Topics of the First Year

Course description

This core course, which all SAS BA students must take in the 4th quarter of their 1st year, aims to give them an opportunity to revisit themes they have studied in different courses over the academic year and connect them with each other, thereby developing individual cross-disciplinary agenda needed to make an informed choice of major after the 2nd year. To do so, students will pick up a topic among those addressed during the first year and work to connect it with themes, ideas and insights from other courses they have taken. The course work involves participating in Topics of the First Year seminars and giving a final 7-minute presentation (in English) towards the end of the quarter.


  • Developing analytical skills: situating the chosen topic in various disciplinary settings, analyzing their presuppositions and implications, formulating one’s own take on the topic through critical analysis of existing arguments
  • Developing argumentative skills: creating a thesis statement, offering argumentation, criticizing conflicting opinions
  • Developing presentation skills: preparing presentation slides, working the audience, answering questions
  • Refreshing one’s knowledge of the materials of 1st year courses and exercising soft skills acquired over the 1st year

Sample questions to be addressed in the presentation

  • What is the intellectual structure of the topic you chose? Disciplinary composition, various approaches, current and historical disciplinary debates, presuppositions, implications, etc.
  • What is your own take on the topic? Why are you personally invested in studying it?
  • What is the place of this topic in the space of other courses you have taken in the first year?
  • What do the perspectives of these other courses add to the understanding of the topic?
  • Why this topic should be interesting and relevant for people who have a set of intellectual concerns very different from yours?
  • What important further questions remain to be addressed?