First-Year Seminar

First-Year Seminar

Contact Us

Program Directors:
Robert Weston
Cole Heinowitz

For further information,
please contact:  
Julie Cerulli, Program Assistant
Tel: 845-758-7490
Fax: 845-752-2368

About First-Year Seminar

The Common Course: 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. Sixty years later, the Common Course continues to engage the individual experiences of first-year students, and to relate those experiences to extraordinary works of literature, philosophy, religion, politics, science, and the arts. In this way, the course 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 where students and faculty come together to investigate and test the ideas explored in the classroom.