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 community of learners, a microcosm of the college as a whole. Through its emphasis on engaged participation, the seminar challenges students to take responsibility for their own education.
Topics vary from year to year, but all courses in the program aim to introduce students to the close analysis of primary texts, to interdisciplinary study and to reflection on cultural diversity.
Topics for 2014-15
- FS 111 The Examined Life
- FS 113 Tries: Creative Writing
- FS 114 A River Runs Through It
- FS 116 Snow: The Art and Science of Alpine Crystals
- FS 118 Theatre and Social Justice
- FS 119 Horses and Healing
- FS 120 Living Digitally
- FS 136 Globalization
- FS 140 Place and Placelessness
- FS 153 Peace and Justice
- FS 161 Technology and Ethics in Society
- FS 194 Gardens and Greening
For a complete list of First-Year Seminar classes and course descriptions, see the college catalog.
Every year all incoming students are required to read a common text over the summer, in preparation for some of the first intellectual discussions of the new semester.
The text this year is a story by James Baldwin entitled "Sonny's Blues." This is a magnificent story that touches on questions involving race, family, history, addiction, and the power of art (especially music).
Of course you might find a version of the story online, but we want you to purchase the book, so we'll all have the same text. "Sonny's Blues" is just one of the stories in the book, which is entitled Going to Meet the Man. The $15 paperback should be available in many stores and online. Copies will also be available in the Campus Store during Summer Advising Days in July. The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is either ISBN-10: 0679761799 or ISBN-13: 978-0679761792.
Early in the summer, three members of the faculty will write responses to a story, and we'll post those on the SMC Portal, possibly with links to some pertinent music as well. We'll let you know when that's ready.
And then what? We will include the text and the faculty responses in a program during Orientation, and all First-Year Seminars will devote the opening week of class to it. Students who sign up for fall-term seminars will receive further information from their instructors in a letter that will go out by early August.
So this isn't just a casual suggestion for some good summer reading; it will be the basis of the first impression you make in that required course. All instructors will be assigning at least one written response to the book. We urge you not to pospone the reading until your arrival on campus, because that would mean playing catch-up from the start. Besides, we think you'll find it compelling. You might even start talking about it with family members or other incoming students you know. We're looking forward to the conversation once you've arrived.
For more information, contact:
Coordinator of First-Year Seminars
Instructor of English
Saint Edmund's Hall 329