In April 1995, the College faculty approved the First Year Seminar (FYS) Program. First Year Seminar courses are designed to spark the intellectual curiosity of students, while introducing a thought-provoking topic across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Faculty who teach FYS courses strive to create a welcoming and open learning environment and to foster a love of learning and academic excellence in a small classroom setting. A standing faculty committee receives and reviews each FYS proposal, following approval of the proposal content by the appropriate department chair or dean.
Every First-year student must enroll in, and pass, a FYS during the first year of enrollment at Wake Forest. All FYS courses share certain learning outcomes so that students understand rigorous academic expectations and develop the intellectual skills needed to practice or meet these expectations. By the end of each FYS, students will have practiced the following:
i) Read increasingly sophisticated texts critically
As one of the WFU’s Core Competencies, critical reading is defined as: “the process of understanding, extracting, and questioning written text that allows for the comprehensive explanation of issues, ideas, artefacts, and events before accepting or challenging an opinion or conclusion or constructing new meaning.”
ii) Pose and respond to complex ideas
This may occur in a variety of formats such as written or oral form, or in class discussion. This outcome maps onto the WFU Core Competency of Inquiry and Analysis defined as: “the systematic process of exploring issues, objects, or works by collecting evidence, deconstructing that which is complex, and developing informed conclusions or judgments.”
iii) Identify, analyze, interpret and evaluate different points of view
Again, this may occur in a variety of formats. This outcome corresponds to the WFU Core Competency of Critical Thinking defined as: “the ability to explore ideas comprehensively, to ask relevant questions, to evaluate evidence, to imagine and test alternative points of view before accepting or formulating a conclusion.”
iv) Construct cogent arguments in both written and oral form
This outcome supports the WFU Core Competency of Communication defined as, “the ability to express ideas clearly, exchange knowledge, foster understanding, and/or persuade one’s audience in written and oral form.”
First Year Seminars, which enroll 16 students per section, are taught by faculty from all academic divisions and ranks. Every First Year Seminar is topical and constructed by the individual faculty member(s) with the guidance stated above.