Saint Michael’s College First-Year Students Reading Field Notes from a Catastrophe this Summer

Saint Michael’s College has adopted Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change as the common reading book for their First-Year Seminar this year.

The First-Year Seminar and its corresponding reading program emphasize interdisciplinary scholarship and connecting new students with the SMC faculty and as classmates. During orientation, faculty members from different academic departments will represent the interdisciplinary applications of the book (e.g. Biology, Political Science, Economics) in a panel presentation.  Class discussions and assignments in the first week of the First-Year Seminar course will focus on Field Notes from a Catastrophe, its themes, and its arguments.  Read more about the book

In fact, the program kicks off even before classes begin.  Once they’ve registered for classes, students will receive an introductory letter and their first writing assignment, based on the book, from their future seminar instructor. The assignment will be due on the first day of the seminar in August. “This approach has had terrific results in enabling us to get right into discussion on the first day of class, rather than just going over a syllabus,” writes the Coordinator of the First-Year Seminar program.

In these small, writing-intensive courses, students explore broad questions in the liberal arts in an environment that encourages discussion and active learning.

“The small class size allows instructors to get to know students well and to work closely with their writing. It also encourages students to work cooperatively, creating a small community of learners, a microcosm of the college as a whole. Through its emphasis on engaged participation, the seminar challenges students to take responsibility for their own education.”

First-Year Seminar, Liberal Studies Curriculum, Saint Michael’s College

Field Notes from a Catastrophe is one of Macmillan’s Popular Picks for First-Year Reading!  Click here to read a list of other colleges and universities that have used the book, and our other popular titles.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe • Bloomsbury • 240 pages

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