What’s different about running a first/freshman year experience (FYE) program as part of a liberal arts curriculum in the international environment of AMICAL member institutions? Different, for example, from running FYE programs at colleges or universities in the US? How do differences of language and culture, or the extreme diversity of these within some AMICAL institutions’ own student bodies, affect goals and expectations for these programs? How is information literacy integrated into these programs’ curricular goals, and how should this be done differently from American institutions, because of the diversity of students’ prior experiences with libraries and research, or with consuming and producing information?
I met today over lunch with Elizabeth Kinne, a medievalist in the Comparative Literature department of the American University of Paris (AUP), to talk about how we could discuss those questions across the AMICAL Consortium with faculty, librarians and others involved in FYE programs.
Elizabeth is the current coordinator for FirstBridge, an innovative FYE program initiated at AUP in 2001. FirstBridge creates small Freshman learning communities around paired and ‘bridged’ courses of different disciplines: students participate in the 2 separate courses but also meet regularly with both of their professors — and occasionally their librarian — for a joint ‘reflective seminar’ to work on interdisciplinary questions, information literacy, or various issues of crossing the bridge into their college careers.
At AUP, Elizabeth and colleagues are in the process of rethinking the goals and format of FirstBridge, so it’s a perfect time to be in contact with peers coordinating FYE programs at other AMICAL institutions. And an opportunity to start building a peer network across AMICAL focused on this special kind of curricular program. Our initial goal is to launch an online conversation with those coordinators, but we’re hoping to do much more!
We’ll be getting in touch soon with AMICAL members to find out more about FYE programs on your campuses, and who’s involved in them. If you’re an AMICAL member, and you simply can’t wait for that questionnaire to come your way, you can also send us a note with a link to info about the FYE program at your institution.