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First-Year Seminar

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

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 actively take responsibility for their own education.

Topics vary from year to year, but all courses in the program aim to encourage students to closely analyze primary texts, write extensively, study topics from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, and reflect on cultural diversity.

Topics for Fall 2017
FS 102  The Afterlife in World Religions 
FS 111  The Examined Life
FS 113  Tries: Creative Writing
FS 115  The American Environmental Imagination
FS 116  Snow: Art and Science
FS 122  Music and the Human Experience
FS 140  Place and Placelessness
FS 150  Black Voices of Democracy
FS 153  Peace and Justice
FS 156  Memoirs of Race, Gender, and Sexuality
FS 161  Technology and Ethics in Society
FS 162  Science that Changed History
FS 182  The Social Construction of Humanness
Topics for Spring 2018
FS 111 The Examined Life
FS 115  The American Environmental Imagination
FS 117  Joan of Arc
FS 153  Peace and Justice
FS 158  Society, Identity, & Race
FS 184  Robotics, Technology, and Self

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

The Common Text

The SMC Common Text is required summer reading for all first-year students, is discussed in all First-Year Seminars, and is intended to spark conversation and study among the SMC community from Fall Orientation throughout the academic year.

The 2017-18 Common Text will be announced in mid-March.

Reading this book will be your first step into the conversation that is a liberal arts education. To help you enter that conversation, your first-year seminar instructor will ask you to write a response to the book; you should watch your SMC email and home postal mail in early August for your summer writing assignment, due the first week of classes. (Students in spring seminars will get their letters over the winter break, but should still read the book over the summer.)

Additionally, essays by three faculty responding to the book will be posted on the SMC portal by the end of July. You will receive an email informing you when they are available. During Fall Orientation you’ll participate in a panel discussion with these faculty, so your instructor will likely ask you to also read their essays and perhaps incorporate responses to them into your own essay.

Please buy the book as soon as possible, either at your local bookstore or online. Some copies will be available all summer at the campus bookstore, so if you’re on campus, you can also buy it there. But don’t delay; read the book soon so that you can jump into the conversation that is at the core of a liberal arts education.

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


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