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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 the closely analyze primary texts, study outside their chosen discipline, and reflect on cultural diversity.

Topics for Fall 2015

  • 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 123  On Memory
  • FS 136  Globalization
  • FS 140  Place and Placelessness
  • FS 153  Peace and Justice
  • FS 161  Technology and Ethics in Society  

Topics for Spring 2015

  • FS 111 The Examined Life
  • FS 136 Globalization
  • FS 153 Peace and Justice
  • FS 161 Technology and Ethics in Society

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

Each year, St. Mike's chooses a common text for the incoming class. This summer, you're required to read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. We think you'll enjoy this novel, the 2015 winner of the Arthur C. Clark Award, about a post-apocalyptic world where "survival is insufficient."

Reading this wonderful book is 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 snail 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 read the book now.)

Additionally, in July we’ll post on the SMC portal essays by three faculty responding to the book. During 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. Most exciting, on September 3 Emily St. John Mandel will visit our campus. So you’ll have a chance to discuss this book not only with your peers and faculty, but with its author herself.

So, as soon as possible, please buy the book, either at your local bookstore or online. The ISBN-10 for the paperback is 0804172447. 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
Coordinator of First-Year Seminars
Assistant Professor of Modern Languages
Durick Library 319 
Box 227

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