The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a “community of inquiry” by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will:

  • critically analyze information and ideas
  • examine issues from multiple perspectives
  • discuss, debate and defend ideas, including their own views, with clarity and reason
  • develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and
  • create clear academic writing.

Thus, while seminars cover a wide range of topics, they are united in their focus on these five core goals. In particular, the small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and between students and their professor.

First-Year Seminars vary each year, based on the particular interests and areas of expertise of the faculty offering seminars in that year. One recurring seminar is Ideas that have Shaped the World, focusing on texts and ideas from across time and cultures. Students grapple with the question, How do these ideas help us to understand our present experience within a global community? 

See the list of seminars for fall 2014.

First-Year Seminars at Dickinson are integrated in several ways into the residential campus experience.  Clusters of First-Year Seminars on related topics are housed in the same First-Year Neighborhood, facilitating opportunities students to find and engage with other students around mutually shared intellectual interests. Such clusters relate to such broad topics as sustainability, health care, arts and aesthetics, global perspectives and the Ideas that Shaped the World seminars with a common syllabus. All three First-Year Neighborhoods house multiple clusters of seminars, so students have the opportunity both to connect around shared academic interests and also to branch out to meet many students of diverse and different interests.

In addition to the residential clustering by common theme, another way that First-Year Seminars are integrated into the residential campus experience is through our Learning Communities. Particular seminars which share close linkages are housed together on the same residential hall.  The faculty for these seminars, assisted by an upper-level student Learning Community Coordinator, plan ways to take the learning beyond the classroom.  Students in Learning Communities have opportunities for rich interaction with fellow students and the seminar faculty, truly integrating the campus academic experience.