The Explore Experience

First-Year Inquiry Seminars

We make it easy for you to begin connecting with Northeastern’s world-class faculty in your first semester with our First-Year Inquiry Seminar courses.

Our 1-credit First-Year Inquiry Seminar courses allow you to begin developing mentoring relationships with faculty and explore an additional discipline outside of your four 4-credit courses. Each section has between 10-15 students and is taught by a faculty member eager to introduce new students to their academic discipline.

Learn more about our past Inquiry Seminar topics:

Dr. Adam Cooper, Department of Linguistics

Have you ever experienced a food coma? Or been the unintended recipient of a butt dialing? These are just two of the countless words that have entered the English language only within the last few years – imagine how many words have come (and gone) in fifteen hundred years of English before then! In this course, we will examine English vocabulary from a range of perspectives, considering the ways in which words can enter a language and change in form and meaning over time, as well as what it is we know when we ‘know’ a word. In exploring its words, we will come to better appreciate the remarkable development of English into the global language that it is today.

Jesse Hinson, Department of Theatre

Were you an active member of your high school drama troupe, a star on your improv team, or a charismatic orator but haven’t decided if theatre is something you really want to pursue? Have people told you all your life that you should be an actor, but you’ve never taken a class and are reluctant to give it a try? In this seminar, students will have the opportunity to sample elements of improvisation, voice work, and acting in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. Participants of all skill levels are welcome and no prior experience is necessary. Throughout the semester, students will play games, engage in explorations, and see and discuss live performances in order to deepen their relationship with theatre and discover the actor within.

Dr. Kathleen Kelly, Department of English

In this section of Inquiries, we will examine the natural and built world of Northeastern’s campus and its environs. We’ll study photographs, paintings, and maps that attest to the changes that Northeastern has undergone since its nineteenth-century beginnings as a meadow located at the edge of a salt marsh. We’ll also take weekly field trips: to the Fens, to a community garden, and to various sites on campus (the Bamboo Garden, the rooftop garden on Behrakis, etc.). In class, we’ll study different approaches to writing about place, with a focus on field notes – that is, writing intended to capture first-hand immediate impressions of the world and then shaped into scientific, and sometimes literary, observations. We’ll examine the field notes of such naturalists as Henry David Thoreau (at Walden), ornithologist Ken Kaufman (in Baja), and zoologist George Schaller (in the Serengeti). These writers will serve as models for our own notes (and drawings and photographs) that we make on our field trips. At the end of the course, students will collaborate on a project in order to showcase their discoveries.

Dr. Nathan Felde, Department of Art + Design

The world in which we live is, for better or worse, designed well or designed badly. Design is an ancient human process of inventing the means for intentional beneficial change. The question is, “who benefits?” This course will present a range of design practices and explore the cultural, social, economic, and career opportunities they offer. Students will examine these practices and relevance to their own talents, interests and aspirations. A focus on design practices studied at Northeastern will offer students a chance to evaluate the potential to incorporate design practices into their individual interests and educational goals. Students will study leading designers and learn to discuss design values. Students will be able to identify and define major design practices and certain iconic works of various celebrated designers.

Dr. Becca Berkey, Director of the Service-Learning Program

Does it fascinate you to think about what it takes to get that mouthwatering slice of pizza to your table? Do you want to know more about how to make food choices that are not only good for you, but good for others and the environment as well? Finally, have you ever wondered what it looks like to create large-scale change, as well as how to make a difference at a local level? Working from the foundations of environmental justice, this inquiry seminar will uncover and examine through readings, media, discussion, and field trips the key dilemmas of the food system in the United States today: including production, access, distribution, and key stakeholders from producers, to retailers, to workers, to consumers. In doing so, it will consider the following questions:

  1. What are the justice-related issues facing stakeholders within the food system in the United States?
  2. What policies have most impacted the workforce in the American food system?
  3. What are the opportunities and leverage points for change in improving justice outcomes in this system?

Dr. Carey Noland, Department of Communication Studies

Physician Charles Marwick notes, “as human beings, our sexuality is inextricably linked to our overall health, happiness, and sense of wellness.” Thus, the study of human sexuality and sexual practices – and communicative elements in particular – are increasingly important to society. Although most people talk about sex a lot, too few of us engage in meaningful communication about sex. And although we may think about sex frequently, many people do not engage in the theoretical elements involved in sex and communication about it. Beyond that, theorizing about sexuality and communication are limited across disciplines. This course is an invitation to talk and think about sex in a meaningful way. Students will read case studies from top scholars across many disciplines to share research about the most salient issues regarding communication about sex. This course will use a case study, discussion-based approach to learning.