First-Year Experience

Every Brandeis education is fueled by exploration, imagination, inquiry, creativity and participation in our diverse community.

The first-year experience fosters all these ways of learning. In your first-year experience, you will engage with new disciplinary perspectives and diverse ideas through writing and argumentation — building skills to nurture all that you do here, and beyond.

University Writing Seminar, Critical Conversations, and Experiential Learning

The University Writing Seminar is where you hone your academic writing skills through studying rhetoric, text and readings. It’s where, right away, you encounter fascinating ideas and perspectives.

Ever wondered what attracts people to each other? There’s a seminar for that: “Darwinian Dating: The Evolution of Human Attraction.” Or maybe you’re fascinated by “Utopias/Dystopias” or “(Un)Natural Art,” to name just a few topics. The required University Seminar is an opportunity for first-years to explore new ideas collaboratively.

As part of the University Seminar, you will attend at least one Critical Conversation, a moderated faculty discussion about a specific theme. Consider it an introduction to scholarly discourse. How do faculty engage the world (and each other)? Your University Seminar will follow the Critical Conversation with further discussion and writing. In addition, each seminar will assign an experiential learning activity to expand the boundaries of the conventional classroom.

How to fulfill the university writing seminar requirements

Learning Goals

See the Critical Conversations Schedule

2020-21 Faculty Committee

Name Department
Joel Christensen, Chair Classical Studies
Matthew Headrick Physics
Elissa Jacobs University Writing Program
Robin Feuer Miller German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature
Lisa Rourke University Writing Program
Dmitry Troyanovsky Theater Arts