University of Minnesota
College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs

College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs

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Contact Information

Nanette Hanks
Assistant Dean for Curriculum

115 Johnston Hall
101 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Sample Faculty Biographies and Freshman Seminar Descriptions

As you prepare your seminar description, please keep your audience in mind and create the titles, descriptions, and biographies carefully.

At the University of Minnesota, we know that students are also drawn to faculty biographies that contain personal information such as hobbies or talents, or that display a sense of humor.

Freshmen are generally 18 years old and research shows that they choose courses with titles that contains familiar words even without reading the complete course description. If titles are long or complicated, students will move on to another course.

Sample Biographies

  1. When Sophia Beal was a college freshman, she took a course about Brazil, which not only inspired her to pursue a career in Brazilian studies, but also turned her into a Brazil Nut. She hopes the freshmen who take her seminar will become equally as nuts about Brazil and its terrific fiction.
  2. Even though Keith Mayes is a black male who grew up in working-class New York City, being raised in segregated Harlem shielded him from many representations of African-American males in larger society. Now, as a professor of African-American and African studies, he explores the reality of black men through the prisms of race, gender, geography, mobility, and generational experience. Though “being” a black man has been fused with “studying” black men, he still doesn’t know what it means to be African-American and male. Join him on this journey.  

Sample Seminar Descriptions

  1. Do people care more about the Kardashians than they do about climate change? If so, why? What stories are told about the environment? Who tells them and to whom? These are just a few of the questions that this seminar will explore. Drawing on materials from the academic discipline and profession of environmental communication, we will read about, discuss, and debate important problems like water quality, biodiversity, and climate communication. From oil company ads to environmental protests, environmental narratives abound – designed to inform as well as persuade. In this seminar, students will learn how to read environmental messages critically while becoming more effective environmental communicators.

  2. A Google search for “suicide” leads to more than 250 million results (compared with 33 million for anorexia and 65 million for depression). Why are people so fascinated with suicide? Why don’t we talk about it more? Does talking about suicide make it more likely that people will kill themselves?This seminar will tackle these questions by offering a broad overview of suicide from a psychological perspective. We will talk about the fascination, taboo, myths, and senselessness of suicide, as well as what life is like for people who don’t want to live anymore.