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First-Year Seminar: Courses

All students at Saint Michael's College enroll in a First-Year Seminar during their first or second semester. These writing-intensive, discussion-based seminars explore broad questions in the liberal arts and are restricted in enrollment to encourage active learning and interaction between all students and the professor.

The small class size allows instructors to get to know students well and to work closely with their writing. It also encourages students to work cooperatively, creating a small, engaged community of learners who take responsibility for their own education.

Topics vary from year to year, but all courses in the program aim to develop students’ abilities to closely analyze primary texts, participate thoughtfully in discussions about complex topics, and write effectively. Courses explore their topic from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives and are designed to promote reflection on cultural diversity.

Topics for Spring 2018
FS 111 The Examined Life
FS 115  The American Environmental Imagination
FS 117  Joan of Arc
FS 126  Sports Stories
FS 153  Peace and Justice
FS 158  Society, Identity, & Race
FS 184  Robotics, Technology, and Self
FS 195  Africa and Its Peoples

Topics for Fall 2018
FS 111  The Examined Life
FS 113  Tries: Creative Writing
FS 116  Snow: Art and Science
FS 123  On Memory
FS 124  Human Rights in China
FS 126  Sports Stories
FS 140  Place and Placelessness
FS 153  Peace and Justice
FS 154  Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in Media
FS 158  Memoirs of Race, Gender, and Sexuality
FS 161  Technology and Ethics in Society
FS 182  The Social Construction of Humanness

For a complete list of First-Year Seminar classes and course descriptions, see the college catalog.

The Common Text

Each year, Saint Michael's College chooses a common text to be read and discussed by the incoming class of new students. All first-year students are asked to read the book over the summer prior to arriving on campus. A panel discussion of the book is held during Orientation in late August, and each First-Year Seminar discusses the book at the start of the fall and spring semesters. The common text for 2018-2019 is in the process of being selected and will be announced before the end of the spring 2018 semester.

The First-Year Seminar Common Text for 2017-2018 is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015). Coates's essay and memoir is an eloquent, forceful text that will provide students, faculty, and staff with much to reflect upon and discuss. The book confronts head on long-standing issues of race in America that have been highly visible and deeply fraught over the last year in national politics, in the media, and in the lives of many across the county. By reading and discussing Coates's work, students and faculty will also be directly engaged in the FYS program's efforts to promote reflection on diversity.

Read more about the Common Text

For more information about the First Year Seminar or Commont Text, contact:
Peter Vantine
Director, First-Year Seminar Program
Associate Professor of Modern Languages
Klein 114 
Box 227

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