First-Year Seminars

Each year, Brown offers close to 90 special seminars just for first-year students. These seminars enroll a maximum of nineteen students each and are taught by Brown faculty in all areas of the curriculum, from anthropology to physics to literary arts.

First-Year Seminars (FYS) aim to promote close interaction between faculty and students in a small setting that encourages curricular innovation and pedagogical innovation. Since its inception in 2002, Brown's First-Year Seminar program has provided an entrée for incoming first-years, not only into college-level work, but into Brown's unique academic culture. They offer a welcoming environment to learn about a new field and to develop a bond with a faculty member. Students receive regular feedback on the work they produce (most also carry the writing-designation), and seminar faculty often serve as informal mentors for their students long after the class has ended. 

Many students have used their FYS as a springboard to independent, interdisciplinary work on the seminar theme, or with the seminar professor.  Whether students discover their future academic path, or simply find their academic voice amid the small discussion groups, First-Year Seminars emphasize active participation and discovery—what we call the Brown way. 

Students enroll in first-year seminars by lottery the summer before they arrive at Brown. During shopping period in the fall and spring semesters, a list of first-year seminars with openings is posted in ASK. First-year students may add these seminars to their course registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

Faculty with an interest in offering a first-year seminar might be eligible for course development funds depending on the topic of the course (information about developing a first-year seminar is also available on this site). 

Highlights from the FYS Program

Students Explore Renewable Energy from the Chemical Perspective in Inquiry-Based First-Year Seminar

First-Year Seminar Students Develop an Archive on Black Student Protest from Jim Crow to the Present