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Freshman Seminars introduce students to the intellectual life of the University and to the adventure of learning at the collegiate level. The seminars provide an opportunity for freshmen to gain early exposure to areas of high interest, selected and taught by faculty at MSU. Through Freshman Seminars, first-year students are able to study a topic focusing on their discovery of new disciplines, ideas, and research along with other interested students and a faculty member teaching out of his or her passion.

A variety of Freshman Seminar models exist, and each is designed to provide a diverse set of learning opportunities for first-year students. While most freshman seminars are offered on-campus during the academic year (UGS 101), freshman seminar abroad/away programs (UGS 102/103) helps students integrate academic inquiry with real world applications in international and domestic settings. These seminars are designed to provoke a deeper cognition of engaged scholarship, global learning, field research, service, and citizenship. Intensive and experiential in nature, students gain unique insights by learning in contexts that challenge their perspectives beyond the classroom and facilitate foundations for MSU’s Undergraduate Learning Goals.

Freshman seminars are intended to be small, engaging courses that introduce first year students to the intellectual life of the University. Imagine being able to inspire new students at the very beginning of their academic journey by expanding their perspectives on learning and inquiry. Imagine challenging their assumptions, encouraging inquisitiveness, and helping them understand what it means to be a scholar on a topic you have a passion for, but perhaps normally do not have the opportunity to teach.

Freshman seminars offer faculty members the opportunity to experiment with ideas. You might choose to offer a seminar on a topic related to your current research or simply one of interest that you've always wanted to explore. Your investment of time could advance your intellectual pursuits, while stimulating new students as they share in your enthusiasm for your work.

The first-year experience of college students is a critical time in their development as learners. Research consistently shows that the investments we make in the students' first year provide measurable differences in their classroom engagement and retention to graduation. Through the small seminar format, first year students are able to engage with faculty on a more conversational level and learn how to learn early in their career from some of the best minds on campus.

By working with a faculty member or MSU scholar, first year students are able to see learning and leadership in action, as faculty and other scholars demonstrate what it means to be able to perceive and develop opportunities, foster and guide change, and apply skills and knowledge to understand and articulate complex issues of work, community, and public life in domestic and global settings. Freshman seminars can provide a positive first step in the student's progress toward MSU’s Liberal Learning Goals and Global Competencies.

On-campus seminars offered under UGS 101 are worth one academic credit and require a minimum of 14 instructional contact hours. You choose the day, time, and location preference for your seminar, and have the option to offer it on a 7, 10, or 15 week model.

If you choose to teach a freshman seminar abroad or away, the seminars are offered as a trans-semester course with an intensive travel/experiential component that occurs in July/early August and require at least one follow-up session on campus prior to the middle of fall semester. Freshman seminars abroad (UGS 102) may be offered on a 1 to 3 credit option and require a minimum of 28 instructional contact hours. Freshman seminars away (UGS 103) may be offered on a 1 to 3 credit option and require 14 or 28 instructional hours respectively.

Of course, instructional hours don't tell the whole story. You should factor in preparation, office hours, and grading time into your commitment. For UGS 102 and 103, you will have additional staff support, but you need to be prepared to handle student issues and emergencies during the travel component.

The Office of the Provost provides $20 per head for instructional support for each campus freshman seminar. Similar support may be available for UGS 102 and 103 instructors through the program budget process.

For those teaching off-campus, full allowable travel support (i.e., transit, housing, and per diem) is provided and opportunities may exist to extend your personal travel prior to or after the program. Faculty and staff may be eligible for a small stipend depending upon their appointment and relevant policy.

Faculty will receive staff support to plan the logistics and field experiences associated with their program. In addition, Dr. James Lucas are available for consultation as needed as you design and develop your seminar.

Each year hundreds of students benefit from this experience, due to the generosity of committed faculty. The UGS 101, 102, and 103 freshman seminars are taught on a volunteer basis by faculty, with SCH (student credit hour) production reverting back to his or her unit. Some colleges, departments, and specialization areas may find freshman seminars a great way to enhance student engagement in their programs.
Freshman Seminars use a pre/post program evaluation that includes instructional rating, program evaluation, and learning outcomes assessment. As always, instructors may ask the student to respond to a custom evaluation.

UGS 101 - FRESHMAN SEMINAR

A one-credit seminar offered in the fall or spring semester of the freshman year on special disciplinary-based topics selected by volunteer faculty as an introduction to scholarship and inquiry. The duration of the semester can vary, but are usually taught on a 7-week, 10-week, or 15-week model for a total of 14 instructional hours. Enrollment is limited to 20 students. Graded on a numeric scale. 


UGS 102 - FRESHMAN SEMINAR ABROAD

A two- or three-credit seminar coded as a fall semester course, introducing students to scholarship and inquiry in international contexts. The seminar features an intensive 7-16 day study abroad experience in July/August prior to the start of the student's freshman year, on disciplinary-based topics selected by volunteer faculty focused to begin student development of intercultural abilities and deepen international understandings. The duration of the seminar includes the summer experience with follow-up activities through the first half of fall semester for a total of 28-42 instructional hours. Enrollment limits are set in consultation with faculty. Graded on a numeric scale. 


UGS 103 - FRESHMAN SEMINAR AWAY

A one- or two-credit seminar coded as a fall semester course, scholarship, and academic inquiry in an intensive experiential learning context within the U.S. The seminar is focused on disciplinary topics selected by volunteer faculty and features an intensive 5-10 day domestic site experience appropriate to the topic in July/August prior to the start of the student's freshman year. The duration of the seminar includes the summer experience with follow-up activities through the first half of fall semester for a total of 28 instructional hours. Enrollment limits are set in consultation with faculty. Graded on a numeric scale.

Proposals for a Freshman Seminar away must be underway at least one year in advance. If you would like to propose a new program or participate on an existing program, please consult with Dr. Jim Lucas. Information about existing programs is available on Freshman Seminars Away page.

You choose the day, time, and location preference for your UGS 101 seminar, and have the option to offer it on a 7-, 10-, or 15-week model. Please follow the Registrar's Standard Class Meeting Times for your seminar.


UGS 102 and 103 seminars run mid-July through mid-August and also have some flexibility to work around your summer schedule.

You have the option of offering your seminar in an abbreviated (non-standard) time period during the semester; however, we must follow the Registrar's policy for non-standard semester courses.
The required total contact hours is computed by multiplying the approved course contact hours by 14. If a course has a period of concentrated classroom time followed by an unscheduled paper/project preparation period, base the contact hour concentration on the classroom period only. Courses meeting in non-standard time frames (less than a semester or half semester) MUST conform to the following credit hour/contact hours/session length minimum:
  • 1 credit
  • 14 contact hours
  • 3 class meeting days
When the begin and/or end dates do not coincide with the official semester dates, federal financial aid regulations mandate that the dates submitted accurately reflect the actual beginning and end of student-faculty interaction. For instance, in sections that follow a concentrated organized classroom interaction with an unscheduled period during which term papers or projects are prepared, the begin date should reflect the first class meeting and the end date must reflect the due date of the final assignment. In the case of final examinations for non-standard scheduled seminars, the examination date should be scheduled as the end date for the seminar. ONCE A CLASS HAS STARTED, THE END DATE WILL NOT BE CHANGED.

For UGS 101, you must enter your required and recommended textbooks and other supplemental materials using the Textbook and Material Entry/Update on the Instructor Systems Menu. In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), institutions must make required, recommended, and supplemental textbook and other material information available to students through the class schedule and to bookstores for ordering.

See http://www.reg.msu.edu/forms/instructor/FAQ.asp#Text1 for more information.

Books and course packs for UGS 102/103 are included in the program fee and need to be included in the budget during the planning process.

INSTRUCTORS WILL HAVE FIVE DAYS AFTER THE END DATE OF THE SECTION TO SUBMIT GRADES VIA THE RO INSTRUCTOR SYSTEMS.

UGS 101 courses are worth one credit and are graded on a numerical scale. Per federal guidelines, grades must be submitted within five days of the end of the seminar. Note that seminars offered under an abbreviated time frame will have grades due within five days of the last scheduled class meeting or specified due date for final paper/project. Please keep this in mind when scheduling your course and determining final assignment due dates.

UGS 102, freshman seminars abroad, are worth two credits and are graded on the numeric scale. UGS 102 seminars are offered as a trans-semester course. The course will end officially on the middle of the semester date for fall semester. Instructors must have grades submitted within five days of the middle of the semester date.

UGS 103, freshman seminars away, are worth 1-2 credits and are graded on the numeric scale. UGS 103 seminars are offered as a trans-semester course. The course will end officially on the middle of the semester date for fall semester. Instructors must have grades submitted within five days of the middle of the semester date.

Overrides for UGS 101 courses must be requested by the instructor in writing. Please forward the name and PID of the student you wish to grant an override to Angela Sorrells Jones at sorrell1@msu.edu or 517-432-1581.

Important Notes: Seminar enrollments are intended to be small (general enrollment limit is set at 20 students for UGS 101). Students cannot earn more than two credits in all enrollments of UGS 101, 102, and/or 103. Courses are intended for first-year students with 30 credits or less.

Nate J. Clason, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Freshman Seminar Initiatives
Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
Phone: 517-884-3678
Email:  clasonna@provost.msu.edu

James M. Lucas, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean, Global Education and Curriculum
Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
Internationalizing the Student Experience
Freshman Seminars Abroad (UGS 102)
Faculty Consultations
Phone: (517) 355-0171

UGS 101 SEMINAR PROPOSAL FORM

To propose a seminar, all you need to do is complete the proposal form which may be downloaded here:

UGS 101 Form (Adobe PDF) right click and download to your computer, complete and then submit.

We encourage you to give your seminar a lively title and description to help foster student interest. Dr. James Lucas is available for consultation as you put together your seminar ideas. Each proposal is reviewed promptly and the seminar is scheduled. You will be notified once your seminar has been processed in the University class schedule.

Dr. James Lucas is available for consultation as you put together your seminar ideas:

Proposal forms should be submitted to:

James Lucas, Ph.D.
By email: lucasjam@msu.edu
By fax: 517-432-2069
By mail: 312 Administration Building, East Lansing, MI 48824

 

UGS 102 SEMINAR ABROAD PROPOSALS

Seminars abroad are designed in strategically selected locations around the world, and planning for these locations occurs in consultation with the Offices of Undergraduate Education and Study Abroad. Please consult with Drs. Jim Lucas and Inge Steglitz to discuss a new site location.

If you would like to propose a topic for an existing program, or would like to be considered for a staff position on a program, please complete the appropriate proposal form which may be downloaded here:

UGS 102 Instructional Form
UGS 102 Staff Form

Dr. Jim Lucas is available for consultation as you put together your seminar ideas.

Proposal forms should be submitted to:

James M. Lucas, Ph.D.
By email: lucasjam@msu.edu
By fax: 517-432-2069
By mail: 312 Administration Building, East Lansing, MI 48824

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