Requirements for Departmental Seminars

To comply with SAGES requirements, the Departmental Seminars (DS) must:

  • be taken after the completion of the First Seminar and two University Seminars.
  • be seminar based, with enrollment capped at 17 students.
  • involve the various kinds of discussion formats which take place in the First and University Seminars, although the topics would be more disciplinary. Topics may revolve around principles of specific fields, primary literature, or experiences that students engage in at other times in the course. For example, a science DS could involve some hands-on experiments that provide the basis for ongoing seminar discussions. Lecture formats would be employed only occasionally, as a strategy to stimulate discussion or to help students to more fully engage in otherwise difficult concepts.
  • include a disciplinary writing component; i.e., instruction will be provided in the forms of writing that are typical in the department of choice. (This will be in contrast to the writing components of First and University Seminars, which are interdisciplinary.)
[Taken nearly verbatim from the Report of the SAGES Implementation Task Force]

Typically, each student will take the DS in the department of his or her major. Students can take a DS in another department, however, as long as they have the appropriate prerequisites for that course. The DS will be under the control of individual departments, and at the department's discretion could count as an elective in a major requirement. The DS could also have prerequisites, should the department choose to add these.

The deans of the other undergraduate colleges, or their designees, will oversee the department seminars and capstones run inside their colleges and schools and insure that they conform to the guidelines of the SAGES curriculum.

I urge departments to pay particular attention to four elements of the course justifications that must accompany each Course Action Form:

1. Clearly describe the writing requirements of the seminar. 

2. Explain how the required discussion format will be implemented.

3. For departmental seminar courses that admit graduate students, insure that the enrollment of such students does not lead to a diminished experience for the undergraduates in the course. Also, note that the enrollment limit of these seminars is set at 17.

A sample syllabus is desirable.  

Peter Whiting
SAGES Director