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129 Freshman SeminarsWhat do superstar preachers of the nineteenth century, bugs, leadership skills, the Knoxville World’s Fair, chocolate, controversies in biology, infinity, LGBTQ issues and SEC football have in common? All are topics of 129 freshman seminars this semester.

Now is the chance to add your topic to this list.

Please propose a 129 seminar for spring 2009. These are one-credit courses offered on a satisfactory/no credit basis, with enrollment capped at 18 students. They are designed to introduce students to the wonders of learning and to professors’ intellectual passions. They are designed to give first-year students a seminar experience during a year in which most of these students will be enrolled in very large survey courses. Professors receive a $1,500 research grant for teaching a seminar.

Todd DiaconYou should feel free to teach a topic outside of your ordinary courses and areas of research, but you may also offer a topic you teach regularly, provided that it is aimed at freshmen and is appropriate for a one-credit course. To submit a 129 seminar proposal, or for more information on the seminars, please visit the Freshman Seminar Web site at The deadline for seminar submissions is October 3, 2008.

I encourage you to talk to professors who have taught in our program. When you do, I think you will discover that they found the experience a rewarding break from their normal teaching duties—and that they did not find it onerous duty that detracted from their research and other teaching obligations. Evaluations indicate strongly that the students enjoy the courses. These 129 alumni indicate that they are more engaged with the university and will be more likely to persist to graduation from Tennessee.

Two Concluding Thoughts

I hope that deans, department heads, and central administrators will offer seminars. Doing so is a good way to keep in touch with a universe of students with whom you seldom interact, and the one-credit format ensures that teaching the course will not detract from other important duties. Finally, please note that our 400 Promise and Pledge first year students are required to enroll in 129 seminars in the spring. This means that spring 129 courses are often quite diverse and especially rewarding to teach.

Thank you in advance for submitting a proposal!