First Year Symposium

Dec. 9, 2022

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Welcoming First-Year Scholars to the academic community

For FYS Faculty 

The Mission

We want them to feel what it’s like 

to stand at the front of a room and present their scholarship,

to reframe their message for a general audience,

to be welcomed into an academic community.


In other words . . .


We want every first-year student 

to feel like a first-year scholar.

The Challenge

That’s a lot of students!

Roughly double the number who present each year at the Spring Student Symposium.

And in about half the time . . .


So we’ll need a new kind of symposium -- one that lets students put a toe in the water of public presentation.

It needs to be low risk and high reward.

Substantive, but also celebratory.

Fun to do and fun to watch.


And we need an event that busy teachers can easily adopt into their seminars.


That’s the challenge. Here’s how we’ll do it.

Guiding Principles

Think Short

Three minutes max per student. Like other increasingly popular short formats -- the Lightning Talk, 3-Minute Thesis, Ignite Talks, Pecha Kucha -- the presenter’s goal is to get in, essentialize an idea for a wider audience, and get out. Poster presenters face a similar challenge -- culling their text and images for maximum impact.

Think Showcase

Ever wonder what all those other amazing FYSE courses might be like? Here’s a chance to find out. Designed as a kind of academic harvest fair, the symposium invites our community to come see what its newest members have discovered in their foundational college course.


Think Shared Resources

Fortunately, we’re starting with a sizable braintrust. Many faculty have already collaborated with Oratory Now and the First Year Seminar Program on earlier versions of the Symposium. This year we’ve added to the FY Symposium Planning Team two teachers with extensive experience as presentation coaches -- Katherine O’Brien and Ben Powers. We’re also coordinating directly with The Writing Center to streamline support for content development. Add to this the experience many of you already have incorporating presentations into your classes and you start to see the potential for a vast FY Symposium support system.

Faculty Resources
 coming soon:
  • FAQs
  • Faculty Tips

Sept. 1:   Launch Day
Oct. 17:   Registration Day
Nov. 11:   Symposium Schedule                     Announced
Nov. 28: Dec. 8 Coaching 
                Workshops Available
Dec. 9:    Symposium Day                               (tentatively 3-9:30pm)

Presentation Formats
  • 3-minute Solo Presentation (may include slides)

  • Group Presentation (allocating up to 3 minutes per speaker, may include slides)

  • “60-second Insight” (sharing a takeaway, discovery, or reflection on the course)

  • Poster Presentation

Audience Formats
  • Guaranteed Match: Your class will both present to, and be audience for, at least one other class.

  • Free Agency: Your class will present, but without a guaranteed audience.

  • Peer Respondents: Your class will not present, but will provide presenters with short, written feedback.

  • Active Listeners: Your class will not present and will respond using a format of your choice.