First-Year Seminar Mission and Goals

The First-Year Seminar Program is a vehicle through which Middlebury College introduces first-year students to the values of a residential liberal arts education during their first semester on campus. Taught by regular, full-time faculty members who also serve as students' academic advisers, First-Year Seminars provide an intellectual atmosphere that encourages students to be active participants in their own learning.  Seminars provide the opportunity for students to become acquainted with the skills which will eventually enable them to perform high quality, independent work throughout their college years and in the future as active members of their communities.


Critical Skills: Thinking, reading, writing, and speaking are emphasized.

Cross-Disciplinary Thinking: The ability to think across the grain, to make fruitful connections from discipline to discipline, to approach problem solving by combining different modes of thought-scientific, creative, analytical, literary, quantitative, qualitative- are the skills and approaches that characterize liberal arts education.

Intellectual Curiosity: The courses encourage the desire to pursue a single subject rigorously and in depth.

Information Literacy: This is the ability to find, evaluate, use, and properly cite information resources--whether they be in print or digital format, primary or secondary materials, factual or analytical, general or discipline-specific, local or remote.

Responsibility: Academic responsibility evolves from creating an environment in which students expect to be responsible for high quality, independent work in their junior and senior years, and are aware of developing the skills to perform at that level from their first semester.

Community Membership: A fully integrated residential liberal arts education extends naturally beyond the classroom to help students connect their curricular learning with their lives as members of the communities in which they live.  Active Seminar affiliations with Commons and increasing incorporation of service learning both help students to forge such connections.

Diversity: Teaching students to experience, question, and understand their own culture and to experience, question, and understand completely different cultures prepares them for their roles in the interrelated world they will find both here and after Middlebury.

Curricular Innovation:Free of the demands of regular, sequenced departmental courses, seminars allow faculty to explore new ways to teach and to enrich their students' learning.