Bard First Year Curriculum

The Bard First-Year Common Experience: Three Questions

Designed to spark conversation and debate from the classroom to the dorm room, the First-Year Common Experience provides the underpinning for your entire education at Bard. You are now members of a dynamic and successful tradition that has been the essence of what it means to be a Bard student for generations.

In 1953 Heinrich Blücher, renowned educator and refugee from Nazism, introduced an experimental common course designed to show how the essential question of human freedom can be approached through a liberal arts education. More than 60 years later Bard’s two-semester First-Year Seminar course continues this tradition, asking “What is Freedom?” by introducing you to path-breaking and often controversial works.

But the First-Year Common Experience has also changed a great deal in the past half century as we keep working to innovate and experiment. Through the Language and Thinking Program in August you will immerse yourself in critical discussion, performance, reading and writing practices. By addressing the question “What needs to be the case for things to be otherwise?” you begin the journey of becoming a reflective writer and thinker, making the connection between thought and what gets transferred to the page.

And our latest innovation in the First-Year Common Experience - Citizen Science, a scientific counterpart in January to Language and Thinking - challenges you to engage with the urgent question, “What role does the human microbiome play in healthy bodies and societies?” Through hands-on laboratory experiences and discussions with your peers, you will deepen your understanding of the process of scientific inquiry and apply these skills in the public sphere during science outreach experiences.
Taken together, the First-Year Common Experience gives you access to enduring and fundamental ideas and helps you develop the skills to question, analyze, and use them. Your mind will be sharpened, your imagination fired, and your preconceptions challenged. Welcome to Bard!