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CSEM celebrates 10th anniversary

| Thursday, April 16, 2015

This week, the College Seminar, the College of Arts and Letters’s signature interdisciplinary requirement, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Implemented in 2005, the College Seminar requirement was initially intended to provide students with a traditional “Great Books” style of education and serve as an integration of the liberal arts. Now, the College Seminar serves as a course that both enhances students’ oral presentation skills and offers a variety of unique topics centered on a faculty member’s specific field.

“[The] idea behind [the] College Seminar really was to give people an introduction to the three areas of the College [the arts, humanities, and social sciences],” Professor Essaka Joshua, professor of English and director of the College Seminar, said. “The idea was to take the classroom to the dorm and get people fired up about interesting issues connecting with what they were reading.”

As part of the Seminar’s 10th anniversary, the College of Arts and Letters, in conjunction with its Department of Communications and Finances, is hosting a 10-day Twitter competition for students to share their personal lessons and experiences from their College Seminars. From April 10 to April 19, students can respond to questions tweeted by the College of Arts and Letters on its Twitter (@ArtsLettersND) using the hashtag #CSEM10 and receive prizes for the best answers. Prizes for the best tweets range from coffee mugs and campus gear from the College of Arts and Letters to Starbucks, Au Bon Pain and Hammes Bookstore gift cards.

“Doing it on Twitter was a way to include everybody,” Joshua said. “We decided, in conjunction with the Office of Communication for Arts and Letters, on a Twitter competition that would be open to all current students.

“The aim was really to get people talking about CSEM, sharing their experiences of it and, for those students who were not in Arts and Letters or who had not yet done it, to let them know what it is [that] we do that is distinctive within the College.”

Several students have already participated in the competition, Joshua said.

College Seminars have become unique for their interesting and diverse topics and focuses, Joshua said. Courses taught by Professors Andrew Weigert and David O’Connor are known to be especially popular, Joshua said.

“CSEM gives you that opportunity to go for something outside of your discipline, because it is interdisciplinary by nature, and to go out of your comfort zone, which is nice because you end up with exploration as well as engagement,” Joshua said.

Joshua views the genuine interest, engagement and bonding between students and professors as a measure of the success of the College Seminar, she said.

“I measure success in whether ‘Are the students engaged? Do they love it? Do they come out talking about it afterwards and are they talking about it before they get to class?’” Joshua said.

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