The Core experience begins with a First Year Seminar (FYS) that introduces students to the spirit of academic excellence and intellectual rigor at LMU. Aimed at improving students' written and oral communication skills, the FYS invites students to engage critically and reflectively with scholarly discourse in a variety of formats: written, oral and visual. The topic for each section of the FYS is chosen and developed by its instructor within one of seven broad themes including 1) Faith and Reason, 2) Ethics and Justice, 3) Virtue and Justice, 4) Culture, Art and Society, 5) Power and Privilege, 6) Globalization, and 7) Science, Nature and Society. Instructors share the example of life-long commitment to intellectual life and creative activity by developing topics of compelling interest that grow from their own work. In addition, the seminar environment encourages conversations that carry forward into Rhetorical Arts (Foundations) as well as Explorations and Integrations stages of the Core. (Note that framing themes for the FYS are revisited within Integrations.) The FYS also provides impetus to develop intellectual community outside of the classroom through linked activities and cohort environments.

The First Year Seminar is taught by a full-time faculty member and a writing instructor with support from academic library staff. The FYS and writing instructors work together to develop essay topics that reinforce conceptual objectives of the course. The writing instructor works with students to provide guidance in presenting, developing, and revising their ideas, as well as toward the stylistic objectives of clarity, coherence, and control. The FYS instructor consults with one or more members of the academic library staff to ensure that the course syllabus meets expectations for information literacy, thus introducing students to basic literary usage and research skills.

More specifically, in the FYS students will

  • understand and appreciate the intellectual rigor and academic excellence that defines an LMU education.
  • engage critically and reflectively in scholarly discourse.
  • exercise critical thinking in oral discussion and writing.
  • discriminate between scholarly and popular modes of knowledge through an understanding of the peer-review process.
  • acquire library skills including use of the library catalog and electronic databases to retrieve books or articles, whether in print or online.

In order to ensure an engaged seminar environment, the FYS courses will be capped at 19 students or fewer.


Related CTE Events

  • 5/7/12, FYS Immersion Workshop: The Trial of Galileo, Tony Crider
  • 5/9/12,
  • 5/9/12, Teaching Reading Core Course Development Workshop, Monika Hogan
  • 5/10/12, FYS Immersion Workshop: The Threshold of Democracy, Thad Russell
  • 5/14/12, Teaching Writing Core Course Development Workshop, KJ Peters
  • 5/15/12, Teaching Oral Communication Course Development Workshop, Therese Edwards, Emily Ravenscroft
  • 8/13/12,
  • 8/30/12, Teaching Writing Step by Step, Stefani Relles
  • 3/25/13, , Suzanne Lane
  • 3/25/13, , Suzanne Lane
  • 4/29/13, , Anne-Marie Deitering
  • 4/29/13,
  • 5/14/13, FYS/RA Immersion Workshop: Greenwich Village, Mary Jane Treacy
  • 5/16/13, , Susan Gardner, Elisa Slater Acosta
  • 5/20/13, , Suzanne Lane
  • 5/20/13, Knowledge and Acknowledgement: Teaching Students to Write with (and to Cite) Sources, Suzanne Lane
  • 5/21/13, , Suzanne Lane
  • 8/12/13, , Matt Parfitt
  • 8/12/13, , Matt Parfitt
  • 8/14/13,
  • 11/25/13, Jesuit Rhetorical History: Ministries of the Word and Mastery of the Word, Cinthia Gannett
  • 11/25/13, Eloquence for Everyone, Cinthia Gannett

Resources for the First-Year Seminar

LMU Libguides

Academic Resource Center

Writing Support: Writing Drop-Ins - Writing Tutoring - Writing Labs

Selection of Reading and Writing Sources

  • Beaufort, A.(2007). College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction.
  • Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.
  • Bean, J.C., Chappell, V.A., Gillam, A.M. (2014). Reading Rhetorically. [Student Audience - full of good explanations, examples, and applications]
  • Dehaene, S. (2010). Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read.
  • Graff, G., Birkenstein, C., Durst, R. (2012). They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings.
  • Parfitt, M. (2011). Writing in Response.
  • Ramage, J.D., Bean, J.C., Johnson, J. (2012). Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings.
  • Roen, D., Pantoja, V., Yena, L., Miller, S.K., Waggoner, E. (2002). Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition.
  • Rosenwasser, D., Stephen, J. (2008). Writing Analytically with Readings.

Selection of Writing Handbooks

  • Bullock, R., Weinberg, F. (2011). The Little Seagull Handbook.
  • Gordon, K.E. (1993). The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed.
  • Hacker, D., Summers, N. (2009). The Bedford Handbook.
  • Lunsford, A. (2009). EasyWriter.
  • Moore Howard, R. (2013). Writing Matters: A Handbook for Writing and Research.
  • Strunk, W., White, E.B. (1999). The Elements of Style.

Selected Online Writing Resources

Other Resources

Essays on the First-Year Initiative Benchmarking Study The First-Year Initiative (FYI) benchmarking study was launched in fall 2011 to assess and benchmark the learning outcomes of first-year seminars. This series contains essays, study results, and brief reports of key findings.

Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition is a semiannual refereed journal providing current research and scholarship on significant student transitions, including the first college year.

Publications about First-Year Seminars and First-Year Experience

Barefoot, B. O., Gardner, J. N., Cutrights, M., Morris, L. V., Schroeder, C. C., Schwartz, S. W., ... Swing, R. L. (2005). Achieving and sustaining institutional excellence for the first year of college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Erickson, B. L., Peters, C. B., & Strommer, D. W. (2006). Teaching first-year college students. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Feldman, R. S. (Ed.). (2005). Improving the first year of college: Research and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Gardner, J. N. (1989). Starting a freshman seminar program. In M. L. Upcraft, J. N. Gardner, & Associates, The freshman year experience (pp. 238 - 249). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Griffin, A. M., & Romm, J. (Eds.) (2008). Exploring the evidence, vol. IV: Reporting research on first year seminars. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Hunter, M. S., & Linder, C. W. (2005). First-year seminars. In M. L. Upcraft, J. N. Gardner, B. O. Barefoot, & Associates (Eds.), Challenging and supporting the first-year student: A handbook for improving the first year of college (pp. 275 - 291). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Koch, A. K., Foote, S. M., Hinkle, S. E., Keup, J. R., & Pistilli, M. D. (2007). The first-year experience in American higher education: An annotated bibliography (Monograph No. 3, 4th ed.). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina. National Resource Center for The Firs Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Tobolowsky, B. F. & Associates. (2008). 2006 National Survey of First-Year Seminars: Continuing innovations in the collegiate cirriculum (Monograph No. 51). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Tobolowsky, B. F., Cox, B. E., & Wagner, M. T. (Eds.). (2005). Exploring evidence: Reporting research on first-year seminars, Volume III (Monologue No. 42). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, national Resource Center, for The First Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Fall 2013 Syllabi

The syllabi are made available to facilitate collaboration and communication among LMU faculty. These are generally not the final versions and are not intended for student use. They may not be disseminated in any form without explicit written consent by the instructor. Syllabi are listed under the last name of the main instructor (some syllabi are used in different classes by different FYS faculty and writing instructors).