Discovery Seminars are four-week, five-credit courses offered to first-year undergraduates during Early Fall Start (EFS), the month immediately preceding the start of Autumn Quarter. The goal of the program is to introduce students to the intellectual excitement and rigor of a world-class university through an intensive disciplinary immersion. In a sense, we are branding college-level learning through these small seminars, taught by regular UW faculty on a wide range of topics, with enrollment limited to 25 students. Rather than simply a menu of discrete course options, Discovery Seminars anchor a programmatic approach to making apparent the expansiveness and breadth of liberal learning through which students are encouraged to make connections, synthesize content, and create coherence across modes of inquiry, something that they will be asked to do throughout their career here and beyond.

The Discovery Seminar program has enjoyed great success and growth in recent years. The small-class environment and the quality of the courses bring consistently positive feedback from both faculty (“I enjoyed this teaching experience more than just about any in my over 20 years on the faculty at UW”) and students (“I’ve realized that college is a new level of learning and I need to alter the student I am in order to do well. College is placing me on a new journey.”).

You can see a list of the courses offered this past year at the Discovery Seminar web page:

We anticipate offering approximately 20 Discovery Seminars in 2017. Courses will begin Tuesday, August 23 and end Friday, September 15. Courses meet Tuesday through Friday for 2½ hours, starting at 9 or 9:30 AM and ending at 11:30 or noon, respectively. Faculty instructors will receive one month of salary, and will be required to participate in a half-day planning workshop in May 2016, and a lunchtime meeting in the second week of classes.

NOTE: Proposals are due by FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016.  We hope to select the 2017 seminars by the end of December. If you are interested in participating, submit your proposal through this online form.

Chairs and directors will be automatically contacted for their endorsement. There is no need to request a letter of endorsement from them. You may wish to provide them with a copy of your proposal in advance. 

The selection process is competitive; we typically receive more proposals than we can accommodate. Because this is a self-sustaining program, we will prioritize courses likely to succeed in drawing new freshmen.

We look forward to another great set of Discovery Seminars for 2017.

Kevin Mihata
Associate Dean for Educational Programs
College of Arts & Sciences

Cynthia Caci
Associate Director, C21
College of Arts & Sciences