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About the program

Connection to Bold Aspirations

The development of a first-year seminar program is part of a set of recommendations in Bold Aspirations, KU’s strategic plan, to invest in first-year intellectual experiences to strengthen the undergraduate experience for KU students.

Goal 1: Strengthen recruitment, teaching, and mentoring to prepare undergraduate students for lifelong learning, leadership, and success.

Strategy 1-C: Invest in first-year intellectual experiences

Preparing KU graduates for success in the 21st century requires a transformation of the undergraduate experience for students and faculty. An essential part of this transformation is the development of high-quality first-year experiences that promote early and frequent student engagement in the intellectual life of the university and lead students to opportunities for experiential learning in the second year and beyond.


Seminar Format

First-Year Seminars are discussion-based courses limited to 19 students each.  These three-credit hour seminars are organized around stimulating and innovative content areas and are designed to satisfy the critical thinking learning outcome for the KU Core.  The seminars also are designed to improve students’ writing through staged writing assignments that culminate in a capstone project.  Faculty teach First-Year Seminars as part of their regular teaching responsibilities.

Build core skills of critical thinking and quantitative literacy

Learning Outcome 1: Upon reaching this goal, students will be able to analyze and evaluate assumptions, claims, evidence, arguments, and forms of expression; select and apply appropriate interpretive tools.


Goals of the First-Year Seminar Program

  • Inspire students’ intellectual lives
  • Introduce students to the university culture of scholarly inquiry
  • Promote deep learning and thinking skills
  • Create shared intellectual experiences among student cohorts
  • Create early connections between students and faculty members
  • Channel students toward future experiential learning opportunities

First-Year Seminar Steering Committee

In Fall 2011 deans and department chairs nominated faculty members to serve on the steering committee. Twelve faculty members were selected and a steering committee convened including staff and student representation.  The committee reviewed learning research and best practices from successful first-year seminar programs in order to develop the guidelines for KU’s First-Year Seminar Program.  For more information, review the detailed FYS steering committee work plan.

  • Andrea Greenhoot (chair) - Psychology
  • Jill Becker - Libraries
  • Robert Bayliss – Spanish & Portuguese
  • Sarah Crawford-Parker – Office of First-Year Experience
  • Chuck Epp – Public Affairs & Administration
  • David Fowle – Geology
  • Lisa Friis – Mechanical Engineering
  • Alison Gabriele - Linguistics
  • Jennifer Gleason - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • John Gronbeck-Tedesco – Theatre
  • Dennis Karney - Business
  • Deron McGee – Music
  • Haley Miller - Student
  • Milena Stanislavova – Mathematics
  • Mike Williams - Journalism
  • Nathan Wood - History

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