Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

First-Year Seminar

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) at Southwestern University helps you begin to practice an education that arcs over your SU experience and across the curriculum. That education connects the questions and perspectives you encounter as well as the skills you develop to each other and to the world. Taken during your first semester as a four-credit graded course, FYS is a concurrent rather than preliminary experience. It focuses on topics that help you think about what you are learning in your other classes as well as your whole education. It is your first exposure to Paideia—Southwestern’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to integrating curricular and co-curricular experiences.

As you read the FYS summaries, you will discover that the topics are engaging and sometimes even edgy. But don’t be fooled. Seminars are real courses designed to introduce intellectual skills common to the liberal arts: formulating cogent questions, forging connections between methods of inquiry, recognizing and challenging assumptions, seeking out and listening to multiple perspectives, and rethinking the role of reading, writing, and discussion in inquiry and student-centered learning. Seminars meet daily during orientation week, which begins Monday, August 15, and continue meeting twice per week through the month of October.


You register for FYS at the same time you register for your other courses. A list of the seminars is here.

Information regarding your FYS, as well as correspondence from your professor, including a summer assignment, will be mailed to your home address soon after you register. Following registration, you may not change your FYS.


As you consider the FYS choices, you will also want to think about your residential experience because your housing assignment is determined by your FYS. First-year residence halls are either coed (male and female by suites) or gender-specific (all female or all male). With both residential experiences, you will live with, or in close proximity to, your FYS classmates. You will easily connect your in-class and out-of-class experiences by fostering an element of intellectual curiosity within the residence hall.

Residence Halls

Mabee Hall and Brown-Cody Hall are both coed residence halls. The gender-specific first-year halls are Kurth Hall for women and Ruter Hall for men. You will live in the same residence hall for your entire first year. You can learn more about all of Southwestern’s residence halls by visiting:

Roommate Requests

Roommate requests will be considered, but are not guaranteed. You should both indicate your roommate request on your respective housing forms. Additionally, both students must register for the same seminar for roommate consideration.

Questions? Call 512/863-1567 or email