Prof. Dorinda D. Bolander, J.D.

Professor Bolander has a degree in Accounting from Marist College and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. She has over 25 years of experience in accounting, business, operation management, and tax research and is a published author regarding legal issues in international law and environmental law. Her interest lies in exploring the legal and ethical parameters surrounding the business world today. Outside of the classroom, she is an avid horse lover and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys living on her horse farm with her husband and four children.

PROF. DORINDA D. BOLANDER, J.D., “Your Voice as a Leader”

Imagine you are the CEO of an American clothing company. You’re a good leader who cares about your employees. You offer excellent pay and a positive work environment. But you’re struggling to maintain a profit, and because labor is so expensive in America, you have an option to outsource manual labor to a third world country. What do you do? How will you apply your morals to real world situations while considering the Franciscan values of Diversity, Optimism, Respect, and Service? This seminar focuses on the evolution of human rights through the looking glass of the business world and explores how ethics and morals shape our behavior. In this class we will engage in discussions surrounding significant moral and ethical issues which have and continue to influence decisions in these types of dilemmas. Through debate and the presentation of real-life ethical dilemmas, students are encouraged to find a voice and to develop their ability to articulate and defend their perspectives. Through this exploration, students will develop their research skills, their awareness of current topics, and their abilities to communicate orally and through writing in a collaborative atmosphere.

Prof. Patricia Clickner

Patricia Clickner holds a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology and a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She recently obtained her 200-hour Yoga teacher certification. She has co-owned and operated a business with her husband Don since 1998 and has been an instructor in higher education for 17 years.

Prof. Patricia Clickner, "Cultivating Mindfulness "

In this class, we will explore yoga's ethical practice by learning about the Yamas and Niyamas (part of Patanjali's eight-fold path a.k.a. The Yoga Sutras) among other parts of practicing mindfulness (specific concentration on meditation and breathing techniques). Students will begin to understand how living "skillfully" and "mindfully" can add richness and depth to their lives no matter what career path they have chosen.


Prof. Anne Collins, a veteran instructor of Composition, is a Teaching Professor in the First Year Seminar Program. She earned degrees in English, Irish, and American Literature at Boston College and the University of Cork, Ireland. Her strong interest in storytelling and the art of narrative writing is reflected in her classroom instruction. 


We hear, read, and tell stories from the time we are very young. From fairy tales to fables to family histories, narratives are part of our everyday lives. They entertain, educate, and empower us.  Writers and researchers suggest that the human connection to stories is deep and that we actually need to read them, but why?  

This question will be addressed as the class explores the narrative in many forms. Songs, short stories, memoirs, poems, graphic novels, and movies, to name a few, fall under the narrative umbrella.  We even tell stories about ourselves via platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.  Each of the works studied in class relates to one or more of the themes central to Siena’s Franciscan traditions-- Heritage, the Natural World, Diversity, and Social Justice. Students will examine these readings and films to reflect, connect, and create personal narratives of their own. What’s your story?

Dr. Nicole Cosentino

Nicole A. Cosentino earned a Ph.D. in English from the University at Albany in 2022. She also holds a Masters of Arts in English Literature and Bachelor of Science in Secondary English Education from Long Island University, Post Campus. Her research focuses on the construction of the lonely queer figure in modernist and post-modernist literature and discourse, and her recently-published doctoral dissertation Queer Outings in Imaginary Spaces investigates these areas. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Cosentino is an avid reader, baker, and runner who loves comedy series like The Office, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and 30 Rock and often quotes lines from these shows as part of her vernacular.

Dr. Nicole Cosentino, “Citizenship: Visibility and Validation”

Though we find ourselves nestled in what is considered the forward-moving, modern world of the 21st century, we still find ourselves grappling with issues regarding basic human rights, numbered among which is the question of Citizenship. What does it mean “to be” a Citizen? Who “gets” to be a Citizen? How does one become recognized as a Citizen? Finally, who/ what determines the status of a subject’s citizenship? In this course, we will examine some of the less obvious ways that citizenship and subjectivity are challenged, rewritten, or erased entirely, both historically, through discourse, and in popular culture (such as television, film, music, and theatre, to name a few). We will consider the macrocosmic concept of Citizenship, as it applies to social recognition and visibility within a polis as well as the microcosmic ideals of Citizenship, as it applies to other collectives (for example, LGBTQIA+ Citizenship). Throughout the academic year, we will explore these concepts as they apply to larger thematic focal points regarding Heritage, the Natural World, Diversity, and Social Justice.

Dr. Nicole Cosentino, “Exploring the 90s: ‘As If’ Culture and Beyond”

The 90s was a decade that brought with it grunge, glamour, and controversy. In fact, there is currently a very tangible revival of many trends that originated during this decade—from fashion, to a renewed interest in re-investigating cold cases of the time, to social, political, and economic policies being revisited. Further, many of today’s films, TV series, podcasts, and documentaries are either rooted in or focused on events that occurred during the 90s—others are revisions or translations of the exact film and plot with a modern “twist.” As issues from this period continue to resurface, we will see how different media such as film (Clueless, for example, directed by Amy Heckerling in 1995) attempted to balance the "heaviness" of these issues with comedy (Me, shop anywhere but Contempo Casuals? As if! ).We will question why the levity of comedy proved to be a successful approach to spreading awareness as a way to both address and redress the hot-button issues of that decade. In this course, we will utilize a variety of multimodal approaches to unpack the significance of the historical moment of the 90s. In examining the social/ racial/ political injustices that many activists were attempting to call attention to during that period, we will also discuss how people today who are actively fighting for change and equity are continuing the same battle in a “new world.” While investigating the "whys" and the "hows" of the various issues brought into discussion in this course, we will reflect on shared FYSM texts and consider how responses to such matters are rooted in our Franciscan tradition of goodness and humanity.


Kelly D'Souza is an instructor in the First-Year Seminar program.  She holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Education from Siena College and a Master's Degree in Education from SUNY Potsdam.


What does it mean to be a hero?  From superheroes to news stories, we are drawn to tales of heroic deeds.  How has our understanding of heroism changed through the ages, and what does it mean to be a hero today?  Through the themes of Heritage, Nature, Diversity, and Social Justice, we will examine how heroes impact our daily lives and the values that we prize.

Prof. Kelly D’Souza,  “Pop Culture's Impact on Social Movements”

What is pop culture, and why is it important?  Though pop culture is often viewed as being separate from “more serious” social movements, the connections between the two are significant.  Throughout this seminar, we will examine how popular culture is defined and its influence on social/political movements.  By analyzing specific examples of media, such as protest music of the 1960s and 1970s and social media activism of today, we will explore the impact of popular culture.  Through the themes of Heritage, Nature, Diversity, and Social Justice, the class will consider the complex relationship between popular culture and social movements.

Dr. Catherine Engh

Dr. Catherine Engh received her PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research and teaching focus on questions of nature and environmental justice in literature. Her scholarship has appeared in English Language Notes, Approaches to Teaching Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and is forthcoming in European Romantic Review. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, doing yoga, and playing with her cat Figaro. 

Dr. Catherine Engh, “Heroes”

Heroes tend to embody the characteristics that we admire and want to emulate. The ancient epic hero leaves home and must learn from a series of challenges. The modern superhero fights the forces of evil with superhuman strength. We may describe as heroic any figure who fights courageously for a more just world. In this class, we will explore the topic of heroes through the lens of our first year seminar themes of diversity and social justice. We will discuss the recent popularity of superheroes from diverse backgrounds and study how the epic hero recurs across ancient cultures. We will also address issues of social and environmental injustice, asking how heroes stake claims about how things are and how they ought to be. Heroes will include Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Saint Francis, Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Greta Thunberg, Cherríe Moraga, and more. 

Prof. Morgan Flynn

Morgan Flynn is an instructor in the First-Year Seminar program. She holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from Siena College.

Prof. Morgan Flynn, “Developing Leaders”

How do people start to view themselves as leaders? In this course, we will study leadership development and leadership qualities through analyzing and discussing biographies, self-help texts, historical leaders, and current leaders of students’ lives. Our goal will be to understand how leaders develop a purpose in life and how students can use their background, strengths, and opportunities to become leaders in their communities. The literature, films, and discussions in this course will focus around the themes of Heritage, Nature, Diversity, and Social Justice.


Anne Godson-Glynn is the Director of the Siena College Writing Center, and a Siena graduate who has taught First-Year Seminar, English, and Writing at the college since 2004. She has earned degrees in History and English and is currently pursuing her doctorate at Northeastern University. Her research interests include anti-racist pedagogy, social justice education, and culturally sustaining teaching and learning. 

PROF. ANNE GODSON-GLYNN,  “Racism and the Pursuit of Social Justice”

In this seminar, we'll examine the history of racism, inequity, and resistance in the United States since the Civil War. Special attention will be paid to social justice movements and change agents who have stood firm in the face of white supremacy. How do such seemingly ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things? How do they overcome obstacles, harness their courage, and empower others to advocate for change? How can their movements inspire us to make a difference? Together, we'll ask these questions and many others as we look from the past to the future to discover what it means to be a social justice warrior. 


Dr. Haas, Co-Director of First Year Seminar, is an historian specializing in American public policy, who is also interested in culture, gender, and international relations.  She has been awarded grants for her research and awards for teaching excellence. 


Both men and women are invited to take this course, which will critically analyze what writers, activists, thinkers, and artists have to say about Heritage, the Natural World, Social Justice, and Diversity in order to understand if and how women’s perspectives about these ideas differ from men’s.  Looking across time and across geographical boundaries, we will examine how women are valued (or not) in each of these four topic areas, paying particular attention to the roles women play, the policies they advocate and/or are the targets of, and the images of women presented through literature, music, art, media, etc. in order to gain a better understanding of the complex, gendered world in which we live.   

Dr. Britt Haas, “Music:  The Soundtrack of Our Lives”

Music provides the soundtrack for our lives.  It is all around us.  And yet, what do we really know about it?  This course seeks to critically address that question.  We will explore how music both shapes and is shaped by our culture and cultures beyond the United States.

Fr. Louis V. Iasiello, OFM

Father Louis V. Iasiello, OFM has been appointed a Siena College Franciscan Scholar in Residence. Father retired from the Navy as the 23rd Chief of Navy Chaplains (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) in 2006 with the rank of Rear Admiral (2 Stars). Right after his retirement he was appointed President of the Washington Theological Union; two years later he was appointed co-chair of a Federal Task Force by the Secretary of Defense. In 2010, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy assigned Father to the nation’s only pontifical seminary, the Pontifical College Josephinum. He was appointed Professor in the School of Theology and the Institutional Director of Pastoral Formation. For the past two years he filled an additional post as the Executive Director of the Josephinum Diaconate Institute, a national program providing online intellectual formation and graduate programs in theology in English and Spanish for dioceses throughout the United States and overseas. Father holds a B.A. in History from Saint Bonaventure University, an M.S. in Education from Niagara University, he is a distinguished military graduate of the Naval War College where he earned an MA degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, and was awarded a Ph.D. in the Humanities from Salve Regina University. In 2002 Father was invited to participate in Harvard University’s Executive Education program. Father has lectured and written extensively on the ethics of war and leadership.    

Fr. Louis V. Iasiello, OFM, “Life As Pilgrimage”

SEEKING PILGRIMS. We are all on a journey through life, a journey that promises more fulfillment if approached as a pilgrimage and not a daytrip. For the past 25 years, Father has led pilgrims to the Holy Land (Jordan, Israel, Palestine), a region sacred to all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Some who travel with him to the Middle East sign up to take a tour; when these travelers return home they report being better informed about the geopolitical realities, rich history and religions of the region. Others who travel with Father elect to make their experience a pilgrimage; when they return home, they describe their journey to the region as a transformative experience. It is Father’s belief that we are all given the choice of passing through life as a tourist or as a pilgrim; this seminar has been designed to empower students to approach life as pilgrims. Students will be introduced to the tools they will need to approach life as a pilgrim, self-assessment tools to help measure their human, spiritual, intellectual and moral (virtue) development. The seminar is also designed to help them address the challenges they will face as individuals with dual citizenship: citizenship in the earthly kingdom and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Like Saint Augustine, Saint Francis and other pilgrims who have made life’s pilgrimage before them, students will reflect on the duties and responsibilities expected of them as citizens of both kingdoms. Finally, this seminar has been designed to build healthy study habits, develop writing, communication, organizational and leadership skills, and empower them for success: first, as students beginning an undergraduate journey, and ultimately, as citizens on their pilgrimage through life. (N.B. [Please Note]… while the seminar participants will plan a short one day trip as part of our curriculum, there is no overseas pilgrimage scheduled as a part of the curriculum). Discamus iinvicem (Let us learn together).   

Dr. Kraig Larkin


Kraig Larkin is a graduate of the University at Albany where he studied History and Psychology before receiving his Ph.D. in History from Stony Brook University. He has taught history and sport studies courses at the University of New Hampshire, Colby-Sawyer College, and Stony Brook University.


Recent controversies surrounding players kneeling during national anthems or the start of soccer games to protest systemic racism, pay inequity between the U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams, and efforts to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in high school sports are just a few examples that have drawn attention to how sports can serve as a space for broader social, political, and cultural debates. This course will explore the evolving place of sports, past and present, through a critical lens with an eye toward understanding how sports is shaped by our heritage and influences our relationship to the natural world. In doing so, we will seek to determine how sports can reflect identity and a sense of belonging, outline the ways in which sports at the local, national, and global levels have created platforms for social and political activism, and impacted contemporary understandings of social justice in a changing world.

Dr. Kraig Larkin, “Human Rights”

This seminar focuses on the meaning and evolution of human rights from a variety of perspectives. What are human rights and how did this category of rights come into existence? Who has human rights and what happens if such rights are violated? What role have they played in the past and in the twenty-first century? We will use an interdisciplinary approach to think about these and other questions related to human rights. We will explore the subject of human rights in relation to Heritage and the Natural World during the fall semester, and Diversity and Social Justice in the spring term.

Dr. Barbara Lewis

Barbara Lewis is a visiting professor in the First Year Seminar program. She earned her B.A. from the College of St. Rose and M.A. from Syracuse University in English, and her Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has taught college writing courses for many years, and her research has focused on writing center practices and on the role writing plays in the work of science and engineering.

Dr. Barbara Lewis, Constructing Identity:  Exploring the Self

 As we move through our lives, we build and rebuild our understanding of our own character, what we like and dislike, and what we believe. Over the year of this course, we will read, write and think about the process of self-exploration and how that process is affected by Heritage, the Natural World, our beliefs about Diversity, and our understanding of Social Justice. We’ll consider such questions as:  What is our Heritage, and how do the communities we belong to shape our unique self?  What do our stories tell us and others about ourselves? How do we describe/understand our relationship to the natural world? What have other writers and researchers said about the process of exploring the self?  What can we learn from others who work to protect the environment and eliminate injustice?



Dr. Michelle Liptak is a Senior Teaching Professor in First Year Seminar and Co-Director of the program.  She has been teaching writing, literature, and women's studies at Siena since 2001 and is the co-founder of Gleanings: A Journal of First-Year Student Writing.  She regularly presents her work in pedagogy and literary studies at regional and national conferences, has received several grants for course development, and specializes in theories related to gender and trauma.

DR. MICHELLE LIPTAK, “Trauma Narratives”

In this course, we will explore traumatic experiences - both real and fictional - that are shared through various forms of storytelling. Thinking of trauma as a signal or mark of oppression and subjugation, we will carefully consider whose stories are represented and remembered (and whose are not) while also examining the role of larger social, political, economic, and cultural influences and institutions. Some of the issues that will be explored while "reading" narratives of trauma and triumph include: memory (individual, collective, and cultural), bearing witness, testimony, loss, responsibility, and survivorship.


Dr. Nadeau is a Teaching Professor in the First Year Seminar program. She has developed and taught courses focusing on her interests in English Language Learning and teacher education, with emphasis on language and education issues faced by immigrants and refugees in the US as well as English language as a means of access to the global community. Dr. Nadeau particularly enjoys designing and teaching special courses that combine English language learning and teaching with community service.


The new millennium has ushered in an unprecedented age of globalization, with business and educational organizations requiring offices on multiple continents and students from every corner of the world to be seen as current and effective. Yet many in the US continue to espouse a narrow view of diversity as including only multi-skin- color Americans. This course explores the realities of voluntary and involuntary migration, worldwide business, and international education, and the necessity of a global lingua franca with which to conduct these many faceted cross-cultural interactions.  


We’ve all experienced pain as a result of someone’s words. You may be remembering one such experience reading this right now, something that resurfaces whenever you think about hurtful language. This common human thread is what keeps most of us from speaking cruelly to others— empathy restrains us from saying whatever we like. Fascination with this phenomenon has led to the study of communication, laying out basic principles for interaction among and across cultures, using only words as tools to accomplish a variety of tasks.

But what happens when words are mediated, diluting empathy with a keyboard or video camera or smartphone? What responsibility do we have, as humans who espouse Franciscan values, to care for others with our words? And what does this do to our own rights of free speech? This course explores the pragmatic tension between the right to express ourselves and the responsibility to care for others, and ways this tension has increased with the prominence of social and popular media.


In addition to being a member of the First Year Seminar team of faculty, Fr. Paulli is a tenured, Associate Professor in the Department of Education.   He holds earned degrees from Siena College, Washington Theological Union, and Columbia University.  Fr. Paulli recently published, Outside the Walls:  Encountering God in the Unfamiliar.  In this book, he draws upon the theme of "leaving home," which is also the theme for his sections of First Year Seminar.  For nearly ten of his twenty years at Siena, Fr. Paulli served the College as a senior level administrator, in particular, as a Vice President and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President.  A few years ago, he welcomed returning to the classroom full time.  In terms of academic writing, which is the centerpiece of First Year Seminar, Fr. Paulli's "Leaving Home" sections have the unique opportunity of doing some collaborative work with local middle schoolers.  As a professor, many of Fr. Paulli's students have written about him that he is "approachable," "personable," and "supportively challenging.


Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s life, in particular, his choosing to leave that which was familiar and comfortable in order determine what he was meant to do in this life, Fr. Paulli’s sections of First Year Seminar will focus on a variety of works all of which deal with what social scientists call, “Social Dislocation.”  In other words, his sections will work with a variety of texts in which men and women “leave” in order to discover who they are and what they are supposed to do in this world. Questions to be considered throughout the year include:  Is it necessary to leave home in order to figure out who you are and what you are supposed to do in this world?  In this age of technology and social media, which make maintaining connections with family and friends so easy, is it even possible to leave home? And if it's not, what does that say about our development as human beings? 

Our year-long work together will be framed around the four themes of the College’s Core Curriculum:  Heritage, Natural World, Diversity, and Social Justice.


Jeff Simonds received his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2013.  Since then, he has taught Composition and Creative Writing courses at Siena College, Hartwick College, and Holyoke Community College.  His short fiction has appeared in Pif Magazine, Alexandria Quarterly, and The Amateur Masters.  In 2014, he put out his first short story collection: You Are Not Allowed To Come Back After.  


Why are we interested in true stories of murder, violence, and survival?  Is it to prepare ourselves if we ever face the same kind of evil (learning these stories “could be like a dress rehearsal,” according to Dr. Sharon Packer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences)?  Do these stories give us an adrenaline rush?  Do we learn violent stories out of sympathy for the victims (or relief we are not the perpetrator)?  With the popularity of podcasts like My Favorite Murder and Serial, docuseries like Making A Murderer and The Staircase, or books like Mindhunter and I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, it is clear that our cultural fascination is not waning.  In this class, we will examine why these stories interest us, what we can learn from them, and how these stories of criminality shape us and our society.

TRIGGER WARNING: While this class will not dig too deep into the most horrifying details of murders, this is a class about true crime—and as such, there will be mentions of violence against women, abuse, and other triggering topics.  Prof. Simonds is available to speak with anyone nervous about content.


From a young age, we are told stories of “hero versus villain”—Harry Potter thwarts Voldemort, Batman fights the Joker, Dorothy versus the Wicked Witch of the West, etc.  But, as we get older, the idea of “the villain” gets a lot more complicated.  Some villains believe they are the heroes.  Some villains are more charismatic than the heroes.  Sometimes, the villain and the hero are one-in-the-same.  In this class, we will look at the concept of “the villain,” both in pop culture and in the real world.  What can we learn about ourselves from how we treat those we vilify?  What can we learn about the world from exploring those we label as “the bad guy”?  From entertainment to politics, from sports to elections, this class will critically examine what it means to be a “villain.”


Dr. Stein is an instructor in the First Year Seminar Program. She has a BA in English from Tufts University, an MA in Secondary English Education from Columbia University Teachers College, an MA in Educational Leadership from the College of St Rose, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Russell Sage College.  Her research centers on the promotion of social justice education as a demand for equity for all students.


This course will be an exploration into the topics and ideas that have at one point or are currently restricted, disapproved, frowned upon, off limits, and taboo. Students will read, write, think, and discuss to develop ideas about how the values of society are reflected in human resistance. The course will demand an open mind, sustained focus, intelligent judgement, and fearless inquiry into sometimes sensitive topics. 

Dr. Kimberly Stein, “The American School”

An introduction to the foundations of American education exploring the historical, philosophical, and social contexts of schooling. Student will explore the purposes of education within a democracy where the goals are influenced by politics, the law, global competitiveness, multiculturalism, and social justice. Students will study the intersections of race, culture, immigration status, language, gender, sexual orientation, and ability within education.


Dr. Lara Whelan is an Associate Professor of English at Siena and formerly served as Dean of the School of Liberal Arts. She earned her Bachelor's degree in English from Dartmouth College, her MA in Victorian Studies from King's College, London, and her PhD in English from University of Delaware. She has taught rhetoric and writing to first-year students since 1993, and it is one of her favorite parts of being an English professor.


What makes a perfect world? Is there any perfect world that is compatible with human nature? Or is it due to human nature that we may someday see the opposite -- a dystopia -- on the horizon? And if so, what would that look like? In this seminar, we will explore all of these questions and more by reading both utopian and dystopian fiction that addresses controversies in ethics, economics, science, philosophy, the environment, nature v nurture, and the push and pull between individualism and community.

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