Sophomore Seminar

Sophomore Seminars build upon the learning goals of the First-Year Seminars, focusing on a particular topic or question viewed from multiple perspectives. Learning goals include intercultural proficiency and the ability to differentiate between observation and interpretation (both critical skills for study abroad and experiential education in general), as well as enhanced writing and oral presentation abilities. As in the First Year Seminars, information literacy and enhanced research skills remain a key component of Shared Passages. See the Academic Catalog for a complete list of sophomore seminars.

What is a “sophomore seminar” anyway?

  • Sophomore Seminars are the second step toward completing the Shared Passages Requirement—an important part of your general education curriculum at Kalamazoo College. The three Shared Passages Seminars are the First Year Seminar; Sophomore Seminar; and a Senior Capstone. Sophomore seminars can be found in a variety of departments and disciplines, but they all have the following main features:
  • They are seminar-based courses that study a topic or issue from multiple perspectives. As a general rule, sophomore seminars have an intercultural component or focus, with a view to developing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors geared toward helping students become more understanding of and adept at responding well to intercultural difference.
  • They are designed to help students acquire skills in separating observations from interpretations of those observations

They all aim at helping you develop effective communication skills and information literacy (incl. writing skills, oral communication ability, or research skills).

What purpose does a sophomore seminar serve?

One of the reasons the sophomore seminars were developed was to help pave the way for a more meaningful and well-integrated study abroad or other experiential learning opportunity during your junior year at K. Learning to view issues from multiple perspectives, and to process your experiences doing just that, is a valuable skill that will help you to get even more from these powerful learning experiences. Not only that—this is a skill set that will continue to serve you well your whole life long.

Must I take a sophomore seminar during my sophomore year?

Yes. Shared Passages sophomore seminars are for sophomores only, because the aims of these courses are tied specially to the cognitive and developmental needs of students at this stage of their academic careers. These courses are designed to be small (limited to 20 students), so that you can work closely together with a group of your peers that are roughly in the same developmental place and whose needs are similar.

Does a sophomore seminar count toward my major or minor?

In many cases, yes. It all depends on the department under which each course is offered and how that department envisions the course serving its major or minor programs. You are strongly encouraged to consider taking a sophomore seminar from a department that is outside of your intended major or minor, however. Breadth of your academic experience is extremely important at K, so don’t be shy about trying something new!

Are there prerequisites for sophomore seminars?

Most sophomore seminars do not have prerequisites. Check the course catalogue for details.

What if I’m a transfer student entering K with junior standing?

Contact Associate Provost Dr. Katie MacLean for information on an appropriate course substitution.