Seminar Experience

Students are highly encouraged to select an Academies affiliated UB Seminar. The UB Seminar is the entryway to your UB education. These are “big ideas” courses taught by our most distinguished faculty in small seminar settings.

Academies seminars are taught by our Academic Directors and distinguished UB faculty to provide students with mentored opportunities to explore ideas and issues in and outside the classroom. This is a great way to get to know faculty on campus and start building friendships with students who share similar interests.

Course information can be found below, but students should apply to the Academies to be enrolled in a seminar. Questions can be directed to the Academies at 716-645-8177 or via email at

Civic Engagement #1

  • Course #: AMS 199: From Thought to Action: What is Community Activism
  • Instructor: Professor Carl Nightingale
  • Time: Wednesdays, 3 to 5:40 p.m.

This first-year seminar immerses students in the world of contemporary and historical community activism through reading, documentary film viewing, class discussion, extensive writing and oral presentation, and multiple class-wide field-research trips in and around Buffalo to parts of the city where Community Activism has had a particularly important impact. We will place contemporary community activism into three broader contexts:

  1. the political-philosophical distinction between “service” and “activism”;
  2. the history of mass-movement building reaching back to the abolitionist, nonviolent resistance, and civil rights movements, as well as their contemporary offshoots across the world; and
  3. the current social context of the divided and unequal cities of the United States as exemplified by the Buffalo metropolitan area.

From there we will discuss how to analyze power structures, how to establish targets for campaigns, how to imagine effective strategies and tactics, how to use existing sources of power and organizations to win real benefits for communities, how to motivate people to join in campaigns, and how to acquire the skills necessary for all of these activities. In these discussions, issues of institutional racial, class and gender inequalities will be central, as will community organizations’ efforts to build cross-racial cross class and cross-gender social movements.

Civic Engagement #2

  • Course #: PSC 199: Making Sense of the 2016 Presidential Election
  • Instructor: Professor Antoine Yoshinaka
  • Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30 to 1:50 p.m.

Who will win the 2016 presidential election? How can we make sense of a campaign that started long before this November’s election, beginning with each party’s nomination process and culminating with more than 120 million votes cast? How did we get here, with this particular set of candidates and issues at the forefront among the hundreds of other potential candidates and issues? How do candidates, voters, outside groups, and the media navigate the increasingly complex rules that regulate, among other things, campaign finance and voting rights? What can we learn from previous elections that helps us understand the current contest? How did our understanding of campaigns change over the last half century? This course will consider these questions by introducing students to the political science literature on U.S. presidential elections.

Last updated: September 27, 2016 4:00 pm EST