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”

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 and explores the interaction of ethics and morals and how these two fundamental ideas shape our behavior. In this class we will engage in discussions surrounding significant moral and ethical issues which have shaped our society. 

Through case study, 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 19 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.


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, “Exploring Food”

“You are what you eat” might be a common phrase, but does it reflect the realities of how food impacts us?  In the course, we will explore the ways that the foods we eat connect to who we are and how we navigate the world around us. Through texts that address issues such as the impact of cultural foods and family traditions, sustainable food production, food security, and more, we will more deeply understand heritage, the natural world, diversity, and social justice.

Dr. Catherine Engh

Dr. Catherine Engh received her PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. She has taught a range of undergraduate courses, many of which have focused on questions of nature, social justice, and cultural representation. In her role as researcher, she explores these topics as they arise in British Romantic writing; her scholarship in Romanticism has appeared or is forthcoming in English Language Notes, The Wordsworth Circle, and European Romantic Review. As a first year seminar professor, she loves seeing students develop as readers, writers, and individuals who take charge of their own learning.

Dr. Catherine Engh, “Environmental Storytelling”

In this class, we will consider the role of storytelling as a means of environmental appreciation and activism. Reading a range of works, from the religious writings of Saint Francis to the scientific writings of Rachel Carson and the political speeches of Greta Thunberg, we will ask: How do stories organize the relationship between human beings and the living world? Can narratives about nature move us to care about environmental problems? In what way do environmental storytellers engage with the Franciscan values of heritage, nature, diversity, and social justice?

 Over the course of two semesters, students will explore the topic of environmental storytelling through the lens of their personal experience, through works of environmental media, and through debates in religion, ethics, philosophy, and politics. They will develop reading, communication, writing, and critical thinking skills that will enhance their ability to participate in—and enjoy—the social and intellectual life of college and the world beyond.

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 a Siena graduate and veteran First-Year Seminar, English, and writing instructor. She is also a former administrator who served as the Siena College Writing Center director for many years. Professor Glynn holds degrees in History and English and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Education at Northeastern University. Her research interests include anti-racist pedagogy 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 systemic racism in the United States and the non-violent social justice initiatives developed in response. Special attention will be paid to change agents whose stories are rarely included in history books. How did they develop into leaders who empowered others to push for reform or abolition? What is the legacy of their work? What can today's changemakers learn from their stories? Together, we'll ask these questions and many others as we look from the past to the future to discover the depth and breadth of anti-racist activism in the 20th and 21st centuries. 


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.

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.

DR. KRAIG LARKIN, “Sports, Politics, & Society”

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. Michelle Liptak, “Story Matters”

Stories Matter. Because humans are “storytelling animals,” there are a number of matters to talk about when it comes to stories. Stories pervade our world - sometimes in unrecognizable ways. In this seminar, we will explore how stories are told to us in a variety of forms as well as how they shape and express who we are individually, communally, and culturally. We also will consider how we share our own stories. Throughout the year, responses to these and other questions will be discussed: Who is telling the story? What is the main message? Whose story is it? How is it being shared? Whose story is missing? Has or will this story endure? Follow-up questions will always include those highlighted in our FYS writing manual, They Say/I Say: Why? So? Who Cares?


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 is also an ardent adherent to the Franciscan values of care for creation including marginalized people, operating a small urban farm and food pantry at her home in Cohoes.


In the current age of globalization, business and educational organizations require offices on multiple
continents and employees from every region of the world to be current and effective. Yet many in the
US continue to espouse a narrow view of diversity defined as 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.  

Dr. Melody Nadeau, “Care for Creation”

In his 2015 Laudato Si’ encyclical, Pope Francis connects deeply with two core Franciscan values: the poor/excluded/marginalized and creation. Pope Francis speaks about the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth as one interrelated crisis, linking ecological justice and social justice. Nine years later, Siena College is privileged to house the Laudato Si’ Center for Integral Ecology, an office whose objectives include care for creation, sustainable living, and advocacy for environmental and social justice. Members of this classroom community will work closely with the Laudato Si’ Center to explore the values and practices of St Francis and ways we can apply them in our lives, as well as encouraging their global application for the good of all creation.

Fr. Ken Paulli, OFM, PhD

Fr. Kenneth Paulli, O.F.M. is a Franciscan priest, a longstanding member of the First Year Seminar faculty, and a tenured professor in the College’s Department of Education. He holds earned degrees from Siena College, Washington Theological Union, and Columbia University. A Siena graduate himself, Fr. Paulli is passionate about teaching First Year Seminar. Many of his students speak about him as “dynamic” and “supportively challenging” in the classroom. In addition to his teaching, Fr. Paulli is a published author, including his 2018 book, Outside the Walls: Encountering God in the Unfamiliar. He is currently working on another book. Off the Siena campus, Fr. Paulli is an avid golfer, and “weekend chef.” During the summer months, he enjoys spending time on the shores of New Jersey and Rhode

Fr. Ken Paulli, OFM, PhD, “Leaving Home”

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

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.

Dr. Lara Whelan, “Utopias and Dystopias”

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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