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The EMS First-Year Seminar is a required course for all entering EMS first-year students at the University Park campus. The seminar is taught in small sections (a maximum of 24 students per section) by senior members of the faculty. Sufficient sections are offered to accommodate all first year students during their first Fall semester.

The EMS First-Year Seminar is a three credit course designed to encourage students to begin the important process of "thinking for a living." It aims to:

  1. Promote critical reading and thinking, and help students develop effective written and oral arguments.
  2. Encourage individual and group learning, and provide students the experience of being part of a cohort of scholars with similar interests and a common focus.
  3. Expose students to EMS interests and activities through early involvement in the College, and provide at least one friend on the faculty in EMS to whom they can go for advice outside of the normal academic advising channels.
  4. Foster some of the practical skills necessary for academic life.
  5. Challenge students to think about some of the major issues facing the world today, and the role that science and technology play in defining and addressing these issues.

All sections emphasize reading and discussion, with a strong focus on writing and communication skills. Group discussion and group projects are a fundamental aspect of the course--there is little faculty lecturing. In some sections, each student maintains a common theme throughout the semester in which each writing assignment builds on the previous one to produce a comprehensive body of work on a single topic. Other sections allow topics to vary with each assignment. All of the sections require students to make several class presentations based on their written assignments. Students may enroll in any available section, with places allocated on a first-come first-served basis.