Course Goals

GEN100: Issues in Agriculture, Food and Environment has three main goals: (1) Exposing a diverse student body to some core key concepts studied in the CAFÉ, (2) Improving student information literacy, and written and verbal communications skills, and (3) Addressing student success and retention.

We achieve these goals by capping sections at 25 students, reserving fall GEN100 sections for true first-semester freshmen, recruiting excellent instructors, including responsible and inspiring peer mentors (undergraduate instructional assistants), having at least three public speaking opportunities and one significant research paper, facilitating engaged attendance at college seminars, prioritizing active learning practices over straight lecture methods, encouraging interaction among students both inside and outside of the classroom, catching students who are at-risk (academically, socio-emotionally, etc.) and connecting them with the appropriate resources, pairing especially high-performing students with enhancement opportunities (study abroad, undergraduate research, etc.), organizing field trips and outreach activities, including librarian-led information literacy sessions, diversity/inequality sessions, and orienting to college sessions, and helping students develop important time-management and classroom skills by incentivizing reading, preparation, in-class participation, and attendance, and walking them through the research, writing, and public speaking preparation process. All GEN100 sections are the same in these ways.

Faculty Influence

In order that each section can draw on its instructor’s special strengths, though, GEN100 can vary in exactly which issues are highlighted, which field trip(s) are organized, whether there is a potluck, which chapters (or all) of the common textbook is used, and which outside readings are brought in, the order of activities, classroom management, and many other ways.
GEN100 instructors are pivotal in shaping the first-semester experience for our newest students, and it really is a joy and a challenge to help them get really engaged with the College.