Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry

(two units)

Learning Objectives

The First-Year Seminars at Puget Sound introduce students into an academic community and engage them in the process of scholarly inquiry.

In these discussion-based seminars, students develop the intellectual habits necessary to write and speak effectively and with integrity. Students increase their ability to develop effective arguments by learning to frame questions around a focused topic, to assess and support claims, and to present their work to an academic audience both orally and in writing. As part of understanding scholarly conversations, students learn to identify the most appropriate sources of information and to evaluate those sources critically. Over the course of two seminars, students-with increasing independence-contribute to these conversations and produce a substantive scholarly project.

In the first seminar in this sequence, students engage challenging texts and ideas through guided inquiry led by the faculty member. Students begin to develop the academic abilities of reading, writing, and oral argument necessary to enter into academic conversations. Assignments in this seminar largely involve sources prescribed by the instructor, rather than sources students search for and identify themselves. In Seminar II, students build on and continue to develop the academic abilities introduced in Seminar I. The seminar culminates in independent student projects that incorporate sources beyond the instructor-prescribed course materials.

Each seminar is focused around a scholarly topic, set of questions, or theme. These seminars may be taken only to fulfill core requirements.


  1. These seminars teach students how to frame a problem or question, how to develop a thesis, how to defend their thesis effectively, and how to think critically about arguments-their own and those of others.
  2. These seminars address important conventions of written argumentation (including audience, organization, and style), as well as approaching writing as a process.
    1. In Seminar I, assignments focus on material largely provided by the instructor.
    2. In Seminar II, students produce a substantive scholarly paper or project, appropriate to the skill-level and preparation of first-year students, that involves independent research.
  3. Each seminar requires students to present arguments orally through discussion and more structured presentation.
  4. Concepts and practices of information literacy including issues of academic integrity are integrated into these seminars.
  5. In Seminar I, students learn to distinguish between different types of information sources (for example, scholarly vs. popular, primary vs. secondary) and learn to evaluate sources of information for biases, reliability, and appropriateness.
  6. In Seminar II, students learn to craft research questions, search for and retrieve information, and seek appropriate assistance in the research process.

Approved courses

A course labeled SSI1/SSI2 in the following list has two versions, one satisfying the Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry 1 requirement and the other satisfying the Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry 2 requirement. Generally, a student will not be granted credit for both versions of the course.

  • SSI1/SSI2 101 Dionysus & the Art of Theatre
  • SSI1/SSI2 102 Rhetoric and Religion
  • SSI1/SSI2 103 Alexander the Great
  • SSI1 104 Why Travel: Tales from Far and Wide
  • SSI2 104 Travel Writing and The Other
  • SSI1/SSI2 105 Imagining the American West
  • SSI1/SSI2 106 Cleopatra: History and Myth
  • SSI1/SSI2 107 Leadership in American History
  • SSI1/SSI2 108 Empowering Technologies: Energy in the 21st Century
  • SSI1/SSI2 109 Rhetoric, Film, and National Identity
  • SSI1/SSI2 110 Examining Dogs Through the Lens of Science
  • SSI1/SSI2 111 Life, Death, and Meaning
  • SSI1/SSI2 112 Salsa, Samba, and Soccer: Popular Culture in Latin America
  • SSI1/SSI2 114 Understanding High Risk Behavior
  • SSI1/SSI2 115 Imaging Blackness
  • SSI1/SSI2 116 Communicating Forgiveness and Revenge
  • SSI1 117 People, Plants, and Animals
  • SSI1/SSI2 118 Doing Gender
  • SSI1/SSI2 120 Hagia Sophia: From the Emperor's Church to the Sultan's Mosque
  • SSI1 121 Multiracial Identities
  • SSI1/SSI2 122 Ecotopia? Landscape, History, and Identity in the Pacific Northwest
  • SSI1 124 Utopia/Dystopia
  • SSI1 125 Geomythology of Ancient Catastrophes
  • SSI1/SSI2 126 Gender, Literacy, and International Development
  • SSI1 127 "Why Beethoven?"
  • SSI1/SSI2 128 The Philosophy and Science of Human Nature
  • SSI1 129 Mao's China: A Country in Revolution
  • SSI1/SSI2 130 Lies, Secrets, and Power
  • SSI1/SSI2 131 Agons of Athens
  • SSI1/SSI2 132 Wild Things
  • SSI1/SSI2 133 Not Just Fun and Games: Sport and Society in the Americas
  • SSI1/SSI2 134 Dreams and Desire: The Liminal World
  • SSI1/SSI2 135 Hurricane Katrina and the History of New Orleans
  • SSI1 136 Urban America: Problems and Possibilities
  • SSI2 136 Suburbia: Dream or Nightmare?
  • SSI1/SSI2 137 The Boer War and South African Society
  • SSI1/SSI2 138 Theatre and Comedy: Drama, History, and Theory from Aristophanes to the Absurd
  • SSI1/SSI2 139 The Third Wave: Rock After the Beatles
  • SSI1/SSI2 140 Electric Bodies: Experiment in the Age of the Enlightenment
  • SSI1/SSI2 141 Architectures of Power
  • SSI1 142 The Concept "Orwellian"
  • SSI1/SSI2 143 Controversies of Communication and Technology
  • SSI1/SSI2 144 Constitutional Controversies
  • SSI1 145 Issues and Controversies in Clinical Psychology
  • SSI1 146 Two Cultures: Turncoats and Double Agents in the War Between Science and the Humanities
  • SSI1 147 Contemporary Art Theory and Critique
  • SSI2 148 Medical Narratives
  • SSI2 149 Creationism vs Evolution in the US
  • SSI1/SSI2 150 Exploring Bioethics Today
  • SSI2 151 The Natural History of Dinosaurs
  • SSI2 152 The Inquisition from the Middle Ages to the New World
  • SSI2 153 Scientific Controversies
  • SSI2 154 The Anthropology of Food and Eating
  • SSI2 155 Issues in Disability
  • SSI2 156 Evolution for All
  • SSI1 160 The Dilemmas of Statecraft: Foreign Policy and the Ethics of Force
  • SSI2 160 Modernism: Early 20th Century Art, Literature, and Music
  • SSI2 162 Mary and `Aisha: Feminism and Religion
  • SSI2 164 The Rhetoric of Warfare: 1908-1938
  • SSI1 165 Never Really Alone: Symbiosis and Parasitism Around and Within Us
  • SSI1 166 Applied Ethics
  • SSI2 167 The Russian Revolution
  • SSI2 168 Zen Insights and Oversights
  • SSI2 169 A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
  • SSI1/SSI2 170 Perspectives: Space, Place, and Values
  • SSI1 171 Medical Discourse and the Body
  • SSI1 172 The Scientific and Romantic Revolutions
  • SSI1 174 Lethal Othering: Critiquing Genocidal Prejudice
  • SSI1 175 Utopia and the Imagination
  • SSI1 176 American Autobiography from Franklin to Facebook
  • SSI1 177 Marriage in History and Literature: An Inquiry into What This Institution is For
  • SSI2 177 The Digital Present and Our Possible Techno Futures
  • SSI2 178 George Gershwin
  • SSI1 179 Women and Power in Byzantium
  • SSI2 180 The French Revolution
  • SSI1 181 Science and Theater
  • SSI1 190 Translation on Stage: Language, Culture, and Genre
  • SSI2 190 Sources and Adaptations
  • SSI1 195 Honors: The Scientific and Romantic Revolutions
  • SSI2 196 Honors: European Past Lives

Resources for Students

Resources for Faculty