First-Year Seminar: “Studies in Human Experience”
In 1953, Bard College inaugurated an experimental Common Course designed to show how the question of human freedom can be approached through a liberal arts education. More that 60 years later, Bard’s First-Year Seminar continues this tradition by engaging the individual experiences of first-year students, and relating those experiences to extraordinary works of literature, philosophy, religion, politics, science, and the arts. In this way, First-Year Seminar introduces students to important intellectual, cultural, and artistic ideas that serve as a common foundation in liberal arts education. Core texts for the fall semester include Genesis and works by Plato, Mencius, Xunzi, Lucretius, Augustine, Ibn Tufayl, Montaigne, Luther, Descartes, Galileo, Milton, and Weber. Core texts for the spring semester include works by Locke, Rousseau, Equiano, Kant, Mary Shelley, Büchner, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Faulkner, and Arendt. Plenary sessions, guest lectures, panel presentations, performances, and student-organized symposia provide a collective forum in which students and faculty come together to investigate and test the ideas explored in the classroom.