New College debuts First-Year Seminar program

By Liz Lebron

Incoming students from the class of 2023 will participate in New College’s inaugural First-Year Seminar program.
Incoming students from the class of 2023 will participate in New College’s inaugural First-Year Seminar program.

Incoming students from the class of 2023 will participate in New College’s inaugural First-Year Seminar program. The program, which consists of 10 courses exclusively available to first-year students, will help students transition into life at New College.

“[The program’s] primary goals,” said Associate Provost Suzanne Sherman, “are to instill a sense of belonging, encourage student agency within the enduring and evolving context of a liberal arts education, and guide students in navigating the academic program and co-curricular opportunities.”

Faculty members chose topics about which they are excited to teach and share with the students. They will form part of a three-person team that also includes an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff member of the New College community who serves as a partner instructor, and a seasoned student peer leader who is ready and able to share their expertise. The team teaching approach will give incoming students a well-rounded introduction to life at New College.

“We wanted it to be really fun, so we are each teaching a course that we are really excited to teach,” shared Heidi Harley, professor of psychology and director of the college’s environmental studies program. Harley is teaching a first-year seminar about animal cognition in the fall.

Professor of Anthropology and Heritage Studies Uzi Baram is offering a course on heritage that will “take you through the issues of heritage.” According to Baram, these include academic and social issues that impact students’ life on campus.

The first-year seminar courses are open exclusively to incoming students, including transfer students, and will have a cap of 16 students per class. The courses are discussion-based and will incorporate a variety of on-campus resources and facilities, such as the Writing Resource and Pritzker Marine Biology Resource centers, into their curricula.

Associate Professor of Biology Jayne Gardiner is teaching Experimental Marine Biology, a hands-on, lab-based course she designed to “introduce students to key concepts in marine biology and provide them with a broad overview of the different types of marine organisms.” Her students will learn about the region’s marine ecosystem on the Sarasota Bay and the college’s Pritzker Marine Biology Resource Center.

Some courses, such as Baram’s, will also introduce students to off-campus resources that may help them throughout their time at New College. Baram plans to take students to various archaeological sites around the Sarasota-Manatee area.

“We’re not going to be limited to the classroom,” proclaimed Baram. “Some of us are going to be taking students off campus as well, to see some of the rich resources, some of the really interesting community groups, and some of the wonderful places around Sarasota and Manatee [counties] as part of the first-year seminars.”

Incoming students and their families can find detailed information about the first-year seminars, which range in topic from music to queer literature, on the program’s web page.

– Liz Lebron is associate director of communications and marketing at New College


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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