Core 100: Liberal Arts Seminar
An introduction to college-level academic study with emphasis on critical reading and discussion. Topics will vary, but each seminar will focus on questions and issues relevant to the liberal arts. The course will emphasize the development of students’ reading and thinking skills through close textual analysis of a range of works. The seminar also seeks to enhance students’ ability to synthesize a variety of textual materials in order to express ideas, formulate positions, and construct oral and written arguments.
The ability to read with understanding and critical judgment cannot be underestimated. Academic success, professional competence, cultural literacy, and intellectual development depend fundamentally on flexible reading skills that can be applied to a wide range of texts. Reading with “understanding” involves several important processes: comprehending and contextualizing information; identifying meaningful patterns and conventions; identifying key ideas, claims, and assumptions; synthesizing an author’s ideas with the reader’s experiences and knowledge; and developing a comprehensive and well-informed interpretation. Reading with “critical judgment” is a similarly complex task that includes reading with a sense of objectivity, asking questions about what a text literally says and what it implies, evaluating an author’s reasoning, and assessing the degree to which a writer has achieved his or her purpose. This seminar provides students with opportunities to develop these skills.
Successful completion of this course will enable the student to
This course aims to help students
Each professor will choose the texts for his or her section of the Seminar. Professors should choose texts that represent a variety of genres, which might include, for example, fiction, historical narratives, reports, philosophy, newspaper and magazine articles and editorials, arguments, expository essays, Web pages, letters, journals, autobiographies, reviews, case studies, and so on. Since the course is intended to help students become better readers, professors are encouraged to select texts that range in length and complexity and to include at least one book, preferably more.
Strategies for Assessment
Professors may use any number of strategies to assess their students’ progress through the course, including exercises, quizzes, tests, presentations, annotated bibliographies, short papers, and so on. However, students in all sections must complete at least one research-based assignment, preferably a brief documented essay (roughly 5-8 pp) written according to APA, MLA or Chicago guidelines.
Professors interested in teaching a section of the Liberal Arts Seminar must submit a course description and tentative list of readings to the FYS Project Team. In choosing a topic and texts, professors should keep in mind that students in the seminar will not be expected to become experts in the chosen topic. Rather, students in the seminar will be asked to explore a topic through the study of various texts and to demonstrate a mastery of critical reading skills. Professors should remember, too, that while nearly any topic might be appropriate for the seminar, the approach to the topic should reflect the liberal arts tradition.