First-Year Seminars

Professor Benjamin Harbert (right) sits with a student at a long table
Professor Benjamin Harbert (right) sits with a student in his Ignatius Seminar.

Signature, Small Cohort Classes for College First-Year Students

First-year students in the College have access to a selection of unique courses and academic programs designed exclusively for incoming students. These were created to enhance learning and build personal academic community. The First-Year Seminars brochure is available here (PDF).

The Ways of Knowing Seminar is an integrated learning experience, placing two core disciplines into conversation with each other to confront questions about truth, knowledge, expertise, belief, and meaning. The seminar creates a bridge between one course in philosophy and one in biology, illuminating contrasts in their approaches to how we learn and how we know what we know, even as both disciplines reach for discovery and full understanding of the world. The courses will pursue their own distinct learning goals, but integrated weeks and integrative projects will link the two courses, creating a unique community of learning, interdisciplinary discovery, and very critical thinking. Our aim is to demystify the academy by unlocking some of its secrets, laying bare important disciplinary differences in order to make students more attuned to the real stakes of their academic choices.

Building Equitable Societies: Just Beginning is an experimental, interdisciplinary seminar that proceeds in the hope that society can be built more equitably by focusing on its most precious resource, its most basic building block, and its most vulnerable member: the child. Students encounter a series of issues at the intersection of children’s rights and needs, addressing some of the central challenges of our times. Led by three faculty representing the fields of psychology, medicine, and law, students will engage these challenges in and beyond the classroom, including sitting in on court hearings and visiting a newborn intensive care unit.

The FLL Hager Scholars program is designed with our most ambitious students of languages and linguistics in mind. Over the course of this yearlong program, Hager Scholars complete coursework in their major, as well as courses that fulfill core requirements in other disciplines, taught by faculty who are particularly interested in the ways that language study informs their fields. In addition, Hager Scholars complete a biweekly, yearlong colloquium designed to introduce students to FLL faculty and their research, and to expose them to the many opportunities available to language majors outside the classroom, in D.C., and beyond.

First-Year History Seminars provide students with a small class environment with an experiential learning component. Led by a faculty mentor in the Department of History, students are taught to evaluate the past and present, developing strong writing and research skills that will serve as a foundation for future study in any of Georgetown’s liberal arts disciplines.

Ignatius Seminars (IS) are offered only in the first semester and create for new students a small intellectual community of their peers, as well as a strong connection to a faculty mentor who is invested in their educational growth. Favorite topics of College faculty form the offerings for these seminars, ranging from “The Making of Food”, taught by Prof. Sylvie Durmelat from the Department of French and Francophone Studies, to “Disability, Culture, and Question of Care”, taught by Prof. Libbie Rifkin from the Department of English.

Experience First-Year Seminars