Academics

Advanced Entry Seminar

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Office of the Dean of the Faculty

Office of the Dean of the Faculty

The Advanced-Entry Seminar Program (AES) brings new students into the Southwestern community. Each seminar cultivates a sense of belonging and inclusion among students, and exposes them to SU’s expectations for their academic work. Though each faculty member organizes a seminar around a different topic, all of the seminars work towards developing a common set of skills. These include information literacy, reading critically, writing cogently, and participating in informed discussion and debate. In their seminars students engage in a liberal arts mode of learning, which exposes them to a wide array of disciplinary approaches and topics. AES is the student’s first introduction to the Paideia philosophy of making connections. They learn how seemingly disparate ways of thinking can be fully interwoven and how to connect liberal arts learning with the extra- and co-curricular activities and organizations in which they engage. 

As you read the AES summary, you will discover that the topic is 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.

Questions related to your Advanced-Entry Seminar assignment should be directed to 512.863.1567.

Coming Soon - Fall 2024 Seminar Summaries

Fall 2023 Seminar Summaries

Going to the Dogs

Humans and dogs have lived together for 30,000 years. We shaped each other in interesting, significant ways. One could argue that we would not be here without each other. Examining this interspecies relationship is a wonderful entry point for thinking about an interdisciplinary, liberal arts education. To know how two species figured out life together, in ways beneficial to both, opens a window into the myriad ways of knowing central to the Paideia focus at SU. This course examines history, science, religion, environment, comparative psychology, art, media, and more. It also involves real dogs, another species to whom we are so closely connected.

Roots and Branches: Your Family History

Who are you? How much of you comes from your family’s past and genetic code? How much do you really want to know? This course is an introduction to personal discovery through family history, which includes the art of listening to and gathering stories as well as tracking down records and data. Together we’ll encounter and discuss exciting discoveries and frustrating dead ends or setbacks. We will learn unsuspected dangers and challenges to family connections and DNA. But most likely, you will also find a far larger family and greater sense of belonging than you imagined.

Masking: Festivals, Cultural Tribalism and Identity

Masks come in many forms, and are worn for a variety of reasons. Some cultures use them for religious or ritual practices, while others may use them for protection, entertainment, and disguise. Broadly defined, a mask is simply the covering of the face. We wear and use masks every day. While we often connect masks with masquerade and Halloween; facial makeup, tattoos, scarification and prosthetic pieces applied to the face are all forms of a mask. Does the wearing of a mask help identify who we are, or do they hide who we are? We will explore masks and our relationships with them as pieces of art, their use in the sciences and diverse societies.