First-Year Seminar

Required of all first-year students in their first semester, the First-Year Seminar in Critical Inquiry is a small, writing-intensive class of no more than 15 students.  Taught by a professor who also serves as their academic adviser, each seminar invites students to engage in a set of issues, questions, or ideas that can be illuminated by the interdisciplinary perspectives of the liberal arts.

The Skills to Succeed at Wooster

Through FYS, students develop the abilities, and especially the writing skills, that are essential to critical thinking. These abilities include interpreting complex texts, constructing an argument, supporting the argument with evidence, defending the argument orally,  and critiquing multiple perspectives, including one’s own.

FYS introduces students to the independent thinking and academic skills that they will need in subsequent courses, including Junior and Senior Independent Study.

Criteria for Courses in First-Year Seminar

All First-Year Seminars will:

  • provide students with clear opportunities to meet the learning objectives;
  • introduce questions and problems that are intellectually challenging as well as interesting and comprehensible to first-year students;
  • approach issues from a number of perspectives, methods, and points of view;
  • create the opportunity for students to pose problems and pursue their own questions in relation to the course themes;
  • introduce students to substantive texts of a variety of kinds;
  • require a minimum of five graded writing assignments that encourage students to engage in a variety of intellectual tasks, including synthesizing, judging, and comparing different approaches or points of view and drawing on several sources in constructing an argument.

In any given year, topics cover a wide range of issues and ideas. For example:

  • The Drugs We Drink: Biological and Societal Perspectives
  • World on Fire: The Religious Roots of Political Violence
  • Heating Up the Planet: Response to a Catastrophe
  • Aristotle and the Pursuit of Happiness
  • Experiments in Reading and Writing: Solving the Mystery
  • The Great War and Human Memory