First Year Seminar

The First Year Seminar (FYS) is designed for and required of new students at the beginning of their college studies. It offers students the opportunity to learn in small classes through reading and regular discussion, writing and critical engagement with controversial ideas. Sections are taught by faculty representing every part of the college’s liberal arts curriculum.

Each section focuses on a topic from current events or history or within one of the traditional areas of academic study which has generated controversy among the scholars, policy makers and others who have grappled with it. The role of controversy in shaping human understanding and motivating social and political action is the common theme which unites all sections. As students develop their own positions in the topics of their seminars, they learn how knowledge and understanding depend on the clash and synthesis of multiple points of view. They can also expect to develop a range of academic skills, including critical reading and thinking, writing and oral presentation, library research and the use of electronic technology for their learning.

Section topics and descriptions vary from year to year. Recent sections have covered topics in the arts, ecology, international relations, social and public policy, personal development, the sciences and history. Students typically are placed in a FYS section by late June before registering for other first-semester courses. The instructor of their FYS section is normally their faculty advisor for the first year.

More information and a video library about First-Year Seminars

Bradford Bishop

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

Professor of Religion; Program Coordinator, Jewish Studies

Laura Bohn Case

Visiting Assistant Professor of German

M. Teresa Celada

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Xuesheng Chen

Professor of Physics; Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Katherine Conway

Associate Professor of English

Stephanie Burlington Daniels

Associate Professor of Theatre; Theatre and Dance Studies

Rachelle C. DeCoste

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Tom Dolack

Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian

Linda Eisenmann

Professor of Education, Professor of History

Katherine Eskine

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Matthew J. Evans

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Geology; Chair, Department of Chemistry

Hyun Sook Kim

Professor of Sociology; Co-director of Mellon Study Away Program in Miami

Shenglan Li

Assistant Professor of History

Jennifer Madden

Visiting Instructor of Theatre, Public Speaking Liaison

Ellen McBreen

Associate Professor of the History of Art

Leah Niederstadt

Associate Professor of Museum Studies, History of Art; Curator of the Permanent Collection

Lindsay Orchowski

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dana M. Polanichka

Associate Professor of History; Fall 2019 Resident Director, Wheaton in Bhutan

Alireza Shomali

Professor of Political Science, Jane E. Ruby Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences

Josh Stenger

Associate Professor of Film Studies and English; Hannah Goldberg Chair in Teaching Innovation; Founding Coordinator, Film and New Media Studies

Patricia Stone

Associate Professor of Art

Jeffrey R. Timm

Professor of Religion; Chair of the Religion Department

A. Javier Trevino

Professor of Sociology

Jonathan David Walsh

Professor of French Studies

Marge Werner

Director, Nursery School

Brenda Wyss

Associate Professor of Economics; Coordinator of Development Studies