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December 3, 2018

Classes on Ellis Island: Adelphi’s Remarkable First-Year Seminar Experience

Ellis Island

Hands-on learning is happening everywhere at Adelphi. But with the University’s newly designed and innovative First-Year Seminars, hands-on learning is happening in museums, galleries and historic landmarks all over New York City.

As required 4-credit courses for virtually all incoming students, First-Year Seminars provide an introduction to college-level inquiry. They teach students how to evaluate information, organize knowledge and recognize the different intellectual approaches taken by the various academic disciplines.

“First-Year Seminars are designed to be personalized, life-changing experiences,” said Peter West, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the General Education Committee. “They promote intellectual engagement and help students take an active role in their education.”

The 47 seminars offered this year have been designed by faculty to help students apply college-level ways of thinking to timely and relevant topics.

“The number of real-world learning experiences is probably the most notable thing about this year’s seminars,” Dr. West explained. “Courses are taking students to dozens of places, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Morgan Library to Ellis Island, Coney Island and panel discussions in Manhattan. All of them are thoughtfully incorporated into course assignments. And we now have a significant budget to pay for the trips, so they’re free for all our students.” This means these remarkable New York City experiences are open to students of every income level.

Many of the seminars this year are organized around hot-button issues in our so-called “post-truth” era. Two focus on photography and truth telling. The Evidence of Photography, taught by history professor Michael Christofferson, Ph.D., examines the way photographers shape the meaning of images, for good and for ill. The seminar taught by assistant professor of art and art history Hannah Allen, Photography and the American Dream, explores the way photography has been used to define the nation’s identity. Classes are paired with trips to photography galleries in Manhattan and on Long Island.

Other seminars take a broader view. The United States of Misinformation, taught by University Libraries assistant professor Jason Byrd, helps students differentiate quality sources from propaganda, misinformation and outright lies. And The Technology of Democracy, led by assistant professor of communications John Drew, examines the new media’s pervasive effect on our political culture.

“These courses, like the other seminars, help bring students out into the world,” Dr. West said. “The idea is to help them think of themselves as citizens and to recognize that what they’ll learn at Adelphi connects to the world beyond campus.

“The seminars have so many benefits,” he added. “They show students the value of coursework outside their majors. They let students know about all the resources that are available at the University. And they show students how accessible our faculty is. The attention our faculty gives first-year students is remarkable, one that really inspires engagement.”


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About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
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