Dear Class of 2018,
As you have no doubt deduced, my name is Andrew Curran. I’m Dean of Arts and Humanities and the Director of Curricular Initiatives at Wesleyan. Welcome to Wesleyan !
I’m writing today to let you know about the First-Year Seminar Program (FYS), which has been designed with you in mind.
Here is the description of the program.
First-year seminars (FYS) will introduce students to a variety of topics ranging from Greek myth to neuroscience. Some of these classes treat a specific thinker (e.g., Kafka); others provide a sweeping introduction into an interdisciplinary area of study that may be new to first-year students (e.g., animal studies). All of these classes, however, will emphasize the importance of writing at the university level. Students in first year seminars will become familiar with the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze, and present evidence as part of a scholarly argument. Faculty teaching these classes will also highlight the type of writing associated with their respective disciplines, and help students develop, compose, organize, and revise their writing. All first-year seminars will have a series of written assignments, and will feature oral or written feedback on student writing; many will also employ peer-mentoring and writing tutors. FYSs are limited to 15 students.
No matter what your major or interests are, the ability to write well is absolutely key to your success here. From Dance to Physics, expressing yourself clearly, concisely, and eloquently is something best mastered early, as opposed to in your senior year.
I asked several students about what the FYS has done for them. Here is the best quote I got from a student:
“In the spring of my freshman year, I took an FYS on ‘Platonism, Pragmatism, and Existentialism.’ It was my first exposure to philosophy—and the first time I’d been expected to write weekly response papers. It was a great and ultimately satisfying experience to engage fully and critically with a text and not simply fall back on my ability to craft a sentence. The course forced me to write meaningfully—not simply well.”
And this same student told me to remind you of something else:
“the first year at Wesleyan should be a time for exploration, for learning to live away from home and adapting to a new environment. My FYS helped me transition into college writing and the world of university academics. In a year that included many large introductory courses, my FYS provided me with a unique opportunity to take a small course with a professor who gave me personalized attention and improved my writing. This later allowed me to dive into any subject, course, major, program with confidence.”
You will see that there are many different types of FYS classes. The list of available classes is here on WESMAPS.
At Wesleyan, as you know, you are not required to take any specific class, but I would urge you all to take one of these FYS classes. As the students I have talked to put it, a little work now will pay off for years to come.
All the best to you,
Dean Andrew Curran
P.S. If you have any questions about registering for these classes, please discuss them with your Faculty Advisor, whom you will meet in the fall. The important thing now is to claim your class !!!
Dean of the Arts and Humanities
Director of Curricular Initiatives
Professor of French
Middletown, CT 06459