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First-Year Seminar

Launch your Loyola experience with First-Year Seminar, an introductory course designed to help you transition to college-level thinking and learning.

All first-year students at Loyola University New Orleans take a First-Year Seminar (FYS), usually during the fall semester. Members of Loyola’s innovative teaching community lead courses across a variety of disciplines, with a shared commitment to Loyola’s Jesuit traditions. The seminars are kept small in attendance to promote lively interaction in the classroom.

The Loyola Core

First-Year Seminars are part of the Loyola Core, which is the required foundational curriculum that all Loyola students complete. The Loyola Core has been developed to provide students with a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences. The Core prepares students for the demands of a complex world, and develops their understanding of human values and social justice. 

Course Goals & Outcomes for all First-Year Seminars

  1. Critical Thinking. Students will demonstrate the ability to think critically in a variety of contexts; students will be able to evaluate evidence. 
  2. Effective Communication. Students will be able to formulate a position and organize information to defend that position. 
  3. Information Literacy. Students will be able to use information literacy skills in a variety of contexts; students will be able to identify appropriate sources of information relative to a topic and fully evaluate information from a variety of sources and levels. 

For questions about First-Year Seminars, please reach out to Elizabeth Rainey, Ed.D., Assistant Provost, Student Success.

Course Offerings 

Curious what types of courses you can take for your First-Year Seminar? Check out some of our offerings below and view the full listing of courses in the Course Catalog on LORA Self-Service.

Course Name: Set the World on Fire

Course Number/ID: ENTR-T121

Course Description: What can you do about social justice and climate change? A lot! No matter your background, interest, major, and program, “entrepreneurial thinking” helps you harness your passions, skills, experience, knowledge, resources and networks to spot and take advantage of opportunities at the right time and in the right way to make change in the world. You will identify problems big-or-small that you are passionate about. Learn to solve difficult problems through fun team-based innovation exercises and problem-solving strategies. Then get hands-on real-world experience in ways to put these solutions into action. Hear from alumni and parents who are already working on these and many other problems in the world. You will realize that YES, one person can positively impact the world – with the right education and entrepreneurial skills!

Course Name: Facts and Misinformation

Course Number/ID: LIBR-T121

Course Description: This course will focus on becoming educated and critical consumers of information. Students will learn how to take articles on current topics and fully evaluate them for accuracy, bias, authority, currency, and context. The course objectives are structured around both the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, and the guidelines for evaluation of sources developed by the Monroe Library’s Teaching and Learning Team.

Course Name: Mass Incarceration

Course Number/ID: CRIM T121

Course Description: This course explores the social structural processes, causes, and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. Using a social justice lens, we will track the systemic elements and problems of mass incarceration, beginning with the school to prison pipeline. We will also explore the criminal justice institutions, the experience of incarceration, and the process of reentry. Critical evaluation of the impact of criminal justice systems and disproportionate representation of marginalized groups will be investigated. The outcome of the course will be student advocacy, ingenuity, or creative solutions for addressing mass incarceration.   

Course Name: Telling True Stories with Data 

Course Number/ID: BUAN-T194

Course Description: This first-year seminar course in the Loyola Core is a foundation in data literacy and storytelling with data. By critically examining truth claims across a variety of media through the lenses of statistical measurement, quantitative analysis, and visual communication, students will develop the ability to rigorously evaluate the

accuracy and applicability of such claims involving data and form appropriate evidence-based responses to them. In addition, through active practice interpreting, summarizing, and explaining both qualitative and quantitative data, students will improve the capacity to produce compelling argumentative and persuasive communication. Students will learn how to identify and investigate primary-source data behind summary claims in secondary sources, as well as gain knowledge of common analytical approaches applied to data and the assumptions that go into such analysis. Finally, students will gain awareness and fluency in various selected current topics in data and quantitative research, such  as data visualization, the replicability crisis, p-hacking, pre-registration and open data, machine learning, big data, or AI and large language models.


Course Name: Banned Books and School Policy

Course Number/ID: TEAC-T121

Course Description: Censorship of reading materials in American schools has a long history and has been experiencing a recent resurgence. In this course, students will examine the idea of censorship in the classroom from multiple viewpoints. Materials to supplement understanding will include contemporary trade articles and opinion pieces, scholarly journals, policy documents, and banned books themselves. Students will consider the issues, including both merits and drawbacks of controlling what students access. Using book banning as an example, students will investigate how school policy is made in general, learning who are the decision makers that decide what teachers can teach, and what students can learn in the classroom. Important to note is that some controversial topics will inevitably arise in class discussions. Students will learn about and practice civil intellectual discourse, using respectful and evidence based arguments and refutations to explain their ideas.

Course Name: The College Mulitverse 

Course Number/ID: TEAC-T121

Course Description: This course examines the question, “what is the purpose of college?” through historical, political, social, and psychological perspectives. Together we will explore the origins of American higher education, including who it was designed to serve and how that has evolved over time. We will analyze the shifting dynamics of access across gender, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We will seek a better understanding of the history of Jesuit education in the city of New Orleans. Finally, we will explore what it means to be a college student today and the tools needed for self-exploration, resilience, and wellness. In doing so, students will come away from this class with a deeper understanding, both written and hidden, of the college journey. This course will be a discussion-based seminar. 

Course Name: Gender Violence and Justice in a Global Era

Course Number/ID: 21F-HIST-T121

Course Description: In 1993, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) released the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Over a quarter century later, violence against girls and women remains pervasive on every continent. According to the UN, nearly 1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence. At least 200 million women have suffered from genital mutilation. Approximately 92 percent of sex trafficking victims are female. Boys and men also suffer from gender violence, including lynching, sexual violence, and forced child conscription. Members of the LGBTQ community also experience high rates of gender violence. The 2015 US Transgender Survey revealed that 47 percent of transgender persons experience sexual assault in their lifetime. The many other identities of human beings that intersect with their gender, such as race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, ethnicity, class, caste, culture, sexual orientation, and physical abilities impact the ways they may experience gender violence. For example, persons who have marginalized identities in the community and nation in which they live often face higher rates of gender violence and injustice. “Gender Violence and Justice in a Global Era,” encourages students to critically evaluate how the persistence of patriarchy and prejudice perpetuate gender violence against all genders and explore the various feminist and other social justice movements to dismantle oppressive systems and build a more just world. Multidisciplinary in its approach, this course allows students to experiment with primary and secondary sources, including those developed by academics, authors, journalists, filmmakers, politicians, legal systems, and activists. The nature and involvement with the work encourages students to answer the Ignatian call to think critically, to act justly, and to contribute to the liberation of the oppressed.

Course Name: Tell Me ‘Bout Dat: Oral Histories of the South

Course Number/ID: HIST-T121

Course Description: Everyone we meet has a story to tell. It’s up to us to listen. Collecting oral histories provides a fuller account of historical events than traditional sources alone, as they spotlight voices that are often underrepresented. In this First Year Seminar, we will examine a variety of sources, such as the NPR feature StoryCorps, materials from the archives of the Historic New Orleans Collection, documentary film and audio clips, and writings by Zora Neale Hurston & others. Students will then embark on their own exploration of the New Orleans area by selecting one historical movement or specific population in the community, and interviewing an individual with strong ties to that movement/population. We will work to answer the following questions: how can collecting oral histories make us the creators and interpreters of history? In what ways can oral histories bring about social justice? How can local histories help us better understand national historical trends?

Course Name: Diversity, Community, Faith

Course Number/ID: HONS-H-121-F33 

Course Description: The ability both to understand how beliefs shape our respective worldviews, and to have constructive conversations across difference, are important skills that will serve you in your education, your career, and your life.  They will also help in working to create a more just society.  This First Year Seminar provides space and opportunity to explore possibilities and develop strategies, skills, and materials for interfaith collaboration in the classroom, on campus, and in the community.  Drawing upon the framework for interfaith leadership developed by Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, this seminar will address the challenges and possibilities of developing community and collaboration across faiths, while recognizing and respecting diversity.

Course Name: FYS: A Confederacy of Dunces

Course Number/ID: English T121

Course Description: Loyola’s First Year Seminars are designed to invite students into college-level intellectual imagination, the habit of thinking across disciplinary fields, genres, and categories. This particular class will zero in on a particular work of literature—John Kennedy Toole’s novel, A Confederacy of Dunces--which is set in a particular time and place (New Orleans in the Mid-20th Century). But we will also view our one single primary text for the semester as a generative nexus. We will map many of the various historical, aesthetic, and intellectual strands rooted in the novel in a variety of directions. For example: since the novel is a satire, we will explore the idea of satire as well as other key exemplars of the genre. Because the protagonist resists gainful employment, we’ll examine theories of what makes work meaningful or stifling. We’ll draw on other texts relating to other significant themes, and in the process create a portfolio of diverse texts (visual as well as print). We’ll wonder how and why New Orleans society and identity have changed (or not) in the years since the novel was written, which will lead us to consider why this novel is particularly beloved by native New Orleanians (though we may also critique the ways in which the novel is remembered or misrepresented in today’s popular imagination).

Course Name: Music Inside and Out

Course Number/ID: MUGN-H121-F33 

Course Description: How does music communicate emotions and meaning even without words? How has it been used to express, contemplate, console, or persuade? This course will explore such questions through study of songs and pieces chosen by the instructor from the tradition of Western classical music, together with music from various traditions brought by class members. Our goal is to better understand how elements of music may work together, and the role and power of music in our lives. No previous study of music is required or expected.

Course Name: Introduction to Healthcare – First Year Seminar

Course Number/ID: NURS-T121

Course Description: This seminar is an introduction to healthcare and professions. Students will learn about the history and science of medicine and nursing related to healthcare. The course will explore the healthcare team, delivery systems, ethical issues, safety, infection control, communication and professional disciplines in healthcare including nursing.

Course Name: Liberal Education: The Basis of Culture

Course Number/ID: 22F-PHIL-T121

Course Description: This course introduces first year students to the character and purpose of a liberal education. The course has a secondary goal of helping students develop skills necessary to succeed in their core courses at Loyola,including thinking “critically,” reading texts carefully, and expressing themselves clearly in discussion and in writing. The course will focus on role which a genuine liberal education plays in the formation, transmission, and preservation of culture. The course will begin with an introduction, through Plato and Aristotle, to the classical ideal of knowledge pursued both as an end it itself and as informing our lives as citizens. We will then examine the notion of freedom in relation to knowledge, contrasting liberal learning with servile (i.e. merely utilitarian) know-how. The course will end with a consideration of education as “enculturation”, as argued by Dawson, Lewis, and others, and a consideration of the role of philosophical inquiry as a foundation for culture.

Course Name: BioInquiry: Investigating Nature

Course Number/ID: BIOL-T121

Course Description: This First-Year Seminar aims to engage students in the process of scientific inquiry while providing a framework for academic success at Loyola. Students will gain proficiency in experimental design, quantitative reasoning, scientific communication, and collaboration skills. Contemporary research questions will span cellular and molecular biology, physiology, organismal biology, ecology, and evolution.  Each section of this course explores a unique theme that will instill an awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of biology and its relationship to societal issues. 

Course Name: Beautiful Body

Course Number/ID: T 121-F01

Course Description: This course is an examination of discourses of beauty both in the US and in the world. Typically when we think of “beauty,” we think of women, a combined result of being constantly bombarded with cultural messages that women must devote time and resources to enhance their appearance, and a result of living in a patriarchal society. Beauty norms speak of women’s subordinate position in society, where they are more inclined to submit to appearance norms rather than challenge them. In spite of this raging debate, the beauty industry has expanded to include men, who are now being similarly targeted to meet and satisfy new aesthetic standards of masculine beauty. In this class, we will examine how cultures and society construct definitions of beauty, which in turn become a medium of self-expression and identity. While the focus is primarily on how our understanding of beauty is socially constructed and context- specific, we will also examine if idealized notions of beauty represent a dominant (hegemonic) standard that excludes groups of people who racially do not fall under the category of being white in the US context or being Anglo-American in the global context.