First Year Seminar provides the foundation for a Liberal Arts education by enhancing the essential ability to read and think critically, write and discuss effectively, and make formal oral presentations. These skills are developed while examining important issues in a content area chosen by the professor. The specific content of each section is different, but the skills are common to all.
The first part of this two semester course emphasizes critical reading, writing and revising shorter papers, and developing the ability to participate in and lead effective discussions. The second semester adds more focus on critical thinking and other information literacy skills as students write a major research paper and present their findings orally.
The professor serves as the faculty advisor for the sixteen students in his/her section of FYS. This feature, plus the fact that students and faculty typically stay together for the entire year, creates a strong sense of community.
Experiential Learning courses add to the students’ ability to become life-long learners who can make the link between existing understanding and new situations while pursuing knowledge on their own.
In Experiential Learning courses, students take a body of knowledge gained in the classroom and test its application in a new, less structured setting. This work is supervised by a faculty member, but the student is expected to exercise some initiative and independent judgment in the process. Students move from the performance of the experiential task to a formal reflection on how the effort at application has deepened or altered their understanding of the prior knowledge.
We are all gendered beings, and that reality plays an important, but frequently unexamined role in our lives and our interactions with others. Gender designated courses are designed to help students understand the importance of gender in shaping both individual experience and broader human action.
To this end, students examine the gendered (both men’s and women’s) perspectives and experiences as they manifest themselves in the course content, which depends on the focus of the instructor. Since gender cannot be considered in a vacuum, these courses also examine how it intersects with other categories like race, class, ethnicity, nationality, or sexuality. Finally, students are encouraged to explore the connections between local experiences of gender and the relevant structural and theoretical contexts of the course.
The central purpose of Intercultural courses is to encourage students to develop greater understanding of diverse peoples, and in so doing, alter their presuppositions about others and challenge their understanding of themselves in ways that will help them carry out the institutional mission to improve the human condition in the 21st century.
Students in Intercultural courses develop a deepened understanding of an aspect of another culture; the precise focus depends on the expertise of the instructor. Students also become aware that individual identities, including their own, are shaped by the surrounding cultural forces. Finally, they reflect critically on the implications of how divergent cultural identities shape human interaction.
The Ethics Common Seminar enhances the ability to make responsible decisions by developing the ability to recognize ethical issues, examine them from multiple perspectives, and articulate reasoned arguments that support a student’s normative judgments.
Course topics vary based on the expertise of the instructor, but are chosen because they offer an opportunity to explore issues that are not only debatable, but resist easy solutions. All courses help students develop their moral reasoning by exploring ethical concepts and modes of analysis.
Junior or senior standing is a prerequisite for the Ethics Common Seminar.