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The First-Year Experience, exclusively for Arts and Sciences students, includes the following:

  • First-Year Forum, a small group, seminar-like class, to help new students discover all that A&S, the University and the surrounding communities have to offer;
  • The Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture Series, a shared culminating experience for all First-Year Forum students; and
  • First-Year Seminars, (CAS 100 courses) an interdisciplinary program in which students learn academic writing skills through innovative, thematic courses.

First Year Forum

Music, culture, community engagement, sharing experiences, and tips on adjusting to academic life—these are just a few of the activities included in the First-Year Forum.

Forum groups are comprised of approximately 16 students and are led by faculty and staff members, who are well acquainted with aspects of college life that are important to students. Groups meet weekly and are uniquely focused, depending on the interests and background of the forum leader. Discussions revolve around current issues, personal growth and goal setting, becoming an active member of an academic community, and exploring the liberal arts. Forum groups attend several activities together over the six-to eight-week program

The Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture Series

A shared, culminating experience for all First-Year Forum students is the annual Laura Hanhausen Milton First-Year Lecture Series.  Established in 1997 by a gift to The College from class of 1951 alumni Jack and Laura Milton, the lecture series brings a speaker of national stature to campus each fall to address new students. Milton Lecture topics provide a common intellectual theme for discussion in Forum seminars. The annual themes are of particular importance to students and scholars of the liberal arts.

The Milton Lecture Series, funded by the Laura Hanhausen Milton Freshman Lecture Endowment, is held during the Fall semester each year. Past Milton lecturers have included Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (2001), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin (1998), anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer (2007), and such internationally renowned scientists as Steven Pinker (2010), Jane Goodall (2006), and the late Stephen J. Gould (1997).

CAS 100 First Year Seminar Courses

First Year Seminars is an exciting interdisciplinary program offered by A&S, which teaches critical thinking and writing through innovative courses on discipline-specific themes. Each course is led by a highly qualified Faculty Fellow in the Humanities, and is designed to teach academic writing through a thematic framework that comes from a particular academic discipline. Students enrolling in CAS 100 may choose from a diverse array of topics and enrollment is limited to 22 students per course, which allows instructors to provide ample feedback in a discussion-based classroom experience. 

New students and transfer students needing to fulfill first-semester writing requirements of the Liberal Arts Core are invited to register for First Year Seminars (CAS 100) in the Fall semester, while students who have already completed the first writing skills requirement may take First Year Seminars (CAS 100) in the Spring semester to fulfill Writing Intensive or Critical Reflections requirements and/or Humanities or Social Science Divisional requirement, as determined by the course content. 

Each seminar has six objectives:

  1. To improve writing and critical thinking while focusing on the subject area of the instructor’s academic expertise;
  2. To provide a series of writing assignments, including sequential assignments and assignments based on rewriting; 
  3. To introduce students to methods of developing original argument, analysis, research and other forms of academic and public writing;
  4. To devote attention to the meaning and importance of academic integrity; 
  5. To teach a style of academic referencing that is specific to the course discipline; and 
  6. To examine criteria for determining appropriate and inappropriate sources. 

In addition to meeting all of the stated objectives of the First Year Seminars, CAS 100 courses aim to model critical thinking, integrate the reading and writing processes, and cut across boundaries of discipline and genre. We teach writing as an essential component of reading and critical thinking while introducing students to exciting and differing fields of research and artistic practice.

CAS 100 Instructors

Kellen Backer

Kellen Backer 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

Jesse Nissim

Jesse Nissim 
Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
Interdisciplinary