First Year Seminars

Last updated: June 13, 2018 at 4:23 p.m.

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
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Familiarity with high school math, physics, chemistry and biology is expected. Enrollment limited to QBReC Scholars.
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.
Jané Kondev (Physics)

FYS 18a Understanding Evil and Human Destiny
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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.
Reuven Kimelman (Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)

FYS 71b Exploring Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the New Universe
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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.
John Wardle

FYS 81a The Subversiveness of Asking "Why?"
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May not be used to satisfy the Science distribution requirement.
It is common to wonder why people behave as they do. But what are the implications of even supposing that this question might be answerable? Here we examine causal accounts of human actions and consequences for freedom, responsibility, and punishment. Usually offered every year.
Judith Herzfeld