SRU to pilot freshman-level seminar course in 2018


Students in a class

Incoming freshmen at Slippery Rock University have the opportunity to enroll in a new University Seminar, which is part of a pilot program to revise the University’s liberal studies program and engage students in critical thinking with varied subjects outside of their majors.

April 18, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Truth and Lies, Music and Politics and Philosophy Goes to the Movies. These are among the 22 section titles of a University Seminar course being developed at Slippery Rock University as part of a pilot program available to nearly 500 freshmen in fall 2018.

Hannah Brewer


The three-credit University Seminar course will be offered to freshmen on SRU's liberal studies guide, a menu of courses from which students across all majors can choose to reach their 45-credit general education requirement. However, these classes aren't simply opportunities for students to check off a box for the liberal studies program.

The seminar courses are intended to offer an entry point into the liberal studies program and, with small class sizes, promote strong faculty-student interaction. Unlike the one-credit, FYRST Seminars, which are typically introductions for first-year students to the University and their major, the University Seminar sections have varied content and promote deeper, intellectual inquiry; critical and creative thinking; and introduce students to exploring topics such as diversity and inclusion and global awareness.

"The goal is for students to study a topic that they may not know much about and in multiple ways: by critical thinking, by reading about it, by writing about it and by having civil discourse," said Hannah Brewer, assistant professor of physical and health education, who serves on the Liberal Studies Revision Committee. "It engages each freshman in meaningful content outside of their major with high-impact practices."

The LSRC, which consists of at least two elected faculty members from each of SRU's four colleges, is updating the University's liberal studies program for the first time in nearly 15 years. Currently, students register for classes under both Goal Course Requirements and Enrichment Course Requirements, each with categories such as the arts, global community, and science, technology and math.

Freshmen for the 2018 fall semester will indicate their order of preferences for University Seminar sections when they register for orientation and will have the opportunity to review their class schedules when they meet with their academic adviser during orientation.

"Time and again, the research pointed to only positive attributes for those institutions that had implemented a freshman-level seminar," said Nora Ambrosio, professor of dance and LSRC committee member. "Not only are retention rates improved, but overall academic success for those students who participate in freshman seminars is significant."

After the first year, the LSRC will assess the new seminars based on the University's student learning outcomes and decide what topics to offer for the 2019-20 academic year.

For more information about University Seminar, contact Nora Ambrosio at: 724.738.2775 or

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |