First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars (FYS) are 3-credit hour courses developed for freshmen. They are taught by faculty and focus on thought-provoking and innovative topics that capitalize on the faculty member’s expertise. During the 2011-2012 academic year, a steering committee of faculty, staff, and students designed the FYS program and developed the pilot seminars for Fall 2012. Members of the steering committee are currently teaching pilot First-Year Seminar courses. For more information, please review the detailed FYS steering committee work plan for Spring 2012 and committee roster.


FYS Program Objectives:

The FYS program is a cornerstone of KU’s plan to invest in first-year experiences that promote student engagement in the intellectual life of the university (Goal 1C in Bold Aspirations). FYS courses are designed to introduce students to intellectual discovery and scholarly inquiry at the university, develop and inspire students’ own intellectual curiosity, and foster critical thinking and learning skills. The goal is to lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning and inquiry to serve our students in their academic and professional careers. FYS also create early connections between students and faculty members.


FYS Course Guidelines:

  • Enrollment in each First-Year Seminar is limited to 19 freshmen students.
  • There are no prerequisites for FYS; therefore they should be designed for students from any discipline who have an interest in the topic.
  • FYS classes promote active learning, discussion, and engagement with peers.
  • All FYS are designed around the critical thinking goal and learning outcome for the KU Core. See kucore.ku.edu.
  • FYS course assignments also emphasize written communication skills.
  • FYS courses are organized around applied problems and expose students to hands-on or experiential learning opportunities.
  • FYS courses include a capstone assignment and a plan for gauging students’ achievement of learning outcomes on this assignment.
  • FYS courses include library training and promote collaborations with other units on campus.
  • Interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary courses, or cross-course connections between individual FYS, are encouraged.

First-Year Seminar Steering Committee Roster:

  • Andrea Greenhoot (chair) - Psychology
  • Jill Becker - Libraries
  • Robert Bayliss – Spanish & Portuguese
  • Sarah Crawford-Parker – Provost’s Office
  • Chuck Epp – Public Affairs & Administration
  • David Fowle – Geology
  • Lisa Friis – Mechanical Engineering
  • Alison Gabriel - Linguistics
  • John Gronbeck-Tedesco – Theatre
  • Dennis Karney - Business
  • Deron McGee – Music
  • Haley Miller - Student
  • Milena Stanislavova – Mathematics
  • Mike Williams - Journalism
  • Nathan Wood - History
Bold Aspirations

Bold Aspirations is the strategic plan for KU, comprising individual plans for the following:

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Junior architecture student Zach Zielke steps along the tessellated tiles winding through the gallery of the Art & Design building. After completing the pathway as a class project, his roommate, junior Anthony Schmiedeler, snapped a photo to show off Zielke’s work. Zielke says the installation was an intervention — to encourage students and visitors to pause and consider the displays of artwork instead of using the gallery as a shortcut through the building. “The gallery allows the creativity and hard work of KU art students to be seen and appreciated,” Schmiedeler says. “By exploring different campus buildings, students can garner an appreciation for the great diversity of the university.” As you continue to explore KU, make sure to stop by the gallery to see the new tiles and the gallery artwork! KU School Of The Arts KU Design Department KU Architecture



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