University Seminars (USEM) Course Proposals

For Academic Year 2018-2019

For more than a decade, the University Seminars (USEMs) program has provided faculty the opportunity to create and offer two-credit seminar courses, designed predominately for first- year students. USEMs are offered in both the fall and spring. 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 faculty, USEMs are an opportunity to design a course that may not fit with a specific discipline; the seminars can help blur boundaries between majors and encourage students’ intellectual exploration. For students, USEMs offer the chance to take a course with an instructor from a school outside of their own, or on a topic that would not be found within a typical course of study.

While any topic of interest can be proposed, for the 2018 – 2019 academic year preference will be given to course proposals that:

  • 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
  • Include a community engagement/hands on learning component;
  • Are interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary, including team-taught classes1; and/or
  • Have not been offered as part of the USEM program in the last three semesters.

Please carefully review the following information, as some of the following has changed. A link to the online application can be found at the bottom of this document.

***The deadline for academic year 2018-2019 USEM proposal has now passed***


Proposals may be submitted by any member of the academic of general faculty, Administrative and Professional Faculty Members, or University Staff. A&P Faculty and University Staff who wish to teach a USEM course must obtain release time for this activity from their department chair or unit director, and are strongly encouraged to review the provost policy on Teaching Courses for Academic Credit: Administrative or Professional Faculty Members and Non-Faculty Employees Teaching Courses for Academic Credit. Applicants may submit a total of four (4) course proposals – two (2) for fall and two (2) for spring. Each proposal must be submitted separately.

1A maximum of two instructors per USEM will be eligible for funding.


The following funding schedule will apply to all approved USEM courses:

  • USEM courses with one (1) instructor: the instructor will receive $6,000
  • USEM courses with two (2) instructors: each instructor will receive $6,000
  • USEM courses with three (3) instructors: $12,000 will be made available for all involved instructors to split however they choose (justification must be included in proposal)
  • USEM courses with four (4) or more instructors: $14,000 will be made available for all involved instructors to split however they choose (justification must be included in proposal)

Regardless of the number of instructors assigned to a USEM course, the following will apply:

The faculty member(s) may choose to do one, or some combination, of the following with these funds:

  1. Distribute funds for research expenses as permitted by University guidelines;
  2. Pay themselves summer wages as permissible under the University, state, and federal policies and procedures; or
  3. Negotiate release time with the department chair or unit director.

Faculty on a 12-month appointment cannot receive faculty overload for teaching USEM courses; research expenses, as permitted by University guidelines, will be received instead. A&P faculty and university staff are only eligible to receive funding via OTPS.

Proposal Requirements

Proposals for academic year 2018 – 2019 USEMs should be submitted online via InfoReady (more information below). The online proposal will ask for you to fill in a series of fields pertaining to the purpose and logistics of the proposed course, instructor credentials, and funding preferences. You should be prepared to upload the following components of your proposal as one, combined PDF document.

  1. Justification for USEM course funding - a section in which you are asked to provide an overview of your proposed course and student learning objectives, and information about how funding will lead to the development of a course that meets the goals of the USEM program discussed above. If your proposal is for a USEM course that has been taught in the past, you must also provide information about the evaluation of the previous course and how that information has been used to improve the course going forward. (Two page max)
  2. A syllabus (if available);
  3. Curriculum Vita or Resume for each proposed instructor/faculty member. (Two page max for each);

You will also need to secure a letter of statement/support from your department head/unit supervisor. For Administrative and Professional Faculty Members and University Staff, the letter needs to state how this teaching has been accommodated in accordance with provost policy on Teaching Courses for Academic Credit: Administrative or Professional Faculty Members and Non-Faculty Employees Teaching Courses for Academic Credit. Letters will be requested and submitted through InfoReady.

Proposal Submission Instructions and Evaluation Timeline

USEM proposals for the 2018 – 2019 academic year (both fall and spring proposals) are due by January 10, 2018. Proposal applications can be accessed and submitted via the InfoReady platform found at the below link. Proposals must be submitted via InfoReady; hand-written, emailed or otherwise delivered proposals will not be accepted for consideration. A committee will be assembled to review the proposals for approval. It is expected that all funding decisions will be made by January 25, 2018.



Any questions about the USEM Course proposals should be directed to:

Matt Banfield
Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
University of Virginia

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