In their four Collegiate Seminar classes, Saint Mary’s students and faculty, through reading and discussion, explore the great writings that have shaped the thought and imagination of the Western world. In Seminar, students develop skills of analysis through critical reading, critical thinking, thoughtful interpretation and respectful communication. Over time, through this process, they learn to read and discuss important texts with increased understanding and enjoyment.
Classes meet around a seminar table in small groups so that each person can participate actively in the discussion. The faculty discussion leader poses questions about the texts to challenge the students to develop, through the process of careful reading and discussion, defensible interpretations of their own. Students state opinions and uncover assumptions; they present evidence to support their positions or to defend them against objections; they respond to other students’ views, developing points in greater detail, exploring contradictions and ambiguities. Working together in a spirit of cooperation, students learn to reflect upon and refine their ideas. In addition, through substantial writing assignments, students deepen their inquiries into the texts, developing theses supported by cogent analysis based on textual evidence. Their experience with discussion and writing develop skills that Saint Mary’s students use throughout their lives.
Entering transfer students enroll in SEM 102 and take SEM 103 and SEM 104 thereafter.
Students matriculating as first-years are subject to the College’s Core Curriculum requirements (see Program of Study). Collegiate Seminar courses comprise a substantial portion of the Habits of Mind requirements. Students are required to take SEM 001, SEM 002, SEM 103, and SEM 104, as follows: SEM 001 in Spring of the first year, SEM 002 in Fall of the second year, SEM 103 in either long semester of the third year, and SEM 104 in either long semester of the fourth year.
Collegiate Seminar Governing Board
The Collegiate Seminar Governing Board consists of elected representatives from each school, and ex officio members from The Center for Writing Across the Curriculum, the Christian Brothers, the students, the LEAP and BALOS programs and from the contingent faculty
Collegiate Seminar Vision Statement
Collegiate Seminar seeks to engage Saint Mary’s students in a critical and collaborative encounter with the world of ideas as expressed in great texts of the Western tradition in dialogue with and exposure to its encounter with other traditions. Thereby students become part of the Great Conversation. The Program seeks to help them develop as curious, thoughtful members of an intellectual community. Designed to serve the College’s goals of a liberal education, the Program strives to put students in possession of their powers to think clearly, critically and collaboratively, and articulate their ideas effectively-powers that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Goals of the Collegiate Seminar
Collegiate Seminar fosters a genuine sense of collegiality and intellectual community by providing an authentic forum for students to meet and partake of a common experience-the reading and discussion of shared texts under the guidance of faculty from all disciplines. Its participants engage in collaborative dialogue with texts whose ideas shape our world. Through careful reading, shared inquiry, and writing, students improve their skills of analysis and communication. During this process students will develop increased appreciation for these great ideas, and grow in their intellectual curiosity, becoming life-long learners and thinkers. Students will be exposed to a variety of ways of knowing, encouraged in their search for meaning, and learn to accept ambiguity while aiming for clarity.
Seminar Specific Learning Outcomes: As a result of their participation in Collegiate Seminar, students will grow in their ability to:
- Understand, analyze, and evaluate challenging texts from different genres and periods.
- Comprehend the intellectual threads that connect works both backward and forward through history.
- Relate the works studied to their own experience and to notions of authentic humanity.
- Reflect on prior knowledge and assess one’s own process of learning.
Critical thinking within Seminar is grounded on the processes of analysis, synthesis and evaluation necessary to read with understanding. Through careful reading, listening, and reflection, which lead to a solid understanding of the texts, critical thinking allows students to make perceptive insights and connections between texts, Seminars and ultimately their life experiences. Critical thinking within Seminar also includes skills that allow for sound judgments to be made when multiple, competing viewpoints are possible. Seminar is a place where reading critically is transformed and integrated into a habit of mind, providing students with the tools to question the authority of the text and the foundations of their own assumptions. In short, critical thinking allows students to recognize, formulate and pursue meaningful questions, which are not only factual but also interpretive and evaluative, about the ideas of others as well as their own.
Critical Thinking Learning Outcomes: As a result of their participation in Collegiate Seminar, students will grow in their ability to:
- Distinguish the multiple senses of a text (literal and beyond the literal).
- Identify and understand assumptions, theses, and arguments that exist in the work of authors.
- Evaluate and synthesize evidence in order to draw conclusions consistent with the text. Seek and identify confirming and opposing evidence relevant to original and existing theses.
- Ask meaningful questions and originate plausible theses.
- Critique and question the authority of texts, and explore the implications of those texts.
Written and Oral Communication
A mind is not truly liberated until it can effectively communicate what it knows. Thus Collegiate Seminar seeks to develop strong written and oral communication skills in its students. Students will develop skills that demonstrate an understanding of the power of language to shape thought and experience. They will learn to write and speak logically, with clarity, and with originality, and grow in their intellectual curiosity through the process
Written and Oral Communication Learning Outcomes: As a result of their participation in Collegiate Seminar, students will grow in their ability to:
- Recognize and compose readable prose, as characterized by clear and careful organization, coherent paragraphs and well-constructed sentences that employ the conventions of Standard Written English and appropriate diction.
- Recognize and formulate effective written and oral communication, giving appropriate consideration to audience, context, format, and textual evidence.
- Analyze arguments so as to construct ones that are well supported (with appropriate use of textual evidence), are well reasoned, and are controlled by a thesis or exploratory question.
- Use discussion and the process of writing to enhance intellectual discovery and unravel complexities of thought.
Shared inquiry is the act of reasoning together about common texts, questions, and problems. It is a goal of Collegiate Seminar to advance students’ abilities to develop and pursue meaningful questions in collaboration with others, even in the context of confusion, paradox, and/or disagreement. Through the habits of shared inquiry students will carefully consider and understand the perspectives and reasoned opinions of others, reconsider their own opinions, and develop rhetorical skills.
Shared Inquiry Learning Outcomes: As a result of their participation in Collegiate Seminar, students will grow in their ability to:
- Advance probing questions about a common text or other objects of study.
- Pursue new and enriched understandings of the texts through sustained collaborative inquiry.
- Reevaluate initial hypotheses in light of evidence and collaborative discussion with the goal of making considered judgments.
- Engage in reflective listening and inclusive, respectful conversation.
CoursesCollegiate Seminar - Lower DivisionCollegiate Seminar - Upper Division