Complex Questions: Global Challenges & Social Justice

First Year Inquiry Seminar

The First Year Inquiry (FYI) seminar is the one intellectual experience that is shared by all students at Union. Each first-year student at Union takes the FYI seminar during the fall or winter term of the first year. Faculty from all disciplines teach the courses, which focus on developing students' critical reading, thinking and writing abilities. Instructors choose their own course theme, but all FYI seminars feature complex questions that are open-ended, thought-provoking, and not easily answered. (Incoming first year students, please refer to your Advising and Registration Form for course descriptions.)

The Mission of the First Year Inquiry Seminar

The First Year Inquiry seminar is unlike any other course at Union in its breadth and in the fundamental importance of the issues it engages. Through reading, writing and discussing important ideas from diverse perspectives, students develop an appreciation for the values embodied in the liberal arts. These include the habits and skills of critical inquiry, a tolerance for diverse points of view, an awareness of ambiguity, and a deep curiosity about the social, ethical, cultural, political and natural world in which we live. All of this takes place in an environment that cultivates skills in analytical reading, clear and vigorous writing, and convincing argumentation.

First Year Inquiry Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss ideas: critically and respectfully engage in dialogue with others about ideas in texts as well as those expressed in class
  • Read texts critically: show an understanding of and an ability to evaluate complex and sophisticated ideas from multiple and diverse perspectives
  • Develop effective arguments:
    - support a focused thesis, including analysis of evidence to support conclusions
    - organize information logically and clearly in essays that guide readers through the text
    - express ideas clearly and appropriately, with few, if any, grammar, usage, and spelling errors
    - integrate evidence into one's own argument (e.g., use quotations appropriately, cite the ideas of others correctly, etc.)
  • Incorporate revision into the writing process as a means of improving critical thinking and the expression of ideas