The Ithaca Seminars welcome instructors from all areas of the College to teach a unique seminar experience that blends small-class instruction on a topic of your choosing with a special commitment to welcoming each first-year cohort into the world of ideas and opportunities that is higher education, in general, and Ithaca College, in particular.

With an emphasis on cultivating the transformative potential of a college education, and smoothing the transition from school to college, the unique impact of this first-semester experience fits the more general model of a 'first-year seminar,' a focused educational experience that is a 'high-impact educational practice' (as described by the AACU).

Please look at our Goals and Outcomes for more information on the overall aims of the Ithaca Seminars.

The Starting Point of a General Educational Experience

The Ithaca Seminar is typically a student's first experience of the Integrative Core Curriculum (ICC). Instructors are encouraged to build into their Seminars some discussion of the purpose and value of a core curriculum or general educational experience as well as some of the specifics of navigating the ICC.

The Aims of a Liberal Education

The Ithaca Seminars are 'Liberal Arts' (LA) designated courses, in the specific terms of Ithaca College course attributes, and are rooted in the broader principles, philosophy, and pedagogy of a liberal education. Precise definitions of these terms can vary, but as a useful starting point the Ithaca Seminars refer to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) definition of a liberal education:

  • 'An approach to college learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. This approach emphasizes broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g., science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth achievement in a specific field of interest. It helps students develop a sense of social responsibility; strong intellectual and practical skills that span all major fields of study, such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills; and the demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.' (AACU)

An Academic Welcome to the World of Ideas

The starting point for an Ithaca Seminar is rigorous academic content delivered in a small-class setting to students from every corner of the College. Topics vary widely and a review of other Seminars will give an overview of the diversity of offerings and the distinguished faculty who teach them. As each Seminar will contain a mix of students, spanning Schools and majors, courses are interdisciplinary in nature, rooted in ideas that expand beyond any one discipline and resonate between and beyond specific disciplines. 

Transition to College and its Unique Opportunities

Taught in the very first semester of a student's experience of college life, each Ithaca Seminar places its topical content within the broader context of a student's transition to college, with the aim of supporting each student in fulfilling their own potential and that of a college education. A whole range of talks, workshops, and other collaborative events are scheduled in the fall semester. Transition to college topics are wide-ranging, but general areas of priority or emphasis include the following:

  • Introduction to resources concerning academic success and expectations;
  • Introduction to resources concerning physical and emotional health and well-being;
  • Community building – on campus, off campus, and with Ithaca Seminar professor and peers;
  • Inclusion, diversity, and equity at Ithaca College and beyond;
  • The Integrative Core Curriculum (ICC) and the broader purpose and value of integrative learning and a liberal education.

Practical Aspects of Teaching an Ithaca Seminar

Ithaca Seminars are 4-credit courses and meet for a total of 200 minutes (4 x 50 minutes) per week.

Each Seminar will typically meet for 2 x 75 minutes or 3 x 50 minutes, equivalent to 3 credits, to deliver its topical academic content.

Each Seminar will also meet for a 'noon hour' (sometimes called a 'common hour'), equivalent to 1 credit, to provide the opportunity to explore the transition to college in greater detail, often in collaboration with other Seminars in program-wide events:

  • M 12:00pm-12:50pm
  • W 12:00pm-12:50pm
  • F 12:00pm-12:50pm

Faculty development opportunities are organized and scheduled throughout the year.

Grant Awards and Compensation

To foster the development of the outstanding courses that form the heart of this College-wide offering, faculty scheduled to teach an Ithaca Seminar for the first time will be eligible to receive a summer grant award. The expectation is that a faculty member will seek to teach a Seminar in at least three years over a six-year period, notwithstanding contractual and other professional obligations that might prevent this. Faculty who remain active in the program are eligible to apply for a New/Revised Ithaca Seminar Course Grant.

Ithaca Seminars are typically taught within a faculty member's regular load.

Call for Seminars and the Course Proposal Process

All faculty are invited to teach an Ithaca Seminar and are asked to submit an initial expression of interest. The call for fall 2025 will be announced mid-fall 2024.

Beyond this initial expression of interest:

  • If you are teaching an Ithaca Seminar for the very first time, or are a returning instructor who wishes to propose a new topic, you are asked to submit a new seminar proposal. Your proposal will be reviewed by the Ithaca Seminar Curriculum and Assessment Committee in the spring. 
  • Additionally, at any time, if you would like to add a 'Diversity' (DV) or 'Quantitative Literacy' (QL) designation to your Ithaca Seminar you are asked to submit the relevant proposal for approval.

Contact and Further Details

For questions concerning the Ithaca Seminars, please contact their faculty coordinator Amy Quan.