The Freshman Experience at Stevens

In an effort to build a sense of community and collegiality among the Freshman class, while at the same time giving students the intellectual foundation and skills they need to flourish throughout their lives, the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) at Stevens Institute of Technology presents The Freshman Experience.

Together these courses provide students with the foundation they need to become reflective, critical, expressive and articulate, intellectually confident and, perhaps most important, truly innovative. It also helps them become oriented to college life while giving them a common base across majors and schools, enabling them to build a sense of solidarity and community.

Both courses comprising the Freshman Experience at Stevens follow common syllabi and make use of the same textbooks, which means that every Stevens Freshman reads and discusses the same material, regardless of section or instructor. This allows students to engage in discussions and debates about the material outside the classroom. The text for CAL 105 has been published by Stevens and is given to all incoming students as our gift.

This experience centers on a sequence of two common courses that every new student at Stevens takes during the first year: 

CAL 103 - Writing and Communications

This course empowers students with the written and oral communications skills they need to participate in university-level discourse. An exploration of seminal humanities-based texts sets the foundation for further intensive academic inquiry on individual and group levels, facilitated by the S.C Williams Library Research and Reference staff.   

CAL 105 - CAL Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture

This course introduces students to all the humanistic disciplines offered by the College of Arts and Letters: history, literature, philosophy, the social sciences, art, and music. By studying seminal works and engaging in discussions and debates regarding the themes and ideas presented in them, students learn how to examine evidence in formulating ideas, and how to appreciate and respect a diversity of opinions and points of view.

Faculty Spotlight

Benjamin Ogden

Teaching Assistant Professor


What are your research areas of interest?

My research is mostly in the 20th century novel, with an emphasis on global literature and South African literature. I am currently studying experimental forms of literary criticism, and psychoanalysis. 

What are some of the courses you are currently teaching?

I teach CAL 103 and CAL 105, the two courses of the Freshman Experience. I also co-lead a literary salon for students and faculty. 

What can students expect when they take a class with you?

The purpose of every class I teach is to discover something that could only be discovered through spirited and intelligent discussion. I want thinking to occur during my classes that could not have occurred alone. 

What do you like to do when you're not teaching?

I'm a fiction writer, so a lot of my free time is spent writing. But I'm also an avid traveler, a theatergoer, and a football fan (go 49ers!). I'm also a crossword puzzle fanatic.