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Stephens launches First Year Experience

August 27, 2013

Stephens College has launched a new initiative that aims to help students better understand how their academic studies fit into their lives outside of the classroom.

It’s called the First Year Experience and will combine discipline-specific studies with group activities, service projects and tips on how to succeed in college.

“We want to show students that the academic part of college is not completely separate from the social part,” said Dr. Tara Giblin, Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

“We want faculty and staff to create some activities so they can see the overlap between team building and academic coursework and content—it’s about connecting their discipline to something larger.”

FYE courses will be writing intensive to prepare students for college-level expectations. Each year, the courses will fall under an overarching theme, with the inaugural theme being “Society and Self.”

This year, all of the FYE courses will explore the relationship between an individual and her surroundings and how one person can impact a larger group.

Students had the option of selecting one of eight FYE courses, including classes specifically focused on cinema, fashion, art and leadership. Honors-level students will spend the semester examining the role of media and self in society.

One FYE course, “Passion Projects: Women and Creativity,” will examine the lives of women in arts, business, agriculture and health care and how they addressed issues of inequality and cultural expectations. When they’re finished with the course, students will be able to demonstrate a growing understanding of how women make a difference in society.

“What U Wear: Fashion, Culture & Identity” will explore the cultural and sociological aspects of apparel and appearance. Ultimately, the course aims to foster an appreciation of diversity for how people have dressed and appeared throughout history.

In “Artifacts, Trash or Treasure,” students will be introduced to the idea of material culture. Students will learn the basics of psychoanalytical, archeological, cultural and economic theories to better understand ancient and modern artifacts.

In “LeaderHerShip: Women’s Professional Journey,” students will assess the challenges and strengths of female leaders; and in “Society, Self and Cinema,” students will examine how documentary and narrative filmmaking can affect social change.

Throughout the seven-week experience, freshmen groups will also participate in service projects in the community. In September, all classes will watch the movie “Bully” and discuss common themes.

The FYE program aims to be a “new, interesting and engaging starting point for all incoming freshmen,” Giblin said. “We believe this is the perfect way to introduce students to not only the academic side of Stephens but also to our commitment to service and to making sure women are equipped with the self-understanding and confidence they need to find their place in society.”

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