(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, assess and support claims, and 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 critically evaluate them. 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 on 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, develop a thesis, defend their thesis effectively, and think critically about arguments-their own and those of others.
  2. These seminars address important conventions of written argumentation (including audience, organization, and style) and 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 a more structured presentation.
  4. Concepts and practices of information literacy, including issues of academic integrity, are integrated into these seminars.
    1. 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 information sources for biases, reliability, and appropriateness.
    2. 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 113 Imagining a New World
  • SSI2 113 Digital Methods in the Study of Literature
  • 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
  • SSI2 117 Coming Out! The Gay Liberation Movement
  • SSI1/SSI2 118 Doing Gender
  • SSI1 119 Einstein and Everything
  • SSI2 119 Foodways: Human Appetites
  • SSI1/SSI2 120 Hagia Sophia: From the Emperor's Church to the Sultan's Mosque
  • SSI1 121 Multiracial Identities
  • SSI2 121 American Songs
  • SSI1/SSI2 122 Ecotopia? Landscape, History, and Identity in the Pacific Northwest
  • SSI1 123 Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: Lives of Art and Politics
  • SSI2 123 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  • SSI1/SSI2 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 130 Chinese Popular Stories to Awaken the World
  • SSI1 131 Athens, Freedom, and the Liberal Arts
  • SSI2 131 Social Justice and Radical Politics in Early 20th-Century America
  • 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 From Earthquakes to Epidemics: Catastrophe in United States Culture
  • SSI1 136 Urban America: Problems and Possibilities
  • SSI2 136 Suburbia: Dream or Nightmare?
  • SSI1 137 Una Descarga Latina: A History of Latino Popular Culture in the US
  • SSI1/SSI2 138 How Dramatic Comedy Makes Sense of the World: 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/SS12 143 Controversies of Communication and Technology
  • SSI1/SSI2 144 Constitutional Controversies
  • SSI1 145 Anime Bodies: Metamorphoses and Identity
  • SSI1/SSI2 146 The Good Life
  • SSI1 147 Contemporary Art Theory and Critique
  • SSI1 148 Journalism and Democracy
  • SSI2 148 Medical Narratives
  • SSI1 149 Transgressive Bodies
  • SSI2 149 Creationism vs. Evolution in the U.S.
  • SSI1/SSI2 150 Exploring Bioethics Today
  • SSI1 151 Just Asking Questions: The Power, Psychology, and Politics of Fake News and Conspiracy Theories
  • SSI2 151 The Natural History of Dinosaurs
  • SSI1 152 Gender and Performance
  • SSI1/SSI2 153 Scientific Controversies
  • SSI1/SSI2 154 The Anthropology of Food and Eating
  • SSI2 155 Issues in Disability
  • SSI2 156 Worlds of the Bible
  • SSI2 157 Chinese Painting in the West
  • SSI1 158 The Digital Age and Its Discontents
  • SSI2 159 Evolution for All
  • SSI1 160 The Dilemmas of Statecraft: Foreign Policy and the Ethics of Force
  • SSI2 160 Modernist Literature
  • SSI1 161 Social Order and Human Freedom
  • SSI1 162 Colonialism and Films
  • SSI2 162 Mary and `Aisha: Feminism and Religion
  • SSI1/SSI2 163 Becoming Modern: Paris 1870-1900
  • SSI2 164 The Rhetoric of Warfare: 1908-1938
  • SSI1 165 Never Really Alone: Symbiosis and Parasitism Around and Within Us
  • SSI1 166 Applied Ethics
  • SSI1 167 Learning from Indigenous Societies
  • 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 173 Alexander Hamilton's America: The Political Economy behind the Musical
  • SSI1 174 Lethal Othering: Critiquing Genocidal Prejudice
  • SSI1 175 Utopia and the Imagination
  • SSI1/SSI2 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, Art, and Power in Byzantium
  • SSI2 179 A Russian Mystery: Casting Shadows, Casting Light
  • SSI2 180 The French Revolution
  • SSI1 181 Science and Theater
  • SSI2 182 Against Equality? The Marriage Equality Movement and its Queer Critics
  • SSI2 183 Information from Gutenberg to Google
  • SSI2 184 Past Lives
  • SSI2 185 Queer Case Files: Gender and Sexual Deviance in Postwar America
  • SSI1/SSI2 186 Presidential Rhetoric
  • SSI1/SSI2 187 Controversies of Communication: The American Dream
  • SSI1 188 The Tudors
  • SSI2 189 Experiences of World War II in Europe
  • SSI1 190 Translation on Stage: Language, Culture, and Genre
  • SSI2 190 Sources and Adaptations
  • SSI1 191 Unsolved History: Engaging with the Mysterious Past
  • SSI1/SSI2 192 Elvis and MJ: The Image of the Kings
  • SSI1 193 An Investigation of Literary Naturalism
  • SSI2 194 Castles
  • SSI1 195 Honors: The Scientific and Romantic Revolutions
  • SSI2 196 Honors: Postmodernism and the Challenge of Belief
  • SSI2 197 The Artificial Intelligence Revolution

Resources for Students

Resources for Faculty