The following are goals that, by consensus of the Faculty, all First Year Seminars should provide students with the opportunity to achieve:
1. to learn what is expected intellectually and ethically for college-level work in the Liberal Arts;
2. to engage seriously with the topic to which one’s seminar is devoted;
3. to develop skills in widely accessible yet scholarly presentation (written and oral), involving observation, analysis, argumentation, research, and the use of sources;
4. to become (with the help of advising) active in exploring academic and professional interests, and to find rewarding ways to participate in intellectual life in the Liberal Arts.
Different seminars may approach these goals in different ways, and individual seminar instructors may, at their discretion, add further goals. In accordance with Goal 1, seminars tend to emphasize academic and intellectual curiosity, generosity, integrity, honesty, and effort in written work, discussion, and oral presentation. Seminars may also stress, in their teaching of writing or in their approaches to their topics, the importance of diversity, personal responsibility, and community to intellectual achievement.
In accordance with Goal 3, First Year Seminar students can expect to work on widely accessible analytical writing. Some seminars may assign other kinds of writing as well. Learning to write and speak in First Year Seminars is often not merely acquiring techniques or formulas of persuasive rhetoric, but rather learning about a particular topic, and how to discuss it accurately and compellingly, through writing and speaking. The topics of some seminars may be interdisciplinary, those of others representative of particular disciplines.
In accordance with Goal 4, First Year Seminar instructors (Middlebury College faculty members) also serve as academic advisers for students until the students select their majors (by the middle of the second year at Middlebury). We have found that no one is better equipped to fulfill the role of academic adviser to a new student than a professor who works closely with that student.