The flip side of Casey’s coin are, of course, senior seminars. While intros are full of energy because of the volume of new students grappling with new subject matter, senior seminars are exciting because they are specialized and generally full of people you have interacting with in lower level classes for a few years.
This semester, I’m taking two poli sci seminars, a Seminar in Diplomacy with Professor Leng and a seminar in Chinese Foreign Policy with Professor Teets. After (almost) four years at Midd, you know a lot of the students in your department, have figured out which professors you simply can’t miss, and have a strong base of knowledge with which to discuss more specialized subject matter.
Here’s why senior seminars serve as such a great capstone to four years at Midd:
Experience: Everyone in your seminar operates from a similarly strong base of knowledge (academic and personal). Many of my classmates in my Chinese Foreign Policy seminar studied at one of the Middlebury Schools in China. Several are international students from China. This richness of my classmates’ personal and academic backgrounds make class discussions interesting and deep.
on that note…
Discussion: The quality of seminars rely on the quality of discussion. They’re small (capped at 15 students), so there’s no hiding in the back corner. However, it is easy to facilitate discussion when everyone is coming from a similar background and has unique personal insights to share.
Old is New Again: For some poli sci students (myself included), it’s easy to forget or confuse exactly what Kenneth Waltz‘s theories of international relations entail. Seminars give everyone a chance to reconsider key theories that they may have been forgotten or confused over the years and consider them in a new, more specialized context.
More relevant to you as applicants is the First Year Seminar program. The First Year Seminar shares a similar philosophy. They’re small (capped at 15). While everyone approached the material from different academic backgrounds, they all bring their own personal experience and insights to the table. First Year Seminars are a great way to make new friends when you first get on campus and an opportunity to explore more specialized material from the beginning of your college career.