Moreau First Year Experience

discussion in a Moreau First Year Experience course

The Moreau First Year Experience is inspired by the pedagogical vision of Blessed Basil Moreau, professor, priest, and founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. A two-semester, graded course sequence—FYS 10101 in fall (one credit) and FYS 10102 in spring (one credit)—it helps new students to integrate their academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences.

The Moreau syllabus, common to all sections of the two courses, is organized around multiple themes, including orientation to University life, health and wellbeing, community standards, cultural competence, academic success, spiritual life, and discernment. They build upon the Five Pillars of a Holy Cross Education as distilled from Fr. Moreau’s writings: mind, heart, zeal, family, and hope.

As Fr. Moreau said in Christian Education, “Education is the art of helping young people to completeness.” The Moreau First Year Experience is an important step in the journey towards an interconnected and purposeful education in which students, regardless of their faith tradition or beliefs, conceive of their education as a holistic development. Through their Moreau courses, students come to understand the complexity and expectations of the Notre Dame community, take advantage of crucial academic and University resources, learn how to cultivate and maintain a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, become aware of and engage with a variety of communities, heighten their understanding of diversity and inclusion, and think deeply about their academic, creative, professional, and spiritual lives.

A collaborative effort between the Center for University Advising and the Division of Student Affairs, the Moreau First Year Experience speaks to several imperatives of the University’s strategic plan. In particular, the courses embody the idea that Notre Dame’s Catholic character should inform all its endeavors; nurture the formation of mind, body, and spirit; enrich the integration of intellectual, extracurricular, and residential experiences; and deepen the potential of cross-cultural engagement.

Moreau instructors—faculty and professionals representing more than 50 campus units—facilitate weekly discussions and guide students through this experience, drawing on three key principles:

  • Integrative, Student-Centered Learning: By using a flipped classroom model, students preview materials (texts, articles, videos, etc.) common to all sections in advance of class and prepare short written prompts. The small class size (fewer than 20 students) is conducive to in-class discussions that allow classmates to engage each other and the materials, raise concerns and questions, and make connections to related content as well as to their own experiences on campus. Discussions also underscore important, recurring themes and call attention to campus resources, activities, and events. Through ePortfolio assignments and optional digital badges, students reflect in a thoroughly integrative fashion, not only using both text and media, but also making connections between ideas and experiences inside, outside, and across classes.
  • Comprehensive Mastery: Students are expected to succeed in this class, as they are truly at the center of the experience, learning more about themselves, the Notre Dame community, and a myriad of communities with which they will have interactions. Course topics reinforce the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed for a successful collegiate experience as well as a broad understanding of issues facing college students more generally.
  • Critical, Independent Thinking: The topics of the Moreau First Year Experience have emerged recently in national discussions of higher education. The course materials present diverse and sometimes controversial opinions and research. Students are challenged to think critically and independently about the readings and viewings of the course, to develop their own opinions, to listen attentively, and to respond respectfully to others.