Freshman and Sophomore Seminars: Make a Difference

August 31, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

Each semester, faculty from across campus welcome our newest students into our intellectual community by teaching in the Freshman and Sophomore Seminar Program. Won’t you join us?

Seminars usually meet for an hour once a week for one unit of credit, and are meant to be discussion-based and interactive. Seminars can be about any topic you wish to explore with first- and second-year students. In 2023-24, we especially welcome seminars on topics that intersect with the 2023 On the Same Page selection, the documentary film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. This fall, faculty are teaching seminars on “Neurodiversity: Scholarship, Politics and Culture,” “Campus Treasures: The museums, archives and rare books of Berkeley,” “Insect Cognition,” and “Bob Dylan and the Poets.”

In spring 2024, we are pleased to relaunch the Food For Thought program, which brings participating faculty and their students into the dining halls to share a meal and get to know each other in a more informal setting. To learn more about this special program and how you can participate, please visit our website.

Students appreciate the way that the seminars help them find their voice and place at Berkeley. One student who took a freshman/sophomore seminar in Legal Studies last semester said, “This course was what I had always dreamed my college classes to be.” Another student who took a freshman/sophomore seminar in Ethnic Studies said, “This seminar made me feel more at home at Berkeley. It made me excited to continue my journey here.”

If you are interested in teaching a seminar in spring 2024, please let your department chair and scheduler know, and then submit a Faculty Participation Form by Thursday, September 21, 2023. Senate faculty who teach a Freshman and Sophomore Seminar as an overload will receive a $3,000 grant that can be used for anything related to their teaching or research.

To receive more information about the Freshman and Sophomore Seminar Program or to brainstorm ideas, contact Aileen Liu, Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives in the College of Letters & Science, at


Jennifer Johnson-Hanks
Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science

Oliver M. O’Reilly
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

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