University Seminars - Information for Faculty

For more than a decade, the University Seminar (USEM) program has provided an opportunity for first-year students to take unique seminar style courses in a variety of topics taught by faculty from all of the University’s twelve schools. University Seminar faculty engage students in discussion, hands-on experiential learning, research, trips around the Charlottesville area, and in critical self-reflection that helps students shape the direction of their studies at UVA.

University Seminars are two-credit courses that are offered during both the fall and spring semesters. To provide as much flexibility as possible, proposals for each semester will be due at staggered times. However, the proposal requirements and expectations contained in this RFP will be the same for both. Fall 2020 proposals are due on January 12, 2020 and spring 2021 proposals are due July 12, 2020.

Some reasons why you should apply to teach a University Seminar…

  • These are not required classes. Every student enrolled in a University Seminar has chosen to be there. Students value USEMs as opportunities to work directly with faculty members in a small and intellectually engaging setting.
  • The intimate and focused setting of a University Seminar provides a unique opportunity to meet and mentor engaged first-year students.
  • University Seminars faculty are a community dedicated to innovative teaching and the development of the University’s first-year students. The flexible nature of a USEM provides faculty the opportunity to innovate with both course topics and instructional techniques.

What Topic Should a University Seminar Address?

Any topic! 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. Enrollment in a University Seminar should provide first-year students the opportunity to work closely with faculty and to develop an intellectual community with other students around a shared area of interest.

While any topic of interest may be proposed, it is highly encouraged that proposers think outside the box and consider courses that students may not otherwise find in a single department at UVA. Furthermore, special consideration will be given to proposals that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Proposals that equip students with the skills to interact in an increasingly pluralistic society by connecting to emerging issues at the University and our greater communities, such as topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Proposals that include a hands-on learning component, such as opportunities for reflection and critical analysis; opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results; and designed learning experiences that include the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes.
  • Proposals that are interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary, which may include proposals that are team-taught classes, topics that would not easily fit into a single academic department or major, course design that allows for the synthesis of ideas across disciplines, and the development of important, transferable skills such as critical thinking, communication and analysis.

Please note that special consideration 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?

Preference will be given to proposals submitted by members of the faculty. On an exceptional basis, A&P Faculty Members and University Staff may submit proposals, but 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

What Funding is Available for University Seminars?

A $6,000 award will be provided for each two-credit USEM course. Nine-month faculty member(s) may choose to receive this award as either summer wage or in a research account. Twelve-month faculty, A&P Faculty, and University Staff are only eligible to receive the award funds as OTPS. All disbursements are subject to University, state, and federal guidelines, policies, and procedures. Teaching a USEM course is not an eligible cause for approval of faculty overload.