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Jordan Hall
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

  • To reflect on significant questions about yourself, your community, and your world.
  • To develop the capacity to read and think critically.
  • To develop the capacity to write clear and persuasive expository and argumentative essays with an emphasis on thesis formation and development.
  • To gain an understanding of basic principles of oral communication as they apply to classroom discussion.
  • To understand the liberal arts as a vital and evolving tradition and to see yourself as agents within that tradition.
  • To develop capacities for careful and open reflection on questions of values and norms.
  • To develop the ability to carry out research for the purpose of inquiry and to support claims.

Learning Outcomes Used for Assessment

  • Students will listen and read critically—texts, speech, media and other cultural productions.
  • Students will express themselves clearly and persuasively in exposition and in argument, in both written and oral forms.
  • Students will carry out research for the purpose of supplying evidence and support for claims made in exposition and argument.

Corresponding University Outcomes

  • Students will explore various ways of knowing in the humanities, social and natural sciences, quantitative and analytic reasoning, and creative arts (Cognitive—“know”).
  • Students will articulate and apply required content knowledge within their area(s) of study.
  • Students will communicate clearly and effectively (Psychomotor—“do”).
  • Students will know how to find, understand, analyze, synthesize, evaluate and use information, employing technology as appropriate (Cognitive—“know”).

"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." 

First Year Seminar FAQ

Are all incoming first year students required to take FYS?

Yes, all incoming first year students must register for FYS 101 in the fall semester and FYS102 in the spring semester. No exceptions.

As there is no AP course equivalent to FYS, advanced placement credit does not apply towards First Year Seminar.

If possible, consider the student's entire first year plan when choosing FYS, so that the student's year long experience in the course can be maintained. Be mindful of required classes in the second semester of their major that may meet only at the same time as their FYS class, which will meet the same days and times in the spring as in the fall.


Are mid-year enrollees and transfer students required to take FYS?

A first year student entering college for the first time in spring semester or a first year transfer student will enroll directly into a section of FYS 102 that does not require FYS 101 as a pre-requisite.

To fulfill the FYS 101 portion of the Core requirement, the student can subsequently or concurrently enroll in an additional Text and Ideas or humanities course.

These students will not enroll in FYS 101 the following semester or year.

Transfer students who do not transfer in courses that replace FYS may substitute a TI or humanities course (beyond those required for other areas of the core) for each semester of the FYS requirement. A core variance form must be completed for these substitutions.

What if I fail FYS?

First year students who fail FYS 101 will take FYS 102 in the spring and retake FYS101 in the fall. First year students who fail FYS 102 will retake FYS 102 the following spring. Those students should enroll in a FYS 102 that does not require the corresponding FYS 101 as a prerequisite.