In an effort to build a sense of community and collegiality among the Freshman class, while 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.

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
  • CAL 105 - CAL Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture.

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.

Benefits of the Freshman Experience

  • Sets the benchmark for standards in college-level writing and communications.
  • Provides a common curriculum and texts that become the subject of further inquiry and discussion outside of the classroom.
  • Introduces small class sizes that encourage peer and student-faculty collegiality.
  • Exposes students to influential texts that have impacted global thought over millennia.
  • Directs students to understand ideas in texts and apply them to our modern times.
  • Provides an intellectual and structural foundation for leadership development.

The Freshman Experience Courses

CAL 103 - Writing and Communications

CAL 103 enhances students’ communication skills through an emphasis on textual analysis, academic research, and public presentation. The course empowers students with the written and oral communication skills they will need for success in both the academic and professional worlds. Special attention is given to providing strategies for formulating independent thought through the analysis of ideas presented by some of the world’s greatest authors. Through their own writing, students are then able to apply what they have learned to contemporary issues in today’s global society. Topics covered in the readings include leadership and ethics, as well as the relationship between the humanities, science, and technology. As part of the course, students are introduced to the rich resources available to them in S.C. Williams Library.

CAL 105 - CAL Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture

CAL 105 introduces students to all the humanistic disciplines offered by the College of Arts and Letters – history, literature, philosophy, the social sciences, art, and music – in a focused and meaningful way. By studying seminal works and engaging in discussions and debates surrounding the topics and ideas presented, students learn how to think critically, examine evidence in formulating ideas, subject opinions to rational evaluation, and to value and respect a wide diversity of opinions and points of view. This course enables students to appreciate the enduring importance of the humanities, social sciences, and arts, and to recognize their relevance to contemporary society.