Experience the First-Year Seminar – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Experience the First-Year Seminar

The Classes of 2019 will soon embark on their academic careers at Hobart and William Smith Colleges–an experience that would not be complete without the quintessential First-Year Seminar, or the FSEM. First-year seminars at the Colleges are designed to stimulate intellectual curiosity, introduce academic expectations and engage students independent of future major or minor choices.

From peace movements to ancient warfare, Mozart to rock-and-roll, each first-year seminar is designed to hone writing, speaking, critical thinking and other academic skills that the Classes of 2019 will draw upon throughout their careers at HWS. Classes in first-year seminars are small, between 13 and 15 students, to allow for discussion and debate in an intimate group. Some are Linked Course-Learning Communities, in which students live in the same residence hall, forming a community; others are Learning Community Pods, two seminars of related subject matter with students living in the same residence hall.

“If you’ve ever wished you could fly, join the club. If you’ve ever wondered why you wished you could fly, take this course,” reads the course description of FSEM, “The Avian Persuasion,” taught by Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Caroline Manring.  In William Smith Dean and Professor of History Susanne McNally’s “You Are What You Eat” seminar participants will read, write, harvest, cook and eat in the style of people who have lived in what is now Geneva, N.Y.

Students in “Ancient Warfare: How Homer’s Iliad Changed the World” taught by Professor Associate Professor of Classics Leah Himmelhoch will examine what it means that our culture views Iliad as a foundational text defining who we are as “Westerners?” In Associate Professor of Philosophy Greg Frost-Arnolds’ “Monkeys, Morality and the Mind” students will ask themselves: “What am I? What can I know? Are my choices free? Is there any reason to be an ethical person?” Other seminar highlights include, “Golf Course Architecture: Literature, History, and Theory,” “Climate Change: Science & Politics” and “99% Invisible: Designed Places & Objects.”  

“First-year seminars offer exciting opportunities for exploration and collaboration for students and faculty alike,” says Eric Klaus, associate dean of First-Year Seminars and associate professor of German area studies. “The interplay of scholarship and creativity that is the hallmark of the program is celebrated at the end of the semester during the First-Year Seminar Symposium, where students present projects completed over the course of the semester.”

For a complete list of first year seminar offerings, visit http://www.hws.edu/studentlife/orientation/guide_fys.aspx

The photo above features students in Assistant Professor of Physics Illeana Dumitriu’s “Biophysics of Human Motion” first-year seminar during a year-end symposium.

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