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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Constructing a Scribner Seminar
General Procedure

Instructors should submit a Curriculum Committee form for proposing Scribner Seminars (see Curriculum Committee Forms). Use the same form whether the course is a revision of an existing course (e.g., a conversion of an LS2 course) or a new offering for the Catalog. The proposal must include a proposed syllabus and a Catalog description and must indicated how the course will meet the Scribner Seminar guidelines stated above. Please describe approaches you are planning, such as pedagogies used for smaller classes (keeping in mind the enrollment cap is 15), writing/oral communication assignments, mentoring activities you envision, and/or campus resources you might include. Feel free to attach any other materials.

Submit one copy of the course proposal to Beau Breslin, Director of the First-Year Experience, c/o Allie Taylor, Administrative Assistant, Starbuck Center 201A 1st Floor. The Director of the First-Year Experience will review and sign the proposal before submitting it to the Associate Dean of Faculty. Note that the Chair of the faculty department must sign the form before it goes to the Director of the First-Year Experience.

Seminar Scheduling Resources


1)  The following Seminar Goals must be included on the syllabus:

This course will introduce students to disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on [insert the course topic], with the following goals [insert course-specific goals here or integrate them into the goals below]. In addition, this is a course about knowing, particularly about ways to identify problems, formulate productive questions, and go about answering those questions. Students in this course will demonstrate the ability to:

  • distinguish among, and formulate, types of questions asked by different disciplines.
  • read critically, and gather and interpret evidence.
  • distinguish among the evidence and methodologies appropriate to different disciplines.
  • consider and address complexities and ambiguities.
  • make connections among ideas.
  • recognize choices, examine assumptions and ask questions of themselves and of their own work.
  • formulate conclusions based upon evidence.
  • communicate ideas both orally and in writing.
  • relate the results of the course to their educational goals.

2)  Interdisciplinary Perspectives

The course will introduce students to interdisciplinary perspectives as well as disciplinary ones.

As an early academic experience, this course alerts the student to the interconnections among disciplines by providing more than a single discipline-specific perspective. As such, students will learn to distinguish among, and formulate, the types of questions asked by different disciplines as well as learn to use the evidence and methodologies appropriate to different disciplines.

The interdisciplinary focus may be broad and might well draw on a wide range of disciplines (e.g., biology, economics, and literature). On the other hand, the interdisciplinary focus may reflect the perspectives of a smaller number of disciplines. Moreover, those disciplines may all be within a similar area of study. For instance one might propose a course that draws on the social sciences (e.g., combining historical and economic perspectives), or the sciences (e.g., combining biological, mathematical, and physics perspectives).

Team-taught courses might well provide opportunities for faculty from different disciplines to address common problems.

3)  Critical Thinking

The course will seek to develop the sorts of skills that are consistent with the notion of Critical Thinking, as espoused in the Academic Vision Statement.

Students will learn to read critically and to gather and interpret evidence. They will learn to consider and address complexities and ambiguities. They will learn to make connections among ideas. They will come to recognize choices and examine assumptions and ask questions of themselves and of their own work. They will learn to formulate conclusions based on evidence.

4)  Communication Skills

The course will seek to develop the Communications Skills espoused in the Academic Vision Statement.

Students will learn to communicate ideas in writing. Although the course will not be a Writing Intensive course, the course should require that students routinely engage in writing. Drafting and revising their written work with attention to clarity and correctness will help strengthen their writing skills. They should learn to focus an essay with a thesis or main idea, organize their ideas logically and with appropriate transitions between ideas. Consistent with the goals of Critical Thinking, they should learn to support their assertions with evidence. Students will be introduced to conventions of documentation and understand the purpose of using sources and the need to uphold standards of academic integrity.

Students will learn to communicate ideas orally. The small size of the seminar should allow routine student participation in discussions. In that environment, they should learn to express their positions clearly and support them with evidence.

5)  RAP

The fact that the course is taught by the student's advisor, coupled with the student's development of the RAP, will allow the student to relate the course to her or his educational goals.

6)  Credits

Each Scribner Seminar shall carry a minimum of four semester hours of credit and shall have no prerequisite.

7)  Enrollment Cap

Each Scribner Seminar will have a maximum enrollment cap of 15 students.

8)  Requirements

Courses that satisfy the Scribner Seminar requirement may not be used to also satisfy any other all-college requirement or requirement in a major or minor.