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Furman University    
University Catalog 
  Jan 17, 2018
University Catalog

First Year Writing Seminars

Students should be exposed to teaching and learning that significantly differ from a typical high school education – and this exposure should be part of their first-year college experience.  To achieve this objective, Furman requires that all new students complete a first-year writing seminar (FYW) that explicitly devotes significant pedagogical attention to improving student writing and developing information fluency. The seminar requires students to assume greater responsibility for their own learning and cultivates within them an excitement about the learning process and an enduring capacity to acquire and analyze knowledge.

To create a stimulating intellectual environment, first-year writing seminars

  • foster a dynamic process between faculty and students in which ideas and knowledge are communicated and discussed in a reflective, critical, and engaging manner;
  • enhance the intellectual skills necessary for analyzing and solving complex issues and problems in writing;
  • inspire a passion for learning and intellectual pursuits;
  • limit enrollment to up to twelve students.

The main goal of writing seminars is to teach students how to write more effectively through the following pedagogical practices: 

  • teaching critical thinking and logical argument through expository and argumentative writing, working from the premise that writing is a form of thinking, and that ideas are inextricable from their written expression.
  • encouraging offerings on any topic by faculty members in any department.  In keeping with the emphasis on written expression, students will be required to produce a total of twenty pages of graded formal writing appropriate to the topic of each seminar.
  • educating students about plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty in accordance with university-wide policy.
  • addressing analytical strategies, organizational methods, and grammatical correctness, within the context of the genres and formats of the writing of the course.
  • incorporating a composition textbook and reference handbook as teaching texts.
  • employing the resources of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Writing and Media Lab, and the Director of Writing Programs.

A critical part of the writing process, in addition to expressing one’s own ideas clearly and effectively, is locating, evaluating, and incorporating information from scholarly sources, as well as giving proper credit to these sources.  With this in mind, each writing seminar includes an information fluency component which culminates in a research project.  The research project need not be long or complicated but should be enough for students to get a sense of how the academic literature is structured and to understand the basic types of sources and their uses.  Overall, the information fluency component provides students with the foundational skills essential for research in other courses.

To effectuate the information fluency component, a member of the library faculty is paired with each writing seminar.  Library faculty understand the objectives of the seminar and assist the instructor as he or she outlines potential research projects.  The seminar library faculty serves as a resource for students throughout the semester, and conducts information fluency sessions during class time for students.

Assignment Practices

New students, both incoming first year and transfer students (when applicable), will be assigned to a seminar during their first year at Furman based on preferences established through the summer orientation process. Enrollment in the FYW is limited to twelve students.  Exceptions are permissible however, with instructor consent, on an individual student basis. Participation in first year seminars will typically be limited to new students.

Students may switch seminar assignments through the Add-Drop period early in the semester before the published deadline.

Students who do not successfully complete the first-year writing seminar during their initial semester at Furman will be assigned to an appropriate seminar the following semester in consultation with their academic advisor.

Transfer Credit

The FYW is a topical course appropriate for incoming first year and transfer students taught in a seminar format.  Focused on introducing students to the rigorous academic atmosphere at Furman, the seminars frequently utilize interdisciplinary approaches. For courses completed at other institutions to be considered equivalent to these first year seminar offerings, we would expect students to be able to demonstrate that similar objectives have been met.

Introductory college-level composition courses completed at like institutions will typically be considered equivalent to the FYW only when a student has been enrolled on a degree-seeking basis at another college or university.

Seminar Descriptions

Government and Politics

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Mass Media and Popular Culture

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People and Issues in History

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Race, Ethnicity and Social Class

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