What is an Honors First-Year Seminar?

New first year students in the UI Honors program, who begin taking classes in the fall semester, are required take an Honors First-Year Seminar during their first semester at the University of Iowa (these courses are limited only to UI Honors students). Often students think honors courses are more work and consequently harder than non-honors sections – similar to high school AP classes: do all the work a regular class requires, and then do additional work to make it AP. That’s not how honors works at the university level. It’s actually the students in the honors sections that make the biggest difference. Put a group of motivated and serious students all together in one class working on the same problems, and you have a major ingredient for a supercharged learning environment. Add an instructor who is knowledgeable and excited about the course topic and who allows the students a strong voice in how the learning is to occur, and you get the ideal honors environment.

Ask students in that class if it was more work or harder, and you’ll get answers such as, “No, not really more work or harder – just different.” Ask the instructor if the students were required to cover more material and were challenged more than in a non-honors section, and you’re likely to hear that what they did do was go deeper and broader with the topic. Students may have accomplished more and engaged in more challenging activities, but it did not come across as more work or as harder. Rather, it was an engaging, meaningful, and rewarding challenge on a relevant and important topic. Also, fun, and an easy way to build community with other honors students and faculty. That’s an Honors First-Year Seminar!

Of note, some Honors seminars are also offered as research-focused seminars, so be on the lookout for these as well.

What is a research-focused First-Year Seminar?

Research-Focused First-Year Seminars provide students with an opportunity to learn firsthand about the nature and process of university research and creative scholarship at the University of Iowa. Research-focused FYS's also allow faculty to engage students in asking and answering research and creative questions. Any new first year student can enroll in a research-focused First-Year Seminar, and no prior knowledge of or experience with research is necessary. In addition, these courses cover a wide range of topics and disciplines so there's a seminar for everyone!

In a research-focused First-Year Seminar, students can expect that instructors will incorporate the following strategies into the learning experience:

  • define what research is in the context of their own investigative or discipline-specific work
  • describe the research methodology they use in their research or creative practice
  • with instructor guidance, students will develop a research question

Students also visit a research site, either on or off campus. In addition, many instructors also choose to participate in the First-Year Seminar Poster Session. In this event, held in late October, students have an opportunity to demonstrate what they have discovered by participating in a First-Year Seminar Poster Session. This is an incredibly unique learning opportunity for new first year students as very few students participate in a poster session so early in their college career. 


Fall 2022 Honors and Research-Focused First-Year Seminars

Looking for a list of First-Year Seminars?
Select "First Year Seminar" in the Course Categories search box of the Courses/Registration page on MyUI or search key word "First-Year Seminars." First-Year Seminars are offered only in fall semesters.

Research-Focused First-Year Seminars

URES:1000:0006         A Tour of Biological Anthropology

URES:1000:0007         Discovering Research

URES:1000:0014         If We Are What We Eat, Then What Should We Eat?

URES:1000:0015         Anything is PAWsible: Animal Assisted Therapy in Human Services

URES:1000:0016         Hip Hop Globalization

Honors First-Year Seminars

CBE:1180:0001           The Energy Future

CRIM:1000:0001         Women, Crime, and Violence

CSD:1000:0001           Can You Hear Me Now?

CSI:1200:0013             What is a Book?

CSI:1200:0023             Yogic Thinking and Mindfulness: Developing Academic and Life Skills for College

CSI:1200:0019             Futurology: Predicting Tomorrow Today

DPA:1000:0001           *Arts Adventures Restricted to LLC Arts Community

EES:1000:0002            Rocks from the Sky: Meteorites and Impact Craters

EES:1000:0003            Lost Worlds and Monsters

MUS:1000:0001          Music and the Mind

POLI:1000:0002          Government and Politics at All Levels

RHET:1000:0003         Stories of Home

STAT:1000:0001          Lectures in Probability

Research-Focused & Honors First-Year Seminars

PSY:1000:0001         *How Psychology Can Save the Planet Scheduled in PSY but will be taught as a URES section

URES:1000:0001          Smartphones in Healthcare

URES:1000:0002          Neurodiversity: WAY Beyond Left-Brain, Right-Brain Thinking

URES:1000:0003          Loot! Art, Theft, and the Global Art Market

URES:1000:0004          Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

URES:1000:0005          Memorials, Museums, Monuments

URES:1000:0008          Discovering Research

URES:1000:0009          Sustainable Urbanism

URES:1000:0010          Solving the Grand Challenges of Sustainability

URES:1000:0011          Iowa City Live: Local Music Cultures

URES:1000:0012          Control Yourself! What Is Self-Control and How Can It Be Improved?

URES:1000:0013          Solving Local, National, and Global Problems Through Research

URES:1000:0017          It's Your Life, Live It Like You Mean It!