First-Year Seminars

Thinking Critically, Acting Justly

All first-year students take a First-Year Seminar, usually during the fall semester. These small, academic courses are taught by leading teacher-scholars. The seminars are small to promote lively interaction in the classroom. They introduce you to college-level thinking and learning and to Loyola’s Jesuit tradition under the overarching theme “thinking critically, acting justly.” The courses are multidisciplinary and focus on questions of enduring value in the context of subject matter ranging from medieval monsters to protest and pop music, from violence in the media to American dreams. When you enroll at Loyola, you will be asked to select several seminars you would like to take and send your preferences to us in priority order. We then pre-register you for your First-Year Seminar, making every effort to place you in your top choice.

First-Year Seminar Excellence in Teaching Award

In 2013, Loyola established a new teaching award, the First-Year Seminar Excellence in Teaching Award, to acknowledge instructors who are exemplars of successful First-Year Seminar teachers, as demonstrated by both their course design and by their classroom environment. Effective First-Year Seminar instructors create courses that examine an issue from multiple perspectives, prepare students for academic success, ignite a passion for critical inquiry, and foster a deeper understanding of the Jesuit ideals of social justice. The two recipients of the inaugural award are Dr. Phil Dynia for his seminar, "Political Satire: Speaking Truthiness to Power," and Dr. Brad Petitfils for his seminar, "iBrains."

First-Year Seminars and the Common Curriculum

First-Year Seminars are required as part of the Common Curriculum, the broad range of courses in the liberal arts and sciences. The Common Curriculum teaches important foundational subject matter for your major study, gives you a broad education outside your major, preparing you for the demands of a complex world, and develops your understanding of human values and social justice. It offers you an educational experience you will not find at a state institution or other private schools. It is a large part of the “Loyola difference”—that is, it defines what makes our university and the education you receive here distinctive.

First-Year Seminar Library Liaison

In addition to the professor, each seminar is assigned a liaison from our award-winning J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library. This librarian is available to help you, one-on-one or in a group, learn to navigate our print and electronic collections and to conduct research.