The ability to engage effectively and appropriately across cultures is essential for personal, academic, and professional success in our increasingly interconnected world. This interactive class will examine the significance of culture and the importance of global competence. By maximizing the wealth of cultural resources in Washington, DC and participating in class discussions and inquiry-based group research projects, students will develop the skills, knowledge, and understanding needed to become active and informed global citizens.

Instructor: Jennifer Crystle


Translanguaging Our Stories

What is language and how can we use it to change the story? What happens when people use multiple languages to tell a story or when stories are told using images or thread? And, what if a story involved all the senses instead of just sight and sound—invoking taste, touch, even smell? This course will look at the stories we tell about language and the different languages we can use to tell our story. From slam poetry to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Charlie Kaufman's film Adaptation, this course will read, listen, and feel the breadth of languages that we can use to tell stories as students write and then decide on the best language(s) to rewrite their own stories.

Instructor: Dr. Michelle Zaleski


Turtling and Turtle Experiments

This course requires that you care for a pair of hatchling turtles throughout the semester.  You will make observations on these turtles and ask questions about them.  Through this observation you will design an experiment and then challenge your peers to collect the data you need to better understand your question.  A field trip will also engage the class in actively catching a few wild turtles to see what kinds of turtles live in the local ponds of Virginia.

Instructor: Dr. Todd Rimkus


Create and Maintain Your Brand

New and innovative brands are popping up everywhere today. Some celebrate 50+ years while others disappear within a two-year span. What is the definition of a great brand? Why do some brands survive generation after generation while others fail after a short shelf life? This course will explore the core principles and fundamentals of branding with a chosen brand by the student as well as how brands compete today.

Instructor: Dr. Elissa Ruffino


Immigration Nation

The United States is often described as a "nation of immigrants" because throughout its history the country has welcomed immigrants from around the world. But at other moments in its history the U.S. has not been so welcoming for immigrants. In this course students will explore the history of immigration to the United States and the personal experiences of immigrants from the nineteenth century to today. Students will also learn about current immigration-related policy debates such as the Dream Act and border security.

Instructor: Dr. Matthew Shadle


Development of Foundational Strength and Success Tools

Students will explore methods to develop personal, internal, emotional, and spiritual strength.  The instructor's lived-experiences overcoming significant educational and severe mental health challenges to live a purposeful life will establish the framework for discussions, along with reviews of others' abilities to do the same.  Students will examine the foundations of beliefs, the impacts of fear, the benefits of emotional intelligence, the value of interpersonal relationships, and the importance of developing a variety of soft skills (e.g., communication, negotiation, time management).  Also, the use of developmental exercises, self-reflections, and discussions about leveraging faith during difficult moments will be explored.  Furthermore, students will be encouraged to examine and challenge traditional thoughts about overcoming challenges/resolving conflicts through a review of individuals who overcame considerable setbacks to excel.

Instructor: Stacey Young


Young Adult Books and Movie Adaptations

Through participation in a variety of inquiry-based activities, with the support of a peer mentor, instructor and classmates, students will show growth in academic and personal development and level of community engagement, to ease the transition from high school to college.  In this particular section, we will investigate the following questions:

  • Why adapt a book into a movie (or television series) at all?
  • Why are some film adaptations successful and others less so?
  • How does the societal context in which an adaptation is made affect the focus and value of that adaptation?
  • How can a director make choices about language and staging to influence interpretation? To create something more meaningful given the societal context than a straight adaptation might be?

Instructor: Dr. Lois Stover


Applying Critical Thinking to Research - Exploring Leadership 

This course is designed to introduce first-year students to Marymount University and also for effective strategies learning in higher education.  This course guides first-year students in Applying Critical Thinking skills to conduct research dealing with different types of leadership styles.  Learn the elements of universal standards of critical thinking to help students analyze, evaluate and reconstruct their thinking and the reasoning of others. The purpose of this course is to provide a foundation for students to be able to use critical thinking to question, obtain appropriate information, analyze the information, and draw a conclusion on the basis of the validity and reliability of the information as they conduct the research.

Instructor: La'Sandra Lockett


Crimes, Criminals, and Communities 

In this Discover seminar, we will employ critical thinking skills to analyze specific criminal acts as case studies of individual wants versus community regulations. Rights, freedoms, and responsibilities to communities will be discussed. For their projects, students will pick an instance of criminal behavior, research the code (law) that deems that behavior a criminal act, and discuss that particular commission of a crime as both an individual desire and an affront to community norms.

Instructor: Dr. Sarah Fischer



Do you want to:

  • Understand spreadsheet software and identify Excel 2016 window components?
  • Create, edit, and manipulate formulas and functions in different data sets?
  • Apply conditional and other types of formatting to worksheets, values, and patterns?
  • Identify data relationships and visualize information in different graphic representations?
  • Analyze and consolidate data in addition to understanding logic formulas?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then this section is for you!

Instructor: Micheline Al Harrack


Discover Your Creativity

This class is about unleashing your creativity and making friends as we enjoy being at Marymount.  We will conduct inquiry-based learning activities about the field of creativity.  We will engage actively during class to spark and to deepen your creativity, your study skills, your memory, your presentation skills, and your writing skills.  You will be guided through the process of writing a paper on a topic of your choice and apply creativity to your areas of interest.  We will learn about each other, about creativity and about succeeding at Marymount and in life.

Instructor: Dr. Ana Lado


Athletics Principles, Real-World Applications

Sports is often viewed as a microcosm of life. In this course students will explore real-world concepts through the lens of sports, including ethical decision making, leadership, financial awareness, and much more.

Instructor: Dr. Vernon Williams



Vampires seem to have a persistent place in American popular culture. Though their representation varies - sometimes a dreamy lover, sometimes a kindly neighbor, sometimes a violent predator - vampires appear regularly in books, movies, television shows, video games, and other media. Students in this class will investigate vampires: their origins in folklore, the kinds of stories that are told about them, how those stories developed, and the significance of their continued presence as symbolic characters in popular culture.

Instructor: Dr. Sarah Ficke


Influential Americans

In this course we will discuss the lives of under-studied but influential Americans who exemplify the major themes highlighted in the Declaration of Independence, including the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Students will have the opportunity to explore and learn more about the lives of major American players in the fields of business, STEM, politics, journalism, literature, and more. The students will then be able to bring into the discussion the Americans who have influenced them the most, and explore how these individuals can become role models for the realization of these core American principles.

Instructor: Alexandra Fee



Hobbits, Heroes, and Hunger Games: Investigating the Hidden Order of Societies Real and Imagined

For Katniss Everdeen, the Capitol provides a pretty clear incentive for hunting down her competition in the Hunger Games: kill or be killed. Fantasy and science fiction portray extreme worlds, but these imaginary societies operate on principles remarkably similar to those that govern our lives in the "real world." Characters in these stories face a variety of incentives that influence their actions. What motivates you? How does the state shape your choices? Moving from hobbits in Middle-earth to millennials in the 21st-century America, this course investigates how institutions and incentives affect individual behavior.

Instructor: Dr. Brian Hollar


Outdoor Adventure: Digital Storytelling

Bring your smart phone or camera and come explore with us! We’ll be getting dirty and digital with hiking, rock scrambling, outdoor adventures, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and more. Learn how to capture epic selfies, perfect landscapes, colorful sunrises, or star filled skies. Social media activism will be used to inspire others to spend more time outdoors.

Instructor: Barry Erdeljon


History and Politics: Looking at the 2020 Elections

Washington DC is rich in history and the center of politics. Students in this course will explore all facets of the 2020 elections. As a class, we will examine presidential candidates, media commentary, campaigns and issue platforms.

Instructor: Dr. Margaret Tseng


Discover Art


Discover Art (DSC-101-U) will introduce you to Rembrandt and Van Gogh; they both live in DC!

Washington is perhaps best known as the seat of government, but it is also one of America's top art cities. Many of our local museums are also free, and unlike other big cities, they are rarely crowded. Discover how artists have used works of art to investigate important questions about life, and how their compositions communicate those ideas. By studying works of art in local museums, you will learn strategies for success in learning, methods for engaging with and reviewing course materials, different modes of critical thinking and problem-solving, and the steps necessary for completing college-level research. You will also become more adept in visual communication, an important skill in today's market.

Instructor: Dr. Mark Trowbridge


Think Like a Freak: How to Think Smarter in College

Click here for more information about how to apply to this Discover Program Abroad.

Instructor: Dr. Catherine England


Be the Change: Service and Leadership in Action

In our current economy, the job market is competitive and employers are looking for that special something that sets you apart. Leadership and community engagement are two areas that provide students with an opportunity to develop and demonstrate skills that are necessary in our current economic and social context. This class will provide the opportunity for students to work both independently and collaboratively, and engage with partners in the greater Arlington community.

Instructor: Anne Aichele


The Quest: Food, Ethics, and Society

This seminar is devoted to introducing first-year honors students to various forms of academic inquiry, i.e. "The Quest" for knowledge. We will read scholarly articles, engage in discussions and debates, and participate in experiential and service learning opportunities to help us understand the impact that our seemingly personal food choices have on other people, animals, and the environment.

Instructor: Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman