Faculty Approves Enhanced First-Year Program

In a move designed to enhance an already successful program, the faculty in April approved an expanded First-Year Program to begin in the fall of 2005. The new program will include both fall and spring term seminars that will be tailored to first-year students and that are linked together in “thematic clusters.” According to Katharine Power, dean of the First-Year Program, the changes will give students an even more solid foundation upon which to build their academic careers. “What we’re doing is offering first-year students an opportunity to become more involved intellectually,” she says. “The spring term seminars will allow students to delve more deeply into a particular area of study as part of a larger group of first-year students. We’re very excited about the possibilities this will offer to our students as well as our faculty.” Power, who is also associate professor of theater and dance as well as an associate academic dean, points out that while the pilot program is currently being referred to as the “enhanced” First-Year Program, it will, in fact, have its own name.

The formation of thematic clusters will provide students with a wide range of learning opportunities within a particular academic framework. Three or more seminars, linked by subject matter, will form each cluster. Faculty members who participate will design their seminars in cooperation with at least of two of their colleagues to form a cluster. Each thematic category will focus on one or more broad questions, problems, or ideas that lend themselves to debate, to multi-disciplinary study, and to clearly defined methods of inquiry. In order to expose students to the wider intellectual community at Trinity, clusters will be designed to engage in common and co-curricular activities that might include common lectures and reading materials, community activities and field trips, or collaborative projects and presentations.

The other significant change to the program is the creation of specific learning goals for first-year students. A faculty group, a sub-committee of the Enhanced First-Year Planning Committee, worked over the summer to clarify those goals. The enhanced program, which will be voluntary, will encourage students to develop competent skills in the areas of critical reading and thinking, writing, oral presentation, information literacy, and research methods.

Faculty members interested in participating in the enhanced First-Year Program should contact Power.


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