Welcome to First-Year Seminar

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What is Freedom?

Dialogues Ancient and Modern

To raise the question “What is freedom?” could hardly be more necessary today. Why have so many people in so many times and places identified freedom as a self-evident value, but have also excluded many around them from its benefits? How have different civilizations defined freedom at different times? What does freedom mean in a democracy, an empire, or a totalitarian regime? How do we understand the difference between “freedom to” and “freedom from,” between rights and responsibilities? Is scientific or artistic freedom an unqualified good, whatever its consequences? These are just some of the questions we address in First-Year Seminar. In the fall semester, we ask, “What is political freedom?” We read thinkers from Plato to John and Abigail Adams to Gandhi. By studying these texts, discussing their ideas in small seminars, and writing critical papers about them, students establish a foundation for their learning experience at the college and acquire a shared basis for conversation with fellow students, faculty members, and the world beyond.


 
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Program Directors:
Richard Aldous, Eugene Meyer Professor of British History and Literature
Karen Sullivan, Irma Brandeis Professor of Romance Culture and Literature

For further information, please contact:  
Julie Cerulli, Program Assistant
Tel: 845-758-7514
Email: fysem@bard.edu