First Year Seminars

Last updated: August 15, 2017 at 10:33 a.m.

First Year Seminars

First Year Seminars (FYS) are special courses specifically designed for first-year students. Although not required, the seminars provide an excellent foundation for undergraduate studies at Brandeis. Under the close guidance of faculty, students are able to experience the intense intellectual engagement of a seminar and interactive small class environment.

These courses explicitly address development of analysis, writing, and oral communication. The seminars incorporate multiple perspectives (disciplinary or interdisciplinary) in addressing significant issues, questions and problems.   

The seminars are also skill-oriented: they encourage students to develop analytical, writing, and oral communication skills. Class discussions, under faculty guidance, help students to formulate key questions and to construct a critical analysis of the author’s or artist’s assumptions, evidence, and argumentation. In addition, they allow students to develop and share insights and ideas, thus learning from each other.

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

FYS 11a Nature's Nanotechnology
[ sn ]
Familiarity with high school math, physics, chemistry and biology is expected.
Imagine a world occupied by machines whose size is 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Some of them produce fuel by harnessing solar energy, while others transport cargo on tracks only 10 atoms across, or assemble other machines following molecular blueprints. This is the bustling world inside a living cell, which we will explore using high school level math, physics and biology. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Kondev (Physics)

FYS 18a Understanding Evil and Human Destiny
[ hum ]
Designed to introduce students to some of the Western classics that deal with the impact of evil on human destiny. Suffering, justice, and death are studied in their relationship with God, the world, and history. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Kimelman (Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)

FYS 53a Between Conflict and Cooperation: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain
[ hum ]
An examination of social and intellectual interaction among the three religious communities of medieval Spain, focusing on literature, philosophy, and religion (including mysticism). Will study how the interaction of the three faiths helped produce a unique culture. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Decter (Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)

FYS 71b Exploring Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the New Universe
[ qr sn ]
Prerequisite: Familiarity with pre-calculus mathematics is required. Some knowledge of physics is recommended.
Dark matter and dark energy make up 96 percent of the universe but we know very little about them. This course explores what we know and don't know, and what we hope to find out with new experiments and observations. Usally offered every second year.

Second Year Seminar

SYS 1c How Do We Know What We Know?
This multidisciplinary seminar for second-year students in the Lerman Neubauer Fellows program will explore how different disciplines choose what questions are important; how they accumulate evidence; how that evidence is argued and tested; and how conclusions are drawn.
Ms. Cadge (Sociology), Mr. Jaffe (Economics), Ms. Kamensky (History), Mr. Katz (Psychology and Neuroscience), and Mr. Kryder (Politics)