Advanced Entry Seminar


Office of the Dean of the Faculty



Office of the Dean of the Faculty

The Advanced-Entry Seminar (AES) at Southwestern University helps you 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, AES 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 AES 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.

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

Seminar Summaries

Roadside America

Asphalt and neon.  Road trips and road rage.  Car crashes and 50-foot tall cows.  These are all icons of Roadside America, a strange and familiar place filled with drivers, cars, and roads, and surrounded by landscapes and buildings as well as cultural ideas and images.  It is a distinctive kind of public and social space where drivers use the same cultural resources for different purposes—where individuals perform their private identities while driving next to and sometimes into other people.  What does it mean to live with and within this mobile world, and what does it mean to study it?

International Climate Fiction: Can Reading Save the Planet?

Climate Change Literature constitutes a new genre characterized by a mix of factual research and speculative imagination. Research shows that reading fiction improves empathy. Translating climate science data into accessible stories, Climate Fiction helps us relate to others by moving us in ways that scientific data on climate change cannot. Together we explore how the genre’s representations of science and human choices can play significant roles in how we think and feel about the global challenges of climate change. We ask how international climate fiction connects us across cultures and invites us to see, to care, and to act.

 Going to the Dogs

Dogs appear at almost all major junctures in human history. According to the most recent census, more households in the U.S. include dogs than children.  Considering the dog-human relationship lends itself to interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives, therefore exposing students to different methods and approaches to learning, researching and writing that they will encounter across various disciplines.  In the seminar, portrayals of dogs in various media are analyzed, the biology of dogs is examined, the social implications of dogs (natural disasters, economic impact, etc…) are considered, dogs’ cognitive abilities are explored, and the overall Homo sapiens—Canis familiaris relationship is contemplated.