For Academic Year 2019-2020
For more than a decade, the University Seminar (USEM) program has provided an opportunity for first-year students to take unique two-credit seminar style courses in a variety of fields. Student participation in a USEM should foster a love of learning with the goal of igniting a spark of enthusiasm for a particular subject. It is expected that these courses will help students develop critical thinking skills and explore new ideas in an environment that encourages interactive learning and intensive discussion. For instructors, University Seminars are an opportunity to design a course that may not fit within a specific discipline; the seminars can help blur boundaries between majors and encourage students’ intellectual exploration. For students, University Seminars offer the chance to take a course with an instructor from a school outside of their own, or on a topic that would not typically be found within a single course of study.
University Seminars are offered during both the fall and spring semesters. Beginning with the 2019 – 2020 academic year, however, proposals will be solicited and reviewed separately for fall and spring courses. The RFP (this document) will be the same for both semesters. Fall 2019 proposals are due on January 10, 2019 and spring 2020 proposals are due July 10, 2019.
What Topic Should a University Seminar Address?
While any topic of interest can be proposed, for the 2019 – 2020 academic year you must apply specifically to one of the following tracks:
- Track 1: Values, Society, and Diversity. University Seminars in the Values, Society, and Diversity Track will connect to emerging issues at the university and our greater communities, such as topics related to diversity (including, but not limited to, national or ethnic origin and gender identity, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and family and genetic information). The goal of seminars in this track will be to broaden students’ cultural horizons and give them the skills to interact in an increasingly pluralistic society.
- Track 2: Community Engagement. University Seminars in the Community Engagement Track will include a hands-on learning component. Seminars in this track will encourage reflection and critical analysis; will provide opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results; will provide opportunities for students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically; and will be a designed learning experience that includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes.
- Track 3: Expanded Horizons. University Seminars in the Expanded Horizons Track will be interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary. Proposals for seminars in this track are strongly encouraged to be team-taught classes, and should not be topics that would easily fit into a single academic department or major. Proposals in this track should allow for the synthesis of ideas across disciplines and the development of important, transferable skills such as critical thinking, communication and analysis.
Please note that in making funding decisions, preference will be given to course proposals that have not been offered as part of the University Seminar program in any of the last three consecutive semesters.
Who is Eligible to Teach a University Seminar?
Any member of the faculty, Administrative and Professional Faculty Members, and University Staff, may submit proposals. A&P Faculty Members and University Staff who wish to teach a University Seminar must obtain release time for this activity from their department chair or unit director, and are strongly encouraged to review policy PROV-008: Teaching Courses for Academic Credit.
Faculty member(s) may choose to use this award for one or some combination of the following:
Wages (for themselves or others, such as a student assistant); or
To negotiate release time with the department chair or unit director.
A&P faculty and university staff are only eligible to use the award funds as OTPS. All disbursements are subject to University as well as state and federal guidelines, policies, and procedures. Faculty members may not receive overload for teaching USEM courses. Nine month faculty members may only use the award for their own summer wages during periods in which they are doing University related work.
What Should I Include in My University Seminar Proposal?
Your proposal must include the following components in a single PDF document.
Overview: This section of your proposal should include your name and the names of any co-instructors, the name of the course, a brief course description to be used in the Course Offerings Directory of SIS, and the University Seminar track you are applying to. (One half page max)
Justification: In this section of your proposal you are asked to provide an overview of student learning objectives for your seminar and information about how funding will lead to the development of a course that meets the overall goals of the University Seminar program. This section must also include detailed justification for how your proposed seminar aligns with the specific goals of the University Seminar track to which you are applying. If your proposal is for a course that has been taught in the past, you must also provide information about how the course has evolved over time and the steps you have taken/will take to improve the course going forward. (Two page max)
A syllabus (draft form is acceptable).
Curriculum Vita or Resume for each instructor. (Two page max for each)
Letter of Support: Your proposal must also include a letter of support from your department chair/unit supervisor. For Administrative and Professional Faculty Members and University Staff, the letter needs to note the approval of release time and state how this teaching has been accommodated in accordance with policy PROV-008: Teaching Courses for Academic Credit. The letter of support will be solicited through the application system and does not need to be part of the single PDF submission.
When are Proposals Submitted?
University Seminars are offered during both the fall and spring semesters. Beginning with the 2019 – 2020 academic year, however, proposals will be solicited and reviewed separately for fall and spring courses. The RFP (this document) will be the same for both semesters.
Fall 2019 proposals are due on January 10, 2019 by 11:59 PM Spring 2020 proposals are due July 10, 2019 by 11:59 PM
For convenience, applicants who have proposals ready for both fall and spring semesters may submit their spring 2020 proposals on InfoReady now (although they will not be reviewed until summer 2019).
How are Proposals Submitted?
All proposals must be submitted online via InfoReady (see link below); hand-written, emailed or otherwise delivered proposals will not be accepted for consideration. The online application will ask a few short questions before you upload your proposal (as one single PDF) and submit your application. Applicants may submit a total of four (4) course proposals – two (2) for fall and two (2) for spring.
Submit proposals for fall 2019
Submit proposals for spring 2020
How are University Seminar Proposals Reviewed?
An advisory committee of faculty members, staff, and students will be assembled to review all submitted proposals and make funding recommendations to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. There will be no quota for the number of proposals that are funded. It is expected that all funding decisions for fall 2019 proposals will be made by January 24, 2019, and decisions for spring 2020 proposals will be made by August 1, 2019.
The review committee will be asked to consider a number of questions in evaluating proposals, including, but not limited to:
- Is the proposal complete and consistent with the specifications of the RFP?
- Would the course title and description seem appealing to students?
- Does the proposal clearly state intended student learning objectives for the course?
- Does the instructor satisfactorily justify how funding will lead to the development of a class that aligns with the goals of the University Seminar program?
- Does the content and design of the proposed seminar clearly align with the USEM track to which it was submitted? Does the instructor sufficiently justify how the course aligns with the goals of that track?
- Is the course syllabus, including the grading scheme, congruent with the intended seminar style for University Seminar courses?
- Does the instructor appear to have sufficient knowledge of the subject that has been proposed?
- In cases where a proposed seminar has been offered in the past, does the applicant provide sufficient information about how the course has evolved over time and the steps s/he has taken/will take to improve the course going forward? Proposals that have been offered during any of the three most recent semesters should have convincing justification for the ongoing support.
Any questions about the USEM Course proposals should be directed to:
Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
University of Virginia