First-Year Seminars

Welcome to Mount Holyoke College!

The first-year seminar program introduces students to the idea of the liberal arts, which is central to the academic and intellectual life of the College. The courses themselves form the core of the program. They are taught by faculty across the curriculum—in the humanities, natural sciences, and the social sciences. These seminar-style courses are small, discussion-based, and foster critical inquiry and intellectual discourse, while also encouraging the development of some of the academic skills necessary to a student’s liberal arts education at Mount Holyoke—thinking critically and creatively; reading with interpretive skill; evaluating evidence (visual, textual, and scientific); and communicating effectively with the written and spoken word. Most of the seminars are also writing- or speaking-intensive and are structured to demonstrate connections between the disciplines.

Some recently offered first-year seminars include, “Sherlock Holmes,” Forensic Science,” “Encountering the Sacred,” “On Forgery, Fraud, Bunk, and Bad History,” “Keyboard Instruments as Technology,” and “Politics of Inequality.” For a complete listing of first-year seminars in the coming semester, please consult our online course registration system, ISIS.

We highly recommend that all entering students enroll in a first-year seminar. It is best to think of your first-year seminar as an opportunity to broaden your education, so pick a course on a subject about which you have always wondered, but never had the opportunity to explore.

Students who enroll in a first-year seminar will also be required to coregister for First-Year Connections (Curricular Support Courses 101), a 1-credit, six-week mini course that will help students to think intentionally and reflectively about their liberal arts education and ways to plan for and leverage experiential learning opportunities, including internships, study abroad, and volunteer opportunities. You will also meet many faculty, staff, and seasoned students from various programs and offices to get connected to the campus. Multiple sections of the First-Year Connections course are offered, so that you can find one which fits into your schedule.You will likely hear more from me after you register for courses this summer.

I look forward to meeting you in the spring!

Geoffrey Sumi
Director, First-Year Seminar Program