Building Community from Day One
The transition from high school to living and learning at a residential college can be challenging. A student’s first semester can sometimes be a “make it or break it” proposition. We’ve taken steps to help make that transition a success. The First-Year Seminars are interdisciplinary classes designed to help new students get a leg up on their first semester of college. These seminars help you get the most out of UMM's unique location, resources and approach to education.
Each seminar is structured to foster student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction and to advance student involvement in the campus community, both in and out of the classroom. Group projects and community service initiatives are balanced with seminar discussion, class work and reading assignments. Most seminars also include some sort of field or lab work, or excursions to the local woods and waters.
Professor Sherrie Sprangers teaches the popular Atlantic Salmon Conservation Project seminar. “This course is both a science course and a service course. Students learn to think critically about both the biological and sociological issues surrounding salmon and salmon restoration. They get to see how much a dedicated group of student volunteers can accomplish.”
A Sampling of Seminars
Atlantic Salmon Conservation Project
In December of 2000, the wild Atlantic salmon was listed as an endangered species. Professor Sprangers recognized the salmon’s plight as an opportunity to introduce students to interdisciplinary marine, biological and environmental science. Participants work directly with federal and local agencies to study overharvesting, pollution, habitat loss, and threats from the hydro industry, aquaculture, logging and acid rain.
“Students learn to perform and interpret key measurements of water chemistry using chemical tests and electronic meters,” says Sprangers. “They learn to recognize many of the plants and animals living in the salmon watersheds. They keep field notebooks. They learn to be precise, accurate, observant, curious, and creative—all key characteristics of a good scientist.”
Psychology professor Lois-Ann Kuntz’s seminar provides students with the opportunity to examine their life-space, to envision alternative possibilities in their personal and professional growth, and to foster the development of creative changes toward their future life-career. The course examines how to approach many of the challenges and opportunities new students face.
Kuntz sees the seminar as a way to help manage personal resources to focus on reaching life goals. Not a bad way to start college. “We explore ways to understand and improve relationships with family, friends, associates and the greater community. We develop communication skills, self-assertiveness, and conflict-resolution skills. We learn to appreciate our commonalities as well as our diversities.”
Interdisciplinary Fine Arts
Theater veteran Arthur Hill and local musician/poet Duane Ingalls team-teach this introduction to the various art forms and media taught in UMM’s unique Interdisciplinary Fine Arts program. Students explore the interrelationships among disciplines through a series of creative activities, reading, writing, presentations, performances and arts events.
Professor Hill believes exposing students to a variety and diversity of art forms enriches the learning experience and challenges students to question what exactly makes art Art.
“Duane and I bring guest artists to class each week. They show or perform their work, and challenge the students to think about what Art is, its role, and what motivates artists to create. The group discussions of the first half of the semester eventually evolve into specific individual or cooperative final projects.”