All students enroll each year in Liberal Arts and Sciences Seminars, the heart of Dominican’s Core Curriculum. The seminar program is centered on questions that are both universal and urgent and that engage the whole person throughout life.

Students choose from a variety of seminars according to their class standing that explore a common theme:

LAS Seminars are taught by skilled instructors from various disciplines who help students consider alternative approaches to the general themes. But the seminars share several features in that they are courses in which students:

  • Investigate problems
  • Design projects
  • Explore resources
  • Share findings

Simply put, they are courses in which students learn with and from each other.

The seminars are thematic, building on prior semesters, and the program is centered on questions that are both universal and urgent and that engage the whole person throughout life. Because all seminars at each class level share a common general topic and a common text, they create a shared Dominican experience by embodying the distinctive community of learners each student has joined.

Finally, the seminars are designed to be integrative, helping students see and articulate connections between information and ideas originating in other courses; between their coursework and their lives beyond the classroom; and between their own lives and the lives of others―past, present, and future.

Specifically, the seminars help students:

  • Develop their skills in critical thinking, reading, writing, and speaking;
  • Synthesize knowledge drawn from other courses;
  • Learn to collaborate with others in building knowledge and understanding; and
  • Reflect on matters intellectual, moral, and spiritual.

Students will “take” from their seminars no more and no less than they “give.” Students gain new information, new insights, and new perspectives by:

  • Engaging actively with the seminar materials and the ideas of classmates,
  • Participating thoughtfully in class discussions, and by
  • Completing diligently their portion of the work of the group.

More important, though, they gain a "new" way to learn and respect for the power of the mind that, we believe, they will carry with them into their lives beyond the classroom. The LAS Seminars are at the heart of everything Dominican does in the university’s efforts to guide the new generation of students who will create a more just and humane world.

Note: LAS Seminar faculty have formally agreed that they will base their course syllabi and assignments on the expectation that students will devote to the work of the course an average of two hours outside of class for each hour in class, i.e., an average of six hours per week for a three credit-hour course. A student may not use the Satisfactory/Fail option for any Liberal Arts and Sciences Seminars.

THEME The Examined Life Life in the Natural World A Life's Work The Good Life
  • What is the self?
  • Who am I? How did I become who I am? Who will I be in the world?
  • What does it mean to live mindfully and reflectively? What helps and hinders that process?
  • How do we define the natural world? How do we learn about, experience, and interact with the natural world?
  • How do diverse societies and cultures understand their relationships with the natural world, in both its power and its fragility?
  • What would it mean to live mindfully on Earth? How can we share responsibility for shaping the future of the planet on behalf of generations to come?
  • What is the place of work in the life of the individual and in society?
  • How do technology and leisure shape our lives?
  • What part does making a living play in making a life?
  • What does it mean to be good, to lead a good life?
  • How does one reconcile self-interest with a sense of social responsibility?
COMMON TEXT Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si) Pope John Paul II On Human Work (Laborem Exercens) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

*The freshman seminar includes an advising component, with the seminar instructor serving as the students’ academic advisor until he or she declares a major.

Community-based Learning

Some seminars utilize community-based learning as an excellent way of achieving the learning objectives of that particular seminar. Community-based learning is a pedagogy that involves students in organized community service, engagement, or research that is directly linked to the curriculum and addresses local community needs.

LAS Seminar Learning Goals and Outcomes

As they engage texts (e.g. written, visual, oral, or experiential) from diverse fields of study, students will be able to:

  • Identify and explain the main idea or ideas within the texts;
  • Discern distinct positions within the text or between and among texts; and
  • Make judgments about the text in relation to the guiding questions for each seminar level.

In connecting ideas and experiences across contexts, students will:

  • Draw on relevant examples of personal experience to explore the guiding questions under consideration at each seminar level;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of diverse responses to the guiding questions for each seminar level; and
  • Make connections across disciplines in ways that illuminate the guiding questions at each seminar level.

To assert a defensible response to the guiding questions under consideration, students will:

  • Articulate a clear response;
  • Situate one’s response in relation to others’ responses; and
  • Defend the rationale for one’s responses.

To communicate effectively in oral forms, students will:

  • Demonstrate attentiveness to the oral contributions of others;
  • Contribute to discussions in ways that build upon or synthesize the ideas of others; and
  • Foster a constructive class climate.

To communicate effectively in writing, students will:

  • Articulate a clear, specific, and complex thesis in response to the questions;
  • Support the thesis with appropriate evidence; and
  • Demonstrate correct syntax and mechanics.