Welcome to Oberlin
If you are an Oberlin student, you probably think deeply about things—about the value of art, literature, and music in a troubled world, about the state of the earth, about humans’ responsibility to other beings, and about your place in all of this. The First-Year Seminar Program is designed to further you along in this quest to question and understand, engaging you in intellectual inquiry, artistic endeavors, and thoughtful exploration.
As first-year students at Oberlin, you can take on intellectual questioning in a number of different ways—by thinking about political elections, symmetry, and the idea of utopia, to name a few topics of inquiry. You can explore such complex things as the human brain, the Bible, and a literary text. And you can examine such questions as: How can I know what is true and good? How does the studying I do in college connect to the larger world? How does study in the liberal arts prepare me to tackle tough problems and deal with conflict?
First-year seminars help you think about the connections among your courses and the personal significance and social relevance of your studies. They are introductions to liberal arts learning, designed not only to hone your skills in critical and creative thinking, discussion, and writing, but also to acquaint you with the values that sustain a community of learning.
The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences strongly urges all first-year students to enroll in a first-year seminar. We believe that they are crucial to your Oberlin education. A seminar is a unique opportunity for you to test your ideas, learn from others, and get to know a professor well in a small classroom setting. Enrollment is limited to 14 students. Faculty in departments and programs throughout the college offer first-year seminars. These seminars fulfill part of Oberlin’s writing proficiency requirement and a few help fulfill the quantitative proficiency requirement as well.
As you plan your first year, please be mindful that the vast majority of first-year seminars are offered in the fall, with very few in the spring.
You have the opportunity to register in the summer for a fall first-year seminar; please refer to the Big Book of eForms for guidelines on how to do so. Please note that there is no significance to the course numbers of the seminars—all the first-year seminars are at the same level, whether their numbers are above or below 100. We have more than 100 seminars that are offered on a rotating basis, so not all of them can have numbers between FYSP 100 and FYSP 199.
Enjoy reading the seminar descriptions and thinking about what shape your exploration will take at Oberlin. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Director, First-Year Seminar Program
Associate Professor of Computer Science