First Year Experience
Critical Conversations are a central part of the new Brandeis Core. They will each feature two or more faculty, usually from different disciplines, and a third faculty moderator, who is asked to “interrupt” the conversation to indicate rhetorical arguments, or different disciplinary perspectives.
The goals of the Critical Conversations are to build first year cohort identity and introduce students to Brandeis’ intellectual and scholarly discourse and the variety of disciplinary ways in which our faculty engage with the world (and each other). Through the CCs, we also aim to foster a sense of community around academic inquiry and demonstrate to students the advantages of participating in the rich intellectual, co-curricular life of the university.
Students will attend at least one Critical Conversation as part of the requirements for their University Writing Seminar.
The following links to the Critical Conversations webpage, which also lists the titles for the academic year: https://www.brandeis.edu/arts-sciences/core/critical-conversations/index.html
After the Critical Conversation, students should write a reflection letter the following week using the prompt below (or something similar). In addition, please spend 10-15 minutes of class discussing student experiences and reflection letters.
Each UWS must provide one experiential learning assignment as part of the First Year Experience Core requirements. The purpose of the experiential learning assignment is to expand the boundaries of the conventional classroom and encourage students to participate in the intellectual and cultural life of Brandeis. Experiential assignments must take place on campus.
Instructors can choose from a variety of Experiential Learning Opportunities, or they may develop their own assignments. Sample assignments include taking students to the library archives, having them visit the Rose Art Museum, or having them attend a Small Group Discussion or other suitable campus event, such as a lecture or performance.
Small Group Discussions
Small group discussions are 50-minute sessions led by faculty across the disciplines and are open to all first year students. The purpose of the discussions is to introduce students to faculty and fellow students in small groups as a means to encourage further interaction with instructors and build cohort community. Students are invited to participate by a University administrator and sign up using a provided link. Small group discussions are capped at 10 students, and there are typically two per week throughout the semester during an eight week period of the semester.
The written reflection of whatever you choose should have a clear connection to writing pedagogy. As such, the week after the experiential learning assignment, students should write a reflection letter using a prompt (see example of a small group discussion reflection prompt). In addition, please spend 10 to 15 minutes of class discussing student experiences and reflection letters.