First Year Matters

Common Moment 2011

For the Common Moment 2011, the Center for the Arts commissioned a new work by Asphalt Orchestra, an off-shoot of Bang on a Can, which is one of the premeire experimental music groups of our time. Trading Futures, composed by Asphalt member Stephanie Richards, was designed to physically connect the Feet to the Fire energy themed readings, assigned to the incoming students over the summer, through a participatory community experience. Students where divided into groups and taught a music and performance piece using recycled materials such as tin cans, newspapers, tin foil and fabric. Each group performed before the entire group and then all of the students came down from Foss Hill to perform the finale together. With over 650 first year students in attendance, this was the largest Common Moment gathering so far.

Made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts and Wesleyan's Office of Student Affairs.

Common Moment 2010


The Common Moment 2010 program featured music and movement from around the world. Students wembodied the traditions of these cultures through movment and were accompanied by the traditional sounds of the harvest or festivals celebrating food. The Common Moment featured ensembles representing Ghana, Japan, Korea, the Jewish Klezmer tradition, South Indian and the European Maypole tradition. All of the new students were assigned to a group and then spent time rehearsing before performing their dance with their respective musical groups. After the performances the new students crossed the rope created from their Wish Ties and formed a human graph representing the results from their FYM survey taken before arriving on campus. The Common Moment concluded with a performance by Prometheus, Wesleyan's fire dancing student group.


Common Moment 2009


The 2009-2010 Feet to the Fire program explored the challenges we face as a result of global climate change with a focus on the increasing scarcity of water and its impact on cultures and ecosystems around the world. F2F: H2O, Seeking Solutions was the theme of the '09-'10 First Year Matters program, Wesleyan’s answer to the “common reading” program instituted at many universities. First year students were guided through a “common experience” program, designed to introduce students to the academic rigor and interdisciplinary thinking at Wesleyan while at the same time building a community of learners among the first year class. The program consisted of an anthology of multi-disciplinary readings sent to students prior to their arrival on campus, seminars and residence hall discussions during their orientation week, and the staging of a major participatory arts event that engaged students in understanding the issue from a world arts perspective.


Common Moment 2008 


Wesleyan University’s First Year Matters program embraced the theme of Feet to the Fire for the incoming class of 2012. Over the summer, students received readings including scientific articles, prose and poetry that examined issues of climate change. During their orientation week, students attended lectures given by faculty in the social sciences and in the humanities about climate change.  These were followed up by intimate conversations in residence halls led by faculty and staff.  Students voted on the most critical threats to the planet and the most important actions that can be taken to ameliorate climate change (derived from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings).  The next day, 550 students went to Foss Hill on the Wesleyan campus where they were led by upperclassmen and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in dances that embodied aspects of climate change. As part of the performance, the students assembled in the shape of a histogram that outlined the results of the poll they had taken, physically demonstrating what they as a class can do to address global warming. The night concluded with a performance of fire-dancing by the Wesleyan student group Prometheus.

Creative Campus

The Creative Campus Website is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Contact: Andrew Chatfield