Welcome to Freshman Seminar!

This course will introduce students to academic life at the university and help them become a part of our community at St. Edward’s. Although the seminars are focused on very different topics, they all share a common goal: students join a community of learners and actively engage in academic and co-curricular exploration. As they do so, they will develop critical thinking skills necessary to become successful students and lifelong learners by meaningfully confronting questions of social justice through the course materials and co-curricular experiences.

What is Freshman Seminar? 

Freshman Seminars are not lecture courses, but are instead classes where students and faculty actively engage with one another as they discuss course materials. In addition, students and faculty will participate in a variety of co-curricular experiences over the course of the semester where they leave the classroom. For example, a seminar might go to an art opening, attend a book festival, or work on a service project with a local non-profit organization.

What is unique about Freshman Seminar? 

Another thing that makes these seminars different from other classes you will take at St. Edward’s is that they are each part of a group of seminars clustered around a particular topic; for example, Sustainability, Social Justice, or Global Engagement. Some seminars are part of a Living Learning Community where all of the students in the class live in the same Residence Halls, while others are part of a Learning Community where students do not live together but do all attend co-curricular events together.

What is the Common Theme?

Every year, St. Edward’s chooses a Common Theme that guides programming and discussions across campus. You will discuss the theme in your Freshman Seminars and some of the events you and your classmates attend will be related to the theme. For fall 2018 we're excited to announce that our incoming students will read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Director of First Year Experience: Alexandra Barron
alexb [at] stedwards.edu


Living Learning Communities


Students in the Global Engagement LLC explore a variety of cultural and political topics in a global context through academic work and social engagement. Our range of seminars and extracurricular activities across the city offer students many opportunities to study and tackle diverse social issues first-hand. Whether it be by studying foreign film, sampling global cuisine, or taking in an art exhibit in downtown Austin, students in this LLC will learn how a global perspective can help us tackle problems at the local level and vice-versa. 

In the Leadership LLC, you'll be challenged to gain a greater understanding of what makes someone an inspirational leader. Whether you envision yourself leading a country, a brand, a classroom, a research team or a band, your experiences in this LLC will empower you to further develop your leadership qualities. You will participate in workshops led by faculty and staff from across campus, learn from high-profile leaders in various fields, and engage in service projects in your community.

Become part of a community of students who care deeply about the world, have a desire to grow and meet their full potential, and are excited to tackle tough issues affecting us all. Reflective thinking, courageous dialogue and affirming finger-snapping included! 

Honors students live together so that the thought-provoking and challenging conversations that occur in the classroom can move into the residence hall. All first-year Honor students live in Dujarié Hall, where they build lifelong relationships with their classmates as well as engage closely with their faculty mentors through co-curricular events held on and off campus.

The Natural Sciences LLC (also known as the CASAR Project: Community for Achievement in Science, Academics and Research) was initially established by a grant from the National Science Foundation so that science majors at St. Edward’s University can begin establishing their credentials as experienced scientists. Participating students arrive on campus before school begins and join the Freshmen Accelerated Research Methods (FARM) Workshop where they learn research tools and methodologies in several scientific disciplines so they are prepared to join research projects and develop their credentials as a scientist. 

Learning Communities


The Hunger Games, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale…why is popular culture inundated with visions of a dystopian future or of totalitarian regimes cloaked under a utopian veil?  How do artists and thinkers use dystopia to critique our world today as they imagine a bleak future? Are attempts to build a utopian society always doomed to fail? Our Learning Community will investigate the role of utopias and dystopias in history and contemporary culture. 

Classes include: Cinematic Dystopias; Mathematopia; Worldbuilding in Dystopias; The World Turned Upside Down: Utopia & Dystopia in American History & Pop Culture 

Seminars in this Learning Community will explore film, music, literature, and other forms of popular culture. As we study various media, we will investigate how our love of particular genres and texts shapes our identities. Whether it is writers from around the globe or “alternative culture” here in Austin, we will examine how popular culture impacts our world. 

Classes include: Film as Text; Exploring “Alternative” Culture in Austin and Beyond; Global Influence in the Arts; Popular Music and Identity

Seminars in this learning community will examine the importance of place, the human role in the environment, and actions that foster sustainability. Questions we will ask include: What is the relationship of people to the environment? How do our attitudes towards nature change over time? And how is Austin making efforts to become more sustainable?

Classes include: Becoming Ecoliterate: Sustainability and Austin; Keeping Austin Weird: Sustainability in the Arts of Austin; A History of People and the American Environment; Do You Know Where Your Taco Comes From? 

How have communities created change in the U.S.? What happens when individuals and groups rebel? Our Learning Community will study the struggle for justice. Each seminar will examine changing roles and changing identities in a different aspect of American society. 

Classes include: Cooking Up Reform and Rebellion: the American Kitchen; The Black Freedom Struggle in History, Memory, & Culture; Private Lives, Public Spaces: How Gender Affects our Experience of Public Space

Hooligans, teenagers, and adolescents: for decades, youth have been othered, scrutinized, fetishized, and feared. Questions of control, freedom, and exploration are central to thinking about the experiences of youth, both historically and in the present. Seminars in this learning community will explore the on-going battle over the ways young people read, watch, listen, play, learn, make, and live together. 

Classes include: Pop Culture Pedagogies: The Politics of Pleasure & Play; Teenage Wasteland? Teenage Dream? Exploring the Field of Youth Studies; Best of Times/Worst of Times: College Student Mental Health