First Year Matters 2015

FYM:FTF Comparison

WELCOME Class of 2019!

Though your Wesleyan experience will get started on Arrival Day and the first two days of New Student Orientation, on Friday, September 4th you will share in an experience many Wesleyan students before you have shared. 

Wesleyan's First Year Matters (FYM) program will focus this year on the theme of comparison and how comparative though and study shapes our understanding of the world, and will begin over the summer with your completion of the common reading list.  The readings this year have been selected by those faculty who will present seminars in their area of scholarship. 

You will need to review all of the seminar offerings and choose the three which interest you most.  You will then need to complete to the Seminar Selection webform to tell us the seminars you are most interested in attending.  You will receive a reply by email indicating the the seminar you will be assigned and will be expected to complete the readings associated with that seminar during the summer; you can find the readings in the FYM Moodle page which you can access through your E-Portfolio.  You will have access to all of the readings and may choose to explore all of the topics, we encourage you to do so!

We make comparisons to help us better understand our relationship to others and to the world around us. It’s a part of daily life – for better and sometimes for worse. Certain fields of advanced study privilege the concept: there’s “comparative literature,” “comparative history,” the “comparative method of anthropology, “comparative religion”, “comparative economics,” “comparative politics,” etc.  Those reflecting upon methodologies in these fields often scrutinize “comparison” with a rigor rarely applied (but perhaps applicable) to our use of comparison in our daily lives.

During the First Year Matters program, faculty leaders will explore “comparison” from a wide range of perspectives in seminars that will be followed by smaller discussion groups facilitated by student leaders. You may be asked about assumptions behind comparisons: for instance, whether a particular culture, ethnicity, or gender is the “norm” against which all others need to be compared. Or asked about how a theoretical approach to “comparison” in a particular field is applicable to your personal experience.  There are lots of possibilities.  

In preparation for the seminar you choose to attend, you will be asked to do homework – be it reading scholarly articles, a novel, poetry, or reflecting upon an artwork or a dance performance. Whatever your selection, you and your fellow classmates are likely to think about “comparison” in new ways. 

Once on campus, the FYM programming related to Orientation will unfold.  You will first attend the faculty presentation you have been assigned followed immediately by participating in a breakout discussion that will explore the issues related to the seminar and the the theme more generally incorporating the readings and the presentations as well your own beliefs and ideas.

Finally, you will participate in a culminating common experience.  The Common Moment will help demonstrate the exploration of the same issues through music and movement.  Led by artists from the Wesleyan community, this event has been a highlight of the Orientation program and this year promises to be no different.  You can see a video of the 2008 Common Moment below.