SAGES: Course Sequence

First Seminar Breadth Requirements
University Seminars Senior Capstone
Departmental Seminars  


First Seminar

In the fall of the freshman year, each SAGES student enrolls in a First Seminar. The seminar's defining feature is its small size. With enrollment limited to 17 students, every First Seminar promotes active engagement and discussion, allows students to learn from one another, and offers a vigorous introduction to academic inquiry.

For their First Seminar, students can choose "The Life of the Mind," or one of several topical seminars, each one falling into one of three thematic categories. In Fall 2010, the topical seminars include:

Thinking About the Natural or Technological World 

  • Archaeoastronomy
  • Automobile: Origins, Development, and Impact on American Society
  • Challenges of Sustainability
  • Cities (Under Construction)
  • Energy and Society Impact of Materials on Societal Development
  • Science: Good, Bad, and Dangerous

Thinking About the Social World

  • Art, Music, and the Museum
  • Making Sense of Place
  • Modernity to Modernism
  • Philanthropy in America
  • Science and Race
  • Space Travel in Film and Literature

Thinking About the Symbolic World

  • Death and Representation
  • Digital World
  • Language of Sport
  • Love and Friendship
  • Music in Our Lives

Several aspects of First Seminar are especially valuable to students as they begin their undergraduate careers.

  • Intensive Advising and Mentoring. Each First Seminar is led by a Case faculty member who also serves as the students' first-year advisor. Under this system, students receive guidance from professors who have observed their academic performance firsthand and with whom they interact frequently, both inside and outside the classroom.

  • An Emphasis on Writing. In SAGES, writing instruction is integrated into the seminar experience. Most students do not take a separate expository writing course. Instead, they concentrate on their writing throughout the SAGES sequence. All of the seminars—First, University, and departmental—are designated as writing-intensive courses. And most students receive feedback on their writing both from seminar leaders and from co-instructors (usually graduate students in English) who participate in all aspects of the seminar experience. We believe that our students' development as writers is enhanced when their work emerges from ongoing engagement with a seminar topic.

  • Opportunities to Explore Other University Circle Institutions. In addition to three hours of class time each week, First Seminar includes “fourth-hour activities” at the scientific and cultural institutions that constitute University Circle. These include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Western Reserve Historical Society.
University Seminars

After completing a First Seminar, students take two University Seminars by the end of their second year. Though the writing and discussion proceed at a more advanced level, University Seminars have a family resemblance to First Seminars. Enrollment is still limited to 17 students, and the thematic “worlds” introduced early in the sequence—social, symbolic, natural/technological—are retained as organizing principles of the curriculum. Course descriptions for University Seminars offered in Fall 2010 are available here.

As noted above, all SAGES seminars are writing-intensive. Upon completion of their University Seminars, students submit a selection of their seminar papers in the form of a digital portfolio.

The leaders of University Seminars include faculty members from Case's professional schools, as well as professors from the schools and colleges that grant undergraduate degrees. Seminar leaders are also drawn from the ranks of two SAGES-inspired programs: the Presidential Fellows and the SAGES Fellows. These programs enable SAGES students to interact with guest scholars from other universities, curators and educators from University Circle institutions, and distinguished professionals whose backgrounds in journalism, politics, and other fields equip them to bring fresh perspectives to SAGES and to the University generally.

Departmental Seminars

By their third year, students are prepared to take a discipline-specific seminar, usually in their major field. This is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the SAGES model. At Case, the seminar approach isn't confined to a separate, first-year program; it is also finding a place in traditional academic departments. This means that SAGES has already begun to influence our overall approach to undergraduate education. We believe that the type of learning characteristic of SAGES—interactive, inquiry-based, individualized—will, over time, permeate the entire University community.


Breadth Requirements

All students will take additional discipline-specific courses, typically outside their majors, to ensure broad exposure to liberal learning. These courses may be taken throughout a student's undergraduate career.

Senior Capstone

As seniors, Case students participate in a one- or two-semester capstone project, culminating in a final public presentation of their work in a university-wide celebration of scholarship and service. Some capstones will emerge from existing or new departmental courses; others will be developed by individual students or by small groups in consultation with faculty members.

Capstones demonstrate the knowledge, initiative, problem-solving skills, and powers of communication that students have acquired as Case undergraduates, and especially through their participation in seminars. A significant number of students—including all nursing majors and many engineering majors—will engage in some form of service as part of their capstones. Given SAGES' emphasis on experiential learning, the service component of the senior capstones is certain to grow; the psychology department, for example, is currently developing a service option for its majors.

The Senior Capstone website provides further details about the program. 

For more information about SAGES generally, contact the SAGES office in Crawford Hall or the Office of Undergraduate Admissions .