WISe: The First Year Experience

All first-year Wesleyan students are required to take WISe 101 and 102. They are the foundation of a Wesleyan education. WISe 101 and 102 are interdisciplinary seminars that introduce first year students to academic life at Wesleyan. These seminars focus on honing academic skills, especially writing and critical thinking. They model Wesleyan’s diverse and challenging academic community, stressing the value of a Wesleyan education, and help students make the transition to college. In WISe 101 and 102, you will learn from faculty; you will also teach each other—exploring divergent perspectives and deepening meaning in discussion, and working together to solve problems.

WISe courses ask you to jump into the Wesleyan community. Your voice, your ideas, your feelings and beliefs all matter here. We want to learn from you and have you learn as part of a community of engaged young women who come from around the world.

We take seriously that WISe 101 and 102 set the tone for a Wesleyan education. We’ve been working to re-imagine the courses to show that Wesleyan cares as much about the future as we are proud of our past. We’ve partnered with the Interactivity Foundation to revise WISe 101. Now, one day a week students meet in small groups and facilitate their own class discussions. The discussions build on ideas from large, common sessions and faculty-led discussions and ask students to bring their own experiences and ideas to the discussion and also to expand it outward to consider new and deeper ideas. Faculty serve as coaches helping students develop speaking and listening skills as participants, and planning and facilitation skills as discussion leaders. Groups stay the same the whole semester, so students develop close bonds with each other and really get to know each other as thinkers and as people. The discussions are connected by the theme of the class—what does it mean to be wise? At the end of the semester, groups share with each other their visions of wisdom in a final PechKucha showdown.

This semester we’ll also launch a new WISe 102. Working with EcoEthos Solutions, we’ve re-imagined the course as a partner for our new WISe 101. WISe 102 will keep its emphasis on research writing and extending ideas into the world, and now it will have a more active problem-solving process and a perspective that again points to the future. The process is design thinking, developed at the Stanford School, and intended to have students engage with people and the world. Design thinking asks you to be empathic in understanding others’ problems and creative and pragmatic in helping to solve them. As in WISe 101, about a third of the class will be devoted to student-led teams exploring, testing, and refining their ideas. The perspective is sustainability. Sustainability in WISe 102 isn’t just a catch phrase; it’s a way of seeing the world that asks you to pay attention to how the present affects the future and how large systems (people, planet, profit) interact to shape our world. WISe 102 will share a common scaffolding, but professors will also take the theme for the year (the first one is food) in her own direction.We’ll all get together at the end of the semester and discuss what we’ve learned and done. We’re excited about what we’ll find out!

For more information contact Professor of English Matthew Martin or Director of First-Year Experience and Students in Transition Christy Henry.