Course Description:

The First Year Seminar is a two semester, writing intensive course taken sequentially by first year students. The goal of the Seminar is to prepare our freshmen for the intellectual life of college:  how to read critically, how to engage with a text, how to articulate an informed position on big questions, how to write clearly and persuasively, how to voice an opinion in a classroom conversation, how to make connections between and among the readings they are doing, the subjects they are studying, as well as between Siena and the outside world.  The First Year Seminar will teach our freshmen how to be students and will do this in a way that introduces them to the story that is unique to Siena and our Franciscan heritage.  First and foremost, this course is academically rigorous and is a symbol of academic excellence.

Under most circumstances, students will remain with the same faculty member and classmates for both semesters.  Themes for the first semester are:  Heritage and Natural World; themes for the second semester are:  Diversity and Social Justice. Within each theme, there are a few interdisciplinary readings common to all sections of the course. Individual faculty choose the remaining readings and an overall theme to bring coherence to their sections.  The lives and stories of St. Francis and St. Clare are interwoven throughout the year.

In order to meet the goals of the seminar, class size is limited to 19 students.  Classes are structured along a “learning community” model, where careful reading, vigorous class conversation, using writing as a way of learning, and thesis driven argumentative essays are valued. A lecture series and film series are also offered.

Learning Goals:

1. Informed Reasoning: Students will think clearly, critically, and creatively. They will do this through rigorous engagement with both the common, shared texts and with the texts specific to the individual theme of the course.

Students will demonstrate competence in information literacy and research.

A two semester, incremental approach to information literacy is recommended.

Fall Semester:  Each First Year Seminar professor is required to schedule a library research session that emphasizes finding and evaluating a variety of credible sources.

Spring Semester:  Ideally, a second session will be scheduled that emphasizes the development and organization of the research process.

2. Effective communication: Students will read carefully, write clearly, listen closely, and voice their positions persuasively.

3. Reflection on Franciscan concerns: Students will read and reflect on the values of both St. Francis and St. Clare. 

Students will explore the four Franciscan core values:  Heritage, Natural World, Diversity, and Social Justice. 

4. Social and Personal Development: Students will develop socially and personally.