Seminars in Scholarly Inquiry I and II


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.
    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 sources of information 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.