Core Curriculum

First Year Seminar: Self, Community, and the World

The First Year Seminar introduces all Butler students to an engagement with ideas of seriousness that is characteristic of the best university education.

Course Structure

 A two-semester sequence taken in the first year.

Learning Objectives

1. Listen and read critically - texts, speech, media and other cultural productions - in order to examine, challenge and reshape themselves and the world in which they live.

2. Express themselves clearly and persuasively in exposition and in argument, in both written and oral forms.

3. Carry out research for the purpose of supplying evidence and support for claims made in exposition and argument.


"I can't imagine a better introduction to a life of ideas than to engage the students with writers who have lived that life," Dr. Susan Neville explains.  Her First Year Seminar on Contemporary Writers focuses on those writers who come to the campus each year as part of the Vivian S. Delbrook Writers Series.  The writers talk with students and, Neville remarks, "the conversation will range, as it always does, from the work to history to contemporary issues such as immigration and race, and always always on how to live a life of passion and awareness."

Dr. Lisa Brooks' Seminar, La Musica!, also engages students in grand disciplinary conversations.  Brooks is a professional musician, she notes, "fully engaged in the art of classical music."  But "once the students sense that the goal of the course is NOT to make them symphony patrons, they realize that their personal opinions about classical music and its relevance are integral to the course content" and as they see themselves as agents within culture.

In Michelle Stigter's course, students examine the complex, and at times volatile, topic of immigration.  Her Seminar, Integration and Assimilation, posits challenging questions: "what does the influx of 'the other' do to the composition of cultural identity?  Is it wrong to superimpose the norms and values of the dominant culture on new citizens?"  Stigter's students work in the community with the Immigrant Welcome Center and create a digital story that narrates the support and advocacy work the Center provides to, and on behalf of, various communities.  Helping students "understand cultures and the impact of multiculturalism on our world is an important part of figuring out who we are," Stigter posits, "and who we want to become."