Liberal Studies Program

Focal Point Seminar (Winter & Spring)

Offered during the winter and spring quarters, each Focal Point Seminar employs a multi-perspectival approach to investigate a significant person, place, event, text or idea.  As with the Chicago Quarter, students may choose from a wide array of topics taught by faculty from throughout the university. 

A guiding principle is that understanding is deepened when the perspectives of various disciplines and methodologies are brought to bear upon the same issue. The faculty member who leads each seminar draws on his or her different experiences and intellectual perspectives, with the result that students learn how scholars strive to understand a singular topic in increasingly focused ways.

The second guiding principle is that students benefit from an early introduction to the seminar approach utilized frequently in higher education.  Focal Point courses stress “seminar behavior” — active learning through critical questioning, speaking, listening and discussion, and reading and writing extensively about primary sources or original works — all of which sharpens the academic skills needed to succeed in and get the most out of college.  To foster seminar behavior and encourage a mentoring relationship between faculty and students, enrollment in each class is limited to 20 students.

Unless they are in the university’s Honors Program, first-year students in the Driehaus College of Business, College of Communication, College of Computing and Digital Media, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Science and Health, and College of Education will take a Focal Point Seminar during their second or third quarters at the university and after the successful completion of WRD 103.

Here is a complete listing of Focal Point Seminar courses that were previously offered.

If questions arise, please contact the Office of the First-Year Program at